By Kevin Paulson
Donna, tell me a little bit about your career before you were married.
Donna I worked in the transportation and logistics industry with a degree in logistics and transportation. And I ran some fulfillment warehouses as the e-trade progressed you know first it was in trucking and then from fulfillment for various companies.
How did you meet Craig Boddington?
Donna I met him through a mutual friend that I worked with. She knew a friend of his, I lived in Thousand Oaks in California and my friend Katherine who we used to wait tables together back in the days you know, 16, 17 year old's. She worked at the same company and we go off a happy hour after work every now and then you know, and she knew Craig through a friend of hers that lived up in Paso Robles where we live now, and he was on his way to Camp Pendleton because he was on active duty in the Marines at the time. He was in the reserves but he was active. He was on his way to Camp Pendleton from Paso Robles. Where I live was the halfway point, we were at a happy hour and she said well I'm here with my friend, you want to come over and have a drink with us and Dinner? And that's how I met him.
How long did you all date?
Donna We dated for several years living more than 3 hours apart. I had my job and Craig was both active in the reserves and working on his writing. My company was closing the facility that I was working at and my choice was to either find a new job or move to the East Coast. Craig offered me a job working for him and I was pretty hesitant as I am quite independent. Craig assured me that this was a real job and I would make my own money so I moved up and took the risk. It was worth it and we got married a few years later.
I have talked to several people who know you through your role of customer service when they order one of Craig’s books or DVD’s.
Donna Boddington That makes me feel good because our customers are such nice people. I have tried to give very personal service, I answer all of the e-mails and make the calls and I really want people to know that we care about them. I have gotten to know a great many of our customers personally and it has been a real part of my life for many many years.
When did you start hunting and how did that come about?
Donna Boddington I started hunting at about the age of 43. I went as an observer to Africa with Craig and I had no intentions of hunting, not that I was against it, but we didn't plan for me to hunt; I just wanted to go. I know it really wasn’t planned but the guide asked Craig and I if I wanted to shoot a baboon. I thought about it for a second and said, “I am willing to try, I might cry but I am willing to try.” I had never shot anything up until that point but I gave it a try and I found out that I was a pretty good shot and I really enjoyed it.
What advice would you give to other husbands who are interested in getting their wives to go hunting with them?
Donna Boddington I would suggest that they just don't pressure them but take them along; even on a deer hunt. You know, I never thought I would want to go sit in a deer blind but I enjoy it. Blind hunting is always a little hard to sit still for me. But you know what? I didn't realize how much I was missing by not really paying attention to my surroundings and when you do something like that with your husband, you kind of…. or your boyfriend, or your Dad, you realize wow it's beautiful. You're hearing, you're just being silent. It's actually a great experience to connect with each other too….
What is something that we don't know about you and Craig?
Donna Boddington A lot of people do not understand that Craig and I have a blended family. I have a son from my first marriage and Craig has two daughters Britney and Caroline from his first marriage. Blending our family has been a blessing to us both. Craig and I are also blessed to be grandparents and we now have two grand kids.
You have had the opportunity to go on quite a few hunts alongside of Craig. What has been your most adventurous hunt?
Donna Boddington Most adventurous hunt? It really sticks out in my mind and it would have to be my first hunt for Rocky Mountain Goat. We packed in on horses, slept in pup tents. I've never done anything like that. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. And I think it was at that point…. It was probably 2.5 to 3 years after I'd gone on my first hunt with Craig to Africa. I realized It's in me, it's in my DNA. I really understood why people hunted because I had to push myself and I had to really dig deep in order to make it through that hunt. I just got it.
Fantastic! And did you get a mountain goat?
Donna Boddington I didn't get a mountain goat. And it was still one of the best adventures I have ever had. Which tells me that it was about the experience for me and about my own personal growth.
Isn’t it amazing how when you're hunting, it is sometimes the hunts where you are not successful that you learn the most from.
Donna Boddington I agree with you 100%. I have to say that I am not one of the luckiest hunters. I go to great areas, I train hard for my hunts, I practice and sometimes I just don’t have the luck. So much goes into a successful hunt but it is hunting and not just killing. Most of my toughest hunts are my most memorable and many of those trips just were not successful. I went on a 10-day sheep hunt with 50lb pack in Alaska and after 10 hard days, I came home without a sheep. I was 57 years old and I was so proud of myself for the entire experience of sheep hunting. I wish I had got a sheep but I gained memories and pride in the adventure.
I love hearing those kind of stories. You were out there, you got to experience it and live that adventure.
Donna. Absolutely, I didn’t bring home the meat but I got memories in spades. I love mountain hunting. I believe hunting goats is a bit tougher than sheep because they climb higher and in steeper ground.
Now you just home from an Ibex hunt in Spain in which I know you were successful. Tell us a little bit about that hunt.
Donna Boddington I was expecting Spain to be a super hard hunt and this is one of those times when I was kind of lucky. They were lower, it wasn't as tough as I thought it would be. I mean, honestly I was almost anti-climactic because it wasn't as hard. I was really psyched up for a hard hunt and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I got it the first day. The first day out in that range in the Sierra Nevada range in Spain.
Did you train for that hunt?
Donna Boddington We live in the coastal mountains of central California and we have these beautiful hiking trails. I spent a lot of time on those trails preparing for this hunt and I always like getting to the top of these trails because they reward you with these magnificent views of the ocean and the beautiful coastal rocks and beaches. When Craig and I are home together, we do a lot of hiking. I always walk my little dog; we have a little miniature pincher, he’s our fur child. And that dog is going to be 10 years old this year but he is very active and he's not happy unless he walks like 3-6 miles a day.
When we were catching up with you to schedule this interview, I got to learn a little bit about the travel schedule for you and Craig. It seems like the two of you are on the road a tremendous amount.
Donna Boddington Yes, especially the first 3 months of the year as you probably know as well. The sheer number of tradeshows and conventions in the first 3 months of the year. Craig also does a ton of fundraisers for various chapters and organizations and we even have one this weekend here in Las Vegas right after SHOT Show. Just about every single weekend from now through the end of March is booked with either shows or speaking engagements. We really do love what we do and we travel very well together.
What hunts do you have planned for the rest of this year?
Donna Boddington For this year, I have a Turkey hunt planned in Colorado, I'm going on a mule deer hunt in Texas, we have a hunt in Mongolia planned with some good friends of ours. He is 81 and he just underwent some…. He had tongue cancer so he really…. and he's a good friend of Craig's. He's like Craig's big brother so he said this might be his last hunt, and wants to go.. So his wife is going, I'm going and we all hunt. So we're kind of excited about that.
Craig just won the Weatherby award and it's the foremost award in the world for hunting and conservation. Tell us a little bit about what that was like. I mean, I know it's his award but you got to be there on the sidelines and you got to see him go through this process
Donna Boddington It a huge process. Craig never started out wanting to achieve anything like that, but he started hunting worldwide 40 years ago. So he had a lot of species you can’t hunt anymore. Craig was on the board of the Weatherby, and at the time you could not apply for that award if you were a journalist or you were in the business. So he never even thought he could even apply for the award. I’ve seen him really go hard at this for 10 years and it's actually a family affair. His girls too. It was really an awesome moment. I mean, it meant so much to him and there were times when he was up and down and I just thought “what’s the big deal?” but for him it was important. You know what? You support the people you love when something's important to them. I'm very proud that he got it and I'm proud of the work he's done, and that he will continue to do.
What is it about the adventure of hunting that keeps you coming back?
Donna Boddington It's the chance to see the world the way it was meant to be seen instead of the way that, in our society they try and kind of push you to see things only the way they want you to see. I feel like I'm not a journalist and I'm not a writer but I almost feel like I get to be that person who goes to these faraway places and you go on a plane and maybe you drive for 2 days to get to camp. And nobody else would be there without hunting. We're not going on a tour. Not that that’s a bad thing but it drives me to keep going and I think from Craig, I have gotten the love of the hunt and the passion for the pursuit. I want to hunt a wide variety of different species and I wanted to see the world. I've always had a lust for travel, I just never knew I'd be able to do it the way I’m doing it.
A lot of manufacturers are building products now specifically for women, what advice would you give to manufacturers who are looking to develop products for women?
Donna Boddington We want to be in the right clothing too, and it has to be technical. The one thing I’ve noticed about clothing just in the short time I've been doing this over the last 15 years is that when I started out, I had pants that were so uncomfortable, I'd sit down, they’d be up to my chest. Nothing would fit right, jackets were really bulky, but our technology has gotten so good that we now have clothing that fits, is warm and waterproof. We've learned to layer. I'd say listen to the women, ask them what they want, some women like to have pink on it or blue, that's fine. It doesn't matter because we're all hunters. I think manufacturers are asking women and they are having women design product and it’s getting better and better every year. I'm always amazed every time I come to these shows how much more is out there for women hunters.
How can people follow all of the Boddington adventures?
Donna Boddington Well of course everyone can read Craig’s articles in Peterson’s Hunting, Sports Afield and many foreign magazines. Most all of these properties have blogs and digital platforms so it’s easy to search for Craig Boddington. We have our own twitter account @realboddington and we are on Instagram at @realboddingtons. Of course we love people to come to our own website CraigBoddington.com and you can buy books, DVD’s and even book hunts through our endorsed outfitter program.
How did Craig come up with the Endorsed Outfitter Program?
Donna Boddington Everywhere we went people would ask us, call and email Craig about outfitters. “Hey, I am thinking about going here. What do you recommend?” Craig’s been so blessed to have traveled the world so we decided to create a program where we could recommend places that Craig has been or that we have experienced ourselves. So that’s how it came about and it's actually really good because we've been… whether it's him, myself or Conrad, all of us have been, you know we have vetted that outfitter and we take this very seriously. Just because we've been there doesn't mean we will recommend it. We're pretty honest, this is a membership that we invite the outfitters to come in and it's limited to a hundred outfitters worldwide, we're not looking for volume of outfitters but we are looking for quality. We don't want to be the Expedia of hunting. The customer doesn't pay for that expertise and we are absolutely NOT a booking agency, we just make recommendations based on our years and years of travel. You can check out our list of recommended outfitters at: http://www.craigboddington.com/endorsed-outfitters/choose
Donna thank you for taking out your schedule today.
Donna. Thank you for having me, I really enjoyed it.