Each year Prois Hunting Apparel hosts a contest searching for women hunters who are great role models and who are serious about what they do. The Prois name is synonymous with serious hard core outdoor women who understand hunting and conservation and who pass this legacy on to other women and the youth in their world. The Prois Award is a coveted and highly respected award in the outdoor industry. The woman who wins this award is at the top of her hunting game but also is a lady who embodies class and dignity in the outdoors.
The recipient of the 2012 Prois Award winner will enjoy a five day, two species hunt of a lifetime in Namibia. An unrivaled gear package from the following sponsors also is given to the Prois Award recipient.
The 2012 Prois Award recipient is Ruth Cusack, from Alaska. She won this award over many big names in the industry and AnnieGotHerGun.com is  proud to introduce her to  you all!

Ruth Cusack, Winner of Prois Award!

Hi, Ruth, Congratulations on your win. As a Prois Pro-Staff member I have been closely following this contest from the start. I believe you will be a great Prois ambassador but also a fantastic lady to watch in the industry!
Please tell me a bit about yourself…
“I am an Iowa girl now living the Alaska dream.  On my first trip to Alaska to visit my future husband Louis, the sheer beauty of Alaska stole my heart and captured my imagination. I knew that the adventures I was about to journey on were beyond words. After frequent visits on hunting and fishing excursions, I finally moved to Alaska in 2007.  We thoroughly enjoy and thrive in all aspects of the outdoors.  We do everything from remote wilderness hunting, halibut and salmon fishing, snow machining and 4-wheeling, to hiking and white water rafting.  We also enjoy spending quality time with our family of 3 sons, a daughter and grandson.”
My core value is deeply embedded in helping those in need. Beans Café (the local soup kitchen) gives us a great opportunity to share our good fortune. We donate wild game, seafood, warm clothing and our time to them several times a year. There is nothing more rewarding than sharing our harvest directly to those who really need and truly appreciate it. I support the Annual Armed Services Combat Fishing Tournament in Seward, Alaska. I contribute to The Alaska Healing Hearts and I am eager to work with others in our community to begin a women’s chapter.

Ruth and Louis Cusack

Why did you enter the Prois Award Contest?
He double dared me! I was apprehensive to place myself beside these great ladies in the industry. I knew I could offer a positive message of hard work and determination. I felt that I could influence other ladies to get out and try it without worrying about success or failure! So at the last minute, I finally submitted my entry. I believed that I could be a positive role model for women hunters. I believed that ladies could represent the industry with grace and confidence. Too many ladies think that a sexy picture holding a bow gets them attention. I’m sure it does but, I do not think this behavior does anything to support women in a respectable manor!”
 What do you think of the other contestants?
There are so many amazing women out there. I couldn’t believe that I made it into the top 12.  My competition was made of women who are very respectable, high quality and impressive huntresses who were extremely worthy in their own right. There were some high profile names on there that I felt as though I didn’t have a chance against. I received a lot of encouragement from my friends that helped me work through my doubts. They reminded me that Alaska girls poop in the woods and win the Iditarod! 
What does it mean to you to represent other women hunters?
At the risk of repeating myself:  I knew I could offer a positive message of hard work and determination. I felt that I could influence other ladies to get out and try it without worrying about success or failure! I believed that ladies could represent the industry with grace and confidence. Too many ladies think that a sexy picture holding a bow gets them attention. I’m sure it does but I do not think this behavior does anything to support women in a respectable manor!
Biggest hunting accomplishment so far?
I have killed plenty of whitetail and small game. I really, really had my heart set on taking a moose. I wanted to be the one to fill the freezer and put the meat on the table. The first year I went on the annual moose hunt with my husband, the second day out, we were on top of a hill we call Wolf Point. My husband called in a respectable bull moose, but it was early in the hunt and we passed for a better bull. Well needless to say, the earth moon and stars did not line up that year and I went home empty handed but determined to return the following year to fulfill my dream of harvesting a moose. The following year, I decided that I was just going to not try so hard and enjoy my time in the wilderness.  
On day 7 of our 15 day hunt, I decided that I was going to stay in camp for some “me” time while the guys spotted from the top of Wolf Point. I could hear Louis’ moose call from over a mile away and then I heard a bull grunt on the gravel bar just outside of camp. Still in my camp slippers, I jumped up, grabbed my rifle and hauled butt out to the river. I dropped down as soon as I saw the bull, set myself up and took the shot. Boom!!! One shot into his shoulder and it was back strap for dinner at Moose Camp City!!! I could hear the guys hooting and hollering on Wolf Point because they could see the whole thing. I was very proud of myself that day.
What do you want other women to know, whether they are hunters or not?
To all the ladies out there, do not believe others when they tell you that you are not capable of following your dreams. Be headstrong and determined to follow your goals and fulfill your dreams. Life is too short to stay on the sidelines always cheering on others. Stay true to yourself.

Great gobbler!

What do you want to teach future generations about hunting?
Hunting is built on family, tradition and conservation. Early American’s needed to hunt to feed their families and to survive. A hunter’s return with fresh meat for the table was a celebration of life taken and life given. Great respect was bestowed both on the animal that gave its flesh to the family and the hunter that successfully fed their family and in many cases their community. Today although not as necessary, that hunting tradition carries on through the generations. Many families have carried this tradition on for hundreds of years, to be known as the hunter in my family is to be known as a person that is respected by family and community. Today as always in my family we hunt for our family and we hunt to feed those less fortunate than ourselves.
I believe in promoting wildlife conservation and protecting our natural resources. I believe in educating our youth and giving them hands on experience in the outdoors. I also believe that I have the God given right to bear arms and to responsibly hunt and harvest meat for my family. This is why I am a member and strong supporter of The Safari Club International.
 What excites you the most about winning the Prois Award?
Sure, being a positive role model for women is great. But… Heck Yea!! I’m way excited about going to Africa. I keep hearing Disney the Lion Kings Soundtrack playing in my head. Woo Hoo! I can’t wait to experience this truly amazing adventure!
What was your first reaction to winning?
“Oh crap I have to get up in front of a bunch of people and say something!”  Wow, I still can’t believe it.  I was so excited and happy that all of the hard work and determination paid off.
 How did you learn to hunt and who was your biggest inspiration?
I’ve always loved the outdoors.  I enjoyed hunting whitetail and small game before I met my husband Louis. I used to hunt mainly on luck and was somewhat successful. I really never learned truly how to hunt until I started hunting with Louis He has virtually done it all and he is unstoppable. He has reached a point where he enjoys helping others to be successful more than taking an animal for himself. He is absolutely my inspiration and one heck of a packer too!
Favorite animal to hunt and how?
Moose on our annual moose hunt. It’s 15 days of remote wilderness hunting in one of Alaska’s premiere moose and caribou hunting areas. It’s on a river North of the Arctic Circle. It’s raw; it’s rugged and 100 miles from the nearest road. If you don’t bring it, you don’t have it and if something goes wrong, it’s all on you.  Each year I can’t wait to break out my little 7mm magnum and do it all over again.
So you can all see why Ruth won the Prois Award. She is an amazing gal and a true asset to the outdoor world!  Ruth will be presented with her award at the SHOT Show in January. Watch for her hunting photos and the story of her adventure later this year in Africa!