Decreases in overall license purchasing creates budget gaps for ODFW, yet women are purchasing significantly more licenses.
After last year’s 32 million dollar budget gap in the state’s Fish and Wildlife Department, the decrease in purchases of licenses led to an inevitable increase in the costs of 2016’s licensing and tags.
According to a report in The Bend Bulletin,
“Forty years ago, in 1975, 18.9 percent of Oregon’s 1.7 million residents age 12 to 69 bought a hunting license and 34.6 percent of the 1.6 million residents age 14 to 69 had a fishing license. Numbers from 2013 showed a drop to 8.3 percent of Oregon’s 2.9 million residents age 12 to 69 who purchased a hunting license and 17.4 percent of the state’s 2.8 million residents age 14 to 69 who bought fishing licenses.”
However, The Statesman Journal recently pointed out that female hunters are on the rise in Oregon, with a 16 percent increase in licenses purchased by women since 2005, a trend that is continuing to grow.
The increases in fees can be discouraging for new hunters who are reluctant to make the investment. However, the women who are part of Oregon’s growing population of hunters are enthusiastic about their participation, and encouraging to other women who are interested in taking part in the state’s hunting opportunities.
Karie Holland Slater of Philomath was first exposed to hunting when she was a teenager by her boyfriend at the time, who is now her husband. That was nearly thirty years ago. Karie only recently got back into hunting for herself two years ago when she took an ODFW workshop with her youngest child as an effort of parental bonding.
“As it turned out I met the most amazing people who shared the same passion when I took up bow hunting. That has opened up a whole new world of people that I admire and just stand in awe of at their hard work and success. I have made some great friends in the process, which is priceless.”
As well as admiring her fellow female hunters, Karie says she most enjoys taking time to appreciate “God’s creations” and that hunting provides an escape from her busy life and a “moment of zen.” She encourages other women interested in hunting to seek out workshops at ODFW, as well as Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse. She also suggests networking on social media, joining groups on FB, following other female hunters on Instagram or messaging them on Facebook to build connections and learn more about the type of hunting that other women may interested in.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people in the hunting world want to help others they don’t know, and are (in general), really good, down-to-earth people. It’s amazing the amount of respect and admiration I have for those I have gotten to know.”
She credits The Northwest Ladies Camp as another opportunity to learn, try new things, and make connections in the local hunting community.
Valerie Fulleton of Portland says she was first motivated to take up hunting because she is passionate about cooking and feeding people. The self-proclaimed “Gun-toting liberal lady-fisher” runs her own business in Vancouver, a body waxing salon called “Bare Down There.”
“There’s something very honest about being able to harvest an animal and use it to provide sustenance for my friends and family. Hunting also means I don’t have to support the terrible practice of factory farming.”
She says that aside from a meal, hunting provides her with some unique challenges of perseverance, being resourceful, and connecting with nature while exploring the development of her ethics.
“Hunting has shown me more of what I’m capable of and given me a quiet confidence.”
Her advice to other women who are curious about hunting but don’t where to start is to, “Get comfortable with guns,” adding that the Oregon Department of Wildlife offers a number of different educational opportunities. She also suggests that women start with upland bird hunting because it’s easily accessible and much lower hunting pressure than starting with big game.