Skip to main content

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. 


Popular posts from this blog

Eagles on the trail

Reason number 3,657,935 why my Dad is the best: As we were snowmobiling, we approached a bog and three eagles with about 20 crows took off.  It could only mean one thing in my book - something was dead.  We circled back and walked around in the snow but the birds had left and we couldnt find anything that would resemble a meal.  A part of me thinks that we were in the wrong piece of land and should have been on the other side of the bog but in our snowmobile gear, we were not going to cover a lot of ground.  I was disappointed that we couldn't find what the birds were eating but I was able to get some good pictures of one of the mature eagles and the immature eagle that were flying around.

Where are the women?

This week, my interview with Steve at The Maine Outdoorsman went live. Steve said yesterday 200 people hit his site viewing over 500 pages. That is a lot of people reading about little ole me and hunting. Why? When I think of women who are in the general public's eye and hunt, I can think of 2 - Country singer Miranda Lambert and Sarah Palin. Why only two? Why is the female hunter such a fascinating thing? (I should probably note that I do not have cable so any and all female hunters on the hunting stations are lost to me. I'll keep it to the general public because that's what I am familiar with.) People/media were fascinated by the fact that they could get footage of Palin and her gun, shooting (and gutting) animals but I feel like the nostalgia would be lost if they had the same footage of McCain. Lambert and her hubby Blake Shelton tweet photos of their kills, and comment on what/where they are hunting. I only know this because I follow both. That's it.…

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…