Photo courtesy Christine Cunningham This photo of Christine Cunningham while hunting in the fall of 2014. Cunningham trains and hunts with English Setters and chocolate labradors for tracking waterfowl in Alaska.

Photo courtesy Christine Cunningham This photo of Christine Cunningham while hunting in the fall of 2014. Cunningham trains and hunts with English Setters and chocolate labradors for tracking waterfowl in Alaska.

Kenai woman wins national hunting award

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, December 15, 2014 11:08pm
  • News

Kenai resident Christine Cunningham was still unable to process the announcement that she was the 2014 winner of the Prois Award hours after receiving the news Monday.

The Prois Award celebrates female hunters who are passionate about hunting and dedicated to their community, conservation and the betterment of hunting in the future, according to the Prois website. Cunningham will receive Prois hunting apparel, boots, game bags, packs and spend a five-day, two-species hunt in Namibia, Africa with Mogwadiri Safaris.

Longtime hunting partner and close friend Steve Meyer said when he introduced Cunningham to the sport in 2006, she immediately showed some natural skill.

“It was like creating a monster,” Meyer said. “She just fell in love with it.”

Cunningham submitted an essay and photograph detailing her passion and dedication to hunting. When she made it into the list of six finalists, she created a video summarizing the critical importance of conservation in relation to the future of hunting and sustainable living.

“When we think of the most serious threats to hunting today, the most critical issue is loss of habitat,” Cunningham said in the video. “There’s more people using public lands than ever before. The government agencies managing those lands have ideologies that are increasingly counter to what hunting is and what it means.”

Meyer said Cunningham may be the key to keeping the subsistence lifestyle a possibility. Her ability to open up the pastime to new enthusiasts and focus on preserving the environment that supports the wildlife they hunt makes Cunningham the perfect ambassador for the sport, he said.

Cunningham takes it all in stride, Meyer said. She has written for Alaska Magazine, Hunter Safety Instructor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Hunter Education Program, according to her submission essay. Cunningham spends free time hiking and kayaking, but the outdoors took on a whole new dimension when she began hunting. It is a whole different way to show appreciation and make a connection with the wilderness, she said.

“We want to be adding something to the outdoors, not taking something away,” Cunningham said. “For each animal we take out, we want to put two back in.”

Meyer and Cunningham ice fish in the winter, have spent time together on the trap line and hunt big game. Their favorite animal to track is waterfowl, he said. On the heels of their eight English setters and three chocolate Labradors, they have spent time sifting the state for different bird hunting spots.

One Friday evening Meyer and Cunningham drove north of Fairbanks to hunt for only a few hours, then turned right around, Meyer said.

“Christine is such a great ambassador for the lifestyle that we all love so much,” Meyer said.

The female demographic is the only area in hunting that is growing, Meyer said. Hunters need the support of non-hunters to keep the lands open for use, he said.

“I found each woman who hunts has an incredible potential to recruit other hunters,” Cunningham said in her submission essay. “It is one of the reasons I believe women are the future of hunting.”

Women like Cunningham are building a new image and changing public perception of the sport, Meyer said.

“Some of my best friends are hunting dogs, my best memories are in the field,” Cunningham said. “After a day of hunting, I have the best sleep of my life.”

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulclarion.com.

More in News

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Young to face off with a Begich yet again

Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich’s entry into the race.

A remote galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is greatly magnified and distorted by the effects of gravitationally warped space. (Image via NASA)
Grant brings NASA to library

The grant supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math programming for patrons.

A spruce bark beetle is seen on the underside of a piece of bark taken from logs stacked near Central Peninsula Landfill on Thursday, July 1, 2021 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
State urges driver caution at Bing’s Landing this week due to work

The work is part of the State of Alaska’s efforts to mitigate the spruce beetle outbreak on the Kenai Peninsula.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion 
A chicken eats kale inside of a chicken house at Diamond M Ranch on April 1 off Kalifornsky Beach Road. The ranch receives food scraps from the public as part a community program aimed at recovering food waste and keeping compostable material out of the landfill.
More food for the chickens

Central peninsula group awarded grant to expand composting efforts

The Little Alaskan children’s store is seen in Kenai on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Located where Bargain Basement used to be in Kenai, the shop opened this weekend. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Little’ shop goes big

Little Alaskan occupies the space where Bargain Basement used to be in Kenai.

Nurses Melissa Pancoast and Kathi Edgell work shifts at the intesive care unit at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna on Sept. 22. October was the deadliest month so far for COVID-19 deaths at CPH, with 11 of 30 deaths that have taken place at the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Chief Nursing Officer Karen Scoggins)
‘The deadliest month we’ve had’

One-third of total COVID deaths at CPH took place in the last month.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Most Read