Profile of a Canadian Hunter: Amanda Lynn Mayhew
Amanda Lynn Mayhew is not like most people. Her energy seems to know no bounds. Between her company Just Hunt, TV show, running the Women’s Hunting Association, being the official ambassador and host of the Great Outdoors Stage for the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, and her Range Day and Take Me Outreach Programs, she credits her athletic training for giving her the well-being and energy to stay so busy.
Mayhew hasn’t always been the hunter-athlete she is today. Her humble beginnings, a health scare in her 20s, and the challenges of being a single mom have given her the grit, determination, and experience that sets her apart as a hunter.
From Necessity to Passion
The story of how Mayhew became an ambassador for women in the hunting industry starts with her family. Growing up, her parents had to hunt and fish to put food on the table. Her parents set an example for her as people who looked to the great outdoors as a resource, not just recreation.
“My parents would fish as much as they could to make sure our family had protein to eat,” Mayhew said. “For my dad, hunting a moose or bear would feed the family for a year with me, my mom, and my sister.”
Hunting was an essential part of her upbringing that continues with her three sons.
“Hunting is about the meat and food it provides. It always has been,” she said. “When I go on a hunt now, I come back and take the meat to my kids, who all have their own apartments, and share it with my dad, who is retired now.”
The shift from hunting as a necessity to becoming an outdoor superstar happened unexpectedly.
“I never rolled out of bed and said, ‘I’m going to be on TV,’” Mayhew said. “A lot of people look at me and think that I came from money, or that I have a lot of money now. The reality is that I grew up in a trailer park, and I’m proud of where I came from.”
Mayhew was a single mother in the late 90s with three boys to feed, so like her parents before her, she used hunting to provide high-quality meat for her family.
Then in 1998, Mayhew was diagnosed with Graves disease. This auto-immune disorder wreaks havoc with your thyroid and can cause extreme exhaustion and weight management disorders, among other things. After trying medication and treatments to control the disease, Mayhew turned to fitness after undergoing radiation treatment. Seeing a commercial for the Total Gym featuring friend Chuck Norris, she decided to buy one and start exercising.
“I would work out 4-5 hours a day,” Mayhew said.
Soon after, she moved back to northern Ontario. People noticed a change.
“Here were people who had seen me as a girl, and as a single mother, and now I was ripped. I became really involved in the fitness community,” Mayhew said
Two years after receiving her diagnosis, Mayhew had become a personal trainer and started her own fitness magazine.
“I got tired of looking at magazines at the gym that were nothing but ads. So, I started a fitness magazine that focused on stories about how fitness was used to treat rare diseases and to bring awareness to rare diseases, like mine. No one had seen anything like it,” she said.
Throughout this time, she still went hunting to feed her growing boys. Her publication soon got the attention of executives in the outdoor sporting industry.
“I made friends with an editor of a magazine in Canada and was asked to be part of a women’s panel at the Outdoor Show in Toronto, Ontario in 2011. From that day, it snowballed into what I do today,” she said.
Mayhew became a representative for Bass Pro Shops, which lead to another role as Cabela’s Ambassador for Canada. She simultaneously hosted a radio show called “Nothing but Outdoors” and was a co-host on a country music station. She would bounce back and forth between hosting country music events and hunting, all while holding a full-time day job with the provincial government.
“Country artists are authentic hunters,” she said. “They talk about being in the outdoors and family. It is about involvement and family and friends. It’s just pure fun.”
In 2016, at her first SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Wild TV approached Mayhew and asked her if she would be interested in being a part of a new project for their channel.
“At first I told them, ‘no,’ but then they eventually persuaded me,” she said.
Her segment on Canada Hunts East titled “Just Hunt” was a highly popular program on Wild TV.
As an advocate for women in the outdoors, Mayhew continues to empower both women and men to learn the ins and outs of shooting sports with “Just Hunt.”
“I have been teaching women how to hunt and use firearms for over 15 years,” Mayhew said. “It is great for all of these women to be coming into the industry. I think it is awesome.”
Events like the Take Me Hunting Outreach Program, which is a weekend event that prepares women and gives them the confidence and tools to get into hunting own their own, shows Mayhew’s commitment to growing the industry.
“There are more women than ever becoming hunters, and that is great. I say hunter for a reason: There is a difference between a ‘hunter’ and a ‘huntress,’” she said.
Mayhew explained why she makes such a differentiation. It can impact how women perceive they are welcome in the world of hunting.
“When I was a little girl, I was a hunter, not a huntress. That word didn’t exist,” she said. “I support people who want to express themselves in the outdoors; however, when women are hunting, we are just like the men out there – we are focused on just the hunt.”
She urges both men and women who use social media as a means of sharing about the world of outdoor sports to focus on two main things: setting others up for success and being an advocate for hunting and conservation.
“It is important that we help others learn about our heritage and carry it forward,” she said.
A new season of her groundbreaking TV show launched in April 2020 on Sportsman Channel. The shows feature Mayhew taking women on their very first turkey, deer, and grouse hunts as well as ice fishing expeditions. She also partners up with other veteran hunters—including her own family—for exciting bear and moose hunts. Mayhew’s show “That Hunting Girl” follows her on thrilling outdoor sporting adventures and promotes the message: Just Hunt. Just Hunt’s outlook is not focused on age or demographic but more of a mentality or lifestyle.
The Quintessential Canadian Hunt
If you plan to head to Canada for a hunt-of-a-lifetime, then you’re going to hunt moose.
“The Canadian moose hunt is the quintessential hunt. The moose is the ultimate animal. It is majestic, delicious; it’s hard, it’s challenging,” Mayhew said.
Her Grandfather has harvested more than 100 moose in his lifetime. But with a lottery system now in place, Mayhew has been able to harvest only two.
“Because I was a solo hunter for 19 years, I only drew one tag,” Mayhew said. “Working in the gun store, you hear these stories about moose hunting, and it is different than anything else.”
She described her first moose hunt as “the most exciting memory that I have.” She didn’t have a tag, but the fact that she couldn’t harvest the moose didn’t change how thrilling the whole experience was for her.
“I scouted it and called it out. I played with that moose for about an hour,” she said. “It was just about the experience. I went home and told my dad, and he could tell that I had experienced a moose. Calling out that enormous animal is amazing. Whether you harvest it, or just have a conversation with it. Everything about moose hunting is amazing.”
Rapid Fire: Final Questions
“My favorite caliber is the 30-06. The reason is that it was what my Grandfather used and what my son used to shoot his first big game animal.”
Least Favorite Caliber
“I don’t have one. I like them all. I love guns and have a lot of them, and they are all different calibers. I enjoy shooting.”
“I’m known for my Weatherby Vanguard in 30-06. It was Grandfather’s gun, and I use it all the time. My father has the same gun, and my uncle has a matching gun to my Grandfathers. It is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but it also has a lot of sentimental value.”
One thing you can’t be without on a hunt
“My mom, I have an origami necklace that my sister gave me that has a picture of my mom in it. That goes with me everywhere. In 2016 when I was going to start the show, I called my mom, and she was so excited that one of her children was going to be on TV. So, we planned a spring bear hunt in Manitouwadge, ON, which is where I was born and raised. My mom was going to come with me since the bear hunt had been closed for 17 years there, and this was the first year it re-opened. However, she died six weeks before the filming of the show. I almost quit, but then I remembered how happy my mom was, so I brought her along in my necklace. She might glitter a little in the sun, but I never leave home without her.”
Jeremy Mallette is co-founder of International Sportsman, and an avid hunter and outdoorsman. His father taught him to shoot at age six, and he received his first firearm at age eight — a 1942 Colt Commando .38 special revolver. Jeremy enjoys collecting unique firearms, and shooting them.