Skip to main content

Huntresses Then and Now: How Lady Hunters Made (and Make) History

Women throughout the ages have played an important role in hunting.

We’ve all heard that women are taking up hunting like never before. Well, that’s true in some ways, but it’s important to set the record straight: lady hunters aren’t a new thing. They’re re-discovering their very deep roots.

The history of women in hunting goes all the way back to the beginning, long before civilization. The hunter-gatherer distinction was never as clear as modern notions suggest: cave drawings depict women taking an active role in hunting as well as supporting roles that were necessary for the preservation of their clans. One of the most famous depictions is (big surprise) an engraved trophy antler, found in a cave in France. This antler dates back 12,000 years:

Antler engraving depicting men and a woman hunting a reindeer. Image via evoanth.net
Antler engraving depicting men and a woman (you guessed it) deer hunting. Image via
evoanth.net

In these years of human infancy, all hands were needed for a successful harvest, and it was justly filled by skillful women of early human history.

In the ancient Egyptian kingdom, queens often hunted from chariots. This was not just a male sport, but a sport that the powerful women of the time pursued with much enthusiasm.

An ancient wall relief depicting the Egyptian queen Nefertiti driving a chariot. Image via stlcc.edu
An ancient wall relief depicting the Egyptian queen Nefertiti driving a chariot. Image via stlcc.edu

The role of a hunter had a powerful and often religious meaning. The iconic mythological women named Diana (in the ancient Greek tradition) and Artemis (in the Roman myths) were referred to as the goddesses of the hunt, and hunters made offerings to them in prayer for a successful hunt.

As the westward expansion of the United States took hold, settlers, both men and women, hunted for profit and for food on the table for their families and to protect lives and livestock alike.

Toward the end of that era, one of the most famous huntresses, Annie Oakley, dazzled spectators with unerring shots that were polished to a gleam by her hunting trips. She would also tell anyone who’d listen about her preference for hunting over commercial shooting, which she regarded as “a matter of business.”

The legendary Annie Oakley
The legendary Annie Oakley

In our modern-day outdoor society, it has become commonplace for our wives, daughters and friends to hunt, perhaps more than ever. Eva Shockey, daughter of the great Jim Shockey, has brought the allure of hunting to a new generation. Kendall Jones, too, sets an trailblazing example for all hunters. Many other lady hunters are starting to follow in their footsteps and connect with others.

Just as in history, our modern women of the hunt are power players that reinvigorate our great sport and continue to carry on the tradition.

To our great women of the outdoors, I say carry on, my friends. The human race would never have made it this far without you. May your harvest be plenty.

NEXT: 5 RIDICULOUS TREESTANDS THAT MAKE US QUESTION THE OWNERS’ SANITY

you might also like

Huntresses Then and Now: How Lady Hunters Made (and Make) History