Top: Photo of Angie Haas Tennison and her Mountain Goat. Below: Photo of Angie Haas Tennison and her Red Stag from New Zealand she took with her Bow-Tech bow. Photos courtesy of Angie Haas Tennison.
By Brian Baxter
The northwest corner of Montana is even considered rough terrain by other Big Sky Country residents. The Whitefish, Purcell, and Cabinet Mountain Ranges frame and plunge steeply down to the Kootenai, Yaak, Fisher, Bull, and Clark Fork Rivers. The modified Pacific Maritime Climate produces more moist conditions than most anywhere in the state, producing dense forests full of wild and diverse mammals, fish, and birdlife.
Its people are tough, but tender. Multi-generational families still reside in the area, as do many transplants from the 1960’s and 70’s. The Native American tribes of the Kootenai, Flathead, Yaak, and Salish peoples cherished this country. In modern times, folks seeking both solitude and space visit, or vacation in Kootenai country, and are drawn to it like a magnetic needle of a social compass.
There are many local tales of interesting characters from all time periods. And numerous authors and professional writers have captured the colorful characters of the Kootenai. Oftentimes though, any attempt by an aspiring writer to literally enhance the narrative of an individual or group of individuals with his or her pen or lettered paintbrush is futile. And the simple, truthful version is much more powerful. This is one of those stories.
Angie Haas Tennison was born to Pam and Lenn Hass and raised in Libby. Her first game animal was a white-tail buck she shot when she was 12 years old. Her father always hunted and she and her sister would always go with him. She recalls it was great family time. Tennison always looked up to her father. He taught her the love of hunting and respect for the animals, and for the environment.
The young woman’s passion for the hunt grew quickly. She began to hunt before the days of internet and Facebook, back when she would have to load her animal up and drive down to her Aunt’s house because she was the only family member who had a polaroid camera. That was the only way she could have proof of her success which was to take the photo to school and show her friends the next day.
Tennison continued her pursuit of wild game and her passion for hunting for about three more decades. Her favorite type of hunting these days is archery elk hunting, but she would love the opportunity to hunt Bighorn sheep, so she could make that her new favorite she said half jokingly. The elusive sheep tag has yet to be hers, and she wouldn’t turn down an Alaskan moose hunt either.
Tennison’s sister, Mickey Carr, told her about the original Extreme Huntress Contest, and in 2011 this humble but strong woman won it. When she did, she was lucky enough to hunt in New Zealand for Red Stag, Tahr, and Arapawa ram. She also became a member of the MTFWP’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Tennison’s focus now is on winning the title of Ultimate Extreme Huntress. If she does, she will be off to the FTW Ranch in Texas, then on to Africa to compete against three other very dedicated women for the title. They will be hunting Cape Buffalo, and other African plains game animals.
When asked about interesting challenges, Tennison said, “Being in a male dominated sport has always been a challenge. Winning the title of Extreme Huntress has earned me some attention and respect as a woman hunter, but the looks I still get when someone runs into me hunting solo in the woods shows that women still have a way to go to be fully accepted.”
Tennison currently lives in Kalispell, and works at Health Center Northwest. She’s married to Travis Tennison, who is a line foreman at Flathead Electric and the couple have two children, daughter, Quinn, who is 12, and son, Trent, who is 10.
Quinn took a nice four point buck last season, and Trent will be able to do a special youth hunt this coming season.
“I was very young when I first understood that hunting was something that drove me. Being in the woods with my family was the best thing I could imagine. I couldn’t wait for that cool, clear, fall morning and opening day. To me, opening day was more exciting than Christmas morning.,” Tennison told The Montanian. “As I got older, I realized that being a female and a serious hunter was not something that was very common. I found that I had to try harder than guys my same age to earn respect in the hunting community. It was important for me to be taken seriously and respected as a hunter.”
Tennison offered the following advice to young hunters. “I encourage them to get outside. Netflix will always have another show, more video games will be created, but the woods and wildlife without our support may not be there tomorrow.”
Tennison described her deepest connections to hunting as the experience, the animals, the outdoors and family. “If I never pulled the trigger I’d still hunt everyday God allowed me to,” she said.
How about it? If you’d like to support Angie Tennison, one of our own, for Ultimate Extreme Huntress, you can vote for her at www. extremehuntress.com before the June 1 deadline.