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Gerry Bracewell: Local Legend in Conservation and Hunt Guiding

Gerry Bracewell: Local Legend in Conservation and Hunt Guiding

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Gerry Bracewell is an iconic name in British Columbia’s history for her conservation and hunt guiding work. Growing up in rural Alberta, Gerry knew the laws of nature. But it wasn’t until she came to the Chilcotin region of British Columbia in her early twenties that she learned how to hunt and become a hunt guide.

Here, Gerry learned how to shoot accurately, how to scout for game and how to retrieve the animals she harvested. Now she had the basics of hunting and knew the guide territory, she was ready to become a hunt guide. In 1945, Gerry became the first female licensed hunt guide in British Columbia. For Gerry, she was doing what she enjoyed, what she wanted to do. But in 1945, it wasn’t easy being the only female hunt guide in the province. Gerry didn’t let this stop her. Not long after getting her guiding licence, Gerry became the first woman to own a guide outfitting territory in British Columbia.

Gerry had to fight for acceptance in her chosen profession, both from other guides and from her clients. Most of her correspondence was by mail and her name was Gerry. It often wasn’t until her hunters arrived at the lodge that they found out she was a woman. This generated a range of emotions in her hunters from anger to laughter to disbelief. But Gerry was an accomplished guide. By the end of each hunt, her hunters knew she was just as capable as any male guide (whether they could admit it or not!).

As with any guide outfitter, conservation of the wildlife resource was a vital part of life for Gerry. Just some of her projects included:

  • Snow surveys to predict water supply and flood forecasting
  • Protecting the winter ranges of ungulate species
  • Goat population studies, resulting in the successful transplant of the animals
  • Logging road deactivation in crucial winter ranges
  • Changes to regulations affecting wildlife

This clearly shows the wide range of projects Gerry was involved in from all levels of conservation.

Gerry’s career as a guide outfitter lasted almost 70 years. Her son, Alex, now manages her guide outfitting territory. But at the age of 99, Gerry is still active in sharing her ideas for how it should be managed. She is also still sharing stories of her past hunting adventures with her friends, family and visitors.

As a conservation-focused, female pioneer in the guiding industry, Gerry has left a legacy. A legacy that is continued by her son, Kevan, who has owned BCTMO Conservation Club for over thirty years. Kevan inherited Gerry’s conservation focus, vision and experience. Not only do we have many female guides at BCTMO Conservation Club, we are also focused on conservation, managing our territory from a long-term perspective.

At BCTMO Conservation Club, Gerry is an inspiration to our female hunt guides. At the lodge, we often hear comments about how capable and professional our female guides are. We are proud to have them working with us and we help them to achieve their full potential. Our female guides guide hunts for all the species in our territory including California bighorn sheep, mountain goats and cougars.

Just like Gerry, they are tough and solution-orientated, and help create an unforgettable hunting experience for our guests. Gerry started to break down the barriers for female guides, making this career choice more accessible for our female hunt guides.

At the age of 93, Gerry wrote her first book, “Gerry, Get Your Gun” about her life as a hunt guide. You can buy her book from her website. Now, at the age of 99, Gerry is working on a second book with more hunt guide stories with her sons, Kevan and Alex.