We've all heard the stereotypes and wisecracks about women who hunt, but a lot of them don't speak to the majority of genuine female hunters. Like all jokes, these can have a grain of truth in them, but they're a little hard to stomach if you consider yourself a woman of the outdoors. The next time you encounter a female hunter, avoid making these assumptions.
1. We don't know what we're doing.
Just as there are some men who grew up hunting as well as others who just got started as adults, there are female hunters of all experience levels. I've spent time in the field with some incredibly knowledgeable women who could teach most men a thing or two. The vast majority of us don't need you to use dumbed down language or explain the basics. Check the Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young record books, and you'll find plenty of women listed on their pages.
2. We can't hang with the boys.
I know several women who spot and stalk harder, sit longer, and trek farther than a lot of the guys. I also know a few who can't. The same goes for men. Don't assume a woman who hunts won't be as tough as the guys. She just might out-run, out-shoot, and out-hunt you.
3. We want to be treated differently.
While women might appreciate a gentleman's kind gestures in other settings, most of us don't want a man bending over backwards to carry our gear or tiptoeing around our feelings on a hunting trip. Competent female hunters are the exact opposite of damsels in distress, and we just want to be treated like one of the equals in camp. I only feel completely comfortable and accepted on a hunting trip when I get razzed just like everyone else.
4. We can't keep quiet.
We've all heard the loudmouth lady jokes, but assuming women won't last hours in the blind or stand without having to run their mouths is just ridiculous. Sure, some women are chatty in everyday life, but I've had to shush more men than women in the field. And while some women might whine about being cold or bored or tired, all the women I've hunted with just quietly suck it up and press on.
5. We want cutesy camo.
While we want hunting camo that fits us well, most of us don't care for cutesy little details that actually make hunting apparel less stealthy. A few companies like KUIU and SITKA are making waves with lines that look similar to their men's apparel but are tailored to and functional for women -- no shrunken down menswear, no pink or turquoise logos, no metallic stitching. What we actually need is gear that accounts for how we're built, how we lose heat, and how we have to respond when nature calls.
In a women's roundtable a few years ago, longtime hunter and TV personality Vicki Cianciarulo explained that it's about function over fashion.
"Let it be comfortable in a treestand. We're not doing a catwalk for a fashion show," she said. "We really need to make sure that it's functional out in the woods -- that's what we need."
6. We want to be influencers.
Although there are some women donning perfect hair and makeup who chronicle every second of their hunts on social media, most of us roll out of bed, head to the stand without even looking in a mirror, and don't take a single selfie all season long. Instagram influencers who're just out for the clout can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but the reality is most women who hunt aren't anything like them. Most of us just want to hunt in peace because we truly enjoy it--not because we want some sponsorship deal.
7. We want to be called huntresses.
The term "huntress" just gives off those bad influencer vibes. Most women who take themselves seriously and want to be treated the same as any other hunter don't want to be called anything other than that -- a hunter.
8. There aren't many of us.
While men still outnumber women in overall hunting participation, our numbers have been growing at a faster rate in recent years -- particularly in bowhunting. More companies are developing dedicated women's hunting gear, and I've attended hunting trips where women were well-represented or even made up the entire invitee list. There are a lot of us out there, and we're investing our dollars in this industry too.
I spoke with former ATA president and CEO Jay McAninch in 2017, and he predicted women would continue to be major players.
"Some of this growth is due to continued innovation and better equipment and apparel for women, but there's also an element of women feeling welcomed into the great outdoors to hunt with family and friends," he said. "Our future market trend analyses all point toward women becoming a bigger and more stable part of our bowhunting market."
While the increase in female hunters is something to celebrate, it's also a call to represent ourselves and hunters as a whole well. These assumptions aren't true about most women, but a lot of these stereotypes started because of a few bad apples. Let's hold ourselves to high standards, ladies.
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