Gear library looks to break down barriers for Montana hunters

CAMERON EVANS Montana Free Press

Ada Smith didn’t own any camo when she started hunting. Or a range finder, or decoys or turkey calls.

The Ph.D. candidate in the University of Montana College of Forestry was fortunate to befriend a community of adult-onset hunters and mentors who lent her the gear and taught her the skills she needed to hunt.

Among those mentors was DeAnna Bublitz, a founder of DEER Camp, a Missoula-based hunting gear library for new hunters.

“DeAnna literally took the shirt off her back to lend me some camo in the early days,” Smith said.

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Access to gear poses a challenge for many new hunters, and Bublitz had firsthand knowledge of that after entering the world of hunting as an adult. That knowledge, coupled with a desire to give back to the hunting community, led Bublitz to form DEER Camp with co-founder Madeline Damon.

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The two met in the spring of 2020 at a women’s leadership class at the University of Montana where they developed the idea for the Missoula-based gear library with the goal of making hunting more accessible.

“I started

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