Woman Bags Fish, Game Post Hanson Has Hunted Since Girlhood
When people meet Nancy Hanson, they don’t picture the petite blonde lugging a rifle through the woods stalking elk or reeling in a 65-pound paddlefish on the Missouri River.
Most see Hanson, 37, as a well-dressed businesswoman who is president and CEO of Sand-Ida Services Inc. The corporation runs and owns Sandpoint’s Edgewater Resort, Quality Inn, Pastime Cafe and the BP Supermart.
“She transforms like Superman from businessman to outdoorsman,” said state Rep. John Campbell, R-Sandpoint.
He has hunted and fished with Hanson for years and nominated her for a seat on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Hanson now is in the Idaho history books as the first woman on the commission. Gov. Phil Batt appointed her to the post this month.
“I know the governor probably wanted to appoint a woman but I also know he wouldn’t appoint one that wasn’t qualified,” said Hanson, a Sandpoint native. “I like to think he hired the most qualified person, not just a woman.”
The seven-member commission sets hunting and fishing regulations in the state. It also is faced with preserving Idaho’s quality big-game hunting and will help decide on a proposed reintroduction of the threatened grizzly bear to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in central Idaho.
Hanson was picked from about 37 applicants. Her appointment was a bit of a surprise to Pete Thompson, a former 11-year Fish and Game commissioner from Sandpoint.
“I heard there were three vying for the job and one was a woman. When I found out it was Nancy I knew she was very well-qualified and deserving. I’m very pleased she was appointed,” he said.
“When the public meets this lady and finds out she is a hunter, I think it might shock them a bit. I’ve hunted with her and she is very capable,” Thompson added. “She understands fish and wildlife management and knows what is going on out in the woods.”
For 13 years, Hanson has been a hunter education instructor. She hosts an outdoor and shooting clinic just for women. She also is a member of the Bonner County Sportsman’s Association, has hunted and fished the past 20 years, and really did pull a 65-pound paddle fish out of the Missouri River in Montana a week ago.
On top of all that, last year Hanson was one of the first women in the region to join the previously all-male Elk’s Club.
“When I was younger I tried to hide some of this. It wasn’t real popular to go hunting and fishing, especially if you were a girl,” Hanson said. “I got called a tomboy about a year ago and it shocked me. I guess maybe I am, but I also know I am pretty feminine.”
Most people are stunned to find out Hanson is such an avid outdoorsman, who guts out her own elk, handles a gun like a professional and can hold her own with a fly-fishing rod.
“Most people just never see me at 4 a.m. with my hunting gear on,” Hanson laughed. “What I hope I can do is bring to light that women are sportsmen and let other women know it’s OK to be out there hunting and fishing. This might help open the door for them to get into it.”
Since she was old enough to hold a pole, Hanson was fishing with her father, Leo Hadley. She said neither her brother nor her sister were interested in the outdoors, so she became her father’s hunting partner. At age 12 she was the state champion for target shooting with a .22-caliber rifle.
Hanson still hunts elk with her father and is one of the few women in the “elk camp.” She also takes along her two boys, ages 8 and 10, to pass on the family tradition. The past four years she’s bagged her own elk, which goes in the freezer to feed the family.
Campbell still laughs about watching Hanson gut her first deer when she was in her early 20’s.
“She put on gloves up to her elbows and opened it up real carefully,” he said. When she tried pulling out the entrails she fell on her rearend but eventually got the job done.
“We still tease her, but the reason she is on the commission is because she loves the outdoors, is very knowledgeable and can contribute something to wildlife management here,” Campbell said. “Like everything else, women are taking leadership roles and it’s a credit to Batt and his people Nancy was appointed.”
The outdoors and hunting have always been an escape for Hanson. She wants to preserve that outdoor lifestyle for future generations - a goal she says has nothing to do with being a woman.
“I have the same concerns as a lot of sportsmen about preserving what we do have in Idaho and look forward to working with the commission,” she said. “I have a high pressure job and hectic lifestyle. For me, hunting is a way to get away, feed my soul and put life back into perspective. I want to share that with others.”
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