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Quickly now, picture yourself on a safari in South Africa, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, viewing exotic wildlife and embracing the romance of the hunt as described by writers like Robert Ruark and Peter Hathaway Capstick.
We all conjure different images in our minds, but I suspect few of us would have pictured a stunning young lady with bright blonde hair leading the expedition. Yet, if Michigan’s Britney Starr has her way, that will soon be the reality for folks who join one of Starr & Bodill African Safaris’ hunts.
Britney is part of a new generation of female hunters who, in my opinion, represent the future of the sport. She stands out because in addition to a lifetime of hunting the northern wilds with her father, the two are co-owners of the safari company that bears their name.
Britney also happens to be the associate editor and a writer for The Women’s Outdoor News, and is on the field staff for Prois Hunting & Field Apparel, a company that makes hunting attire for women. Recently, she agreed to be interviewed for Outdoors Down South. (In this case, it’s outdoors waaay down south.)
How did your love of the outdoors come to be?
My dad and I have been enjoying the outdoors together for my entire life. Some of my earliest memories are times when he would take me along turkey scouting or hunting. One day he showed me some turkey poop from a jake and explained how you could tell it wasn’t from a tom turkey because it was “J” shaped. From then on out, I would always try to find jake poop and then shout, “Look daddy, “J’s”!” I think that is really what sparked my love of turkey hunting. Even to this day my dad still takes the time show me the small details and explain things in order for me to become a better hunter. I believe that my passion for the outdoors comes from those early times, before I was even old enough to carry a gun, when he shared his excitement and love for hunting with me.
How did you decide that you would make the outdoors more than a hobby? At what point did you say, “This is what I’m going to do?”
Actually, growing up I always wanted to be in law enforcement. My dad is a retired Michigan State Police officer I wanted to be just like him. When I was 16 I was in a car accident that damaged my right hand, wrist and arm and also took me out of the running for police work. My dad wasn’t thrilled with the thought of his baby girl doing that anyway …
My love for both writing and the outdoors really culminated during my high school years. As a teenager, you generally spend a lot of time trying to decide what to major in during college and what your career goals are going to be. I took yearbook all four years of high school and was the editor during my senior year. Of course, during that time, I was also hunting as much as I could. My dad and I went on our first safari when I was a freshman and during that trip I made it a point to write in my journal every evening after dinner. The lodge had a huge boulder in the courtyard with a seat carved out at the top, I would climb up there and put down my thoughts as the sun set. That trip is when I fell in love with Africa, and also when I decided that my career goals would incorporate hunting and writing in some capacity.
I decided to major in journalism at Western Michigan University and graduated with my bachelors in 2008. By that point, we had three safaris under our belt, my dad was working for the outfitter as his US representative and had also gone through the rigorous process of becoming a licensed professional hunter in South Africa. I also started working for the outfitter (in addition to my “normal” full time job). We were both traveling around the Midwest to attend different hunting related events, booking clients and assisting them with every aspect of their trip. My dad and I realized that we could do things with more attention to detail and quality if we were in control of all of the business decisions. In August of 2011, my dad, myself and Louis Bodill (a professional hunter from South Africa) started Starr & Bodill African Safaris. Our first year of business has gone extremely well and we are really looking forward to the upcoming safari season.
All the while, I have continued with my writing. I set up a blog for our company (www.sbafricansafaris.blogspot.com) where I write about our clients, organizations that we donate to, and the general happenings of our company. I’m currently the associate editor of The Women’s Outdoor News (www.womensoutdoornews.com) where I write a blog called “Shooting Starr” which chronicles my shooting and hunting adventures. I’m also currently trying to expand the scope of my freelance work.
Beyond what you’re doing now, do you have a “dream job”?
Ha! Can it get any better than this? I think what I’m doing right now is my “dream job”. The one other thing I would like to do is become a licensed Professional Hunter in South Africa. I have been studying for a while now. My plan, within the next couple of years, is to apprentice with my dad while he is PHing our clients. I am working my way towards the end goal but it’s something that takes a lot of preparation, not to mention passing a rigorous school and multiple tests.
For a lot of folks, an African Safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What are some things that separate Starr & Bodill Safaris from others?
I think one of the main things that set Starr & Bodill apart from other safari companies is our extreme attention to detail. We walk our clients step-by-step through the entire process; starting from the time of booking and ending after the safari is over and the taxidermy arrives at their home. Actually, we never really “stop” interacting with our clients. We love to keep up on what they are doing and often end up making lifelong friends with them. Another great thing about Starr & Bodill is that my dad and I are in the US so we can be reached virtually anytime. We are extremely accessible and make sure to promptly answer emails. We often hear from our clients about how they love the fact that they can call us on the phone and ask questions at any time.
We want our clients to feel like they have been armed with all of the information they need in order to leave the country with confidence.
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If you’re interested in an African safari, check out Starr & Bodill’s website at www.sbafricansafaris.com. Also, be sure to read Britney’s work on her blogs or at www.womensoutdoornews.com.