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Women of the West: Katie Delorenzo
A LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY LADIES
WORDS BY KATIE MARCHETTI
Spanning the generations, women have planted themselves here among the cactus and pine. They’ve forged unconventional paths west — hunting and harvesting stories worth remembering. Today, they are still heeding the call of their heritage, bravely shedding all that is frivolous as they head deeper into the backcountry. They pursue that which will outlive them, in faithful stewardship of the tender shoots of conservation.
This league of extraordinary women have been tested and tried in the high lonesome; blooming amidst the rugged terrain with tenacity and grace that has changed the landscape on which they reside. They are too many to name — those women who have led the way — but each month we aim to share their stories. These are Women of the West.
In southern New Mexico, a young Katie Delorenzo held a squirming lizard in her small hand, displaying it proudly for her father, biologist Don Delorenzo, to inspect. Here in the gravel and sandy soil of the Chihuahuan desert, the seeds of Katie’s future were taking root.
“It was a childhood hyper-focused on being outside. My dad made everything interesting,” said Katie. “Even the smallest things that we found he made cool, and he’d explain them to me.”
While Katie hunted sporadically with her dad, it wasn’t until a 2015 Rocky Mountain Bighorn ewe tag came in the mail that she ventured into the backcountry of the Latir Peak Wilderness in pursuit of something larger. “It was just me and my dad. I got off work super late, and we covered half the trail that night. We threw our bags down on the ground and slept under the stars. We hunted all the next day, and I ended up shooting a sheep at the very end of legal light. That experience was a total reawakening for me, as I’d never experienced hunting like that before,” said Katie. To her it was less about the shot, and more about the physical act of carrying the sheep off the mountain on her back. “I’m small, and my dad didn’t think I could do it,” she added. “But I did it, and once I got to the truck, I felt so proud and so accomplished! I realized hunting was so much more challenging and immersive than I thought. When you’re in a place with no people around, it is so wild and beautiful. I started to understand my dad’s deep connection to a lot of the wildlife management that affects us today, and my connection to it as well.” In the past few years, she’s hunted mule deer, oryx, javelina, turkey, elk, pronghorn and grouse, and helped others on hunts for mountain goat, pronghorn, elk and Persian Ibex.
Katie now hunts with a bow and rifle interchangeably. A week after she married her husband, they went on their first hunt together, and Katie harvested her first bear with a rifle passed down to her from her father. “I definitely started with a rifle, and if it weren’t for private land rifle hunts, I probably wouldn’t be a public land bow hunter,” she noted. “I love bowhunting and having to get in that animal’s immediate vicinity. I feel more connected.”
Pursuing a life in the field can be daunting, and according to Katie, she has been underestimated at times. “But if anything, I think I’ve been lifted up by the men in this community. The ultimate goal for me and so many women hunters is for it to be normalized, and for people to really understand that this is what we love to do. We dedicate our time to it, we persevere, we work hard, and we’ve been at it for hundreds of years.”
According to Katie, she owes a great deal to her dad, who provided her with the fundamentals to be effective in the field. “In my family, it was the norm for my sister and I to do this stuff. My dad didn’t have boys, and he was gonna pass it on anyway. We joke that we were kind of raised like boys, which I love. We didn’t have those kinds of perceived barriers when we got into it.”
Katie’s deep love of the West is evident in the way she describes her home state of New Mexico, as a place brimming with a sense of adventure and discovery. “There’s this amazingly rich history literally at your feet, and it feels very untouched. The Western life — the one that isn’t so manicured — can really build grit and perseverance. That’s what I thrive on. We all crave personal development, and modern life is honestly missing a lot of that. People are so consumed with immediate gratification or the social norms that focus more on what you look like than who you are, and that feels so empty to me. Being in these super challenging positions where there’s nobody around for miles and you’ve gotta figure out your food, water and shelter — it humbles you. It helps you refocus, and the challenges that come with that type of lifestyle keep you grounded. They make you a better person.”
Katie is now the southwest coordinator for the public lands advocacy group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; she covers chapters in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. And there’s a distinct synergy between Katie’s personal and professional life. Her roots in wild places have branched into stewardship and conservation. “I feel a weightedness to my work with BHA. It’s so closely related to my personal values and what I believe about these wild systems,” she explained. “I also feel this kind of pressure that I want to carry on the Delorenzo name, and I want to protect the things that my dad dedicated his life to.”
For Katie, that boils down to one simple guiding principle — putting the resources first. “I would love if all public land users could understand one thing — to value the resource,” she said, her voice filled with passion. “I wish people would get past the idea that it’s ours for the taking, and instead have an additive mentality. It’s important that they give back to these places.”
KATIE MARCHETTI | MANAGING EDITOR
Katie is a Montana-based writer and editor with a passion for people and their stories. Raised on a cattle ranch near Yosemite National Park she’s enamored by wide open spaces and the written word. Serving as digital and print editor for Modern Huntsman, you’ll likely find her, pen in hand, documenting the history and tradition, the beauty and adventure to be found hunting, fishing and ranching the American West.
Make History, Reforge A Legacy