For thousands of years, men have assumed the role of hunters. Women traditionally tended to the children and did the cleaning, mending, and cooking. Over time, women began to broaden their horizons and become more independent so that, today, most women hold jobs outside the home. Despite all of this progress, a large number of men and women still think hunting should be a “man’s sport.”
Sure, many women have no desire to hunt and will not even entertain the idea of trying it. I have never tried to force my opinions on hunting on anyone, but I have wondered to myself, “Haven’t you ever stumbled upon something that took you completely by surprise? How many times have you been dragged somewhere you thought you really didn’t want to go and ended up, instead, really enjoying yourself?”
To provide a brief personal history, I was born and raised in a small town in south central Kentucky. Although nearly everyone in my family was in law enforcement and had firearms training, it was uncommon in my family, as well as in the community, for a woman to hunt.
In December of 1995, I began dating the most hard-core hunter and outdoorsman I had ever met. He invited me to tag along on some of his hunts and, despite my reservations, I went anyway. What could it hurt, I thought. I might even learn a thing or two.
To my surprise, I became a hunter and realized there were two things that I could not live without: First was the hard-core hunter that I would soon call my husband and the second was hunting.
I anxiously anticipate preparing for hunting season each year. Together, my husband and I figure out stand placement, scout areas for deer activity and research new products. I can hardly wait to hear the wings of turkeys as they fly down from their roosts, to listen to the squirrels scurry through the woods and, as daylight slowly envelopes the majesty around me, to watch the breath of the deer as they nibble the clover. Experiencing all of this makes me forget that, had I not become a hunter, I wouldn’t even be out of bed yet.
My first solo hunt stirred up many emotions. This was my shot to prove that I was capable of doing this on my own, without the watchful eye of my husband. As my mind drifts back to that hunt, it is almost like a dream. I spot what appears to be a rack through the trees. As my eyes adjust to the magnification of my binoculars, the image becomes clear. A hundred yards away, a magnificent buck begins making his way towards me. I carefully get ready to take the shot and I notice how much I am trembling. I know that I must concentrate on keeping the cross-hairs steady on my target. My gun has recoil that is no joke, but that never crosses my mind. As I exhale, I squeeze the trigger and the shot is good. My heart is beating so fast and hard that if any deer are remaining close by, I’m sure they can hear it. Then the smile creeps across my face.
I never thought I would consider a week-long hunt a vacation, but in 2007, my husband and I went on our first out-of-state mule deer hunt together in Texas. Since then, I have hunted bear in Manitoba, caribou in the Arctic Tundra of Northern Quebec, monster whitetails in Pike County, Illinois, and hogs in Texas…all without the watchful eye of my husband.
Through our fourteen years of marriage, he has taught me nearly everything I know about hunting and thanks to him, I am confident enough to jump on a plane and go on a hunt by myself. I know that I don’t need him coaching me. I am not a professional hunter, but I am learning. I have learned to be patient, take my time and be 100% certain of my abilities as a hunter.
I fell in love with my husband, not only for the person he is, but also for introducing me to his own first love – hunting. Looking through his eyes, I was able to find a passion that I didn’t know I had. Because of that, we share something that is truly special. Hunting together has enabled us to experience each other’s success and failures as our own.
I hope that other women discover that hunting can be an exciting and rewarding avocation. It is great to hear about a fellow woman hunter taking a trophy. Not too many years ago, it would have been rare. Women are just as capable of putting up a stand, harvesting a huge buck, bear, caribou or turkey, and field dressing it, as a man is. I’m sure many don’t agree, but no one should underestimate the will power and determination of a woman. You never know, the top ten spots on the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young lists might belong to women in the very near future.