Gracie's Outdoor Adventures: BV third grader takes hunting world by storm

By: 
Keeley Meier, staff writer

Submitted photo 

Gracie Peters proudly holds her wild hog head.

“I don’t like that sound.”

This is what Gracie Peters said as she listened to the loud squeals of the wild hog she had just taken down.

Gracie’s dad, Jon Peters, sat next to her in the hunting blind and watched as his daughter skillfully took her shot.

“There are these hogs coming back and forth,” Jon said. “She decided it was time to shoot, so she took a shot and knocked a big, black one down.”

Jon and Gracie set out for Lone Wolf, Okla., a few weeks ago to participate in their first-ever wild hog hunt. While this may seem like a normal activity enjoyed by avid hunters and shooters, Gracie is not your average hunter.

“I’ll figure it out myself”

Gracie Peters is 9 years old, a third grader at Robert Bennis Elementary School and a novice hunter. However, the term “novice” doesn’t accurately portray Gracie’s skill or her determination.

The Peters’ family adopted Gracie from Haiti in 2014. 

“When she first came [from Haiti], she was literally afraid of everything—anything that moved like bugs, animals, spiders, everything,” Jon said. “So, that’s why this has been such a shock for us.”

Jon and his wife, Anne, have two other boys, Isaiah (16) and Mikah (13), who love to hunt, too. Each year they go hunting, but Gracie had never showed the same interest—until last December.

“When we came back this fall, she said, ‘I want to do that. I want to hunt,’” Jon said. “So, we took her by the Chester area, and she got a deer, and then it was on day two and she was hooked.”

The father and daughter pair decided to build an AR-15 together for Gracie to use, and Jon joined a Facebook page of around 90,000 AR users who could give them tips and tricks for their original plan of building a slow AR. 

“They were like, ‘You’re not going to build a slow AR, we’ll help you,’” Jon said. “And, all of a sudden, in like two weeks, she had every part mailed to her from all over the U.S.”

Thus, began her own Instagram page, Gracie’s Outdoor Adventures, to document her experiences and to keep people—mostly her grandparents—informed.

It was at that point that Gracie started to get noticed. 

Boyds Hardwood Gunstocks out of Mitchell caught wind of her and donated a pink stock and a purple stock, Vortex Optics sent her one of their nicest scopes and she began to receive a plethora of messages—with questions, compliments and more goodies they wanted to send her way.

“I think she got something every day for the last month,” Jon said. “I think for a month she hasn’t worn anything that we bought her; it’s all stuff that’s come free.”

And then along came the best offer, from a company called Wildlife Overdose: an all-expense paid wild hog hunt in Oklahoma. The event, which was hosted by 4B Outfitters, was even filmed by Pursuit Channel for an episode that will appear on the hunting channel in late summer or early fall. 

And just four months after shooting for the first time, Gracie took down her wild hog, which she says was her favorite part of the hunt. 

Was it easy or hard for Gracie?

“Not hard,” Gracie said confidently.

“She doesn’t even think about it; she just shoots,” Jon said.

“And, I always get them in the shoulder for some reason,” Gracie chimed in. “I got my deer in the shoulder and my pig.”

While Gracie shot the hog, there was a camera trained on her and her AR, ready to capture the moment of impact. Although she said it was weird being filmed, it didn’t stop her from firing the perfect shot.

“The guy that was filming was like, ‘Take a deep breath. Hold it. Squeeze the trigger,’” Jon said. “And, she was like, ‘I’ve done this before; I know how to do it.’”

Gracie, who says she’s very independent, chimed in.

“I don’t want any help. I’ll figure it out myself.”

Gracie’s impact

A South Dakotan with a love of hunting is nothing unusual, but Gracie’s hunting experiences have made people across the country smile. 

“I think people are excited that there are kids that want to do this,” Jon said. “It’s just kind of a dying thing—people hoard their land or think they own animals or whatever, and it’s not easy to find places to hunt.”

Jon says he normally has to take his boys far north of Aberdeen to hunt.

But now, with Gracie’s developing hunting skills, opportunities to hunt are abounding. 

“She’s got a lot of different factors, and people in the hunting community are excited about that,” Jon said. “She’s a kid, she’s a girl, she’s got a backstory people are excited about.”

“I’m not from here,” Gracie added.

“She’s just got a whole package of stuff you don’t typically see in the hunting community—fun hair, you know, and all that. We put purple in for the hunt,” said Jon, smiling.

The Facebook group Jon is part of with AR owners from across the country tends to get negative, he says. But, posts featuring Gracie are flooded with positive comments and likes. 

“With all the unrest, I think, of everything politically and socially right now, it’s just a happy story,” Jon said. “I think a lot of hunters and shooting people are looking for something happy.”

Talented hunter, typical third grader

Despite her newfound love of hunting, Gracie is still a smart, spunky third grader. 

When she’s not hunting, she likes to play with her friends, spend time outside, ride her bike or play soccer—her mom is the coach of her soccer team, providing them a bonding opportunity outside of hunting. 

As for what she wants to do in the future, Gracie says she’d like to start her own hunting company, which she would call Gracie’s Outdoor Adventures. She models this desire off one of her favorite hunting companies, Her Wilderness, which is dedicated to encouraging women to get outdoors.

Immediate future plans for Gracie include a turkey hunt, a forthcoming YouTube channel, hopefully more hog hunts and giving her dad some tips. 

“If you don’t get your next animal, I’m going to give you some lessons,” Gracie joked to Jon.

And, what does Gracie want to hunt in the future?

“What can you even hunt?” Gracie said. “Maybe an alligator, a grizzly bear—then I could see the baby bears and watch them play.”

The 9 year old’s hunting journey will be continued on her Instagram and YouTube pages, both named Gracie’s Outdoor Adventures, and the Peters say they’re thankful for everyone who has supported their young sharp shooter along the way.

As for advice Gracie has for future hunters, she says being patient is key.

“Don’t expect to get whatever you’re hunting for right away––you have to wait,” Gracie said. “You can’t just start shooting at something; you have to look through the scope.”

But, perhaps, the most important message that Gracie has is the one she has for other young, determined and independent girls just like herself.

“Hunting is not just a boy sport,” says Gracie. “Girls can do whatever they want to do.”

 

 

 

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