Beka Garris is a 31-year-old mother. However, she is no ordinary mom. She is also a hunter, an activity that also happens to be a family tradition. Hunters do not have a good reputation among the population who believe it is the way of savages or it is the worst form of animal cruelty. However, Garris, on top of being criticized for hunting, is also coming under fire for another reason. She takes her two-year-old daughter with her when she goes hunting. She has been labeled as a "bad mother" for doing this but Garris won't let that stop her.
Garris has been hunting since the age of 10 and hopes to teach her daughter the skills of hunting as well. “I get quite a few anti-hunters saying things like, ‘How would you like it if someone hunted you and your baby?’ and other things along the lines of, ‘How can you teach an innocent baby such horrible things like hunting?’” Garris told ACH News . “It can be tough at times, but strangers online don’t know me so really cannot judge me.” Garris straps her daughter to her back as she goes into the wild with a bow and arrow to hunt an animal for the basic necessity of being able to put food on the table. “We didn’t buy beef, we always had deer meat,” she said.
"Every parent has the choice to raise their children how they see fit," Garris told the Daily Mail . "Hunting with children of all ages is something our ancestors did all of the time. It's not something that should be seen as 'shocking'. I choose to ignore what people say. The fact that my daughter loves accompanying me only strengthens my decision to take her. We love spending time in the outdoors learning about nature." She regularly uploads pictures of her hunting expeditions, looking very much like Katniss Everdeen, on Facebook. As a kid who grew up in the creeks and woods of rural Sussex County, NJ, she does not understand why people think what she does is wrong or gross.
"My dad is an avid hunter and so he started taking me along when I was ten. Hunting and fishing became a huge part of my childhood," Garris stated. "Now we go at least several times a week during open season spending a few hours in the woods." She now wants to carry forward the same relationship with her daughter. "Hunts with my daughter can be shorter than if I went alone as I want to make sure she's enjoying herself and stays comfortable in the weather," she said. "Exposing a child to the outdoors and hunting at a young age will only help them create a stronger bond with nature. They will be raised thinking these activities are normal – as it should be."
Garris went on to say, "I refuse to apologize for teaching my child that food comes from the woods, water, and the garden. It's nice knowing where your food comes from and knowing the time and effort I put into the hunt brings a certain satisfaction." She also states that hunting is in itself an act of conservation. "Wild game is something you rarely find in a grocery store and it's both delicious and better for you," she said, and added, "We field dress, skin, and cut up our animals. I'll save the skull and some bones to bleach and create artwork. Feathers and hide are then kept to create a wall hanging or clothing." Her motto remains, "Eat meat. Wear fur. Apologize to no one."