If you pressed people to name the manliest of pastimes, I suspect a nontrivial number would say hunting. After all, man versus nature and all that. Back in my youth, only a handful of my female peers spent much time in the woods, and I attended a school where the most popular sport was hunting. If only there had been a varsity team for it.
However, those days are long over. More and more women seem to be hitting the woods with a rifle on their shoulder, but is that just perception?
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department sold 14,770 resident licenses to females last year as well as 8,790 resident youth hunting licenses. Since 2008, the number of licenses sold to resident female hunters has gone up about 32 percent (one-day licenses do not specify gender so the number of female hunters is actually higher). The Game and Fish has several programs in the works to attract women and children into the outdoor sports, said Rebekah Fitzgerald, communications and outreach supervisor for the Game and Fish.
For women 18 and older, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department sponsors Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops. The workshops give women a chance to learn the basics of canoeing, archery, fly-tying, shooting skills, backpacking, outdoor photography and more, regardless of skill level. The 2018 date will be finalized by the start of the year and will likely be in August.
“As women get interested in outdoor sports, they’ll bring their kids along,” Fitzgerald said.
The department also hired a new Hunter and Angler Participation Coordinator to try to reach families. Kathryn Boswell has already made an impact, according to Fitzgerald. One program — a three-day shooting and hunting seminar for women and their children — ends Saturday with a pheasant hunt.
Boswell will also bring back the Outdoor Expo, a three-day affair aimed at families. Scheduled for May 17-19 in Casper, the first two days will be geared toward educating children on conservation and activities including hunting and fishing. On the final day, the entire family will come together to enjoy shooting and fishing activities.
Speaking for myself, this is just awesome. There are a couple of reasons why.
One is simple. Anytime someone new joins the ranks of hunters, they are far more likely to become advocates of hunting and, by extension, firearm ownership. Maybe not Second Amendment absolutists, but it does make it more difficult for gun grabbers to get hold of firearms.
Second is simply because I know many wives are far less grumpy when the husband has a pastime like hunting when she enjoys it as well. Even if she’s not going on the hunt, she understands the enjoyment better.
Plus, it’s always great when you and your spouse get to enjoy something like hunting together. I just wish I could get my wife interested.
One thing Fitzgerald said that I hadn’t thought about was that if women are involved in outdoor sports, they’re more likely bring the kids along. That means they’re more likely to help craft the next generation of outdoorsmen and women. That’s a good way to make sure those sports stick around well past our lifetimes, that’s for sure.