Not only is she able to bring down the “big five” in South Africa, Bates has also learned to keep her eye on the more important targets of life — devoting herself to living and promoting health and fitness while coaching archery.
Even when she became the first and only woman to successfully hunt down the “big five” in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa in only 27 days in 2009, Bates said all the meat was given to the local village and to an orphanage connected to a faith-based organization that was teaching children how to properly cut meat.
Bates shot in her first archery competition in Cleveland and was named finalist in two different national huntress contestsin July 1990. Finishing last in the Women’s Bowhunter class was an eye-opener, she said, but since she had never even seen a 3-D target before that day, Bates took it as a challenge she intended to master.
And master she did. In 1993, Joella won her first national and world championship as an amateur competitor with the Archery Shooter’s Association and the International Bowhunter Organization. She continues to make her mark by leaving a legacy — teaching and coaching archery, doing seminars and motivational programs, freelance outdoor writing and contributing to outdoor TV and radio. Bates is a five-time 3-D Archery World Champion Woman Pro, an accomplished bow-huntress and a Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame member. She uses her outdoor accolades to challenge, motivate and inspire others, especially women and children to think and act “outside the box.”
With more than 45 years of field experience, Bates was first a small-game shotgun hunter, then, a white-tailed deer rifle and muzzleloader hunter, later, a bowhunter for small, large, and dangerous game around the world and, finally, a bare-hands hunter. Additionally, she said, “I am committed to enthusiastically sharing my outdoors’ passion and skills with others in order to perpetuate the outdoor heritage for future generations.”
Before the age of 2, Bates was fishing and by age 6, she accompanied her hunting-and-expert marksman father hunting. She shot her first squirrel with a shotgun at age 8. “Dad’s 16-gauge shotgun blacked my eye and busted my lip,” she said, “but that did not deter me from hunting. Before long, I was knocking quail from the air.” She said her dad let her deer hunt, but not carry a gun. “My woodsman skills made me the bird dog, tasked with flushing deer,” she added.
After four years as a gun-toting deer hunter, Bates saw and shot her first deer with a rifle at age 14. And in high school and college, she bagged a buck of 8-points or better seven straight years — “until studying wildlife biology and shooting on the Varsity and ROTC Rifle Teams consumed me.”
Bates said she had her first die-hard, anti-hunter experience as a college student studying wildlife biology. She was on target for a career that would perpetuate outdoors heritages and protect the environment. She has been a wildlife officer, a fisheries biologist, an environmental scientist, professional archer, writer, speaker, coach and promoter of shooting sports and outdoor recreation.
In 1983, with their home burglarized and guns stolen, her dad bought her a used 31-inch-draw compound bow. “It bruised my arm and ego,” she confided. Her dad died in 1986 and her second child was born. In 1989, Bates again tried bowhunting and her bow from Odell’s Outdoors was a reward for completing the first year of graduate school. “Bulls-eyes occurred in the backyard,” she said, “but buck fever took over with deer — my missing five times on two deer just made me more determined to practice and succeed.”
In 1993, as the IBO amateur FBR 3-D Archery World Champion, Bates used an archery shooting demo with a motivational message called “Be a Winner” for a DARE graduation assembly. Since 1993, she’s won four Professional 3-D Archery World Championships and successfully taken on many bowhunting challenges. She was the first woman bowhunter to harvest an African cape buffalo, a wild turkey grand slam and the African big 5. “I have taken 67 different species with my bows and arrows,” she said, “and I seek to expand that list.”
In 2009, Bates said, “I arrowed a charging lioness at 6.5 yards and five days later, I remained at full draw with my 91-pound bow when a charging cow elephant was dropped two steps from me.” Bates declares she is all about adventure. After succeeding with multiple weapons, she took on grabbling catfish and snapping turtles with her bare hands and now traditional archery with self-bow and longbow.
Bates said since her big 5 hunt in 2009, her life has changed. “I am devoted to living and promoting health and fitness along with promoting and introducing others to the outdoor heritages and coaching archery.” With an attitude of “No Excuses — No Limits,” she lost 73 pounds and at 51, “I look and feel awesome, ready to walk a marathon.”
Over the last 18 years, she said, “I’ve delivered customized messages, aimed to inspire, motivate, and challenge audiences: ‘Putting Life on Target,’ ‘DREAMS’ (Directed Responsible Energy Achieves More Success), and ‘No Excuses — No Limits.’”
These programs include archery demos followed with a hands-on archery for children and adults. Positive first experiences leave participants wanting more, she said. “I’ve done hundreds of seminars teaching outdoor skills to thousands of people and created hundreds of thousands of first shooting experiences.” She is a certified NASP trainer and hunter and bowhunter education instructor. She coaches and teaches beginning-to-advanced skills to children and adults in programs with conservation organizations and stores. Bates said she desires to create archers, hunters, fishing fanatics, conservationists, responsible citizens, and “WINNERS” who will share the same passions with others.
Having been inducted into the UTM Athletic Hall of Fame; the Outdoor Channel Circle of Honor; and the Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame, Bates said she proudly represents women devoted to excellence, adventure, and extreme outdoor challenge and uses these honors to open doors to get others outdoors.
The former TWRA wildlife officer and fisheries biologist resides in Waverly, where she was born. Bates was recently selected as a finalist for the Prois Award and for Tahoe Films’ Extreme Huntress Contest. She wrote essays for both contests which were scored by panels of celebrity judges. She is listed in the top 12 finalists for the 2012 Prois Award and top 10 finalists in the fourth annual Extreme Huntress Contest.
These contests are designed to create positive role models for other woman who may be interested in the hunting or shooting sports. Most children are typically introduced to hunting through a father, uncle or other male family member. But with divorce rates at 50 percent and the 2010 Census stating 41 percent of children in the United States are born out of wedlock, more children will join the hunting and shooting sports if more women get into hunting. These contests are about promoting hunting and women who hunt and ultimately preserving our outdoor heritage.
Note: Everyone was invited to cast one vote for the next Extreme Huntress at www.tahoefilms.com. The top 10 scoring essays, contestant photos, bios for the judges, full contest rules and sponsor information are also posted on the site. The next Extreme Huntress will be introduced at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas this month.