More and more women are joining the ranks of hunters, with data showing a 25 percent increase in the number of female hunters between 2005 and 2011. According to National Geographic that number comes from Census Bureau statistics, which confirm that 11 percent of all hunters were women in 2011 as opposed to nine percent in 2006.

This trend is not entirely unprecedented. According to opinion research firm Responsive Management, the number of women hunters has been rising since the 1980s. Research from the National Sporting Goods Association showed that women have a significant impact on hunting and shooting sports. In 2005, studies showed that more than three million women across the United States identified themselves as hunters, compared to a mere 1.2 million in 2001.

Organizations from wildlife agencies to hunting clubs to retailers have taken note, offering new women-oriented hunting classes and products.

“I just started three to four years ago. I was primarily a bird hunter, but deer hunting, there is something about the big game that is different,” Minnesota hunter Alex Larson told WCCO.

Larson is one of the roughly 72,000 women hunters to hit the field in Minnesota, just about 10 percent of the overall hunting population. Minnesota experienced a startling 50 percent increase in the number of women hunters over the last 12 years, and it is a trend that is not likely to end soon.

Research by Responsive Management shows that women hunters hunt primarily for meat and to be close with family. In a survey released earlier this year, Responsive Management found that 55 percent of women surveyed indicated that the biggest incentive to go hunting was meat, while only 27 percent of men answered similarly.

“Hunting made me realize that there’s a lot that has to happen before that piece of meat gets to your plate,” chef and author Georgia Pellegrini told National Geographic. “As a chef, I wanted to participate in that process because it makes the experience more meaningful. You think about the ingredients differently, you think about the experience of eating it differently, and you have more control over how the animal was treated.”

Accordingly, the number of women target shooters has also risen. A report released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that 37 percent of new target shooters are female, compared to an established 22 percent.

Image from Torrey Wiley on the flickr Creative Commons

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