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 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.