Eva Shockey is following in the footsteps of her father, legendary hunter Jim Shockey, and she’s finding out how busy the path can be. She is the co-host with her father on Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures in the Outdoor Channel, an ambassador for numerous hunting and outdoor-related brands and travels the country speaking about hunting and conservation.
In her personal life, Eva is married to former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin player Tim Brent, with whom she recently had a baby daughter. She also just completed her first book (on sale Aug. 29), “Taking Aim,” and will soon be embarking on a promotional tour in several states before hunting season arrives.
It’s a hectic, yet rewarding time for Eva Shockey, who readily accepts the fact that being the daughter of a famous hunter, an ambassador to the sport herself and now a mom results in a schedule requiring her to juggle several tasks at once. When she took some time out to talk with the Times Leader last week from her home in North Carolina, Eva answered questions while her dog barked, the call-waiting beeped and she prepared elk steaks for dinner.
But when it came time to talk about hunting, family and conservation, Eva was as focused as she is when in the woods with a bow in her hand.
Tom Venesky: You have hunted all over the world and you also logged some time in the woods while living in Pennsylvania while your husband played for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. What did you think about the hunting tradition in Pennsylvania?
Eva Shockey: I lived it. We lived in Allentown and it was one of our favorite years together. In Pennsylvania, we were surrounded by people who love hunting. I’ve lived in a lot of places where you wear your camo out in public and you get some strange looks. In Pennsylvania it wasn’t like that. One time I was going home from a hunt and stopped by the grocery store wearing my camo. People came up to me in the milk aisle asking how I did and if I saw anything. I loved it.
You cover a lot of topics in your book, including what it’s like to be Jim Shockey’s daughter, how you became a hunter and the appeal of the outdoors to everyone. Was it challenging to write a hunting book that appeals to hunters and non-hunters alike?
It was surprisingly challenging because it had to be appealing to hunters and those who have no idea what the hunting jargon means. There were certain things I had to be careful not to under-explain and the book isn’t meant just for hunters. I really wanted people that haven’t hunted to find it interesting as well. I don’t necessarily think everyone should hunt, but rather everyone should understand and respect hunting and the benefits it provides to conservation.
You’ve hunted big game in Africa and across North America, but your first experience was hunting gophers with your dad and brother while growing up in Canada. What did that experience teach you about the sport?
I was seven when I did that, and the gopher hunt made me realize it doesn’t matter what you hunt, the adventure and challenge is always there. At that point in my life it showed me that girls can enjoy hunting just like the boys and it was the first time I could apply what my dad taught me about the sport.
In 2009 when you returned from your first big game hunt - in South Africa with your father - and harvested a warthog wildebeest and an impala, you got a surprising reaction from your friends. What did that experience teach you?
I cam from the non-hunting side and it took me a while to understand all the good we do as hunters. When I came back home I was shocked not everyone understood that. I didn’t try to explain things when they were said things, and I was ashamed for leaving these people poking fun of what I do as a hunter. So many people don’t connect the dots, and that was a turning point. Now, I always explain hunting and why I love it. It’s crucial to understand the connection of where your meat comes from. Being a hunter made me appreciate what I eat so much more and the memory of the hunt that led to the harvest.
In the book you discuss how excited your dad gets when you’re successful on a hunt. He likes to say “holy moly” quite a bit. Does it make you proud to see how much your dad enjoys seeing you be successful on a hunt?
It does. He gets extremely excited about it. Through hunting we are bonding and it has brought us a 100 times closer. The hunts with my dad have been such quality time, and he does say holy moly quite a bit. He didn’t believe it, but I told him to watch our show and he’s always saying it on there.
Coming from a well-known hunting family and being in the spotlight has also made you a target for anti-hunters. Is that tough to deal with?
My dad has really helped prepare me for that. We talked about it long ago and he told me that I need to understand when I pull that trigger, I’m a hunter and I’m also a target for anti-hunters. Over the years I’ve gotten death threats - I stopped counting at 5,000 after one of my hunts - and without my dad I wouldn’t have the confidence to deal with that. Facing that was something where I had to decide to have a thick skin and push through it. I focus on what we as hunters are doing for conservation and wildlife habitat. That’s so much more important than people commenting on me.
You’re an advocate for women who hunt and like the outdoors. What do you think about the broad appeal of hunting that goes beyond gender and demographics?
Hunting doesn’t discriminate. People discriminate with their ideas of who should and shouldn’t be doing something. I wish I knew that when I was younger but didn’t have the self-confidence to try hunting because I didn’t know any females involved in the sport. Being in this industry I meet people that have dream jobs - country music singers, athletes - and they come up to me and tell me I have their dream job. Every aspect of my life is related to hunting and I love it.
You write about how strong and protective your dad is of you, so what was it like to introduce him to Tim Brent? Did it help that he’s a hunter also?
My dad is strong and tough and he wouldn’t put up with someone if he didn’t think the person was right for me. I was always concerned about when it came time to introduce him to ‘the one,’ but with Tim I had no fear. When Tim approached my dad and asked his permission to propose to me, my dad cried. He claims he didn’t, but Tim said he saw him tear up. They love being together and get a long great, and hunting is definitely a bond.
What reaction do you hope your book generates among those who read it?
I hope people walk away encouraged to do something they’ve always wanted to try. Take that chance and do the things that other people said they couldn’t do. Hopefully I have represented hunting in a positive light and hunters and non-hunters respect that.