Growing and gaining for outdoor women

** The following article was written for The Liberty Project and posted on their website on October 30, 2015.  You can see it here.  I was never paid for this article so The Liberty Project never bought the copyright.

Women’s interest in hunting is growing fast, despite online harassment

I never questioned the size of my gun.  If Dad could shoot it, why couldn’t I? My mom said that the kick alone would send me backwards out of the treestand.  I shot the 30-06 twice to get comfortable and on the third shot three weeks later, I killed a small buck that filled the freezer.

I never questioned my abilities again until I started writing about and posting photos of my hunting adventures.  I was then forced to prove my credibility and knowledge of hunting in a way that men are not.  You will not see a suggestion in writing saying that to start a guy out hunting, you should give him a small gun with little kick.  There is nothing stating that a blue gun (do a quick Google search for blue guns and pink guns) will get them excited about joining the ranks of fellow hunters.

In a world where you can communicate to millions of people in a single click, those millions can communicate right back.  Surprisingly, women seem to be the worst when it comes to attacking female hunters.  Safely behind their screens, they cast judgement, accusations and threats against anyone who is proud to be a hunter and sharing it with the world. Never before have we lived in a time where negative comments and threats have been so personal and cruel.

I will be the first to admit that I have not had to endure the type of threats or harassment that women like Mia Anstine, Carrie Zylka and Eva Shockey have had to, but there is something about reading that people think you should have died instead of the animal that you shot that is unsettling.  It’s eye opening to check your social media and have attacks posted in regards to the way that you choose to feed your family.  Anti-hunters don’t realize that for most hunters, pulling the trigger is the worst part.  It means you have killed something and removed it from the ecosystem.  It is a huge responsibility that non-hunters do not fully understand.  But behind every piece of meat, there is a gut pile. It is a reality that hunters face every time they head into the woods and fields.

Anyone who puts themselves out there knows that they may face those types of comments but we do it anyway to encourage those who want to hunt, to learn more and enjoy seeing the success that comes from hours and hours of work.  In 2014, I documented my adventures learning how to tend bear bait sites as well as hunting black bears over bait and with hounds. It was exciting each time we saw bears on the trail cameras.  We never knew what we would see as we sat in the ground blinds.  I didn’t see a single bear while I hunted over bait but I decided to hire a guide to take me out with his hounds so I could learn more about the methods of bear hunting in my home state.  There were comments posted, photos reported but at the end of the day, the support far outweighed the criticism and bullying that I saw online. I shot a beautiful 457lb Maine black bear who has provided my family and friends with great meals. 

The number of women in the hunting industry is growing so rapidly that I hope in a few years, there won’t be clothing and guns designed in pink to get more women interested.  We will have ‘normal’ colored equipment and clothing that helps us be successful in our hunts.  I would love nothing more than for women to feel free to share their stories, pictures and experiences without worrying about the cyber-bullies showing up and threatening them.  I think that we are slowly getting there but it will take understanding and education before we can see a drop in the harassment and an uptick in more support and encouragement for the next generation of hunters.  As an outdoor woman, I will continue to hunt and be proud to post my accomplishments online in order to gain support and show the bullies that their uneducated threats that we will not be scared away.  Providing for our family means too much.