Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do Outdoor Women need to toughen up?

I hope you get shot out in the forest and wolves gnaw on your dying corpse…..WHILE YOU’RE STILL ALIVE

I’d like to rip off your f*$%ing head and pour gunpowder down your f*$%ing throat and light it on fire

Only c*%t’s shoot animals and take pleasure in it. I hope you die a horrible painful death

As I began to look at how female hunters were being bullied, I had to ask myself if it was because we were easy targets as women or if we needed to just toughen up a little. Once I started asking my fellow female hunters about their experiences, the things that they sent to me as examples of what they deal with daily made me sick to my stomach.

 I’d like to meet you outside someday with a gun in my hand, I would shoot you several times and laugh over your f*$%ing body as you die like you do to those poor animals that can’t defend themselves.  MURDERER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Generally threats are basic name calling. They include sexist remarks, racist remarks and then lead into threats of dismemberment or other demented scenarios." said Mia Anstine when I asked her about the types of threats she receives, "The hardest part of receiving threats is the thought of having to protect myself and my family from potential harm." It is more than female hunters not being taken seriously among fellow hunters - this is an attack against individuals, what they stand for and believe in.  It is cyber bullying. 

I have been harassed on social media but I keep writing about hunting and why I love it.  I think our voices need to be heard and sadly, we need to fight to gain credibility. Women have said to me that if they get harassed,  sometimes it is just easier to remove themselves from the situation either by preventing comments on their blogs (like “I hope you get shot out of the tree”) or by removing themselves from the online groups and stepping away from Twitter and Facebook for a while. 

But, I don’t believe it is that simple.

I joined a Facebook group dedicated to deer hunting in Maine.  I was eager to join in on a conversation that I hoped would demonstrate what a tight community we are as hunters.  Instead, I found a group that had derogatory posts aimed at women, and threads filled with name calling and insults. I left the group immediately but have found that this trend does not change.  Pick a Facebook group dedicated to any type of hunting, and you will not find a group of people coming together for a common goal, but a group of people who prefer to belittle and insult one another.  Is this really who hunters are?

Carrie Zlykais a popular huntress whose podcast has close to 20,000 subscribers yet the hate mail she receives is mind-blowing. She highlighted a few of them from a week’s worth of emails (above); “Realistically – it’s very easy to write “If I saw you I’d kill you” sitting behind a computer screen thousands of miles away.  It would be a lot harder to say those words to someone’s face.  They are all cowards."  I would like to think that the people who take part in cyber bullying would be furious if their friend, daughter, girlfriend or mother, were the target.  Until things change, should female hunters just deal and get some thicker skin? Should we take comfort in the fact that many of the threats are hollow? No. When a woman is threatened with rape and murder because she hunts, something is terribly wrong with society and the overall hunting community for not being more outraged.  Men and women are sitting behind computer screens and attacking those of us who enjoy hunting and providing for our families. 

Mia says it best, "As hunters we need to stick together. We need to support one another and stand proud, side-by-side in our quest to conserve all populations."  We need to work together and protect our own from these type of attacks.  "Women are rising in the industry, they are becoming more aware, but with that comes an unexpected downfall – pure cattiness" points out Carrie.  

The older generation of hunters may not see this as a big deal, but for those of us who are a part of the fast growing world of female hunters - and those hunters who take to social media to talk and share stories about hunting - this is very much a reality and a seriosus issue.  We can not afford to just blow this off as "cyber gunk" but as a threat against fellow hunters.  

Mia, Carrie, myself and countless others will continue to promote hunting and the amazing women who are proud to be hunters.  It is my hope that we can turn the tide against cyber bullying and work to encourage more women to get out there, support them as they try a sport and hopefully love it as much as we do

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trading my rifle for a muzzle loader

No, not really!  I love my rifle but I am on a mission this year to try new things and expand my hunting repertoire.  Up first, muzzle loading. 

My Uncle brought his Wolf Magnum 50 caliber gun to the house at Christmas (we celebrate all holidays by shooting guns) for us to try out.  Dad and I had never tried muzzle loading before so we need a tutorial on  how to load and unload the gun.

50 and 75 grain black powder pellets

Learning how to load the gun. 

I always make Dad shoot first

Uncle Jim and I before my first shot

It was a great gun to shoot and I really felt comfortable with it after the first shot.  One of my hang ups is knowing the trigger.  One of the 30-06s that we have has a hairline trigger.  The other one really needs a good squeeze to fire and to the nonhunter, this may not seem like a big deal, but when you are high on adrenaline and ready to make a kill, it matters.  This is why I make Dad shoot first.

I could see myself getting into muzzle loading but I would need to buy a gun first.  The perks would be that it would be almost guaranteed that we could hunt on snow after rifle season and the number of hunters in the woods would drop down to probably just us.  We may need a few more practice rounds but I could see Dad and I heading back into the woods after rifle season!  Watch out Bambi, I will get you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wanted: Mr. Sportsman

A friend of mine sent me this link and asked what I thought about it.  I had seen it before and was honest when I told him how degrading I felt it was.  Not only was the title of the "Miss Maine Sportsman" application in pink* but the questions were incredibly insulting to those of us that are fighting to be taken seriously among our male counterparts.

Questions like, "Do you clean your own kills/catches?" would never be asked if it were Mr. Maine Sportsman.  It would be assumed that yes, of course men clean what they kill.  Why is that assumption not made of us outdoor women?  Another question, "Do cook [sic] what you catch/kill? If so, what’s your favorite recipe?" would never be asked of men.  

My friend asked me what sort of questions I would ask if it were a Mr. Maine Sportsman pageant.  I came up with a bunch of snarky questions (Do you bait your own hook?) but then I thought about the questions that could have the most impact on the men that would apply.  Here are my top three:

1. How many people have you taught to hunt or fish? if you taught children, how old were they?

2. Do you help support outdoor organizations by donating your time, talent or dollars? If yes, please list the organizations. 

3. How are you, as a sportsman, working to ensure a healthy Maine outdoors for future generations?
If a group of people are going to be singled out in a pageant to see who is the best sportsman of them all, then at least ask some intelligent questions that don't demean the group.  It is embarrassing to see that an outdoor magazine and organization in Maine, that should be working to support outdoor women, are instead supporting a pageant that's reward for winning is not a donation to an outdoor organization or a piece of gear, but your very own month in their "Sportswomen of Maine" calendar.

Women are fighting against cyber bullies that threaten us, our families and friends.  We are battling for credibility and to be seen as equals in activities traditionally viewed as only for men.  I hope that as more and more women get into hunting and fishing, that this becomes a non-issue.  We are the fastest growing demographic in the hunting and fishing world and yet, even at the local level, we are seen as less than true outdoors-men.  Something has to change.

* If you are in any way, shape or form, supportive of women being active in the outdoors through fishing, hunting, hiking etc. do NOT use pink. It does nothing but perpetuate the stereotype that outdoor women must love pink.   The only exception for pink is when referring to the Casting for Recovery program.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Knowing what creatures are around us.

Deer tracks in the snow.

Coyote.  Sadly, these are two of about two million that we saw on our walk.

Rabbit tracks

Partridge Wing!  There were partridge tracks nearby but I couldnt get a good picture.