Women Who are Deer Hunters: 3 Million and Counting
Dr. John Woods 09.22.14
A deer camp is a special place. There’s nothing better than sitting around the campfire, watching the flames dance against the woods line, talking over the day’s hunt with plans for tomorrow, eating a roasted hot dog or a melted marshmallow, and taking in the subtle scents of perfume. Perfume? Say what?
Yep, in a lot of hunting camps around the country these days, the ladies are there right along with the macho guy hunters. In fact, an ever-increasing number of lady hunters of all ages are showing up in deer camps. Face it guys, female hunters are serious competition in the deer woods. And for good reason, many of them are better at it than we are.
Just to prove my case, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s latest report indicates that female hunters in America number roughly 3,204,000. That includes 2,981,000 firearm hunters, 825,000 archery hunters, and 563,000 ladies hunting with muzzleloaders. (The numbers don’t add up right because some ladies hunt all three ways.) That comes out to about 16.5 percent of all hunters. I suspect a large percentage of them hunt deer, too. I know they do in Mississippi.
The average age of a female hunter in this country is 32. The largest expanding age group are ladies 18-24 years of age. It’s a tremendous outdoors market as well, as is seriously noted by product manufacturers (Are you seeing more pink guns and camo?), shooting and hunting training programs for females, and sponsored hunts just for the ladies. There are huge increases in women buying hunting licenses as well. That’s a good thing.
Lady hunters are firmly finding their place in deer camps all over the country. I have more females in my hunter safety classes every year. They are interested in hunting for the value of a shared family experience. Trust me though, they are just as gung ho about taking their own whitetail trophies. They want bragging rights too; they just go about it in a much quieter fashion. Indeed they may be the future of deer hunting.
I met my first ever female deer hunter in Missouri in 1971. She was the wife of another hunter with talents easily equaling the best hunters in the group, but far surpassing mine at the time. I admired her as an outdoors person and hunter because she endured the cold, wet, snow, and the work. She harvested her share of the deer, too, including a couple of very nice bucks. She was an excellent shot and handled herself well in all aspects around the camp and other hunters. She said little, but did her part.
In my opinion from personal observational experience from sharing camps with female hunters in Mississippi and across the country is that there are several common traits shared by most lady deer hunters. These attributes are just part of why I think lady hunters make better deer hunters.
Women hunters analyze everything. They take nothing for granted because they are still ramping up their learning curves. Once they catch on to the standard deer hunting strategies and tactics, they easily embrace them without trying to over think them. They are not huge risk takers, but go with what they know works in a quiet, confident manner.
In a hunter safety class or in the field, female hunters take instruction better than males. They also learn faster because they have no preconceived notions. They quickly learn how to handle firearms or archery gear safely and how to shoot them well in short order. To them practice is fun instead of work, but they take it seriously. They take pride in their measured accomplishments, but quite frankly they do not exhibit the brash egos that many of us male counterpart hunters always seem to show off.
In practice, I have yet to witness a female hunter walk off from their share of camp duties including tracking, recovering, and cleaning game. To be honest most gentlemen take over the more nasty duties, but the ladies don’t excuse them. They pitch in wherever they can and never complain about it.
Female hunters don’t charge willy-nilly into anything without thinking about the safety considerations. They learn to handle their weapons safely, treat tree stands with due respect, and are super careful piloting ATVs. The ones I have observed seem to stand back a minute to figure things out first, then go to work. We men tend to charge in (without instructions or directions) and usually end up mucking it up. Does that sound like anybody you know?
The biblical character Job has nothing on lady hunters. They can sit on a hard stand seat for hours and never flinch. They are meticulously observant. Even my young 14 year old daughter spots deer (and lots of other animal life as well) before I do. Of all their strengths of character as deer hunters, this may be their strongest.
Male deer hunters would do well to learn a few clues from our female hunting partners. Let’s just admit it and embrace it: lady hunters are good at what they do inside the camp house and outside, too.