A story of resilience and bear hunting!
(updated July 19, 2023) There will never be trials strong enough to divide the Gauthier sisters. On the contrary, if we rely on the story of Valérie, our Sportchief ambassador, and her older sister Natasha, the illness will have had the effect of multiplying the love they share for each other. Let us tell you a dark but bright chapter of their life story.
Story Valerie & Natasha Gauthier
A text by Manon Rivard
At the time of meeting them, we are a few hours away from their reunion on a hunting ground. Indeed, Valérie and Natasha Gauthier have to go feed the bear with their strategic buffet: Extrêmes C.G. products, mash, coulis to add lots of flavors and bread from the Lacroix bakery, a local merchant in which Natasha has already worked and who insisted on encouraging them in this adventure.
Weeks before, the girls went to the shooting range so Natasha could reacquaint herself with a gun. “Review the mechanism of a firearm, adjust the rifle, practice shooting, remember to breathe calmly. It was important to have a little update, because I also don't want to miss the game when it comes in front of us! », she laughs, saying that she had trouble closing her eyes after her visit to the shooting range, still on the adrenaline rush.
Both women are passionate about hunting and curious. Traits inherited from their mother, who is quite proud to see her daughters start hunting together again after more than a decade.
“We used to go hunting together. We like it as much as each other. Natasha put the hunt on hold for various family reasons. », explains Valérie saying that as soon as her sister knew she had gone moose hunting, she received a text message to find out how it was going for her and especially, if she had harvested.
Last fall, however, she received a less happy message from her sister. Indeed, on September 27, 2022, Natasha was diagnosed with stage 2 hormone-dependent breast cancer at the age of 49. “When I left the doctor's office, I wanted to cry. I was alone. It wasn't the worst diagnosis, but it wasn't the least bad either. », she remembers. While waiting for the operation for a partial mastectomy, the removal of infected lymph nodes and of course, the chemo, the sisters would make a promise to each other to set up a hunting project for the spring in order to hold on to something positive. “There, I feel in great shape. I am confident, but nevertheless a little stressed because it has been several years since I practiced. It scares such an imposing animal. », recites Natasha explaining that once in front of the animal she will feel her heart beating a thousand an hour.
Facing the bear and the disease
“My sister is a hard-working, persevering and courageous person. She stayed positive despite the illness and she didn't let it get her down. », explains Valérie Gauthier, proud to see the company Sportchief, for which she is an ambassador, having agreed to dress her sister from head to toe in the same colors. what.
"He's the baby of the family, Natasha exclaims. She has such a big heart, always ready to help others. My diagnosis affected him a lot. She cried more than me. »
The bear, a powerful and wild animal, can be as frightening as disease. Although, for our ambassador, hunting is her drug, she does not hide it: she has long had nightmares thinking about the bear. Over the years, she got to know the habits of bears and then calmed her fears. “I visualize my sister, preparing to strike down the beast like a warrior fighting disease right now. It is a challenge that she will succeed in, just like overcoming the disease. », she concludes.
Our wishes for Valérie and Natasha
We are writing these last lines as the fires ravage the territories of Northern Quebec. Normétal, the municipality of Valérie, has been evacuated for several days already. She found refuge in a converted trailer and is about thirty minutes from her residence. There are still bans on going into the forest, but nevertheless, the two Gauthiers remain hopeful: their hunting territory is unscathed and they still have time to carry out their common project. After the disease, and the fire that interfere with their plan, we can only wish them to harvest two beasts to double the pleasure!
Good luck girls 😊
Continuation and end of the story
It's July 19, 2023. The girls are still thrilled with their bear hunting experience. We meet to write the rest and the end of the story.
LThe forest fires could have quickly put an end to this adventure, which nevertheless ended in uncertainty and expectation. Because in addition to emotionally managing the evacuation of people from her village and medical appointments for radiotherapy, Natasha feared that her dream of harvesting a bear would go up in smoke. It was ultimately the first publication of this blog text that caught the attention of a friend of Valérie and who offered to come and hunt in her area protected from the flames. Hallelujah, there was finally some hope for a happy ending to this.
Back in predatory mode
The two women had to regain their momentum and during their very first visit to the friend's property, three bears showed their big noses. The first two were too small and the biggest showed up when the light was no longer so favorable… for a good shot! “Natasha wanted beautiful images of her harvest to have memories. I thought to myself that maybe she also wanted to stretch the time with me in nature. », laughs our Sportchief ambassador, who didn’t have eyes big enough to capture her sister’s smile and her joy at being there with her. The following days, however, their enthusiasm was less great considering the dense smoke and the air quality so bad that the girls had to put their joint project on hold.
The last chance
With just a few days to go before the bear hunt was over, the cameras were still showing plenty of activity and encouraging each other somehow: "It's not over until it's over!" ». On June 28, 48 hours from the end of the season, Valérie and Natasha left around 3:30 p.m. with their artillery and their hopes. Two hours after settling down, two bears came out. The predators were waiting for the right moment. “I seemed calm and patient, but my heart was racing”, describes the latter. After a battle of the two animals that gave their viewers quite a scene, Natasha took the opportunity and she fired. The two fled and eye to eye awaiting the verdict of this shot, they heard the last cry of the animal announcing that the shot made was indeed fatal. “I was so proud to have made a perfect shot so as not to hurt the animal. My time at the shooting range had been worth it”, she remembers with wet eyes.
A lucky double
What was the surprise of the sisters after a short detour by the truck to prepare to harvest the bear to see that another had presented itself to the barrel of food and who fled when they saw them arrive. Did they expect this? No not at all! Especially since they had made a lot of noise. Valérie, who is used to this type of hunting, simply couldn't believe her eyes. “It looked like this evening was arranged for us. The action is on track. », she laughs again. They went back into hunting mode, suddenly luck was smiling on them again, also because they wanted a good ending to this story, let's be honest! Ten minutes passed, and another animal arrived and then the roles were reversed. Valerie dropped a second beast 25 feet apart, with about 45 minutes between the two shots. “My priority was to harvest Natasha and it was mission accomplished. To also have my chance the same evening and that we had the chance to experience this together was like a gift from heaven. », drops Valérie pointing out that despite the obstacles on their way, they have succeeded.
The moral of the story
We leave the final words to Natasha, a beautiful warrior who, at the time of writing, is receiving a series of 19 radiation treatments to put an end to the breast cancer that has afflicted her. “I understood a lot of things through this experience. Having a goal in front of me allowed me to look forward and stay positive. I clung to life, motivated by this project with my sister. I was so afraid of not making it with the fires or my medical appointments which were starting to fill the agenda. Nevertheless, it showed me that despite the obstacles, you should never give up. I have only one word: gratitude. Next year, hoping that there will be no traces of the disease left, Natasha now dreams of introducing her two youngest boys, aged 8 and 10, to bear hunting. The Sportchief team can only wish him health, success and new crazy stories to tell!