RAGLAND – Frances Tipton became interested in deer hunting in an unusual way.
It was in 1996 when her husband Kenneth, came home with $200 worth of hunting clothes.
“It made me so mad,” Frances said. “I had never spent that much at one time on clothes for me. So I told him he was taking me hunting, and the rest as they say, is history.”
“I’ve been a hunter all my life,” Kenneth said. “For 32 years she fussed at me before she started hunting. Because I would stay gone so much. When she said she wanted to go, I said that’s fine, just get out here and shoot this gun. What she knows, I taught her.”
She has killed five deer total — three bucks and two does, along with four turkeys.
The Tiptons have lived in Ragland the past 14 years.
Frances owns a 30/30 rifle, a 20-gauge shotgun, and a 12-gauge shotgun.
She was by herself when she shot her first deer in January 1997.
“Kenneth had shown me what to do,” she said. “The rules, the precautions to take, what to look at, etc. He gave me all the fundamentals I needed to hunt by myself.”
Kenneth was sitting in a truck, and a friend came up to him and said, “Frances is wearing it out over there.”
That first deer – it was a buck – now hangs on the wall in their home, alongside one that Kenneth killed.
“I didn’t even feel the gun kick,” Frances said. “The adrenalin goes so high in you. I heard something going tick, tick, tick, tick, and it was my body shaking the bullets in my pocket. That’s how nervous I was, and that adrenalin was going. It was fantastic.”
Through the years, a group of friends would gather and dog hunt, but they are no longer able to hunt with dogs.
“For a long time, I was the only female,” Frances said.
When asked if she was the first female deer hunter in Ragland, Frances said it is very possible.
“Now there may have been some that we did not know about,” she said. “But out there in that particular group of hunters, yes, I was the first female. And a lot of them didn’t like it.”
As time has passed, Frances said more female hunters have joined the group — like Brooke Evans.
Frances has several nieces, but the first niece to go hunting with her was Tammy Phillips.
“She begged to go hunting,” Frances said. “ I didn’t think she was serious. But I got to thinking and remembered how people didn’t take me serious to begin with. They all thought I was out there to tag along, but I meant business. I saw where Tammy meant business, so that changed my mind. We went turkey hunting one time, and she killed a snake. I can’t wait ‘til she kills her first turkey or deer.”
“I knew it would not hurt us, but we were about to hurt ourselves,” Tammy said. “It was headed toward the tent. I blew that sucker in two with the first shot.”
Frances said in the past, she has taken her granddaughters hunting. The oldest one killed a deer with Kenneth while the youngest granddaughter killed a deer with her.
“I want my girls to know how to survive,” Frances said.
Frances said her first encounter with venison was with her grandmother on her father’s side.
“She knew how to cook everything,” she said. “She also taught me how to clean a turtle, because that was the best meat.”
Tammy said she has the desire to go out in the woods, hunt deer and turkey, and is looking forward to the day when she actually kills one.
“The adrenaline rush is there,” Tammy said. “To be sitting there, and watching, and it’s quiet and you’re listening to everything around you, it is something. It is so quiet and peaceful out there. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would have been out in the woods hunting deer, I would have said absolutely not. It is enjoyable, but now, it’s more to me just to prove that I can.”
Although deer season is over, turkey season starts March 15, and the two women can’t wait.
“I love sitting there, and calling that turkey,” Frances said. “Talking sweet to that turkey, and then when he comes, I’ll blow his head off.”
Frances said she has seen Doug Evans, Bruce Evans and Brett Evans all kill deer in one day about six years ago.
“I saw three generations kill deer in one day,” she said. “Not many women in St. Clair County can boast about seeing that in one day. Then, Kenneth and I killed a deer each that day as well.”
Tammy went out on a limb last week, and said she is predicting that she kills her first deer when deer season starts again next November.