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Long Shot Leaders with Michael Stein

Oct 21, 2022

How Amanda Lynn Mayhew became the world's top female outdoor celebrity

Amanda Lynn Mayhew is not like most people. Her energy seems to know no bounds. Between her company Just Hunt, TV show, running the Women’s Hunting Association, being the official ambassador and host of the Great Outdoors Stage for the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, and her Range Day and Take Me Outreach Programs, she credits her athletic training for giving her the well-being and energy to stay so busy.

Mayhew hasn’t always been the hunter-athlete she is today. Her humble beginnings, a health scare in her 20s, and the challenges of being a single mom have given her the grit, determination, and experience that sets her apart as a hunter.

From Necessity to Passion

The story of how Mayhew became an ambassador for women in the hunting industry starts with her family. Growing up, her parents had to hunt and fish to put food on the table. Her parents set an example for her as people who looked to the great outdoors as a resource, not just recreation.

“My parents would fish as much as they could to make sure our family had protein to eat,” Mayhew said. “For my dad, hunting a moose or bear would feed the family for a year with me, my mom, and my sister.”

Hunting was an essential part of her upbringing that continues with her three sons.

“Hunting is about the meat and food it provides. It always has been,” she said. “When I go on a hunt now, I come back and take the meat to my kids, who all have their own apartments, and share it with my dad, who is retired now.”

The shift from hunting as a necessity to becoming an outdoor superstar happened unexpectedly.

Amanda Lynn and Dad grouse hunting in 1976 Amanda Lynn and Dad grouse hunting in 1976

“I never rolled out of bed and said, ‘I’m going to be on TV,’” Mayhew said. “A lot of people look at me and think that I came from money, or that I have a lot of money now. The reality is that I grew up in a trailer park, and I’m proud of where I came from.”

Mayhew was a single mother in the late 90s with three boys to feed, so like her parents before her, she used hunting to provide high-quality meat for her family.

Then in 1998, Mayhew was diagnosed with Graves disease. This auto-immune disorder wreaks havoc with your thyroid and can cause extreme exhaustion and weight management disorders, among other things. After trying medication and treatments to control the disease, Mayhew turned to fitness after undergoing radiation treatment. Seeing a commercial for the Total Gym featuring friend Chuck Norris, she decided to buy one and start exercising.

Mayhew is stronger than ever thanks to the Total Gym. Mayhew is stronger than ever thanks to the Total Gym.

“I would work out 4-5 hours a day,” Mayhew said.

Soon after, she moved back to northern Ontario. People noticed a change.

“Here were people who had seen me as a girl, and as a single mother, and now I was ripped. I became really involved in the fitness community,” Mayhew said

Two years after receiving her diagnosis, Mayhew had become a personal trainer and started her own fitness magazine.

“I got tired of looking at magazines at the gym that were nothing but ads. So, I started a fitness magazine that focused on stories about how fitness was used to treat rare diseases and to bring awareness to rare diseases, like mine. No one had seen anything like it,” she said.

Throughout this time, she still went hunting to feed her growing boys. Her publication soon got the attention of executives in the outdoor sporting industry.

“I made friends with an editor of a magazine in Canada and was asked to be part of a women’s panel at the Outdoor Show in Toronto, Ontario in 2011. From that day, it snowballed into what I do today,” she said.

Mayhew became a representative for Bass Pro Shops, which lead to another role as Cabela’s Ambassador for Canada. She simultaneously hosted a radio show called “Nothing but Outdoors” and was a co-host on a country music station. She would bounce back and forth between hosting country music events and hunting, all while holding a full-time day job with the provincial government.

“Country artists are authentic hunters,” she said. “They talk about being in the outdoors and family. It is about involvement and family and friends. It’s just pure fun.”