Writing this has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I lost my Aunt recently and more than that, a precious friend. Her name was Janice Faye Presnall and she was my inspiration to begin hunting. She was not famous, did not have a TV show or write books but she was a true huntress in every sense of the word. She was the first woman I ever met that could kill a deer, clean the deer then cook the deer all in the same day. Janice was also a caretaker. She took care of her family and friends with their physical, mental and spiritual needs. I can not remember a time when a friend or family member was down that she was not right there to give them the boost they needed to rise up.
My husband, David, had hunted off and on with his Uncle Mike and Aunt Janice since childhood. David encouraged me to hunt with them but it was Aunt Janice who not only encouraged me but inspired me. It all started on our camping trips and weekends of grilling steaks that she started sharing her stories with me of her time in the stand. Some of the most precious memories I have are from sitting on the tail gate of a truck in the middle of the night eating crawfish and listening to their hounds run through the woods on the trail of something or around a campfire laughing about something that happened that day or 10 years ago. It did not matter when it happened because the the laughter and memories shared made it feel like it just happened and you were a part of it. I was mesmerized by the passion she had for hunting but also with the passion she had for hunting with her family. She was the first person I called when I shot my first deer. I was upset that it was a small deer and just did not think I could continue to hunt after this mistake. The first thing she told me was “Mistakes happen to all of us. Get back out there tomorrow and kill a bigger deer. Learn from your mistake but don’t let it stop you from doing something you love.”
Over the years we hunted in the same club then as we went our separate ways hunting in different clubs and different places we would always call or text with updates and pictures of our latest harvest. If one of us was having a bad season the other one was there with words of encouragement. I remember when I booked my alligator hunt I confided in her my fears of not making the shot and she, as always, told me if I set my mind to it then I could do it. Janice was like that, always encouraging. She did not like to hear you say you could not do something because with confidence, prayers and a willingness to learn you could do anything. Janice and Mike were a huge inspiration to both myself and David as we grew as a couple that hunted together. I know how much Janice loved hunting with Mike and also over the years taking her kids and then grandkids into the woods with her. I am positive that like me, they will carry those wonderful memories with them and share them with their children and then grandchildren over the years to come.
Janice was taken from this earth too early but I know she is in a better place and watching over her family and friends every day. She inspired me and shaped me into the huntress that I am today. I regret that I never took the opportunity to tell her exactly how much she impacted me. I won’t make that mistake ever again! If someone inspires you, tell them. If you love someone, tell them. Don’t wait because you might lose the chance and the regrets are painful. I will take a little piece of Janice into the woods on every trip I take and that gives me peace. Janice, you are loved and missed every day by everyone who was blessed to have had their lives touched by you even in the simplest ways.