I’ve always been a little torn about hunter recruitment. On the one hand, more hunters in the woods means just that — more hunters competing for prime hunting locations and limited-draw hunting tags. On the other hand, more hunters means that we have greater political and financial clout when it comes to protecting our hunting rights as well as the land and water where we get our food. All factors considered, I do think that limited hunter recruitment is a good thing, especially if we can recruit hunters who are eager to play by the rules as well as get involved in wildlife conservation.
I don’t want to choose favorites, but if we are going to pursue hunter recruitment, I believe that we should focus a lot of our effort on women. Not only are women statistically underrepresented among the ranks of hunters, but I find that they bring a refreshing and invigorating perspective to hunting. Now I’m not talking about the dolled-up huntress craze, with the form-fitted camo, mascara, and capped teeth. I’m talking about real women who are out there pursuing something beyond the approval of men, which, of course, is the vast majority of female hunters who buy a license every year. Currently, that makes up only about 1% of American women, compared to about 11% of men. Of those women who do buy hunting licenses, 50% identify securing food for their family as their primary motivator to hunt. The same can be said for only 35-40% of men.
Food isn’t the only legitimate motivator for a hunter, but I’m impressed that so many women cherish the tangible resources that come from a hunt. I’ve taken well over a dozen women on their first hunts, and not one of them has passed up a good shot opportunity because the animal didn’t live up to arbitrary trophy standards. The vast majority of them were moved to tears by the deep emotional experience of a successful hunt. And almost all of them jumped in with excitement to take part in butchering and hauling the meat. To see a hunt play out through a woman’s eyes can’t help but make you rethink your most basic assumptions about hunting and hunters. Do yourself a favor–hell, do hunting a favor–and get a woman involved. A good first step is to show them this video, which was put together by some women who recently converted to the hunting lifestyle. Enjoy.