Cover Girl

August 26th, 2015 | SMWC

Woods Alum Sets Hunting Record, Is Featured in National Magazine

By: Katie Shane

Whitetail Magazine Cover

Readers of North American Whitetail magazine may give the publication’s “2015 DIY Special” issue a second or even third look. It’s hard not to stare at the impressive and record breaking deer on the magazine’s cover, but it’s the hunter standing over the deer that has reader’s jaws dropping. With a bright smile, perfectly manicured nails and pink accented camo, Krysten McDaniel is the second woman ever to be featured on the magazine’s cover.

“It’s crazy,” McDaniel says with a laugh. “It’s a huge honor. I’m overwhelmed by it.”

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., and a 2013 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, McDaniel is a professional hunter and television personality. She’s known for her mix of hunting prowess and undeniable good looks – something rare in the male dominated sport. More attention has been paid to McDaniel over the past year after her record breaking kill in November 2014, which landed her on the cover of the national publication.

“It’s kind of unofficial but it was the largest deer to be taken by a woman on video, gun or bow,” she explains proudly. “It’s a huge accomplishment for me, especially because it’s a male dominated industry.”

After submitting her photos and first-hand account of the hunt to North American Whitetail, McDaniel and husband Josh waited anxiously to find out how the photos would be featured in the magazine. It wasn’t until the final product was posted on social media that McDaniel confirmed she received the magazine’s top honors. Even though she was confident her photo would make the cover, reality of seeing herself in the magazine took a while to set in. For North American Whitetail Editor in Chief Gordon Whittington, selecting McDaniel was an easy decision.

“We’ve always felt the cover photo’s job is to get someone interested enough to flip through the issue. Our August issue is devoted to DIY deer hunting, and we felt Krysten’s field photo conveyed the excitement of a successful DIY road trip,” Whittington says. “The buck in the photo is clearly a trophy any male OR female hunter would be happy to bag.”

The deer was no doubt impressive regardless of who shot it, but considering a young and beautiful woman bagged the prize, the hunt and McDaniel began to receive mixed attention. Whittington says the cover selection had nothing to do with McDaniel’s perfectly styled hair or good looks, but everything to do with her success as a hunter.

“We picked Krysten for the cover because she had appealing field photos of herself with a great DIY trophy,” he says. “The hunter’s enthusiasm and elation with her success jump out of that image. It really isn’t about a certain look; what we’re after is a photo the reader can identify with. And every reader can appreciate the feeling this image conveys.”

Soon after the magazine hit newsstands and was delivered to more than 133,000 homes around the country, McDaniel’s notoriety in the hunting industry began to grow. For two years, she was a cast member on the Sportsman Channel reality series “Dressed to Kill.” The show features a group of women hunters through the ups and downs of the hunting season. McDaniel says she was blessed with other opportunities and left the show to begin appearing on “Realtree.TV,” part of the Outdoor Channel.

A large part of a hunter’s life revolves around the changing hunting seasons, travel to sometimes remote locations and hours waiting for a target. For McDaniel, getting a degree at SMWC was a high priority, but she also couldn’t pass up opportunities to follow her passion. The Woods Online program was the perfect fit. McDaniel says while completing her studies for The Woods she was often in the woods.

Krysten McDaniel

“I wrote a lot of papers in a tree stand on my iPhone,” she says with a laugh. “We would hunt in Kansas or Nebraska, a lot of different places, and Woods Online helped make that possible. If I had to be in a classroom certain days, I couldn’t have done both.”

Her classroom may have been unconventional, but in 2013 McDaniel graduated from Woods Online with a degree in marketing. She says the flexible program and understanding faculty and staff of SMWC made the degree a target she nailed.

“The Woods Online program made it possible for me to pursue my dreams while earning my degree,” she explains. “It made it possible for me travel across the country and even the world including Africa, New Zealand and Canada, without sacrificing my education or having to put my education on hold.”

In 2015, McDaniel hit another bull’s-eye, announcing she was selected as an Under Armour Hunt Women’s Athlete. As an ambassador for the hunting division, McDaniel will represent the brand at the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas. The event is the biggest of its type in the world.

Never one to back down from a challenge, like learning to hunt or earning her degree, McDaniel was told an endorsement with Under Armour was out of reach, but she set her sights on the partnership and pulled the trigger.

“I really wanted to get Under Armour, but everyone said that they don’t sponsor that many people because they don’t need to, but I was like yeah yeah… and then they found me through my social media,” she explains. “(Under Armour representatives) said they were about to do an all women’s UA Hunt Team to really emphasize the women’s line and do a marketing campaign, and of course I was interested, that was a no brainer.”

Now with hunting season around the corner, McDaniel is busier than ever. The magazine cover and Under Armour deal continue to generate press, attention and new opportunities. With her degree in marketing from SMWC, McDaniel says she dreams of combining her two passions into a career in the hunting industry. She’s also relishing her new status as a role model. Like many Woodsies, McDaniel hopes to empower women to aspire higher.

“Going to The Woods gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams, even if those dreams included venturing into a male-dominated sport,” she says. “I want to inspire all women to follow their dreams no matter how big or small. I know I would not have gotten to where I am today without the many women hunters as great role models that proved women can hunt just as hard as the guys, if not a little harder, persevere through any obstacles thrown their way and shatter all stereotypes!”