Steve and Kyle chat with Jen Shears (“@smidjen” on Instagram).  Jen, a native of Newfoundland and her husband (Kerry) have an energetic daughter named Aspen. Ken has been surrounded by hunting her whole life, and some of her earliest memories are of shooting a .22 from the deck of her family’s cabin. Living sustainably off the land was a foundation of her upbringing, and her mother, father, sister, aunts, uncles and even 89-year old grandmother still get their hunting licences. When Jen and Kerry started dating at the age of 15, the outdoors, hunting, trapping and fishing were a major part of their relationship. It has brought them together, helps keep them together, and they are are instilling their love of all things outdoors in their daughter.

After high school Jen was drawn to Environmental Biology and Ecology. She is a Newfoundland Mi’kmaq (First Nations) woman and is taught that they are protectors and guardians of our great lands, waters and creatures . Thanks to her education and passion for conservation, she spent about 15 years working in National Parks and National Historic Sites, protecting and presenting the incredible natural and cultural heritage of the country.

After Aspen was born Jen left her job to focus on raising her and running their businesses. Kerry is a taxidermist by trade (although he doesn’t do much taxidermy work anymore), they have some accommodations in their tourist town, run a wildlife museum, and have a business called NaturaL boutique, which sells fur items – predominantly harp seal products – such as boots, coats, mitts, hats and accessories. Kerry’s also a semi-pro poker player, and has achieved some great success over the years. 

When they are not busy at all of that, they like to hunt and travel (often at the same time). Recently they have been focusing on North American species (spending A LOT of time on sheep), but they have hunted in South Africa and New Zealand in the past. They enjoy to travel, and as part of our travels they like to take part in the field to table cultural experiences of the areas. 

Random Fact: Jen’s Instagram handle is “smidjen”. Sometimes people ask if it’s because her maiden name is “Smid”, but that’s not the case. It’s because one of my great-grandmother’s most-used words was “smidgen”. If someone offered her a piece of cake or pie, she’d always ask for a smidgen. She passed away when Jen was about 12 years old, but that’s one thing she remembers vividly about her Nanny Hazel. To keep her close Jen made a play on words with “her” word and Jen’s name to form “smidjen”