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Poor Representation

February 18, 2009

Poor Representation

By Kim Hiss

I recently read what I think is one of the most disappointing stories I've seen in The New York Times. And unfortunately, it was about women hunters. Titled, The Huntress Club: Duck Hunting Sorority in the Swamp and clearly written by a non-hunter, the story focused on six women who call themselves the Swamp Witches and return twice a year to hunt a private club in the Mississippi Delta. While the article touches briefly on trends among women waterfowlers, it mostly follows this group through an unsuccessful Monday hunt, during which they manage to take none of the ducks that pass (some within 40 yards), they smoke, pass around a flask, apparently wear purple bands on their hats and finally leave empty-handed. 

While it's commendable that the group is out there and doing it themselves, and while it's hard not to feel bad about the questions they say they get from skeptics (like, "Do y'all have to have a license, like males do?"), I wish The Times -- which doesn't exactly run stories on women hunters every day -- could have found a different group of representatives for their spotlight. -K.H. 

Comments (26)

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from jay wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The NY Times is the most liberal newspaper in the United States. Their authors make up stories, which has been proven and I'm sure they have an anti hunting mentality. What else would expect.

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from steve182 wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Seems the Times had an anti-hunting agenda?... I'm Shocked!! Actually I'd expect any hunting related story in the NY Times to have a similar slant. Shameful that so-called journalists these days always have to inflect their own opinion and/or emotions into stories. I think these same journalist often use a heavy dose of "creative liscense" to make the story fit their agenda. Washington is no different. We need to keep an eye on our rights, they're in the crosshairs

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from jan wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I hate seeing this type of article in print! But wouldn't expect anything alse from a liberal rag.

If Mr. Brick's article is an attempt at humor, I didn't find it funny at all. I didn't care for his portrayal of the ladies, as if it was just another meeting of the red hat club, instead of women who are serious about waterfowl hunting. (They'd have to be dedicated, to have kept this up for 10 yrs.)
However, He's not to blame for using the part about "passing the flask"....they are! Guns and alcohol don't mix. And by doing so, they looked stupid!

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from jamesti wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

that was extremely irresponsible for a journalist to do a story about anyone drinking while handling firearms!!! not only does it make us all look bad but it gives the wrong impression for the younger generation who might get involved in the shooting sports. this guy is a nut! women are an important part of our sport and him doing a story like that doesn't help to get more of them involved.

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from peter wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

to bad it paints a bad picture about all hunters too not just women ones

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from Sportsman Matt wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Years ago the Times ran decent outdoor articles, the really good ones are in the book I think was titled Upriver and Downstream (I don't have the book in front of me as I write this)

Unfortunately lots of newspapers are very politically orientated, look at the average nightly paper and count how many articles are about or mention local, state, of federal government or legislation. As Mark Wahlberg put it in the movie The Shooter, "Wonder what lies they want us to believe today"

After reading so much negativity, and lack of anyhting I would be interested in, I stopped subscribing to the local newspapers a couple years ago, if it's that important I know that news travels fast and the really important stuff is on the web at a click of the mouse.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sayerbefiddlin wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Its the best thing to happen yet! Now all we have to do is keep it up when the papers around. Soon the writers will be so bored we wont have to compete for the duck blinds anymore. Thank you NYTimes, keep up the horrible job! I dont read your paper anyway.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The Atlanta Urinal Constitution, The New York Slimes, and that rag from San Fran are all on a par with Pravda.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Throw The Kansas City Tarr in the mix too. The crap they print should be on a super market tabloid.

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from VT Outdoorsman wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

There was a reason they followed this group of women. They are trying to paint a bad picture of all sportsmen or sportswomen in this case. I am not surprised one bit.

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from dwaynez wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

One sided view to portray them is a bad light for their own benefit. People who write articles like that take advantage of their journalistic credentials and give everyone who has every submitted an article to be published a bad name.

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from MLH wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I agree that the Times is one of the most left biased papers out there. But, sorry, I just didn't see the negativity in the article - the first time I read it before this post and then when I just read it again. But I am just a guy whose 9 years of college further dulled my brain, so perhaps I am missing something. Is this one of those Mars/Venus things where guy think only sees a story about an intriguing group of ladies steadfastly sticking to old fashioned hunting traditions? Or should I have read a lot deeper between the lines? I wonder how the Swamp Witches themselves or non-hunters view the article.

About the only thing I saw that might have raised an eyebrow was "Somebody poured cream liqueur from a flask." I didn't assume that they passed around a flask. I read that as "somebody poured cream liqueur from a flask." Maybe it was just the author. Didn't say anyone drank it, though I can only doubt that. Sounds like it was during a down time ... while one was smoking and there was some wagering going on. Is that just too close a stereotype to men?

Alcohol with guns ... not the wisest thing. I am sure many of our fore fathers and mothers took a sip to knock the edge off the cold, though we know today that it doesn't work. Many of the college kids I deal with today rank alcohol right up there with hard drugs ... and fear of guns.

I'd say the Times is directed at mature readers, not kids ... though I often question the maturity and impressionability of it's target audience. At some point I don't agree with isolating kids from stories of drinking or wagering or such. At some point we need to learn responsibility and right and wrong and to think. Guys out there are thinking that I am insane writing this. But that one sentence provides an opportunity to discuss alcohol with kids ... with whatever else negative in the story that my thick noggin missed. Okay, bring on your wrath and enlighten my dull brain.

Also, why not swamp the Times editor with letters detailing exactly how you feel or what you think about the story? Better yet, nothing stops any of us from submitting a truly positive, colorful, and enlightening hunting or fishing story to a paper for publication.

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from Jodi818 wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The NY Times is horribly liberal hence anti-hunting and anti-gun. However after reading the article, I wasn't convinced of the author's anti perspective. Actually, the whole article seemed odd. I'm not sure I can describe the feel I got from that article. The author was neither condemning or condoning hunting and the ladies weren't necessarily promoting hunting either. I'm glad they have their traditions, but... idk it was an odd article.

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from Walt Smith wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

You just have to realize where it came from and take it with a grain of salt.

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from NorCal Cazadora wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Seriously, folks, that was not an anti-hunting article - and it's sure as hell not the reporter's fault that those women were drinking in the field. What kind of idiot would drink while hunting IN FRONT OF A REPORTER AND PHOTOGRAPHER?

Yes, newsrooms are full of urban liberals who usually don't know anything about hunting, and are sometimes quite hostile to it. How do I know? Because I spent 19 years as a newspaper reporter and editor. So yeah, I know something about reporters. And I can tell you there was nothing calculating about that story, nothing the least bit judgmental. That was just a reporter who wrote what he saw. If he was hostile to hunting, he would've been sure to note that drinking while hunting 1) does not keep you warm and 2) violates one of the basic tenets of hunter safety. He would've made the women look cruel and callous. He would NOT have written in flattering tones about how they eschew gadgetry in favor or a more low-tech way of hunting.

It's fine to get pissed off at the mainstream media when it actually does something ridiculous, which happens often enough. But I think this is misplaced hostility, and it doesn't serve hunters well. I know I was never fond of getting yelled at for some (mis)perceived conspiracy. It always gave me a pretty poor opinion of the people doing the yelling.

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from Shannon S. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I was just about to post something similar to NorCal's comment, but much less eloquently. lol.

I think the reporter was just writing what he saw. If he screwed up on anything it was stating that a Winchester 101 is "repeating shotgun", not a classic over/under. Well, I suppose it "repeats" when you pull the trigger twice. Drinking and hunting should never go together, unless it's drinking AFTER hunting. Personally, I think the ladies should have known better and am dissapointed in them. Especially on a day when they were representing women (and all) hunters to the press.

As an aside, I believe that this is the same group of ladies that the NWTF's "Women in the Outdoors" magazine had an article about a year or two ago. I'd recognize those hats anywhere!

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from Laura Bell wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

As Shannon mentioned, the "Swamp Witches" were featured in a Photo Essay in WITO, I have to say they were portrayed better in WITO then in this article. I didn't see anything negative about article, as it seemed like there was no cover up as to what went on, but I do agree that a better group might have been better. I don't personally know the Swamp Witches and they might be a great group of women, but in all honesty they could have done some different, better, things on that hunt in the article.

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from Sarah M. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Not really sure what to say about this one. Here I am duck hunting with full camo, face mask, etc etc etc and they are out wearing purple bands on their hats and smoking? It's no wonder they didn't get any ducks. Oh... maybe it was just because they were all drunk.

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from Sarah M. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Okay so I just looked at the picture and their outfits are horrible and their boat sticks out like a sore thumb... I'm glad that they are "carrying on the tradition" or whatever the article said, but what a waste of an article- how about picking some women who at least take waterfowling seriously?

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from kimhiss wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

What disappoints me most about the article (aside from the unfocused writing and some of the hunting behaviors we've mentioned) is the thought of the many other women hunters out there I'd rather have seen featured -- diehard sportswomen whose skill and passion are truly inspiring. I'm not out to question the Swamp Witches as much as to point out that there are other women in the field who may have made better representatives. Oh, to live in a perfect world where the most deserving people get the spotlight. -K.H.

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from NorCal Cazadora wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

That's a fair point, Sarah. We see women we wish they wouldn't have used as an example. We all know women - actually, most of us ARE women - who are successful, wear good camo and don't drink in the field.

But the media sees shiny things - something interesting and obviously unusual. And in the absence of knowledge about hunting, the media doesn't really know, for example, that purple is a bad idea. Hell, we all wear orange during deer season, right?

But I might have to disagree with you about smoking. I kicked the habit a long time ago, but I swear every time my friend Matt lights up in the marsh, the ducks come zooming in to check it out...

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from kimhiss wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Laura Bell and Sarah M., it seems we were just posting comments saying roughly the same thing at roughly the same time -- jinx! -K.H.

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from Shannon S. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Sometimes I think camo is a little overrated for duck hunting, being still is the most important thing. And hiding that shiny face. I'm guessing the Swamp Witches are hunting flooded timber, not open big water. Those brims on the hats shade a lot of the face, especially if the ladies are not moving and keep their heads down while the ducks are working. But, I would still be wearing camo face paint. ;)

People were killing lots of duck long before the plethora of different camo patterns were available. My husband and I often wear just drab brown and green clothes and they blend in pretty well. JMHO.

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from philbourjaily wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I didn't see negative bias here, either, just a story written by someone who wasn't familiar with hunting.
As one who believes suffering -- or at least physical exertion -- is an important part of waterfowling, I have to applaud the Swamp Witches for paddling to their spot.

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from MLH wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Thank you ... now I better understand.

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from Armchair Mike wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

If the ducks were within 40 yards, maybe I need a purple hatband. All these years in camo! Who knew?

In our zero-tolerance era, we seem to have lost the distinction between having a drink and being impaired. I don't approve of drunk hunting, driving, swimming, or much else, but there is or there should be a distinction between having a celebratory toast and being snockered.

Go ahead and rack up the negative points for this comment, but only if you can honestly say you've never touched a drop while hunting. Ditto for reloading, boating, swimming, operating a power tool, etc.

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from MLH wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I agree that the Times is one of the most left biased papers out there. But, sorry, I just didn't see the negativity in the article - the first time I read it before this post and then when I just read it again. But I am just a guy whose 9 years of college further dulled my brain, so perhaps I am missing something. Is this one of those Mars/Venus things where guy think only sees a story about an intriguing group of ladies steadfastly sticking to old fashioned hunting traditions? Or should I have read a lot deeper between the lines? I wonder how the Swamp Witches themselves or non-hunters view the article.

About the only thing I saw that might have raised an eyebrow was "Somebody poured cream liqueur from a flask." I didn't assume that they passed around a flask. I read that as "somebody poured cream liqueur from a flask." Maybe it was just the author. Didn't say anyone drank it, though I can only doubt that. Sounds like it was during a down time ... while one was smoking and there was some wagering going on. Is that just too close a stereotype to men?

Alcohol with guns ... not the wisest thing. I am sure many of our fore fathers and mothers took a sip to knock the edge off the cold, though we know today that it doesn't work. Many of the college kids I deal with today rank alcohol right up there with hard drugs ... and fear of guns.

I'd say the Times is directed at mature readers, not kids ... though I often question the maturity and impressionability of it's target audience. At some point I don't agree with isolating kids from stories of drinking or wagering or such. At some point we need to learn responsibility and right and wrong and to think. Guys out there are thinking that I am insane writing this. But that one sentence provides an opportunity to discuss alcohol with kids ... with whatever else negative in the story that my thick noggin missed. Okay, bring on your wrath and enlighten my dull brain.

Also, why not swamp the Times editor with letters detailing exactly how you feel or what you think about the story? Better yet, nothing stops any of us from submitting a truly positive, colorful, and enlightening hunting or fishing story to a paper for publication.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The NY Times is the most liberal newspaper in the United States. Their authors make up stories, which has been proven and I'm sure they have an anti hunting mentality. What else would expect.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Seriously, folks, that was not an anti-hunting article - and it's sure as hell not the reporter's fault that those women were drinking in the field. What kind of idiot would drink while hunting IN FRONT OF A REPORTER AND PHOTOGRAPHER?

Yes, newsrooms are full of urban liberals who usually don't know anything about hunting, and are sometimes quite hostile to it. How do I know? Because I spent 19 years as a newspaper reporter and editor. So yeah, I know something about reporters. And I can tell you there was nothing calculating about that story, nothing the least bit judgmental. That was just a reporter who wrote what he saw. If he was hostile to hunting, he would've been sure to note that drinking while hunting 1) does not keep you warm and 2) violates one of the basic tenets of hunter safety. He would've made the women look cruel and callous. He would NOT have written in flattering tones about how they eschew gadgetry in favor or a more low-tech way of hunting.

It's fine to get pissed off at the mainstream media when it actually does something ridiculous, which happens often enough. But I think this is misplaced hostility, and it doesn't serve hunters well. I know I was never fond of getting yelled at for some (mis)perceived conspiracy. It always gave me a pretty poor opinion of the people doing the yelling.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Armchair Mike wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

If the ducks were within 40 yards, maybe I need a purple hatband. All these years in camo! Who knew?

In our zero-tolerance era, we seem to have lost the distinction between having a drink and being impaired. I don't approve of drunk hunting, driving, swimming, or much else, but there is or there should be a distinction between having a celebratory toast and being snockered.

Go ahead and rack up the negative points for this comment, but only if you can honestly say you've never touched a drop while hunting. Ditto for reloading, boating, swimming, operating a power tool, etc.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Seems the Times had an anti-hunting agenda?... I'm Shocked!! Actually I'd expect any hunting related story in the NY Times to have a similar slant. Shameful that so-called journalists these days always have to inflect their own opinion and/or emotions into stories. I think these same journalist often use a heavy dose of "creative liscense" to make the story fit their agenda. Washington is no different. We need to keep an eye on our rights, they're in the crosshairs

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jodi818 wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The NY Times is horribly liberal hence anti-hunting and anti-gun. However after reading the article, I wasn't convinced of the author's anti perspective. Actually, the whole article seemed odd. I'm not sure I can describe the feel I got from that article. The author was neither condemning or condoning hunting and the ladies weren't necessarily promoting hunting either. I'm glad they have their traditions, but... idk it was an odd article.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shannon S. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I was just about to post something similar to NorCal's comment, but much less eloquently. lol.

I think the reporter was just writing what he saw. If he screwed up on anything it was stating that a Winchester 101 is "repeating shotgun", not a classic over/under. Well, I suppose it "repeats" when you pull the trigger twice. Drinking and hunting should never go together, unless it's drinking AFTER hunting. Personally, I think the ladies should have known better and am dissapointed in them. Especially on a day when they were representing women (and all) hunters to the press.

As an aside, I believe that this is the same group of ladies that the NWTF's "Women in the Outdoors" magazine had an article about a year or two ago. I'd recognize those hats anywhere!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I didn't see negative bias here, either, just a story written by someone who wasn't familiar with hunting.
As one who believes suffering -- or at least physical exertion -- is an important part of waterfowling, I have to applaud the Swamp Witches for paddling to their spot.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jan wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I hate seeing this type of article in print! But wouldn't expect anything alse from a liberal rag.

If Mr. Brick's article is an attempt at humor, I didn't find it funny at all. I didn't care for his portrayal of the ladies, as if it was just another meeting of the red hat club, instead of women who are serious about waterfowl hunting. (They'd have to be dedicated, to have kept this up for 10 yrs.)
However, He's not to blame for using the part about "passing the flask"....they are! Guns and alcohol don't mix. And by doing so, they looked stupid!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

that was extremely irresponsible for a journalist to do a story about anyone drinking while handling firearms!!! not only does it make us all look bad but it gives the wrong impression for the younger generation who might get involved in the shooting sports. this guy is a nut! women are an important part of our sport and him doing a story like that doesn't help to get more of them involved.

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from peter wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

to bad it paints a bad picture about all hunters too not just women ones

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from Sportsman Matt wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Years ago the Times ran decent outdoor articles, the really good ones are in the book I think was titled Upriver and Downstream (I don't have the book in front of me as I write this)

Unfortunately lots of newspapers are very politically orientated, look at the average nightly paper and count how many articles are about or mention local, state, of federal government or legislation. As Mark Wahlberg put it in the movie The Shooter, "Wonder what lies they want us to believe today"

After reading so much negativity, and lack of anyhting I would be interested in, I stopped subscribing to the local newspapers a couple years ago, if it's that important I know that news travels fast and the really important stuff is on the web at a click of the mouse.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sayerbefiddlin wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Its the best thing to happen yet! Now all we have to do is keep it up when the papers around. Soon the writers will be so bored we wont have to compete for the duck blinds anymore. Thank you NYTimes, keep up the horrible job! I dont read your paper anyway.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The Atlanta Urinal Constitution, The New York Slimes, and that rag from San Fran are all on a par with Pravda.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Throw The Kansas City Tarr in the mix too. The crap they print should be on a super market tabloid.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VT Outdoorsman wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

There was a reason they followed this group of women. They are trying to paint a bad picture of all sportsmen or sportswomen in this case. I am not surprised one bit.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwaynez wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

One sided view to portray them is a bad light for their own benefit. People who write articles like that take advantage of their journalistic credentials and give everyone who has every submitted an article to be published a bad name.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

You just have to realize where it came from and take it with a grain of salt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Laura Bell wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

As Shannon mentioned, the "Swamp Witches" were featured in a Photo Essay in WITO, I have to say they were portrayed better in WITO then in this article. I didn't see anything negative about article, as it seemed like there was no cover up as to what went on, but I do agree that a better group might have been better. I don't personally know the Swamp Witches and they might be a great group of women, but in all honesty they could have done some different, better, things on that hunt in the article.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarah M. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Not really sure what to say about this one. Here I am duck hunting with full camo, face mask, etc etc etc and they are out wearing purple bands on their hats and smoking? It's no wonder they didn't get any ducks. Oh... maybe it was just because they were all drunk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarah M. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Okay so I just looked at the picture and their outfits are horrible and their boat sticks out like a sore thumb... I'm glad that they are "carrying on the tradition" or whatever the article said, but what a waste of an article- how about picking some women who at least take waterfowling seriously?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kimhiss wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

What disappoints me most about the article (aside from the unfocused writing and some of the hunting behaviors we've mentioned) is the thought of the many other women hunters out there I'd rather have seen featured -- diehard sportswomen whose skill and passion are truly inspiring. I'm not out to question the Swamp Witches as much as to point out that there are other women in the field who may have made better representatives. Oh, to live in a perfect world where the most deserving people get the spotlight. -K.H.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

That's a fair point, Sarah. We see women we wish they wouldn't have used as an example. We all know women - actually, most of us ARE women - who are successful, wear good camo and don't drink in the field.

But the media sees shiny things - something interesting and obviously unusual. And in the absence of knowledge about hunting, the media doesn't really know, for example, that purple is a bad idea. Hell, we all wear orange during deer season, right?

But I might have to disagree with you about smoking. I kicked the habit a long time ago, but I swear every time my friend Matt lights up in the marsh, the ducks come zooming in to check it out...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kimhiss wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Laura Bell and Sarah M., it seems we were just posting comments saying roughly the same thing at roughly the same time -- jinx! -K.H.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shannon S. wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Sometimes I think camo is a little overrated for duck hunting, being still is the most important thing. And hiding that shiny face. I'm guessing the Swamp Witches are hunting flooded timber, not open big water. Those brims on the hats shade a lot of the face, especially if the ladies are not moving and keep their heads down while the ducks are working. But, I would still be wearing camo face paint. ;)

People were killing lots of duck long before the plethora of different camo patterns were available. My husband and I often wear just drab brown and green clothes and they blend in pretty well. JMHO.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

Thank you ... now I better understand.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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