Aiming toward a balancing life

Eva Shockey is outfitted and equipped

Eva Shockey | By Shawn Wagar
Eva Shockey | By Shawn Wagar

KINSTON — Keep your eye on the target. Understand the hunt. Understand the goals. Philosophies of the great outdoors can be used in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and no one knows that better than Eva Shockey.

“A balanced lifestyle is what I strive to live all the time. It’s something that my parents brought me up with,” said Shockey. “We always seem to incorporate hunting into our everyday life. It doesn’t mean you go out hunting every day, you do things involved with the hunting lifestyle.”

Shockey uses the wide-open spaces of nature to help her live a life balanced between a career caring for the wild, a passion for hunting, the joys of motherhood, and the breaking of glass ceilings for women in the field.

She’s an acclaimed huntress who co-hosts “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures” on the Outdoor Channel with her equally notable father. Her new book, “Taking Aim: Daring to Be Different, Happier and Healthier in the Great Outdoors,” launches Aug. 29.

“I grew up in the outdoors with my family,” said Shockey. “We went on so many trips and adventures for as long as I can remember. It was something we did when I was in diapers. We were out there on the boat fishing or camping, and my dad would have me in a backpack. It’s a part of what we’ve done my entire life.”

Growing up in Canada, her first hunting experience came at the age of 7. She joined her father as they went on a hunt for gophers.

“Gophers were in the fields,” she said. “We were on the property of a farmer and were asked to get rid of the gophers. They would dig so many holes; the cows would fall in the hole and break their legs, so we were given the task of hunting gophers and we got 25 cents per gopher.”

While she was honing skills on the search for gophers, she was also donning a pair of ballet slippers and perfecting her pirouettes, fouettes and balance — a skill learned from her mother.

“When my parents met, my mom was a vegetarian ballerina. She was probably the farthest opposite of my dad you could possibly get,” said Shockey. “She is no longer a vegetarian, but she isn’t a hunter. I grew up with two sides in my life. My mom was a feminine, classy, nonhunting dancer; and my dad was this rough, tough mountain man.

“I was able to do whatever I pleased throughout my life and pick and choose the elements that were best for me,” she added. “I loved dancing, and to this day I still love dancing. It is physically demanding and taught me to really practice and hone in on your skill. It’s similar to bowhunting. You have to really practice by getting out and shooting to feel confident.”

Shockey was pining for a career as a professional ballerina, like her mother, but after returning from college in Australia, a renewed passion for the outdoors and all it offered left her asking her father to teach her how to hunt.

Her father taught her to hunt using a muzzleloader rifle, which gives you one chance to make the shot.

“I’m very grateful for how my dad taught me to hunt,” said Shockey. “With a muzzleloader, you get only a single shot. One bullet and that’s your shot. It’s not a quick reload, so when I started hunting I had the mindset, ‘I have one single shot.’”

That mindset made her respect her first shot and to make sure she was comfortable before firing.

“When I switched to a rifle, I always took extra care to make sure that shot was a single shot,” said Shockey. “In respect for the animal, take your first shot as carefully and confidentially as you can. When I moved to bowhunting, that mindset was even more important. Wait and take the perfect shot, wait till you are 100 percent ready for that one shot when you have the right direction, right distance and all that.”

For Shockey, who now lives in Raleigh, once you make the one shot, what you do next is equally as important. Shockey brings back the wild game to cook and serve her family, which includes her husband, former Carolina Hurricanes hockey player Tim Brent, and their 7-month-old daughter, Leni Bow.

“We eat wild game four of five times a week for dinner,” said Shockey. “It’s wonderful because it’s healthy, lean, organic and pesticide-free meat you can put into your body.

“Every time we cook elk, tenderloin or venison, we stop and talk about the hunt and appreciate the animal. It’s what hunting is all about — field to table — you are providing for yourself and your family.”

In 2014, she became the second woman — following Queen Elizabeth II — to appear on the cover of Field & Stream. In 2015, she married Brent and they served an Alaskan-Yukon moose she personally harvested to their guests.

“I want to show people you can love hunting no matter who you are,” said Shockey. “I love being out there in the fresh air, getting exercise, going on adventures, learning about hunting, being around people who share the same passion and, at the end of the day, being with my family.”

Whether it’s with her new book, reaching out to her 1.7 million social media followers with exercise tips and wild game recipes, or co-hosting a popular adventure on television, she is helping people everywhere find balance in life so they too can take aim and make the shot.

Eva Shockey is signing copies of her new book on Aug. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Cabela’s in Garner. Fans can purchase a copy of the book in the store beginning on Aug. 29.