When Women Hunt

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A tribute to my amazing wife and other outdoorswomen, their skill and passion for hunting.

Sophisticates call them the fairer sex. In so many ways this is truer than most of us guys care to admit. Pride aside, I must concede. Historically dominated by men, hunting is an activity now seeing more women entering the ranks than ever before. Few men will say it, but I've witnessed it firsthand. Many women are more patient, less excitable, and yes, sometimes they even shoot better!


Many women are great shots. Heather is no exception.
Making a perfect shot, she took this pronghorn at 400 yards.

Nothing turns me on more than a chick in camouflage, especially if she's my wife! Like most women who hunt, Heather was baptized by immersion when she met me. Never passing the opportunity to tell the story, she frequently reminds me that on our first date, 18 years ago, I had to move my bow from the front seat of my truck to make room for her. Although she's always been the outdoors type, as far as hunting is concerned I think she figured if she couldn't beat me, she may as well join me. Fast forward and we've been married for 15 years. During that time she's become an accomplished bow hunter, rifle hunter, muzzleloader hunter, wing shooter, and professional big game hunting guide. A diverse repertoire of hunting accomplishments aside, her true passion is bow hunting whitetails. To call it a passion is a misnomer; it's more of an obsession.


More and more women are taking up hunting and shooting sports.

Over the years, she listened to the lingo and picked up on the enthusiastic chatter between me and my buddies. Finally she decided to see what all the fuss is about. She's now graduated from a neophyte to a veteran hunter. For several years I tried my best to introduce her to rifle hunting, but my early efforts fell on deaf ears. Set on launching her hunting career with a bow in hand, she did the opposite of what most of us do. Intrigued with the challenge and opportunity associated with bow hunting, she practiced hard and became a skilled archer.

Today Heather has taken more big game animals, not to mention bird game, than most avid hunters in my peer group. She's one of the only gals I know who doesn't think twice about a 20-minute solo hike in the pre-dawn darkness. She's no stranger to long and lonely walks into the tree stand. She's competitive and, to some extent, I think to be a successful bow hunter, that's requisite.


Heather is an avid bowhunter, professing a passion for whitetails.

Over the last decade, my wife has taken several really good whitetails with archery tackle, two of which scored well into the Pope and Young record book. But despite the roster of exceptional animals to her credit, one November hunt stands out as especially memorable.

Just seven weeks after delivering our second daughter, Heather tagged a whitetail buck with her bow. If you're a parent, then you know that taking care of infants is an overtime ordeal. Between feeding schedules and sleepless nights, babies demand an overwhelming amount of care and attention. During the first few months of life, infants simply can't be without their mothers for more than a few hours at a time. This meant that Heather's time to hunt would be limited.

Fortunately one of our favorite bow hunting properties is only a half hour drive from home. With grandma lined up to watch the kids for a few days, Heather would be allowed to slip out into the stand for a few hours each day. Given the circumstances and her limited time afield, she decided to take the first decent buck that presented a good shot opportunity. A fresh scrape had been opened 12 yards from the base of the tree she would sit and it was mid-November, peak of the whitetail rut. Knowing the stand well, that particular ambush site had produced consistently over the years.

That morning, she and I parted ways as we headed to separate stands. Using radios we would check in with each other mid-morning. I remember seeing a few does early on that day, but no shooter bucks. As 10:00 am rolled around, I attempted to reach Heather, but to no avail. Our rule is that if the other person doesn't check in at the predetermined time, wait 10 minutes and try again. Sure enough, moments later I heard her voice whispering on the radio. Excited but cautiously optimistic, she told me that she'd just arrowed a buck.

Just before our check in time she'd rattled and called with a doe estrus bleat. Like clockwork, a solid 4x4 buck snuck in to inspect the commotion. Before climbing into her stand Heather had anointed the nearby scrape with doe estrus urine and the buck was most interested as he stood smack dab in the middle of it licking the branches overhead. A textbook opportunity, Heather drew back, settled her sight pin on his chest and let go. Penetration was good and her buck raced through the cover of the old-growth spruce trees and disappeared.

At that point Heather didn't know if her deer was down, but she felt confident that her shot was good. Getting more excited by the minute, I told her to gather her gear, sit tight and that I'd be there in about 20 minutes.

As I arrived we met at the base of her tree and made our way to the point of impact at the scrape. Inside 10 yards we discovered blood in the snow making the tracking job easy. As we broke from the shadowy cover of the spruce forest Heather caught a glimpse of the antlers standing above the grass. Her arrow had penetrated both lungs and the buck collapsed after running only 30 yards!

My Best Hunting Partner
We all know that finding a good hunting partner can be a tall order. Many of us look for years until we find the ideal partner. Your hunting buddy has to be more than just someone you get along with. You've also got to think alike, have the same motivation, and share the same ethics. Hunting isn't always about high fives and hero shots. It's about sharing experiences, both the good and the bad, perseverance, and working together toward a common goal.


My wife is my best hunting partner.

In my lifetime I've only come across a handful of guys whom I consider first-rate hunting partners. These guys I deem very dear friends and I anticipate those friendships will last a lifetime. There's just something about hunting that builds a bond between buddies. Now that my wife has entered the 'fraternity,' I have to say (sorry guys) she tops them all. I still value my time out with the guys each fall, but Heather does indeed make the ideal partner.

Blessing or Burden
If I had a dollar for every time guys said how lucky I am to have a wife that hunts, I'd be a wealthy man. Conversely, I know several who have flat out said they could never hunt with their spouse. Truth is it's both a blessing with a burden.

On one hand, I thoroughly enjoy hunting with Heather. Experiencing the outdoors with my life partner is a privilege. Having a spouse that not only shares my appreciation for wildlife and wild places, but also my passion for hunting itself is a unique thing. For this I'm grateful. I think back to the girls I dated in college and I count my blessings that I dodged a few proverbial bullets back then.

On the other hand, I'd be remiss if I didn't say it like it is. Having a spouse that hunts does involve sacrifice and, let's face it most of us are selfish when it comes to our hunting. Time in the woods is precious. Likewise, particularly in the early years, I sacrificed several great opportunities to take magnificent trophy-class animals myself, all for the sake of introducing her to the shooting sports. And, yes, there are times when childcare is a problem and only one of us can go hunting. I'll never forget the first time Heather woke me up to go hunting. It was 4:00 a.m., the middle of November, peak of the whitetail rut when our alarm went off and she woke me up.

"You get to take care of Chelsea today... I'm going to sit in the tree stand... see you around noon," she whispered.

I was speechless! Who did she think she was, snatching one of my peak rut days right out from underneath me? I was choked! Then, a somber reality set in. Recalling countless days she'd patiently let me go out, there really wasn't much I could say. A hunting widow extraordinaire in our early years of marriage Heather gave me free reign to hunt whenever I wanted. It wasn't uncommon to get out at least every second evening to sit in my stand from September through November, taking several extended trips throughout the fall. Times were good back then but along with age comes wisdom, and I knew fair was fair.

That first eye-opener happened many years ago and Heather now has more critters to her credit than most guys who have been hunting for decades. The biggest drawback is financial. Now for every bow or gun I own, it seems she has to have the same or better - and that can be an expensive proposition. This year alone she arrowed a 150-class whitetail and a nice Quebec Labrador caribou, with her rifle she shot another caribou and a pronghorn antelope, and with her muzzleloader she took a mule deer. Most recently she's fallen in love with duck and goose hunting. Still relatively new to wing shooting you'd never know it if you joined her in the field or on the water. Her skill as a wingshooter matches most experienced duck hunters I know.

No Longer Just for the Boys
We live in an interesting time. Even though overall hunter numbers are down, women appear to be taking up hunting and other outdoor pursuits at an unprecedented rate. In keeping with contemporary liberal attitudes, no longer is hunting just for the boys. Historically gender roles have been clearly defined and some might suggest errantly imposed. Now, with more opportunity, many women are capitalizing on the chance to learn and become active hunters. As both a guy and an avid hunter, I have to tip my hat to them.

Introducing Women to Hunting
If you're like a lot of guys, you may prefer to keep your hunting to yourself. If, on the other hand, you're intrigued with the idea of getting your spouse or girlfriend involved, remember it's all about the introduction. Recognize that safety and enjoyment should be first priorities. I've watched hunters attempt to introduce newbies to the sport and fail dismally. Why? Because they went about it all wrong. If you haven't done so already, invite your spouse or girlfriend to watch a few hunting videos with you. Women like to talk ? yeah, I know this is a stretch, but talk to them; go out on a limb and invite them to the range. Teach them safe handling of firearms and/or a bow. Gently show them the correct and safe way to shoot. Give them plenty of opportunities to become familiar with guns or bows. If you're not in a position to do this, check with your local Hunter Education programs. Many have courses designed specifically for women. These courses often give women a hands on opportunity to try and learn about archery, firearms safety, shooting skill development, bow hunting, and a lot more. Last, but not least, when you finally do take them out, invest the time and energy to set them up for success. Give them the proper clothing to make their experience as comfortable and positive as possible. Give them good equipment to use, and accompany them. Gently coach them on when and how to take an ethical shot. You'll probably be surprised by both their skill and aptitude. Hunting isn't for everyone, so don't force it, but if your significant other is anything like mine, you may just discover a new hunting partner for life!


The author and his wife stalked this big bruin to
50 yards before knocking him down with her 7mm Rem Mag.


Kevin Wilson is a freelance outdoors writer and professional big game & waterfowl guide/outfitter from Alberta, Canada. Confessing an obsession for big whitetails and bighorn sheep, he has hunted most North American big game species with either bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. Specializing in archery, freshwater fishing, waterfowl and big game hunting, his articles can be found in several well known outdoor publications across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on his outfitting services, visit www.venturenorthoutfitting.com.
Member of OWAA & OWC.

Comments

outdoor-angel's picture

loved it!

I really enjoyed reading your article and the replies too. Thank you for being an advocate and supporter of women in the field! I do think there is a strong mix of men out there who do and do not want their women hunting with them...its tough to please everyone, and youre right, we get selfish with our tree time lol.  We need more Heathers out there :) 

femalehuntersofamerica's picture

Kudos to your wife!! I am

Kudos to your wife!! I am also a female hunter, I love hunting and spend alot of time in the woods. I know there are alot of women who dont like to hunt. After reading some of the comments of men who wished their wives would hunt with them, I have found the same problem. I have a hard time finding men who like to hunt. Being a divorced woman, I would love to have a guy that would go into the woods and hunt with me but I think they are becoming extinct! lol! I even had a guy break up with me when it came to hunting season, because I spent too much time in the woods and didnt pay enough attention to him! ugh! my point is, it is hard for us hunting gals to find men who like to hunt too!! :0)

BikerRN's picture

Blessing

Kevin,

I would say your wife hunting with you is a blessing.

My wife is very supportive of my hunting but has little desire to endure the trials of hunting or to shoot. I encourage her in little ways but I don't force it on her because I know that if she is to hunt at a later date it cannot be something I forced her to do.

I would love it if my wife wanted to hunt with me seeing as how we don't get enough time together as far as I'm concerned. She really is my best friend.

Biker

GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a great little

That is a great little article to read.  I love seeing women in the field it just goes to show you how far out sport has come.  My wife get aout alot more and more, she really like goose hunting, but she has taken to antelope hunting and really enjoys that.  the picture in this article with the two of the lying prone reminds me of when my widfe shot her first antelope....we were postioned the same way...good times!

groovy mike's picture

It's totally about sharing experiences

Kevin – Wow! Great looking animals in these shots again.  I’d be proud to take any one of those animals.  What a bear! 

And you are exactly right when you say that finding a good hunting partner involved finding someone that you just enjoy sharing the experience with even when you come up empty handed.  It's totally about sharing experiences, both the good and the bad.  You are blessed with having a wife who hunts, it sounds like you introduced her correctly so you get to share some of the credit for your ‘luck’.  My wife is an excellent shot and some warm spring day this year I hope to give her a fun day calling turkeys.  Ideally we’ll take a gobbler too but my main goal is for her to enjoy the day.     

 

Jeff – you are one hundred percent correct about getting kids involved!  Done right – they love it - and it makes for great family bonding time J.  Hunting with my son is the most enjoyable hunting I have ever done and I hunt with several good friends already.        

 

Kevin - I suspect that nothing will top hunting with your wife – until your daughter joins the two of you!   

arrowflipper's picture

Wow!

Wow, what a great story and article on women hunting.  I can't agree with you more about how some women are great hunters.  Thanks for some great pictures as well.  If those animals don't make the men drool, I don't know what will. 

There's nothing like sharing the love of hunting with your wife.  Unfortunately, not all wives share that with us.  But I have been blessed with a daughter and granddaughter that love to hunt with me.  All I have to do is mention that I am going and would they like to tag along.  Tag along, my butt!  They will lead the way.  The only thing that keeps my daughter from hunting with me more are three little kids and her husband.  He had never hunted until he married my daughter and now he loves it.  It's a fight between them to see who goes and who stays home with the little kids.

I envy you and your wife.  What a great way to spend time with your best friend, soul-mate and lover.

CVC's picture

Reminds me when my dad made

Reminds me when my dad made me let my sister shoot my .410 shotgun.  She shot it once and cried because it kicked.  No hunting for her, but I am glad that women are getting into hunting. The more hunters we have the more we will be able to protect hunting from the attempts of the antis to stop it.

Plus, women have a great deal of influence over the children an dif they see mom hunting they will be likely to hunt.It is an activitiy that the entire family can do together.

when woman hunt

This is a topic that is close to my heart. Growing up, hunting was for the boys & my sister was encouraged to follow more "girly" pursuits. As a result, it wasn't until she became engaged & didn't want to give so much of her "couples time" up to the whitetails that she had an interest. Luckily, her fiance (now husband) was a good enough teacher that a new passion was born. But she has repeately expressed regret at all those lost seasons from her childhood.

I didn't want to continue this cycle & have been hunting with my two daughters since they were babies (literally - I carried each of them in my backpack while scouting before they could walk). I have taught them to shoot rifles, compounds bows, primative bows and shotguns. My oldest, now 19, dominated her very first 3D shoot when she was 13 - taking 1st place in the adult women's class (out of 132), with the 3rd highest score out of ALL the shooters (362 total, men included). The youngest, now 17, is an expert tracker. When I lose a blood-trail, it takes her only a minute or two to find it and put me on track again - oh, & she started doing this when she was 9 years old (apparently she had to do something since she wasn't old enough to take an animal at that point).

However, be it a boy or a girl, the important thing is to get those kids out in the woods when they're young - teach them what you  know and don't be afraid to let them go when they're ready (it can be hard to just sit back & watch them work things out to find their own rhythm). Then, remember to keep an open mind & let them teach you something new - the satisfaction, of watching your child absolutely beam when the student becomes the teacher, is completely unparalleled (even better than when they made that first clean kill)!

jeff, south west wisconsin bowhunter

Thanks for the great article

Thanks for the great article BGH

Bugs Bunny's picture

Great article, thanks for the

Great article, thanks for the read!

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