Don’t tell Marie Ramsey-Hirst that she can’t or shouldn’t do something. She’s the court clerk for Canadian County and has been a trailblazer since her rise from airplane mechanic through the ranks of the county court clerk’s office. She is entirely a self-made woman.
“I was working as a mechanic and parts person out at El Reno Aviation, and I decided I was tired of having grease under my nails and being in the hot sun all the time,” she said.
She knew Sharon Dill, the court clerk at the time, from daily visits to the post office, and she had her sights set on a job in that office. Each day, when she saw Dill, she would ask for a job in her office.
“I went to secretarial school and started learning working on mainframes [computers]. I got my A+ certification and started learning how to build computers,” Ramsey-Hirst said.
After an opening at the court clerk’s office presented itself, she finally got in and worked her way through every job there.
She was sworn in as court clerk in 2009 and is the person in the office who has worked there the longest. She’s proud of her progress and the fact that, due to her varied experience, she has an intimate understanding of how the entire process works.
What is even more interesting is what she does to relax.
“I’ve been hunting since I was four years old. All my cousins and dad used to squirrel and raccoon hunt, and I got my first rifle when I was seven,” she said.
It was a gift from her father, who recently passed away. It’s a .22-caliber rifle and a treasured possession.
As you can imagine, squirrels are not the easiest animals to hit with a rifle. She graduated to hunting deer in 1978, when she moved to Oklahoma with her first husband. She has been hunting deer with rifles, bows and crossbows ever since.
Though she was married, she often found herself hunting alone, and that was when she rediscovered her love for it and the outdoors.
The peace and quiet and the chance to see things that many do not get to experience in their everyday lives is what she loves.
‘Up close and personal’
But she also got a lot of criticism for hunting because it is considered a man’s domain.
“Years ago, I was always the odd one out. I was a serious tomboy, and … I was the only one hunting with all the guys, and it wasn’t cool. People would tell me that it wasn’t something for ladies and that I was supposed to act more like a girl,” she said.
The criticism just made her more determined to be as good, or better, than any man. It also made her consider that not long ago, women were just as proficient at these things as men.
“The women who settled this place, they went out and shot rabbits and squirrels for dinner. What else were they supposed to eat?” she said.
Ramsey-Hirst hunts for meat, not for trophies. She reloads her own ammunition and can clean and dress her own deer.
“When I was a kid, I skinned my own squirrels to get them ready for Grandma to cook, and doing deer is just that on a larger scale,” she said.
Typical of her do-it-yourself approach, she bought a video on how to process deer. She knew the general principle; she just wanted to make sure she was getting the details right.
Gutting the game in the field and doing the remaining work back at her house, she turns a deer into cuts like roast or back strap or grinds it for sausage or chili. Her favorite recipe is venison piccata. It calls for the back strap, and she got it from a hunting magazine years ago. The dish originated in Italy and originally used veal. It calls for the meat to be sliced, coated, sautéed and served in a sauce.
She’s passing on her knowledge and the legacy of hunting to anyone who wants to learn, especially those in her family. And she can tell pretty quickly if it’s going to be something they enjoy and excel at.
“You have to look through the trees. I know it sounds strange, but a lot of people look at the trees, and that’s not where you’re going to see what you need to see,” she said.
It is also where she feels closest to her father. She has been spending a lot of time in the woods, where they made so many memories.
Ramsey-Hirst enjoys bow hunting more than the other methods.
“You have to get so up close and personal, and it’s a real test of your skills,” she said.
She dismisses those who are critical of hunting in general.
“I’m not hunting Bambi, and you can take a pair of binoculars and a camera and you can hunt with those. Where else can you see a bobcat play with an armadillo like it’s a toy? You see things you would never see otherwise,” she said.
Being in nature, away from the hustle of everyday life, is where she finds her peace.
“There is nothing like going to the woods to get your mind out of the gutter. Being out in nature is where I feel closest to God,” she said.
Deer archery season runs through Jan. 15. Find more information about hunting season at wildlifedepartment.com.
Print headline: Deer hunter, Canadian Country Court Clerk Marie Ramsey-Hirst shares insight into her lifelong love of hunting.