Knife Drop: These Hunters Are Demystifying Hyper-Sexualized Sportswomen


She pulls back her long hair, binds it into a ponytail and picks up her hunting rifle. A couple of waning hours of sunlight means that Alexis Bonogofsky has time to unwind the day with a solo walk in the woods.

The nearby public lands, where she hunts, are a short drive from her small ranch outside of Billings, Montana. Bonogofsky pack is preloaded with a handsaw, used to cut into captured game, so that the body can cool—a rope to help carry the catch, a headlamp and a high-calorie snack. The fourth-generation Montanan is a seasoned hunter. She was introduced to the sport by virtue of her family and learned how to fire a rifle two decades ago. If she can score a mule deer or a pheasant this evening it's a bonus that she stringently pursues. In reverence for the animal, she only shoots with 100-percent accuracy.

“When I travel outside of the interior west, or to cities, people are surprised that I hunt," says Bonogofsky. The broad perception of hunting culture that is popularized by media, advertisements and brand marketing—an image of sexualized women, over-the-top extreme hunts and machismo men—is a homogenous one that does not reflect reality. “The normal hunter is me. Work until 5 p.m., head to the nearby public lands, hunt a deer, go home and see the family.—That's not sexy enough for hunting media," explains Bonogofsky. So she joined a coalition of powerhouse women who are shifting the narrative.

Cue Artemis, a nonprofit with a two-prong mission: To draw more women into the hunting and angling communities, and to galvanize sportswomen—and sportsmen—to actively participate in conservation efforts. The end goal? To increase the quantity of voices and the diversity of perspectives within advocacy, which will in turn engage more activists and support. Inclusivity will strengthen the cause.

“We're not looking to elbow out men," says Artemis co-founder Jessi Johnson, who is the organization's original founder and the public lands coordinator for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation and the parent organization of Artemis. True, these sports are male-dominated, but eligible sportswomen have always participated. To point, the Department of the Interior reports that the number of female anglers increased by 300 percent—80 years ago.

Here's modern fuel for more steep growth: Artemis was started by ten women in the Rocky Mountain region last June, with a trip to Washington, D.C., where the co-founders lobbied for public lands. Artemis workshops also commenced with a central focus on public advocacy.

“We hold trainings about how to engage in your local legislature, how to be an effective advocate, and how to engage in democracy. There is no privilege without obligation. If you hunt and fish, you need to show up and be the voice for the wildlife and the fish that are so integral to our lifestyle," says Johnson.

Artemis also teaches women's-only clinics that cover a range of hunting and angling skills such as archery, butchery and how to fit gear. The organization's national participation and support, constituents that include both men and women, is gauged by the number of volunteers at events and the email list, which has grown to 5,000 subscribers in one year.

Positive backing of Artemis is no surprise considering the recent swell of female participation in hunting and fishing. The number of registered female hunters in the U.S. doubled to 3.3 million between 2001 and 2013, reports the National Rifle Association of America. And more ladies are casting now than ever before: 35 percent of anglers nationwide are female, and women are the fastest growing demographic in the sport of fishing, according the Recreational & Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Industry Association.

The growing community of female fishers is incited by progressive initiatives such as 50/50 On the Water, a national program recently founded by Orvis—a 161-year-old rod and tackle manufacturer—to create gender parity in the sport fly fishing. The campaign launched after two years of research and input from more than 120 industry professionals. 50/50 has three central goals: Change the industry's perception of women by reflecting diversity across physique, age, ethnicity and skill level; celebrate women in conservation; and increase sport access by providing free-of-cost and women's only clinics and schools.

“There will be so many women with strong voices on the leadership stage, and an equal and fair representation of people who hunt and fish, that Artemis is no longer needed. Our hope is to do a knife drop and walk from the stage" - Jessie Johnson

“Our consistent growth has been a drink from the firehose," says Johnson. Hence, the onboard of Program Manager Marcia Brownlee, who joined Artemis full-time this month. Brownlee spearheads the community events in the six western interior states—Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico and Colorado—where the organization launched. This year, Artemis will formulate a state ambassador program that kick-offs in Oregon.

Another pivotal focus for Artemis is youth advocacy education, which is widely overlooked in public education. The nonprofit partnered with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers—an organization that provides resources and education to support North America's public lands and water, fishing and hunting—to offer hands-on advocacy training for college students.

“Artemis wants to give people the skills that they need to navigate the complex, intimidating waters of our political system on the local, state and national level. We want to remove the barriers that are actual and perceived and encourage people to advocate for what they care about," says Brownlee.

Artemis will lead a segment of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Collegiate Program's Hunting for Sustainability course, a weekend-long program, that covers how to lobby, how to interact with representatives and senators, how read a bill and the steps that a bill takes to become a law. Class culminates with a field trip to visit the state legislature. The curriculum is offered in Montana this fall with an intention to expand to other states.

Broadening the scope of opinions around policies presents a paradox. More voices inevitably slows down the bureaucratic process but the increased political participation of Americans will improve the long-term outcome, points out Johnson. Especially regarding the current push from President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to transfer publicly-owned lands, an unconstitutional rollback that dissolves wilderness protections, opens land for privatization, and allows for oil, gas and mineral extraction.

“We are in an administration that wants to open up this public land to energy development at the expense of losing important habitats and wildlife. As hunters and anglers, we need to adjust in the moment and stop this threat in its tracks," says Bonogofsky.

Public lands and waters—640 million acres that include National Parks, National Forests, Wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers and wildlife preserves—are owned by Americans and managed by the federal government. Nearly all public lands allow hunting and fishing. The financial impact of that recreation is significant. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 104 million “wildlife recreationists"—36 million anglers, 12 million hunters, and 86 million wildlife watchers (read: when folks observe, feed and photograph wildlife)—ages 16 and older, spent $157 billion on their sport in a single year, in 2016.

Furthermore, people like Bonogofsky are involved with their family's hunting ritual at age five, and evidence points that our country's hunting and fishing population is larger than the aforementioned stats: 47 million anglers and 27 million hunters—including the bow, handgun, rifle, and shotgun categories—ages six and up, were tallied in the 2017 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, published by the Outdoor Industry Association.

The collective population of hunters and anglers is a powerful one with potential to impact public lands, as well as other current conservation issues such as the Interior Department's controversial changes to the sage grouse protection management (the comment period was reopened after the BLM lost 100,000 public comments), and the Land and Conservation Fund, which will expire this September without action from Congress.

“Hunting and angling have relied on this age-old argument that we pay for conservation therefore we are conservationists," says Johnson. The sales of required tags and licenses, and the equipment taxes for hunting and fishing gear, funnel into a fund for wildlife conservation. “But that is accidental conservation. We need to show up to protect the wildlife and wild land that we care for so much: Write your congressmen, volunteer at local events, and talk about these specific conservation issues on a larger scale," she says.

Artemis reinforces the need for dedicated attention and deliberate inclusion of females in sport and conservation. “Women have a voice that isn't heard as often [as men] politically, especially on an administrative stage that is so male dominated right now," says Johnson and continues, “Everyone needs a seat at the table: the cat lady in New Jersey, oil and gas companies, conservation groups, and hunters in west." Equality and inclusion doesn't negate the special role that women have in evolving the political tone and changing the perception of hunters and anglers. “Women have a voice that isn't heard as often [as men] politically, especially on an administrative stage that is so male dominated right now. Everyone needs a seat at the table: the cat lady in New Jersey, oil and gas companies, conservation groups, and hunters in west." - Jessi Johnson

“Our Western culture is uncomfortable with death. We—hunters and anglers—need to be more cognizant about how we speak about our relationship with the natural world. This is a generalization, but women tend to be more emotionally intelligent than men with how they talk about hunting," says Johnson.

Downstream, the ultimate win is for Johnson to be out of a job, she hopes: “There will be so many women with strong voices on the leadership stage, and an equal and fair representation of people who hunt and fish, that Artemis is no longer needed. Our hope is to do a knife drop and walk from the stage."

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.