Famed bow hunter, Fred Bear once said “A hunt based only on the trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.”
Of course, there was no way Mr. Bear could have known how his statement would resonate today, but Girls With Guns TV hosts, Jen O’Hara and Norissa Harman are the modern personification of his sage words.
The two ladies may never have intended to end up where they are today: on television sharing their lives with so many strangers, but their simple beginnings of running a business out of a garage to carving out a niche in the oversaturated and male dominated world of hunting can be viewed as an journey all its own.
So when Emaneul (Kappie) Kapp approached them about the possibility of filming a television show, they were ready to listen. Kappie wanted to create a hunting show about and for woman and he felt like O’Hara and Harman would be the perfect fit. After all, they’d already proven their mettle in the business world and had a large following of female hunters who trusted them and their brand. Ironically, the two had just turned down another opportunity in which they would film a staged reality show.
They knew if they were going to do anything at all, it had to be genuine. Their lives weren’t staged, so how could their television show be less than authentic?
That was four years ago.
Today, the pair are entering season four of their television careers, changing the name of the show to Girls with Guns TV, adding three more female guest hosts and approaching this hunting season with a whole lot of perspective.
O’Hara and Haman don’t pretend to know everything about hunting, but the one thing they do recognize is that hunting is less about trophies and more about life. They’ve learned that the world of hunting isn’t the province of men, but for anyone who wants to put food on the family table or challenge themselves or connect with wildlife. It was important their show to reflect these ideas, along with the real life humor that comes from running a prosperous business.
“We wanted to give the audience a backstage pass into our lives and the development of our brand, Girls with Guns® Clothing.” says O’Hara. “This is an opportunity to be open with people and help encourage other women to get outdoors and learn to shoot and hunt. Not to mention, it gave us the opportunity to hunt around the world and grow into stronger, more independent women.”
Empowering women isn’t something the two take lightly. They recognize having hero’s to look up to or finding a source of inspiration can be difficult for young people today.
“I think younger generations struggle with their identity and finding their place in life.” explained Harman. “In this digital age, where your life revolves around social media, young women are struggling to make connections on a deeper, more meaningful level. They’re trying to be accepted for who they are and what they’re passionate about. One cute hunting photo on Instagram can turn you into the next outdoor brand ambassador just as easily as making you the target of school bullying. We want girls to understand it’s what’s in your heart that matters. Sometimes, you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but it’s in those difficult times you find your fire; that inner strength and determination you never knew you had. Those are the moments when you’ll accomplish things you never knew were possible.”
In that way, O’Hara and Harman are leading by example. On GWG TV, their commitment to an honest and truthful portrayal of their lives is unquestionably original and their generous personalities even outshine some of the hunting they feature. And if you ask them who their role models have been, because surely they’ve styled their successes after some other great females, they’ll unabashedly tell you that just isn’t so.
“We’ve been inspired by some people in the business world, sure.” O’Hara nods. “But eight years ago, when we started selling Girls with Guns Clothing out of the garage, our own blood, sweat and tears helped us carve out a place in the outdoor industry that hadn’t existed, so it’s hard to attribute success to anything but perseverance and a determination to change things.”
So that’s why watching two women host a hunting show detailing their personal struggles and triumphs in the business world, as well as their achievements in hunting is so galvanizing. Their own particular passage is further testament to the fact that there is no perfect formula for professional victory and individual satisfaction. Yet, the journey to these two realizations cannot and will not be limited to gender.
Life experience and developing the ability to become a more involved person may be the underlying theme to each and every episode.
Harman agrees. “Some of the most memorable moments have been those times we were able to give back, like when we donated sandals and snacks to a local orphanage. The children sang songs for us and showed off their classroom, they were just so grateful! On another trip, we were able to donate all the meat from one of our hunts to the local Senior Home so the residents could have some protein in their diets. We sincerely cherish the new friends we’ve made along the way. Each of them has become an extension of our family, their kindness and generosity, the times they’ve offered up their homes while praying for our safe travels – all those things together have made this experience much more special.”
While the overall reception and perception of GWG TV has been favorable, there is no escaping the inevitable barrage of negativity from the anti-hunting movement. Unfortunately, it’s become a common fight for hunters the world over.
“We’ve received an overwhelming amount of support from our friends, family and the outdoor industry since the show debuted!” Harman begins laughing, “Our friends and family are excited to see us following our dreams… that and the fact that they can say they know someone on TV.”
“While most of the feedback has been positive, we’ve received some backlash from the anti-hunting community protesting what they assume is a TV show revolving around wasteful trophy hunting.” continued O’Hara. “It’s especially difficult for anti-hunters to reconcile the thought that women can be strong, self-supporting and provide for their families. It’s even harder for them to see that while we hunt to put food on the table and assist with conservation efforts, we also love and respect all animals and no life taken is wasted.”
“People ask why we’re thrill killing and how we can be so wasteful (mostly in regards to our international hunting trips)” O’Hara revealed. “But what they don’t realize is this: the U.S. government does not allow us to bring the meat we’ve harvested back into the States. Because of this, all meat is donated to local families, orphanages, senior homes or even to the guides and trackers who’ve helped us on our hunt. We save a small portion to cook back at the lodge, but the majority of the meat goes to people who need it. It’s tough to hear angry and judgmental comments when you know you’re helping people.”
Those irate and critical parties have in fact caused some GWG TV brand partners to feel pressured to back out of certain episodes due to global hunting controversies.
“It’s challenging because we have to worry about our business too.” clarified Harman. “Other TV hosts are able to be more vocal and fight back against the Anti’s because they don’t have to worry about losing sales and hurting their employees. That’s why our motto is Educate, Don’t Hate. We know we won’t be able to get through to everyone, but if we can change just one person’s perspective on hunting or gun ownership, we’d be one step closer to working together for the benefit of all.”
Having a reality show isn’t always easy. Not just because of the naysayers, but because O’Hara and Harman don’t get a break from the camera. That means, they have to be “on” all the time. No event, no matter how emotional, is off limits. After all, it’s the emotion that draws people in, makes them want to return and creates a bond between subject and viewer.
“At first it was really difficult!” Harman laughs. “If one of us was nervous or we needed to talk [about] Girls with Guns® Clothing or if we got emotional over an animal, we’d always ask to stop filming, but Kappie explained how our reactions were lending further credibility to the show. When Jen and I first agreed to do this, we decided everything we did should be authentic and sincere – we didn’t want to pretend to be someone we’re not. We don’t stage any of our shots or our conversations, so we’ll occasionally say something wrong – or in my case, I’ll start laughing or cracking jokes. It can be tricky opening up on camera or awkward having to asking your cameraman to look the other way so you can pee in a bush! But, we’ve just learned to roll with it.”
O’Hara agrees. “Looking back on our episodes from Season 1 compared to Season 4, you can tell how far we’ve come. We’re human and we still have days when we can’t talk to save our lives, our hair is doing something crazy or we missed a great shot, but we’ve grown into it now. Having a crew following us around has made us better public speakers, but more than that, it’s made us better advocates for the hunting industry because we’ve gained so much knowledge we can share with our viewers.”
Their combined knowledge is clearly hitting a sweet spot, because viewers can’t get enough of O’Hara and Harman’s adventures.
“As long as we’re able to travel, hike up a mountain and draw our pistols, we hope our viewers will be able to follow our journey.” said Harman. “Not to say our storyline won’t change as we raise our families and pursue new passions, but we hope our fans will grow with us and understand it’s all a part of living the GWG Life.”
Because just as Mr. Bear intoned, hunting (and life) isn’t about the trophies and Harman agrees. “It’s really all about the experience for us – hunting is just a perk.”
Did You Know?
Girls With Horses
O’Hara grew up on a cattle ranch and competed in junior rodeos when she wasn’t helping out on the family ranch. In one episode, she’s given the opportunity to play polo and go horseback swimming in South Africa. In another episode, she joins Argentinian ranchers on a cattle drive.
Hunting on Horseback
O’Hara and Harman went on an extreme backcountry hunt (The Colorado Flat Tops Wilderness Free Range Elk Hunt with Winterhawk Outfitters) requiring them to pack in with a mule train. Because of the difficulty of the hunt and the terrain they had to traverse to follow the elk herd, most days they rode into their general hunting area, tied up the mules and hiked to specific spots and all of it took place during a snowstorm!
The New Girls
Three new women are joining GWG TV this season:
Callahan (Callie) Wolverton – 28, guest host, PR and Corporate Partnerships Director of Girls with Guns Clothing in California
Kasi Geraci – 25, guest host, previous contestant on Extreme Huntress and telecommunications engineer from Texas
Heather Glenny – 26, guest host, registered nurse and the only female guide at 2,200 acre Quest Haven Lodge (hunting outfitter) in Pennsylvania
Meet, Greet or Watch
Want to learn more about GWG TV? Then catch up with them in person or start watching the show!
NRA AM (booth #3156) and The Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, CA or you can catch Season 4 of GWG TV premiering on Pursuit Channel on Tuesday, June 27th at 8PM PST/11PM EST and then every Tuesday at 8PM PST/11PM EST. You can also watch Pursuit Channel on most major cable and satellite providers, Roku and on your other internet-connected devices via the 24/7 live stream. CarbonTV is streaming Seasons 1-3 for free on their site via their app (use link: http://bit.ly/2nNvQQH) . Or watch clips and outtakes on the GWG TV YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/gwgclothing