Women and the Outdoors

This is an article that I wrote six years ago.  We have come a long way in those years and all you have to do is walk into a hunting store or turn on the Outdoor Channel and see how women and positively influenced our sport.  I hope you enjoy!


The hunting camp is no longer just for the guys. It seems each fall as the leaves begin changing and the temperatures begin to cool that more and more ladies are making their way into the great outdoors. These ladies are climbing their way into deer stands with gun or bow in hand and are being very successful in their efforts.  Past history would find males gathering the food while females found themselves occupied with domestic chores; however, this social schematic is changing rapidly. Women are the fastest growing population of hunters with their participation in the hunting world advancing by leaps and bounds. 

I’ve had the opportunity to discuss with several ladies exactly what got them interested in hunting. The two reasons that are repeated time and time again are that they “grew up in a hunting family” or that their boyfriend or husband hunted and they “started getting involved to spend more time with their significant other.”  In many instances it was either learn to hunt in order to spend time with their hunting spouse or be left at home. Combine those answers to the fact that the hunting camp is becoming a “social gathering place” after the hunt is over and it comes to no surprise that more women are donning camouflage.

The Face of a Huntress


My Mother-in-law, Shirby Evans, is as die-hard of a hunter as anyone I can think of.  Shirby grew up in a hunting family with both her brothers and her sister sharing a love for the outdoors. For the most part, she only hunted small game such as squirrels and an occasional raccoon in the darkness of the night. That all changed in 1995 when she and her husband Davey joined a hunting lease in Mississippi. Wanting to spend time with her husband, Shirby took to the woods in search of her first whitetail and was successful in killing a very nice nine point and a doe that season. The following year found her in the stand in early October with a bow in her hand. The very first hunt that she made with her compound bow ended with her arrowing a six point. It didn’t take long for “whitetail fever” to consume Shirby, and a deer hunter was born. Since those first hunts in the mid ‘90s Shirby’s been on several “Ladies Only” bow hunts to Giles Island and Tara Wildlife in Mississippi. This 2009 hunting season will find her and a group of ladies hunting in Kentucky in early October and chasing bucks in the Midwest state of Illinois during the November rut.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a campfire with Linet Navarro. Linet also grew up in a hunting family and followed along with her mom, dad, and three brothers as they pursued game in their home state of Oklahoma. Linet had only killed small game until she reached her fifteenth birthday when she became serious about chasing whitetails. That season she killed an eight point and started her hunting addiction.  It hasn’t always been easy for Linet to sneak away for a hunt. She and her husband Jon both share the same desire to hunt, and when you throw a young family and job into the equation it often makes it hard to find time to chase their passion. For several years the Navarro’s would take turns staying with the kids while the other hunted. That was until the kids were big enough to follow in their footsteps and now hunting is a family affair. Linet has numerous notches on her gun with some impressive whitetails to show for her efforts.

t’s not forget the role that television and hunting shows in particular have played. This past Presidential election found Alaska Governor Sarah Palin front and center. Palin, a lifetime member of the NRA, took much verbal abuse over her stance on the Second Amendment and other outdoor topics such as not putting the polar bears on the threatened species list.  She also had to explain to her critics the difference between predator control and hunting when it came to shooting wolves from an airplane. Palin was quoted as saying, ”They call this aerial hunting of our wolves. Nobody aerial hunts for wolves. That’s illegal. You don’t hunt from an airplane.  It’s predator control, which is a management tool that trained biologists can use to control a predatory herd that’s decimating a population of moose and caribou.” Sarah Palin was raised in a hunting environment and learned to harvest her game out of necessity rather than hobby. “We do this not just because it is a good family activity, but fish, moose, caribou….those are our staples.  That’s what we eat!” The Governor has definitely turned her love for hunting into a means of providing food for her family.

When I think of hunting ladies on television, the three names that automatically come to mind are Brenda Valentine, Kandi Kisky, and Tiffany Lakosky. It’s hard to watch a program on any of the outdoor channels without seeing one of these ladies featured in a show or a commercial. Brenda Valentine hails from Tennessee and grew up with hunting running through her veins. She has established herself as a top archer and spokesperson for the sport of hunting and has been given the title, “The First Lady of Hunting.”

Kandi Kisky’s love for hunting began in 1990 after meeting her husband, Don. As their love for hunting and shooting “smasher whitetails” grew stronger, they decided to move to the Midwest state of Iowa where such bucks are a common occurrence. The Kisky’s farm agricultural crops and whitetails, and have put themselves in the perfect position to pursue their passion. Kandi has since harvested numerous bucks that will tape out in the 170″ B&C range all-the-while passing on her knowledge and love for the sport to her son and daughter.

Tiffany Lakosky not only shares the state of Iowa with Kandi but also the love of hunting and shooting sports. She was also introduced to hunting by her husband, Lee, and has since taken the hunting community by storm. Tiffany quickly became efficient with a bow and now finds herself shooting trophy bucks on film with Lee running the camera. The first time that Tiffany climbed in a treestand without her husband, she harvested a trophy buck with her friend Kandi Kisky running the camera. This was most likely the first time that a woman had filmed another woman shooting a buck on film.  It is those types of moments that show why these ladies are changing the way women are seen in the hunting world.

The Effects

The fact that women make up about 15 percent of the marketplace when it comes to shooting and hunting sports has manufacturers scrambling to adapt their products to fit the female hunter. Gun and bow manufacturers are coming out with shorter, lighter weapons that are easier for smaller frame women to handle. Remington has specifically worked on reducing the amount recoil its guns give off and have even gone as far as tweaking some of their ammunition to reduce the force that takes place when the trigger is pulled.  The apparel manufacturers have keyed in on this niche as well. They are designing womens hunting clothes that provide better fit, functionality, and comfort.  Until recently, ladies didn’t have much to chose from when they got ready to go afield. They had to resort to wearing mens clothing pieces that was a far cry from fitting the female form. Today, with the help of specialty companies like SHEsafari, Foxy Huntress, and Prois along with mainstream hunting apparel manufacturers, women are finding a full spectrum of clothing to fit their needs.

There is always a fury of negative publicity being thrown by anti-hunting types. The involvement of women in the hunting lifestyle gives us another avenue to defend our rights and add “strength in numbers.”  Typically, it is the grandfathers and fathers that lead our kids into the outdoors teaching them shooting and hunting skills. The acceptance of women in the field has broken down those barriers and brought families closer—one bullet or arrow at a time.


Shirby Evans with a Mississippi Muzzleloader buck.

Shirby Evans with a Mississippi Muzzleloader buck.


A Priceless Inheritance


A Priceless Inheritance

It is hard to believe you are 19 years old today!  We are proud of you and love you!  Hope you have a great Birthday.

As I sat in my shop putting the final touches on skull mounts sent in from this past season, one skull in particular caught my eye. My mind began to drift, and before I knew it I was in that deer stand again.

“Don’t get your eye too close to the scope,” I recalled myself whispering.  

“KA-POWWW!!!” Apparently she never heard me.

As I snapped out of this flashback, a self-pitied smile crept across my face, because I just realized how agonizing the month of June can be for us whitetail addicts. During this time of year, we’re in a difficult transition period. We shift from daydreaming about our close encounters and missed opportunities from last season towards emotionally preparing ourselves for the rumbling crescendo that precedes the first cool front of September. But as Father’s Day approaches this week, us Dads can’t help but reflect back at years passed and those times spent afield with our children. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days thinking about my daughter Carly’s first buck; the thrill of that hunt and the look in her eyes will forever be ingrained in my memory. 

Her first opportunity came several years ago and that day has been disappointing both of us ever since.  She killed her first doe at age 8 and then her second doe the following year.  She then started telling me she no longer wanted to shoot does and was willing to hold off for a whitetail sporting some “headgear.”  The fact that our hunting club was only shooting 8-points-or-better didn’t help her chances.  It seemed like we were seeing bucks each and every time we would go out, but no bucks that were considered club-legal would give her a chance; this was until the 2008 hunting season.  The land owner that we hunt with decided to lower the club rule to 4-points-or-better, knowing that the group we hunt with would not waste their tags on smaller bucks unless there were kids involved.  This improved  Carly’s odds of finally wrapping her seventh grade hands around a set of antlers.

The first hunt we made was mid-November, right after the gun season in Louisiana’s Area 1 had opened.  We made our way to my box stand on Big Brake and settled in for the afternoon hunt.  This stand is on the very back of the property and bordered in the rear by a large cypress and buttonwood brake that is about 300 yards wide.  To the right of the stand is a small brake that runs into a palmetto and briar ridge that’s unimaginably thick. 

We had watched several does and yearlings come and go while browsing on the briars, rye grass, and corn that afternoon.  The hunt was slowly coming to an end, and as we began to loose shooting light, I felt Carly’s elbow in my ribs. “Buck! Buck!” I heard her say.  Directly in front of us I saw antlers coming out of the brake.  There was not one buck, but two!  The first was a small 8 point that I had seen in late October while bow hunting.  Following behind him was a 7 point that had a larger body and rack.  The bucks stopped in the clearing on the ridge, feeding their way into the food plot as I got Carly into position to shoot.  I clicked the safety off for her and told her to take a breath and slowly squeeze the trigger.  As she concentrated on the shot, I picked up my binoculars and found the bucks.  They had turned side-by-side, and at 75 yards, a shot could possibly kill both of them.  Fearing this, I quickly put the safety back on and we waited for the 7 point to turn.  Turn he did!  He turned to the right, putting his rear end facing us and offering no shot.  As we were waiting for what seemed like an eternity for him to turn broadside, the gun accidently hit the window of the stand and spooked both bucks back into the thick cover.  We both sat there looking at each other, wondering how we just missed the best chance Carly has had to shoot her first buck.

A month passed and Carly was out of school for Christmas break; it was time to get down to business. With the rut fast approaching, we decided to go back to the same stand as earlier in the season since we had the wind in our favor and I had been seeing a lot of does hanging around the last few weeks.  As we walked to the stand, I noticed something in the food plot directly in front of the stand.  As I adjusted my binoculars, I noticed a group of twenty 30-pound hogs feeding in the food plot.  I told Carly that if I was going to shoot a hog, then I was going to try kill two in one shot.  I took an deep breath and squeezed the trigger.  As I looked up over my scope, I noticed two shoats lying in the food plot, thinking to myself, “This hunt can’t get any better.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

We sat for the next couple of hours watching the same does and yearlings that I’d seen from the previous evenings.  As they fed and slowly began to fade with the sun, I began to think that at least we had some pork for the weekend at the camp.  As I scanned the brake to my right, I noticed a set of antlers bouncing above the palmettos.  I alerted Carly to the approaching buck, and one glance got her nerves working overtime.  I could hear her breathing heavily and feel her arms trembling as I helped her get the gun out of the window.  She was using my Savage 7mm-08 and had never shot it before, so I made sure she understood that it was a little more gun than she was used to.  The buck made his way into an opening and began feeding underneath an acorn tree as Carly readied the shot.  I flipped the safety off and she settled the crosshair right behind the buck’s shoulder, whispering those last few words of advice about not leaning in too close to the scope.

Following the rifle’s report, the buck dropped in his tracks, with Carly looking at me with her eyes wide-open and her jaw hanging to the floor of the stand.  It took only a second for the pain in her eye to get her attention as she began rubbing it. As we hugged, laughed, and high-fived, I noticed tears in Carly’s eyes, and it wasn’t because of the scope.  The were just no words to describe the mixed emotions that she was feeling, so she let the tears say it for her.  As we both sat there and cried, I realized that that moment was what hunting was all about.   It had taken a couple of years and many hours in the stand, but we had a buck on the ground and the hug was worth the wait. 

Hunts like that one will give you chills each and every time you think about it for many years down the road. When the focus turns from us chasing whitetails to getting our kids involved in the outdoors, then life tends to come full-circle and becomes less about the kill and more about the time spent together.  We as hunters should be proud of what we do and instill those values and way-of-life in our kids, because when Father’s Day comes around and our children are grown, the gifts with the most sustenance will have came from the memories garnered afield.



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