Amber Haynes has been going on hunting trips with her dad since she was a toddler.
“I was really fortunate to grow up with a dad that really enjoyed bird hunting and shotgun shooting and took me with him just so he could spend time with me,” said Amber. “He tells stories about taking me along when he went dove hunting when I was just two. When I got a little older, he would take me to shoot shotguns at the San Antonio Gun Club and we loved to go duck hunting, too.”
It wasn’t until Amber got to college that she realized not everyone has that experience.
“I went to college in Dallas at SMU for two years and finished up my degree at Trinity University back home in San Antonio,” she said. “A lot of my college friends had never hunted or handled a shotgun before. And it was so surprising to me because I thought everybody grew up doing that.”
Her dad welcomed her friends along for outings to the gun club in San Antonio, and Amber learned firsthand how important a mentor can be to those new to the sport. After college, Amber started a career, got married and welcomed two daughters. It was a busy time in her life, and she found herself spending less time shooting and hunting. A few years later, Amber went through a divorce, and once again, her father was there for her.
“My dad said ‘Why don’t you come hunting with me?’ And that was just what I needed. I started to make more time for myself and that brought me back into the field doing what I love.”
That reopened a door for Amber, and she and her dad started hunting together at Joshua Creek Ranch in Boerne, where they both live. Soon she was taking hunting trips with her dad all over Texas. She enjoys wing shooting of all types and is passionate about quail hunting.
“Everything about quail hunting is just so beautiful. The dogs are beautiful. You have these beautiful shotguns, and the weather is usually wonderful during quail season. It’s a uniquely beautiful experience.”
But there was one thing she couldn’t get past.
“I could not find hunting or shooting gear meant for a woman! Everything was too big, or it was boy’s clothes with pink trim, or it just didn’t fit right. I was always very frustrated to get to do this beautiful thing wearing clothes that were anything but. So, I decided to make a shirt that I would want to wear.”
She wanted a shirt with sleeves that would move with the swing of a shotgun, with a tailored fit that would not be too tight. She cobbled together ideas of the perfect shirt and then worked with a pattern maker to make her dream a reality. She thought she would make a few of them which her friends might buy. As it turned out, she was on to something big.
“We made three sample shirts of three different styles. A friend of mine had some extra exhibit space at the 2017 Dallas Safari Club conference, and she told me I should display them to see what would happen. By the time the conference was over, I had so many pre-orders that it pushed me into production. That’s how my company McKenna Quinn was born.”
McKenna Quinn took off, and Amber sold out of her initial inventory in just three months. She’s been steadily growing her business ever since. In the last couple of years, McKenna Quinn has also hosted numerous events where women are mentored in shooting sports and introduced to the hunting lifestyle.
“Hunting has always been a social activity for me, and it’s been a real thrill to introduce so many women to shooting and hunting. My own experience has always been hunting with my dad, or a friend, or my daughters. Being in the field with the people you are close to transcends the words there are to explain how much it means. I love getting people out in the field and sharing this experience with them.”
Amber was excited to be asked to become a We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador for Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. We Will Not Be Tamed calls us to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit and why we should be inspired to conserve it.
“I answer all my calls, but that was definitely one of the coolest calls I’ve gotten! The shooting and hunting tradition in Texas is something that I believe very deeply in. Having the opportunity to introduce people to hunting is an honor. I’m very grateful to have another platform where I can share that joy.”
You can follow Amber on Instagram at @shopmckennaquinn