Mary Windschmitt, of West York, shown in this photo with her husband, Joel, is taking part in the online reality show "Extreme Huntress." They
Mary Windschmitt, of West York, shown in this photo with her husband, Joel, is taking part in the online reality show "Extreme Huntress." They caught this 42-pound catfish in Africa. (Submitted)

Mary Windschmitt wasn't born a hunter, and she didn't try hunting as a child.

In fact, the West York woman didn't get into the sport until 12 years ago, when she first met her husband as they worked together at Frito-Lay in West Manchester Township.

"He was really involved in it, and I was always curious," Windschmitt said.

So she gave it a shot, first testing her aim with guns and then taking the state's hunters' safety course. She tried her hand at hunting the small game, squirrels and doves before moving onto larger prey like deer, bears and even a giraffe.

Now she's hooked.

"Actually, Mary spends more time in the tree stand than I do," said her husband, Joel.

Since then, the couple have traveled the world hunting, at times for big game, and now Mary Windschmitt is in the running to be part of an online reality hunting show, which could earn her the title of "Extreme Huntress."

The competition: Windschmitt is one of 20 women in the semi-final, online voting phase of the competition. Online votes account for 40 percent of the score, with the remaining 60 percent coming from judges' scores.

The top six women of the semi-final phase will eligible to take part in a five-day hunting and head-to-head skills competition in Texas in July 2015. Though the hunting and lodging are part of the prize, contestants have to fund their own way to the Lone Star State.


Online votes, judges' scoring and the hunt skills competition will be factors in choosing the next "Extreme Huntress."

Organizers say the competition aims to protect, preserve and promote outdoor activities while also creating positive role models for women who may want to try hunting and the outdoor adventure lifestyle.

Unlike some of her fellow competitors, Mary Windschmitt mainly hunts with a bow, her weapon of choice.

"I like the thrill of having (animals) close," she said. "It's just exciting to watch them."

Like most people, the Windschmitts save up each year to go on vacations. "A lot of people go to the beach, but we go hunting," she said.

In September, the couple went on safari in South Africa, where Mary Windschmitt accomplished her dream of hunting for a giraffe with a bow and arrow.

But in order to make that dream come true, the couple first had to find a safari company that would sign off on the idea. That, Joel Windschmitt said, proved difficult until they found one at an outdoors show that agreed to the idea.

Before the trip, Mary Windschmitt had to build up her strength, sharpen her skills and find the right bow and arrow combination. But the work paid off and she got her giraffe, which is currently stuck in customs in New York, she said.

"It was her dream and she made it a reality," Joel Windschmitt said.