Erin Crider was born in the “Show Me State.” But the Missouri native stands that motto on its head with an irrepressible drive that might be best described as “I’ll show YOU.”
Consider this example: Erin is a self-described “avid” waterfowl hunter who moved to Colorado in 2014, but a search for a guide in 2021 proved futile.
“There was not one guide who would take me waterfowl hunting in northeast Colorado,” she recalled. “I called all of them. They were happy to take my husband. They returned his phone calls, told him what field to meet at. And this was the big joke: my husband does not hunt or fish. He’s a musician, he likes to ride his motorcycle. “
Get mad? For a bit. Then Erin had a realization. “I needed to get my outfitters license because I wanted to take girls hunting. There was no one else who was going to take ‘em! I thought: ‘There’s my niche.’ ”
Uncharted Outdoorswomen was born. Two years later Erin says it remains the only woman-owned and woman-guided outfitter in North America. “There’s no one else. I’ve looked everywhere.”
What makes that bold entrepreneurial move even more striking is Erin’s decision to leave behind a successful career in personal finance. But the change had deep roots: Erin grew up spending summers on the farms of her grandmother and aunt, “helping with cattle stuff, attempting to ride horses and doing lots of fishing.” The love of the land learned as a youngster made it a natural next step to earn an Animal Sciences degree in the School of Agriculture at the University of Missouri.
Despite the degree, Erin gravitated to wealth management after graduation. Her background ultimately led her to a client list that she described as “women of wealth and landowners, people who actually owned land … not ‘New York City, what does a tree look like people.’ ”
The land focused Erin’s attention. “This ‘money stuff’ is not important, this land is important, conservation is important,” she told me. “I was on a couple conservation boards (at the time) and I realized they needed me and I didn’t need them. I didn’t have time to be told by the patriarchy, if you will, what I needed to do.”
Outfitters license in hand, Erin’s mission statement further articulated her desire to “create a safe place for the fastest growing demographic in the outdoors: women. We (are) fighting historical barriers that exist in the outdoor space. Our goals are to build an inclusive community, build confidence, develop outdoor skills, and teach ethical habitat and wildlife use practices. Conservation is one of our highest priorities; having a good time lies just below that.”
That’s a tall task. So Erin put out word that was seeking like-minded women to join her business. The response was instantaneous – and large.
“I started getting resumes right away. The first was from a girlfriend, because the fly shop she was volunteering at wouldn’t hire her. So I had my first employee. But it didn’t make sense to just have one, so I hired a bunch of them and now I am in four different states (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon) … I have 30 guides and more applicants than I know what to do with.”
“I never thought it would get this big,” she continued, citing a revenue increase of 60% in the second year of business. Growing interest in fishing and hunting among women isn’t just an opportunity for Uncharted Outdoorswomen. Erin noted that Colorado officials estimate as much as 10% of the $3.2 billion in state revenue generated annually by outdoors sports is coming from women.
That said, it’s not all about dollars and cents for her. “I started my business because I thought if more women bought a fishing license and all of that money goes to conservation, it would make women more aware of what’s going on around them.”
Uncharted Outdoorswomen hosts events (find some here) to teach the likes of fly fishing and waterfowl hunting. And Erin says participants come focused: “Women are good listeners. They’re there to learn.” Novices also can learn about the outdoor life on the outfitter’s blog, which offers posts on subjects such as Fly Fishing on a Budget and Pronghorn Hunting 101
The outdoor education isn’t confined to just fishing and hunting. “We also do medicinal and herbal plant identification. We have a vegetarian on our staff, and I love to pair them up with the hunters because their knowledge comes together with the animals’ food and the tracks they leave behind and what they eat. (It) enables more mindfulness about what’s around you.”
Which is why Erin encourages everyone to consider connecting with Uncharted Outdoorswomen – not just those who want to hunt or fish.
“I would say to a newcomer: ‘What do you enjoy about the outdoors?’ Because just about everybody out here hikes, they come up to see the fall colors. Just realizing ’Why did the trees change so early here? Oh, the weather. It got cold real quick.’ And some leaves, here in my canyon, didn’t get enough water. They just turned brown and died. And just to think about that. ‘Yeah, we really need rain, maybe I shouldn’t water my lawn as much.’ ”
So what’s next in year three? “We’re trying to do more in getting women comfortable about big game hunting … and we’re trying to grow teams and expand in Wyoming, Montana and Oregon.”
Undoubtedly, Erin will encounter unexpected headwinds. But it’s clear she welcomes the challenge of the unknown. During our conversation she talked about the love for bass fishing she gained growing up in Missouri, but it’s easy to extrapolate her thoughts beyond the pond.
“I love bass fishing. I still go bass fishing with a fly rod, it’s one of my favorite things to do. The West is all about trout fishing, and that’s great. But I like not always knowing what’s on the end of my line.”
Ken Mirr is the Founder and Managing Broker of Mirr Ranch Group. Have a question about the West or investing in a ranch? Email him at Ken@MirrRanchGroup.com.