Sherry Crumley

Hometown: Buchanan, Va.
Interests: Turkey hunting
Sherry Crumley of Buchanan, Va., started hunting only 13 years ago. Her dad had taught her how to shoot growing up, but it was her husband, Jim, who first took her hunting. The story goes that in the spring of 1986 Jim asked her to go turkey hunting with him to watch the sunrise and look at wildflowers. But hearing a turkey gobble changed her life.

The last day of the season, she decided that next year she'd like to take a gun. Turkey hunting had made her more aware of nature and what passed her by before. "I love turkey hunting," Crumley says. "There are some activities you do, because they just click with you. That's how I am with turkey hunting. It changed me. It's the most exciting, fun and addictive thing I've ever done."

Crumley, however, wasn't a stranger to the outdoor industry before the 1987 turkey season. In fact, she's the first lady of camo - married to the developer of Trebark camouflage, the first patented camo pattern in the U.S. since 1942. But it was her love of turkey hunting that brought her to the forefront of conservation and hunting issues. Crumley feels strongest about preserving America's hunting heritage. Her former position as National Wild Turkey Federation board member and her chairmanship of the Virginia Heritage Foundation, a foundation set up to pass an amendment to the state constitution that will guarantee Virginians the right to hunt, fish and harvest game, have given Crumley the platform to fight for her beliefs.

Q&A With Sherry

What is your most memorable outdoor experience?
"My most memorable kill was when I went turkey hunting at White Oak Plantation with its owner, Bo Pitman. Normally, when you're turkey hunting, you chase turkeys until about 10 o'clock and then break for lunch. We were working some turkeys, and I wasn't ready to stop. Even though I'd ripped my pants crawling under a barbed wire fence, my clothes were covered in cow poop from crawling across a pasture and I had fallen into a creek, I didn't want to leave. I had been pushed to the limit that day; I had killed my turkey under extreme circumstances.

I need to add that when you hunt at White Oak you have to cross a lot of creeks and walk across fallen trees. Bo was dancing over the trees with no problem, but I had to scoot over them on my bottom. I apologized to Bo for not being faster, but I didn't want to fall into what I knew was infested by water moccasins. Bo just said, "You know, Sherry, there are some men who just won't cross areas like this." And I answered, 'Oh, I didn't know there was an alternative.' "

Your family is very active in the outdoor industry, through Trebark camouflage. How has the outdoor industry affected your life?
"The outdoor industry has given me the chance to see more of the U.S., through consumer shows and hunting trips, than I would have otherwise. I've also met the most interesting people in the world, one of them being [late NWTF board member] Lynn Boykin. Lynn and her daughter Starr were the first women I'd ever been on a turkey hunt with. I had never really gotten to know a woman turkey hunter before Lynn. The three of us were hunting at Vermejo Park in New Mexico with a bunch of men. We all three got our two-turkey limit before any of the men did."

Did you or Jim teach your boys how to hunt and fish?
"Jim taught Chris how to hunt and both boys how to fly-fish. But I am teaching my future daughter-in-law, Stacey, how to turkey hunt. She participated in our area's first Women in the Outdoors event last June, and she can't wait to do it again."

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of being a woman in the outdoor industry?
"It's not as difficult now as it was 15 years ago. I was the first woman in the camo business. We would be at a consumer show, and men would walk past me to ask their questions to other men. They just assumed women didn't know about camo or hunting. It was very frustrating. But I eventually became quite credible. It really felt good when I could finally tell the men, 'Yes, I hunt.'วก"

What advice would you give a woman who is thinking about starting to hunt but is intimidated?
"Find a good teacher - male or female. I was fortunate to have a wonderful built-in teacher - my husband. And don't feel you have to do it all. The people you hunt with will be so glad to share the experience with you, they'll be glad to help you out."

How did you feel the first time after a successful hunt?
"I felt both a sense of exhilaration and accomplishment. It was very emotional for me, but every time I pull the trigger, it's emotional."

[story and photo courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation]