ESPN Outdoors Radio: Georgia on my mind

  • Click here to learn more about "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio." And to find the ESPN Radio affiliate in your area, click here.

    Note: Also on this Saturday's "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio" at 6 a.m. ET, catch an interview with ESPN2's "Loudmouth Bass" co-host Mark Zona, who elaborates on his firsthand impressions of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    When 25-year-old Jessica Giddens submitted an application to be a contestant on the "Hunt for the Ultimate Outdoorsman" reality-based hunting contest on Wayne Pearson's longtime ESPN Outdoors staple TV show "Ultimate Outdoors," the odds that she would win were long.

    For starters, there were an initial " … 40,000 applicants … " according to Giddens, a number that was eventually trimmed down to an even dozen, with the Georgia resident included.

    But even then, the odds remained about as long as the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series.

    Oh, yeah, that happened last year, didn't it?

    And surprise, surprise, surprise, Giddens beat her own long odds to outshoot, outhunt and outfish one other female competitor and 10 other male competitors for the first "Ultimate Outdoorsman" title.

    Excuse me, the first ever "Ultimate Outdoorswoman" title, that is!

    For winning that exclusive moniker, the Kirkland, Ga., woman will be interviewed this Saturday morning at 6 a.m. ET on ESPN Radio's "The Outdoor Show" with Tommy Sanders.

    And the following day, this Hunt Sunday, she will help to co-host Wayne Pearson's "Ultimate Outdoors" program at 7:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2. (Note: This show re-airs on ESPN2 on Dec. 17 at 5:30 a.m. ET and Dec. 18 at 7:30 a.m. ET.)

    As viewers will see, she not only can handle herself on camera, but Giddens also can handle herself in the woods, as evidenced her big New Mexico bull elk.

    That behemoth bull, taken earlier this month during the filming of Giddens' prize-winning hunt at the gorgeous and wapiti-rich Lodge at Chama, was merely the icing on the cake after the tough and often grueling reality-TV competition.

    Of course, Giddens is more than capable of handling herself in the hunting outback, on the shooting range or on the water with a baitcasting reel in her hands.

    She credits her ability to do so to her outdoors upbringing on a Southern farm.

    "I am a south Georgia farm girl," Giddens laughed. "My dad is a row-crop farmer and I have lived on a farm basically all of my life."

    Such youthful experience has proven to be instrumental in Giddens' chosen career path — she is applying to veterinarian school — not to mention her numerous outdoor adventures along the way.

    Those adventures have included a dead-eye shooting career that began at the 4-H level with BB guns and has continued to this day, as Giddens routinely mops up the shotgunning competition on the trap, skeet and sporting clays range.

    Because of that upbringing, it was only natural Giddens would discover the "quail, turkeys and deer hunting" right outside her back door in south Georgia.

    "I enjoy doing all of it," she said. "I probably like the big-game oriented hunting sports more than the fishing or the wingshooting.

    "But they're all fun, and the neatest thing about it is that they're all spaced out so that you can actually enjoy each of them all throughout the year."

    Such outdoor experiences certainly helped Giddens en route to a first-round, quail-hunt win, a second-round spring-turkey-hunt victory, a semi-final bass-fishing triumph and her finals win over Tracy Howard on an axis deer hunt.

    Along the way, she not only had to get the job done out in the field, she also had to get it done before the ESPN Outdoor cameras that were looking for top-notch outdoor action, entertainment and educational footage to air.

    All of this led to some agonizing moments as Giddens and her fellow competitors learned their contest fate.

    "They called us back inside, sat us down and told us who was going to go home and who was going to go to the next round," Giddens recalled.

    "You're holding your breath, crossing your fingers, and praying that you'll be picked."

    Giddens was picked as the winner after each round; giving her a unique experience in filming a reality-based, outdoor-television show.

    "It was definitely an eye-opener," Giddens said. "You've got camera guys on the ground filming you and one over your shoulder filming you.

    "But you've still got to present yourself in the manner that nobody else is there."

    Through it all, Giddens enjoyed her experience — she says she is an intense competitor — and hopes that she can be somewhat of a role model for other women and young girls across the nation.

    She also hopes she can inspire a few men and boys across the nation to help introduce the ladies in their lives to the wonders of creation and the myriad of outdoor recreational opportunities that it provides.

    "If you have a daughter, a girlfriend or a wife, they can be equally as passionate about the outdoor sports as their male counterparts are," Giddens said.

    After all, as the first ever "Ultimate Outdoorsman" … excuse me, again … as the first ever "Ultimate Outdoorswoman," Jessica Giddens should know.

  • Click here to learn more about "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio." And to find the ESPN Radio affiliate in your area, click here.