MIKE GILES: Valentine Makes a Way | Outdoor

Electricity filled the air as young Brenda Valentine watched in amazement as her father’s hounds circled an oak tree in a frenzy, barking and howling and trying to climb the tree to reach a squirrel. Filled with anticipation, the young man searched carefully for the squirrel that was hiding somewhere high in the branches.

“The dogs huddled together, so Dad came around the other way and made a bunch of ruckus, and the squirrel came up next to me and slammed into the tree,” Valentine said. “We put the .22 lever-action rifle in the fork of a dogwood branch, and I put the pearl on it and shot the tail off. The squirrel went up a little higher and this time daddy told me to put that bead a little higher and so I did. I held that pearl up and pulled the trigger.”

Tick ​​pow! The .22 broke and young Brenda Valentine had killed her first squirrel. Barely 4 years old at the time, she had started her hunting career strong and provided hearty food for the family at a time when they really needed meat.

But that was not the norm in those times, as young women simply did not hunt. But Valentine did, and she quickly learned the ways of the forest and the animals that lived there. He just came naturally to her.

“We breed raccoon dogs,” Valentine said. “At night they had tree raccoons and opossums and during the day they had tree squirrels. They were meat dogs, and we harvested game for sustenance.”

Later, Valentine was working in the fields and a strange animal startled her.

“I got to the end of a row and a deer jumped up and left,” Valentine said. “I was about 13 years old and at first no one believed me because no one had ever seen a deer around here. but the deer track and people came from everywhere to see that track.”

“Seeing that deer put a burning desire in me to hunt one, but it was a few years before we had a season,” he said. “I don’t keep track of numbers, score or put animals in log books, but I love hunting and the challenge it offers and the opportunity to provide for my family. He had killed over 300 deer before he had one mounted. We had just cut off the antlers and hung them in the barn. The meat it provided was just sustenance for us.”

“My grandparents, aunts and uncles would hunt, and we’d kill a couple of deer, and everyone would share the meat,” Valentine said. “Once we got exhausted, we’d go shoot some more, that’s how it was back then in Henry County, Tennessee!”

When they finally got enough turkeys to have a season, the young woman wanted in on that action, too.

“I didn’t know how to hunt turkey, but I thought I could learn, so I went out and bought a box call,” Valentine said. “I had a little piece of paper that said yell three times and wait 20 minutes, so that’s what I did. I sat and screamed and waited 20 minutes and it became like taking medicine and it didn’t work very well for me at first.”

Valentine, a peasant and a born hunter, knew the paths of the forest and where to find the turkeys, so she devised a plan.

“I knew I was deadly with a bow, so I found some dust bowls where the turkeys were dusting on an old logging road and I climbed up a tree and waited for them,” Valentine said. “I was hunting with the mentality of a whitetail hunter and when they walked by under my stall I just shot straight down, it went through the turkey and pinned it to the ground. It might have been unconventional, but it worked for me.”

Valentine later got a better shotgun and became proficient with it and learned to call turkeys and quickly mastered that skill as well.

Known as the “First Lady of Hunting,” Valentine has hunted across the country, appeared on many television shows, and led seminars as well. She has such a talented personality that she has been a spokesperson for Mossy Oak and the NWTF for many years.

“I try to always be positive and promote our great outdoor opportunities for everyone,” said Valentine.

“At that time I thought that growing up poor, working hard and looking for meat for the table was a pitiful life. I now realize that it was the greatest foundation for a life filled with gratitude for every blessing. There was no gender bias in our family, everyone had to work hard according to their age and strength. I was the oldest, so of course I was the one who got the chance to do things first. Things like shooting rifles and shotguns, running traps, skinning and stretching hides, running trotlines, training hunting dogs and squirrel dogs. These things are the legacy and lasting gifts given to me by both my father and mother.”

As a result, Valentine has touched more lives through her talents and her outdoor life and it all happened thanks to her loving parents and a father who gave his little daughter a chance. And for that we are all much better off! Thank you, David Johnson, for making a difference in a girl’s life!

Valentine continues to break new ground in the outdoor world and hopes it will create a spark in many people that will fan the flames of the desire to get outside and ‘make a difference’.

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comcast.net.