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Beka Garris: Building an Image, One ‘Shot’ at a Time

August 31, 2015
By Brenda Layman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

She's strong, independent, good-looking, and she's happiest in the woods with a bow in her hand. She's Beka Garris, the social media sensation who has already amassed over 42,500 Facebook followers, along with a boatload of Instagram fans. Beka's followers love her online pictures in which she poses with the gar and carp she shoots. She also hunts turkeys and deer, and says she will hunt just about anything that's in season. She's not only a highly-skilled outdoorswoman and a photogenic model, but she is her own photographer.

Beka shoots carp and gar with a PSE crossbow. She has also been practicing shooting a traditional, recurve bow. "It's hard," she said. "You can't shoot as far, but it's fun."

Beka has found a number of good bowfishing spots along the Great Miami River and its tributaries. She takes up a position on the bank, dons polarized sunglasses to help her see the fish below, and readies her bow. When she spots the fish, she lets an arrow fly, and hours of practice have made her shots deadly accurate.

Article Photos

Ohio huntress Beka Garris hoists a string of gar she arrowed with her bow recently while bowfishing in the Great Miami River. With savvy, good looks and skilled shots Garris is building a large following on social media. Photo courtesy of Beka Garris

Beka grew up in Newton, New Jersey, in the northern part of the state. Her father, a wildlife technician with a great love for the outdoors, instilled his passion for hunting and fishing into his eldest daughter. When she was about sixteen, Beka bought a camera and added photography to her developing skill set. Her enthusiasm and hard work won her an award in high school Environmental Science. After graduating, she earned a degree in photography from Sussex County Community College and set out to find a way to incorporate the things she loves into a career.

The call of the outdoors was always strong, and Beka wanted a job that would not require her to sit in an office. She found employment as a farm hand on a large private farm, where she learned to grown and harvest maple sugar, flowers, corn, apples, and other produce. Then she moved to Ohio and secured a job as a bow string builder with Pro-Line. The flexible hours allow for long weekends of hunting and fishing. Her other interests include shooting, kayaking, cooking, and writing. "I want to eventually be able to spend all my time doing what I love," she says.

With such a large social media following, Beka is on her way to building a career as an outdoorswoman. She has experience in blogging and in writing articles for outdoor newsletters and magazines, including Lady Hunter and Lady Angler. She has already attracted several sponsors, including Flying Arrow Archery, Girls with Guns Clothing, Gold Tip Arrows, Tribe Archery Recurves, Backwater Outdoors, and she is in negotiations with a couple of other outdoor brands. Beka recently was signed by Under Armour as an athlete for their Women's Hunt Team.

Fact Box

With such a large social media following, Beka is on her way to building a career as an outdoorswoman.

"I would like to be able to work for myself," she says. "If I can pile up enough sponsors, shows, events, and articles, I feel like it would be doable."

Beka doesn't plan to stop there. She is building a brand that will serve as an inspiration to outdoorswomen.

"The whole concept I try to pitch on my Facebook page and on Instagram is that women can be independent, that they can be out there, on their own, doing it themselves."

Beka credits her independence and self-confidence to the fact that she has been on her own and self-supporting since graduating from high school at eighteen. Women, she says, can hunt, fish, boat, and do all the outdoor things they want to do without men to take them. Although outdoorswomen still encounter outfitter clerks who assume they don't know anything about their sport or their equipment, Beka says that is changing.

"I went to a Bass Pro Shop the other day, and the archery tech was a girl," she said. "That's good. We're making progress."

It takes a lot of confidence to build a social media following like Beka's. Sometimes her photos bring undesired attention and comments. She has handled that by disabling private messaging on her Facebook page, so that everyone can see any comments that are left.

"I'm getting a stronger following of people who are more outdoors-based, younger, and more and more of them are women. If someone makes an inappropriate comment, my fans jump on and defend me," she says. "When people email me, they are generally people who actually have something worthwhile to say or who have an opportunity for me."

Asked if she has ambitions for television, she said,

"No, I don't see myself having a TV show. When I hunt and fish, I like to just do what I do and enjoy it. Having to set up the shots for TV would take a lot of the fun out of it, and a lot of stuff would have to be staged. I would probably see myself interviewing people, writing, and taking photos."

Social media fans may wonder how Beka takes such good photos of herself. Her process is amazingly low-tech. She secures her Android phone to a stick or tree branch with an elastic hair tie, and sets the phone to record video. Later, she takes stills from the recording and posts them on social media. The resulting photos capture a strong, confident, young athlete doing what she loves. What could be more inspiring for other women who long to enjoy the outdoors? A role model who does it herself, and does it well, Beka Garris is a leader and an example for aspiring, young outdoorswomen.



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