There are more women today involved in the outdoors than ever before, but here's how to spot the real female hunter versus a fake.
As hunters, we want nothing more than to spread the wealth of the outdoors. It is a hobby that can be shared by all, but becomes loved by only a select group. My grandfather and father both introduced me to the outdoors and showed me the greatest part of hunting wasn't the kill, but the memories created with each other. That still holds true today.
I've been hunting since I was able to fit in my father's backpack, at least that is what he tells everyone. It is in my family blood, it is in my soul and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not thinking about hunting.
I am very proud to have introduced hunting to several friends of mine and watched several of them harvest their first deer or turkey or small game animal. The excitement they experience is matched with my excitement and joy at the same level. I love to introduce hunting to any and everyone, including my fiancée who has several times been my camerawoman, and this year will be getting her hunter's safety course in hopes to kill her first deer this fall.
Lately, hunting has seemed to become more of a glamour patch rather than the actual sport it was intended for. And we can argue whether or not hunting is a sport later, but regardless, it's an honor and a privilege to be able to hunt. Sure every time I go out, I may not think of the indigenous people of the land who began hunting with just a spear years ago. And yes, I too am also guilty of selfless promotion through Facebook and Instagram but I also use social media as a way to connect with other hunters who are passionate about hunting and want to share their stories with me as much as I want to share my stories with them.
I recently watched a video of Michael Waddell commenting on the hunting industry and how it needs to slow its role. He talked about stepping on some toes, but needing to take a stance. I immediately felt the need to follow suit as I feel many hunters who are true to the sport should.
Here's where things gets edgy.
1. Real female hunters aren't worried only about "likes."
Girls, we want you to hunt and enjoy the outdoors, but if you are only here to get more "likes" and "follows" on your social media page, please find another vehicle to ride. Today the hashtags and picture feeds of hunting and fishing are flooded with half naked girls who have never even truly sat in a treestand, reeled in a fish or shot a weapon, and it's taking away the respect real woman hunters deserve.
The women hunters who are trying to grow in the industry and put the footwork in to harvest a nice mature big game animal each fall, surely care about "likes" but that is not the ONLY thing they care about. Most hunters love to share their stories and pictures and women hunters are no different, but if you post a picture to Instagram while out "hunting" and are spending more time worried about the "likes" every minute as opposed to actually hunting, you're in the wrong hobby.
2. Real female hunters put in the 'wo'man hours.
If you are new to hunting and fishing and aren't sure if you will like it, find someone to take you. Look for some hand-me-down camouflage and have someone experienced show you the way. Like anything in life, once you begin to enjoy it and make it on your own, it's time to earn your hunt. This goes for men and women as in life, to be successful you have to work for it.
Sending snaps and tweets of you killing a big buck is great. What's even greater is knowing you put the time in to harvest that animal. I spoke with Gregg Ritz a few weeks ago and he described how his daughter helped cut trails, hang stands and scout all year long before harvesting her first buck. She was 12 years old. If she can do it, you can do it.
If during your photoshoot in your skimpy camouflage bikini top, you can't find the time to get out and scout or help hang some stands, or just practice shooting your bow, you just may not be into hunting as your images are portraying you to be.
3. Real female hunters take time to learn how to shoot.
I first caught wind of this picture from another writer here at Wide Open Spaces and I immediately had to contact him because I was in disbelief. If you didn't catch it, she is completely holding the bow upside down. Not to mention she has her fingers wrapped around the arrow in a way that will lead her to some nylon sutures.
As mentioned earlier, my fiancée is just starting to get into hunting this year. We started with her practice shooting her new Diamond Edge SB-1. As you can see in this video, she enjoys it and she's quite good at it. She didn't think she was an expert, she was patient, asked a lot of questions, and just enjoyed our time together and time shooting. She didn't take to Instagram to post, "Shooting the new bow" or tried to get some "likes" by posing with the target after her shots. She just took the time out to learn the sport of shooting and is practicing every chance she gets. Sadly, I see her being a better shot than me in the near future if she isn't already and when that happens, I'm sure you will see the Instagram pictures then.
Taking the time to learn about your weapon and how it works is what separates the real deal from the fakes. Learn the name of every part, what it does, and why it functions the way it does. If you spend more time taking photos with your gun or bow and don't even know the name of it, there's a good chance you aren't a real woman hunter.
4. Real female hunters truly enjoy the outdoors and have a passion for hunting.
The real female hunters I am talking about actually care about hunting. They have dedicated themselves to learning the sport and wanting to share their experiences with everyone. The industry is full of great female hunting role models today who work hard and strive to spread the sport of hunting in a good light. You can probably think of ten off the top of your head right now, and for good reason. Those women have worked and have earned the respect of this industry that has often overlooked female participation as a marketable factor. That is all beginning to change because of these women and their influence.
As you're reading this, if you are beginning to question whether or not you are a "real woman hunter" or not, really there is only one way to tell. If you have a passion for the outdoors and hunting, you are real. If you didn't have social media to fuel your ego, would you still be out there in the cold or heat, battling the weather and terrain to harvest an animal? If the answer is yes, you are the real deal and for that, we thank you.
Hunting is a hobby for some and a way of life for many. Whether you are just getting into the sport or going on your 40th annual hunting trip this year, just do one thing and enjoy it. Enjoy your time in the woods, with your friends or family and help grow this sport in a positive light.
Hunting is in a great place right now and is bigger than it has ever been in the past. I take personal offense when I see someone "using" the sport to get ahead. Many times as I scroll through my newsfeed and Instagram searches, I am finding more and more girls posing as hunters.
Girls, you should get the respect you deserve for your hard work and we should collectively come together to ensure you get that. As always, be true to yourself, seek respect not attention, and if you do that and are true to the outdoors, there's no doubt in my mind that you are a real woman hunter.