Bow Hunter, 17, Bags 448-Pound Bear

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, Extreme Childhood

teen bow hunter picture

Jessica Olmstead bagged this bear. Credit: Olmstead Family / AP

What do most 17-year-old girls do in their spare time? Post Facebook updates? Hang with their friends at the mall?

How about hunting bear with a bow and arrow?

This summer, Jessica Olmstead killed a 448-pound black bear while on a hunting trip in Ontario, Canada with her dad, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

The bear was the first animal the teen, who lives in Battle Creek, Mich., and is a senior at Harper Creek High School, has killed with a bow, the newspaper reports.

Jeff Folsom, publisher of Bear Hunting Magazine, tells ParentDish he had not heard about Olmstead's feat, but says he wasn't surprised by the news. There are "lots of women (and) girls that are into (hunting bear)," he says, adding that the next issue of his magazine will include "pictures of two girls under 16 with their bears."

Folsom may not have been shocked to hear about a teenage female bear hunter, but he was impressed Olmstead used a bow.

Bow hunting is "more difficult, more challenging" than hunting with a gun, he says. "You have to be so much more precise and accurate. There's a lot more things you have to do than take your safety off the gun and squeeze the trigger."

It's also more dangerous, Folsom says.

"You've got to be up close and personal," he says.

The average bow shot is made between 17 and 22 yards from your target, whereas, with a gun you can be as much as 60 yards away, Folsom says.

With a bear to be in that close of range, bow hunting is not for the faint of heart.

"There's a lot of people that just freeze," Folsom says, describing a typical bear hunting scenario. "There's a bear 20 yards (away, and) you've got to pull your bow back ... To hold it all together, and focus and make the shot, it's a cool thing."

Tim Olmstead, the girl's father, tells the Enquirer his daughter is a "natural at this sport," but Folsom says it takes a lot of practice to be able to handle a bow well enough to take down a bear.

"You can't just pick up a bow (and shoot)," he says. "Most states have a 45-pound draw weight minimum, (which) means you're pulling back 45 pounds."

Folsom says his personal bow is between 65 and 70 pounds, and an inexperienced archer would be lucky to come close to hitting a target -- that is, if they could manage to pull the bow back and take aim.

And while most communities probably have more girls on the gymnastics team than they do in the woods looking for wild animals, hunting can be very good exercise.

"Depending on the type of hunting you're doing, it can be real physical," Folsom says. Sometimes "you do more in a day than any football player does in training camp."

The Enquirer says the teen "currently holds the Pope and Young Bowhunting record for the trophy bear," which Folsom calls "the record book for archers."

Pope and Young's Glenn Hisey tells ParentDish the group did not yet have a record on the books for Olmstead, adding that bears are ranked "by length of skull plus width of skull" and hunters need to wait 60 days after they bag their animal before having a measurement done. Since Olmstead shot her bear in mid-August, that time has not yet passed.

Still, it would seem that Olmstead has begun her hunting career with, well, a bang. A 448-pound bear is "a very nice bear," Folsom tells ParentDish. "There's people that have hunted for 20 years and have never shot (one) that size."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.