Since the dawn of time, Man has been a hunter, but until very recently, Woman stayed home and cleaned the fish and sewed quilts; but that’s a societal norm we don’t see much anymore. Today, in most every area of our society, women are de jure, if not de facto, equal to men in every way. But equality in the hunting sports has not been attained. Hunting is an activity that has been dominated by men, but the trend is changing, and that is a good thing.
One of the results of societal changes over the past five decades has been the liberation of women. I don’t mean liberated like the bra burners of the 60’s and 70’s, but liberated in that most women are no longer burdened with a pre-conceived notions of what they can, or more importantly, what they cannot do. Women have been socialized to believe they can participate in activities that have been, until recently, reserved almost exclusively for men, and one of those activities is hunting.
In recent years, while the number of men who hunt has been trending downward, women hunters, in terms of both real numbers and as a percent of the population, have increased. Across all age groups, income and education levels, more and more women are taking up hunting. And the trend is even more pronounced in the critically important 6-15 year old category, where fully 19% of the kids who took to the woods were female, almost double the number ten years ago.
“So what?” you may ask. Why is an upsurge in the number of female hunters important? The answer becomes obvious at the ballot box.
If you don’t already know it, as a politically viable activity, hunting is in trouble. With less than 20% of the American population going afield last year, the potential for hunting to go the way of the Edsel and the Dodo bird is a real possibility. Changing demographic and societal norms, an aging hunter population, and limited access to public land are all contributing factors to hunting’s waning numbers. And while other solutions are being implemented, the best and most effective plan for preserving the future of hunting is to be inclusive of women in our sport.
Women comprise better than 50% of the American population. They are the single largest group of potential new hunters, and in my experience, are more coachable and quick to understand that hunting is not just about the kill. Women are the key to the long-term future of hunting and should be made to feel welcome at our communal campfire. Anyone who thinks different, is either an idiot or a Neanderthal...or both.