Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ready or not, we are taking over the industry.



The following is an article that will be published in the Northwoods Sporting Journal in the August issue. 
 

Women are on the move!  We are taking over the woods, fields and waterways to hunt, hike and fish.  And we are doing it more often than men.

An article posted in June on Ammoland’sShooting Sporting News, states that “the most recent U.S Census found that there are 13.7 million hunters in the Nation – 11 percent of them are women.”  Slowing but consistently, women are picking up guns and rods and heading outside.  We are getting into hunting and fishing and taking it seriously; it is becoming more than just a seasonal hobby for most women. 

According to a 2013 Nation Shooting Sports Foundation report, “females now represent 22 percent of shooters, accounting for $220 million in firearm and gear sales” per year and that number is growing. It doesn’t stop there; women are spending lot and lots of money as they get into hunting and fishing.  A U.S Fish & Wildlife study found “that women hunters spent more than $71 million on hunting clothes in 2011 – spending $4.2 billion on all hunting gear that same year.” If you are involved in the outdoor industry, pay attention because women who are between the ages of 25-40 are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S and we are tech savvy.  Can we look up your website on our IPhones?  Are there photos of women who have hired you as a guide? And what is your reputation among other outdoor enthusiasts? Outdoor women have money to spend to ensure that we learn how to hunt and fish properly with the correct equipment but we also make sure we have done our research before we start spending.

In Maine, the number of hunting licenses has dropped steadily over the past ten years from 208,231 to 172,190, according to Bill Swan at Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. However, the number of women who are getting hunting licenses has grown from 16,501 up to 18,400.  A small gain, sure, but it’s a gain and it’s proof of where the growth in the outdoor industry is coming from. 

As women take over the outdoor industry, there are programs like Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) that help them learn the skills and about the equipment that they will need to be successful.  In Maine, the annual event for BOW is the Introductory Skills Weekend, taking place in September.  Held in Winslow, only 100 women can attend the inclusive weekend that offers up to 40 different sessions that range from campfire cuisine, foraging and Hunter’s Safety to archery, fly tying and big game hunting.  There is something for every woman with every interest and skill level.  To learn more or register for this year’s weekend, check out www.mainebow.com.  Even the smaller workshops held in February at Bryant Pond 4H camp,  fill fast with women who are interested in learning how to ice fish, track animals in the snow and go snowshoeing.  No matter the season, the desired hunt or type of fishing preferred, there is a session and an instructor ready to teach women how to be successful.

Companies like Maine Outdoors, EpicAdventures, Chet’s Camps and Cabela’s have stepped up to support women’s organizations like BOW and have donated their time, talent and/or treasure, to helping women learn about anything outdoors related.  As more businesses and individuals follow in their footsteps, no one loses.  Women are able to learn from some of the best guides in Maine, using some of the best equipment and create lifelong passions that could pass from generation to generation.

As a member of that fast moving group of outdoor women, I am thrilled to see how far we have come.  We are able to hold our own in conversations about great hunts or epic fishing trips.  We can try new things, be encouraged by so many and share our stories of successes or the one that got away.   Slowly, we are being taken seriously and gaining credibility in the often male-dominated realm of the outdoors.  If you have a woman in your family who is interested in learning how hunt or fish -encourage it.  Enjoy sharing a love of the outdoors and see what happens.  You won’t regret it.



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