PROSPECT — Diane Hassinger has always been a rebel — and was destined to become a hunter.
The Prospect resident has been hunting for 41 years, battled breast cancer, and is being featured on the TV show Yeti's Ultimate Hunt, which airs on the Sportsman's Channel.
The focus of the show is Hassinger's fight with breast cancer and features highlights from two of her hunts since her recovery.
“When I was 12, I had a girlfriend who was one of six daughters,” Hassinger said. “Her dad used to take us hunting with him.
“He fed into my tomboy side. He took us to a hunter safety course during a time when it was considered a man's thing. Myself, my friend and her sister were the only three females in the class.
“I've always been thought of as a rebel. It made me want to get into hunting all the more,” Hassinger admitted.
Today, she is director of Ladies in Camo, an Alabama-based company with a mission of providing women hunters with affordable hunts in an encouraging atmosphere, along with mentoring and advocating positive hunting ethics.
Now 53, Hassinger has been married to her husband, Dale, for 31 years. They have two natural children, two adopted children and grandchildren, all avid hunters as well, including 11-year-old granddaughter Sarah.
“She's shot alligators with a crossbow,” Hassinger said proudly.
When approached about doing the show, Hassinger admitted to some hesitation.
“I mean, it is an accepted invasion of privacy,” she said. “I thought about it for a week or so before I talked to them. Then I felt a need to do this.
“Women dealing with cancer need to know they can still do what they want to do. I had a double mastectomy and two weeks after surgery, I was out fishing. Six to eight weeks after, I was back hunting.”
The film crew spent three days following the Hassingers around their home and the local area.
Footage from Moraine State Park and McConnell's Mills is part of the program.
“They even filmed Main Street in Prospect — not that a lot happens there,” Hassinger said, laughing.
Hassinger said the show is “very professionally done” and she's received “a lot of positive feedback.”
The show originally aired Jan. 9-10 and and will re-air at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 20,. 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 21.
As part of Ladies in Camo, Hassinger has gone on hunting trips with women all over the country, along with Canada and South Africa.
“Our organization gives women an opportunity to do hunting with other women,” she said. “Most women who get into hunting do so with a bunch of men.
“A woman in the woods, when she misses a shot ... guys will make a big deal about the fact she missed. Women will help her practice so she doesn't miss the next time.”
Hassinger has been on white-tail deer hunts in Illinois, Ohio and New York, hunted hogs in Alabama, gators in Florida, black bear in Maine, done safaris in Africa.
“My wife probably takes 10 to 12 hunting trips a year,” Dale Hassinger said. “I go with her on some of them, unless it's one of the all-women trips.
“Hunting is an escape from the office, an escape from reality when you're out in the woods. The trips definitely have helped with her health issues.”
While Dale Hassinger was impressed with how quickly his wife got back into fishing and hunting after surgery, he admitted there are some elements of their outdoor experiences she has trouble with.
“We've done big-game fishing and that may involve battling with a 600-pound marlin for hours,” he said. “It'd be hard for her to physically handle that.
“But we've been everywhere from Africa to Argentina and Diane hunts with the best of them.”
While she enjoys the hunting element of the TV show, the importance of improving cancer awareness isn't lost on Hassinger.
“Early detetction saves lives,” she said. “If watching this show gets people to get checked, it will have served its purpose.”