A local hunter is making history at 14 years old. A Greene County native was selected as the first-ever teenager to participate in the Tennessee elk hunt this fall.
Jessica Parkins' summer vacation is ending with a bang.
The high school freshman just learned she will be the first ever youth participant in Tennessee's fourth-annual elk hunt. Her name was drawn out of a pool of nearly 300 teenage applicants.
"I was shocked. I didn't know what to say," Jessica Parkins told News 5.
She might not know what to say, but she knows exactly what to do. Jessica and her dad, Robert Parkins, have been hunting together since she was about seven years old.
"I just thought it'd be fun, so I wanted to try it. I've been hunting ever since I could pick up a gun," said Jessica.
"She's tough as a pine knot. I mean, she can keep up with me all day long in the woods," her father added.
From pictures of hunting trips and even mounts on the walls of the Parkins' home, it’s easy to see Jessica and her family are proud of her skill.
"My first big, proud moment was when I killed my first deer," Jessica remembered. "I was just running around everywhere. I had adrenaline pumping through me. It was awesome."
Jessica has some preparing to do before next big mount is added to her mantle, and she said the pressure can be nerve-wracking to get that elk she'll eye through her gun.
"Just debating on whether I'll see it or I'll miss the shot, or I'll make the shot; I just get nervous," Jessica said.
But her father told News 5 he has complete confidence in her talent and couldn't be prouder of the young woman, and huntress, she's become.
"Most girls, they see stuff like that and they want to turn their nose. Jessica, she just dove right in," Robert Parkins said.
"Just because you're a girl, it can't stop you from doing [anything]," Jessica proudly remarked.
Tennessee elk have spent about 150 years re-populating in wildlife areas, and it wasn't until 2009 the state allowed selective hunting.
This October, Jessica and her father will have two days near northwest Knoxville to kill one of about 300 elk in the Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.