Spotting and stalking is Larysa Switlyk’s favorite method of bowhunting. Interestingly, it can take those kinds of skills to track down Larysa, who seems to be always on the go.
“I don’t sleep much,” says Larysa, producer and host of Larysa Unleashed.
Not only is Larysa one of the few women to headline her own hunting TV show, she’s a relative newcomer to hunting. Growing up in Albany, New York, in a non-hunting family, her idea of fun was to hop on a train to New York City.
“At 16 I’d just ride down, go to a Broadway show, and come back,” she said.
Larysa dreamed of settling in the city, and she got that chance toward the end of college, taking an accounting internship in New York City.
“That’s when I realized I wasn’t a city girl,” said Larysa. “I worked too much and it was like Groundhog Day.”
By then her family was in Florida, where Larysa had finished high school and attended college (at the University of Florida). She headed back south and obtained her Realtor license. Before digging into a career, Larysa cashed in her college graduation gift, a two-month backpacking trip to Australia. It was during that trip — which she managed to stretch to six months — that Larysa discovered hunting.
She called an outfitter in New Zealand to set up a fishing trip but was told it was hunting season. So she asked what their cheapest option was, and was told a female fallow deer hunt.
“The rush of adrenaline was like nothing I’d ever experienced,” said Larysa, who shot a doe with a rifle. “I loved every minute of it.”
Back in the states she was eager to keep hunting. One night out she met some hunters who mentioned that they were soon heading to their bowhunting camp in Alabama. They jokingly invited her.
“Two days later I called them and said, ‘When do we leave?’” laughed Larysa, who had to buy her first bow before the trip.
Larysa didn’t get a deer on that trip but she became obsessed, essentially working to pay for her hunting passion, which she eventually parlayed into Larysa Unleashed. While she does some domestic hunting trips for the show, many of the trips are to rugged and exoctic locations in pursuit of unique animals such as Marco Polo sheep in Kyrgyzstan and Gredos Ibex in Spain.
She loves those extreme hunts because they test her.
“I want to be able to show that I’m the real deal,” said Larysa, who is proud to be an inspiration to other women hunters.
The payoff comes at public appearances when women hunters come up to say hello.
“They’ll say, ‘We’re here to see you,’” Larysa said. “A lot of people don’t see the behind the scenes. I work really hard for this, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.”