Teen hunter on target for international honor

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Some say Caroline Pruitt, 15,  was born to hunt.   Her natural ability was discovered on an African big game hunt with her dad. "They said, okay, you can shoot an impala. I said, okay. That's a .300 weatherby. I'm 12, (and) little and it's a big gun. I said, 'Oh well,' and tried."

And she didn't stop. "On that hunt I ended up getting 9 animals and 7 of them were just one shot. And they like said, 'Oh, wow.' "

That's what others said too. Following a two year pursuit, Caroline will be awarded the 2010 International Safari Club and Cabela's young hunter award. Only two teens in the world are selected each year. It's sort of the Olympic gold medal among hunter's. Caroline and her family will travel to Reno, Nevada in January to accept the honor.

"I worked really hard for all of my animals," said the petite teenager. Caroline believes the biggest misconception about big game trophies is that it's a bunch of rich people being driven close to an animal, shooting it and going home. "I try to get as close to my animals as I can. It's not because I don't have confidence in my ability, but it's fair to the animal," Caroline explained.

The teen has photographs of her hunts posted on several web sites. Not all comments are in favor of the ventures. Adult hunters, who save all their lives for big game hunts, are critical. The Pruitts say it was a family decision to make the sacrifices to give Caroline the various hunting opportunities. "She's gifted and we must let her use that gift to the best of her ability," Lori Pruitt, Caroline's mother explains.

The huntress traveled the world. "Zimbabwe, Namibia, Cameroon, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and British Columbia," listed the student that should make good grades in geography.

She has more than 50 big game animals to her credit, including a bear she took at 20 feet in British Columbia.   "He scraped his claws against the tree and went grrrr and I went 'Oh, my God.' I pray a lot cause that's pretty dangerous," Caroline said.

There was another close call with a rhino. Caroline had a tranquilizer gun. During a pursuit the animal charged at her. "My dad pulled me away, but it still brushed by ammo leggings," Caroline recalled. She ended up taking the animal down.

Aside from bravery, Caroline had to prove other things about herself. She's smart. "I've had all A's since kindergarten."

Caroline understands conservation and humanitarian work.  "In Africa we give all the meat away to the villages. Everything is used. Here at home, what we don't eat, we donate to homeless shelters."

And being pretty works to Caroline's advantage to.  She's a marketing representatives for several major manufacturers including Bowtec bows. She'll appear with famous hunter, Jim Shockey on a televised hunting show.

Most of all Caroline has a love for the hunt, rather it be across four continents or here in East Texas. "It's my passion," Caroline said before taking sharp aim with her bow.

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