Illinois hunting and fishing

This Aug. 5, 2010 photo provided by Stacee Fost shows her with a stone sheep in British Columbia. She’s among 10 finalists for the title of Most Extreme Huntress, a contest sponsored by Tahoe Films and the television show “Primal Adventures” that airs on the Versus cable channel. Contestants submitted essays about their experiences and the winner will earn a hunt valued at $20,000 for several exotic species with Frasier Safaris New Zealand. (AP Photo/Stacee Frost)

Anchorage woman a finalist in bowhunting contest

January 04, 2011 at 12:02 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Since she was a 13-year-old Anchorage teenager, Stacee Frost has embraced bow shooting.

Her father got Frost started using a traditional recurve bow. Before long, she moved up to a fire-engine red compound bow that she still owns. Nine years ago, she shot her first big-game animal, a Sitka blacktail deer on Kodiak Island.

Since then, bowhunting has taken Frost, 35, to hunting spots in Alaska and throughout the world, pursuing species as diverse as warthogs, wildebeest, Dall sheep and polar bears.

Now she’s among 10 finalists for the title of Most Extreme Huntress, a contest sponsored by Tahoe Films and the television show “Primal Adventures” that airs on the Versus cable channel. Contestants submitted essays about their experiences and the winner will earn a hunt valued at $20,000 for several exotic species with Frasier Safaris New Zealand.

As of Wednesday, Frost was in seventh place with 1,240 votes. Montana hunter Angie Haas leads with 3,828. Online voting continues through New Year’s Day.

A friend first mentioned the contest to Frost. “I’d just come back from a sheep hunt, and it was really just an opportunity to stop and write about it,” she said. “I just did it — not thinking it would go anywhere.”

From the beginning, bowhunting has captivated Frost.

“It was incredible,” she said of her first hunt a decade ago in Kodiak. “I had to do a 300-yard belly crawl to get close enough. I was able to pit my skill against the animal to get close in order to be on same playing field.”

But the pleasure of bowhunting extends well beyond killing animals.

“When you spend that much time in the field trying to be quiet, you find little successes all over the place,” said Frost, who owns Home Instead Senior Care on Lake Otis Parkway. “You see things going on in nature you might not otherwise notice. I’ve had chipmunks crawling up on my foot while I’m sitting in a blind. I always try to see how long a moment like that sustains itself.”

For her 16th birthday, Frost asked her dad, who worked at Elmendorf Air Force Base, if she could accompany him on a sheep hunt in the Brooks Range. He agreed — but Frost soon found herself a bit over her head.

“I found out I wasn’t quite tough enough to be a sheep hunter,” she recalled. “We’d hike and climb all day and might not see a thing.”

Before long, they decided to hike out and try caribou hunting instead. With a lot more animals available, it “a lot more exciting for a starting hunter.”

Since that sheep-turned-caribou hunt, Frost has worked steadily to stay in shape — completing such mountain races as Mount Marathon and the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb up Bird Ridge. She’s taken 12 of the 29 recognized North American big game species with a bow and arrow, including grizzly bears, Dall sheep, musk ox and moose.

She met Doug Hidden, a hunting guide from Zimbabwe, at a Safari Club International convention in Reno, Nev., in 2005. Two years later, they married.

Linked by loved and a shared passion for bowhunting, their time together was tragically brief. Hidden, 35, died a year ago after a five-month battle with cancer that began in his adrenal glands and spread rapidly.

“He was getting ready to go to the state trooper academy and was working out so much we didn’t notice his elevated heart rate,” Frost said. “But soon it was clear something was tremendously wrong.”

Bowhunting helped Frost deal with her loss.

“The evening of his memorial service,” she wrote in her contest essay, “I had to get away to nature to be still. I left for Mexico and a Coues deer (a white-tail that’s North America’s smallest deer) hunt.

“A cougar came to the entrance of my ground blind — eyes fixed on me. He was a mere 6 feet away. Whether it was a sign from God or Doug, I do not know. However, in that moment I knew that everything was going to be all right and that out bow hunting, I was on the right track.”

Hunting still brings Frost close to Hidden’s spirit. On a recent hunt for stone sheep in Canada, Frost awoke one morning to see a band of 10 rams standing within 40 yards.

“The moment was divine,” she said. “And it happened on Doug’s birthday. Signs keep popping up letting me know that he’s with me.”