A 14-year-old East Tennessee girl is the lucky winner of a highly coveted elk hunt permit. Only six were given out across the entire state this year, and the Greene County High School freshman snagged one.
Jessica Parkins' summer vacation is ending with a bang after her name was drawn from a pool of hundreds of applicants. Now, the girl who has been hunting with her dad since she was old enough to lift a gun will participate in Tennessee's fourth annual elk hunt.
"I was shocked. I didn't know what to say," she said.
But she knows exactly what to do.
"I just thought it'd be fun, so I wanted to try it. And I've been hunting ever since I could pick up a gun," she said.
"She's tough as a pine knot. I mean, she can keep up with me all day long in the woods," said father Robert Parkins.
In fact, she has already killed everything from a bird to a deer.
"My first big proud moment was when I killed my first deer. I was just running around everywhere. I had adrenaline pumping through me. It was awesome," Jessica said.
She has some work to do before the next big mount is added to her mantle, and the pressure can be nerve-wracking.
"Just debating on whether I'll see one, or if I'll miss the shot, or if I'll make the shot. I just get nervous," Jessica said.
But her father said he has complete confidence in her talent and couldn't be prouder of the young woman and huntress she has become.
"Most girls, they see stuff like that and they want to turn their nose and whatever. And Jessica, she just dove right in," Robert Parkins said.
"Just because you're a girl, it can't stop you from doing nothing," Jessica said.
The father-daughter team will spend two days northwest of Knoxville this October trying to kill one of about 300 elk living in the Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.
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