Getting Started

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, women are the fastest growing segment
of the hunting population. This statistic is reflected in my personal observations as well; when I was a
young woman just starting out in the outdoors, I knew plenty of men who hunted, but not a single
other woman who did. But that’s not the case now. I frequently see women around town or who
come into my practice wearing camo hats, jackets, and sweatshirts. In my conversations with these
women I’m happy to find that many of them are not just making a fashion statement; they are indeed
avid huntresses.

In past generations the normal route for someone to go from non-hunter to huntress was through the
mentoring of a relative (parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle) or close family friend who were themselves a
hunter. They would take the fledgling huntress under their wing and introduce them to firearms or
bows, teaching them marksmanship and shooting safety. They would take them out to the fields and
forest, teaching them to become woods’ savvy, how and where to look for game animals, proper game
care, and other necessities for a successful hunt. Often, if the novice huntress was too young to hunt,
they would accompany their mentor for a season or two, simply watching and observing, before they
were ever allowed to carry a gun themselves. Unfortunately, more commonly the boys of the family
were taught to hunt while the girls stayed at home.

Alas, things are quite different these days. In our mobile society, with families dispersed far and wide,
few of us have a grandparent or aunt/uncle nearby who we can turn to for an introduction to the
outdoors. And it’s a sad fact that more and more we are seeing single-parent families, almost always
headed by non-hunting women, who simply don’t have the time, resources, or personal knowledge to
help out a young woman with the desire to become a huntress. Finally, in many parts of the country
rapid urbanization is making it increasingly difficult to find a place to go hunting, even if you have
someone who is willing to take you!

So what is a young (or not so young) woman who wants to hunt supposed to do?
Let’s assume that you have decided that you want to give hunting a try, but have little or no experience
with firearms or even the outdoors in general. Where do you start? The first step is to start doing some
research, and luckily that has never been easier than it is today. Thanks to the internet virtually
everything you could possibly want to know about anything related to hunting is at your fingertips.
There are numerous websites and chat forums dedicated to every aspect of hunting – some of them
specifically for women (you’re on one of them now!) – including the various game species, equipment,
clothing, and outdoor survival. While everyone has their own opinions, most people on hunting chat
forums are quite willing to share their knowledge, especially when the questions come from someone
who is just trying to get started. You might even meet someone who lives in your area that would be
willing to get together with you in person and take on the mentor role.

Don’t forget to look at YouTube as a great resource for a lot of “how to” videos on everything from
sighting in your bow or rifle to field care of game animals. There are also a number of good hunting TV
shows (and unfortunately a few bad ones) that can be helpful and inspiring for a new hunter or
huntress, and many of them feature women hunters (Note: watch for the new Queens of Camo TV
series, hopefully debuting on a major network in the near future!)

Your state’s fish & wildlife agency is another good resource. Virtually all states offer hunter education
courses (often mandatory for you to hunt in that state) that can give you an excellent introduction to
hunting, as well as familiarize you with that state’s hunting laws and can be a great way to meet other
like-minded huntresses. In addition, many states have special programs designed to introduce new
people, especially women, to hunting. In my home state of Washington the program is called WOW:
Washington Outdoor Women. All of the instructors in this program are women, which many find much
less intimidating than courses taught by crusty old men. WOW introduces women of all ages to the joys
of a life in the outdoors, teaching a wide variety of skills necessary to become a successful huntress.
If your town has a gun club or shooting range considering talking to them about becoming a member,
explaining that you are new to the sport and would like a place to practice and perhaps get some
instruction from other experienced shooters. Again, it has been my experience that most experienced
hunters/shooters are quite willing to offer advice and encouragement to those just starting out –
especially women.

Honestly, there has never been a better time to be a huntress. When I first started out nearly 30 ago
many people still considered hunting a man’s sport. I often felt self-conscious and out-of-place in
hunting camp or even shopping for hunting supplies in a sporting goods store. My passion for the hunt
wasn’t always accepted, even by friends and family. My mother never understood why I wanted to
hunt, considering it cruel and unladylike. And my first husband, who was a hunter himself, never
wanted to take me out hunting with him; he wanted to hunt with his buddies while I stayed home like
the good wife and watched the kids. But I showed him; I went hunting anyway, by myself, often
dragging my three young boys along with me!

Thankfully times have changed. These days, women hunters are much more welcome in the woods and
fields. Husbands and boyfriends are usually happy to have their significant-other as a hunting
companion. As previously mentioned, there are now TV shows and websites specifically dedicated to
women hunters. When I was just starting out in was impossible to find hunting gear suitable for a
woman, and I had to settle for ill-fitting and uncomfortable clothing and equipment that was designed
for men. Not so today: There are a number of companies making good quality hunting clothing, packs,
and guns and bows designed specifically for women (you can even get a pink bow!).

As I said in the beginning, women are the fastest growing segment of the hunting population. There has
never been a better time in history to be a huntress than right now. So what are you waiting for? Get
out there and get started! All of the Queens are always happy to answer any questions you might have.
We are all eager to get you started on the best foot possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to make
mistakes. Also, watch for future blogs that will address different topics and give tips pertinent to novice
hunters. We all have to start somewhere…nobody is perfect when they are learning and everyone was a
beginner at everything they have ever become an expert at. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and step out
of your comfort zone. Someday you may be the person everyone is asking for advice!

Apr 27, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 2


2 comments on “Getting Started

  1. Jessica Abbate

    “But I showed him; I went hunting anyway, by myself, often

    dragging my three young boys along with me!”


  2. Greetings from Finland! Women are definitely welcome to this awesome lifestyle. Actually, this summer I’ll introduce one new lovely lady to hunting – we’ll buy her first shotgun and start practicing. I’ve also given your blog address for her for some inspiration 🙂

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