Larisa Turville in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery
Dear Field & Stream,
Last year at an auction, I purchased a three-day hunting trip at a private club a few hours north of Seattle. I have a black lab named Max that I took on the trip with me. I hunted both ducks and pheasant and fell in love with the sport. This year, I went with Max to Eastern Washington for ducks and geese. It's a funny thing being a woman and walking into a lodge of a bunch of men. The first day, they look at you like you've got green skin and scales. You are sort of entering this very private guy club, and they don't know how to react. By the second day, however, I instantly had forty new best buddies. I smoked cigars in the blinds and had my first bourbon. Other than the simple fact that I love shooting, I'm doing this for my boys; I think it is a rite of passage. Secondly, there is something very centering about sitting in a blind at 4:30 in the morning and waiting with the anticipation of the first gunfire. I'm not sure it is about the kill so much as it is that quiet in the air when the sun is just rising. I love that moment!
Larisa Turville. Field & Stream Online Editors

Elizabeth A. Loar in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
My husband and I hunt or fish almost every weekend. I think there only about three weekends a year when we are not outside enjoying the great outdoors. When I’m not out hunting or fishing, I’m training Griz, our lab, to compete in hunting tests. It is wonderful to work with great hunting dogs. It makes my eyes water whenever they do something amazing. I remember hunting as a little girl in California. I’m sure I didn’t get to carry a gun because I was not even in first grade yet. My first stepfather always let me come with him on his excursions. We ate lots of squirrels, rabbits, and venison. There have been some trials, like being the first girl who wanted to be in the camp on the opener. “The Shack” was full of guys who and traditionally run amuck without having to worry about the presence of any females. There were other times when there were “guys only” hunts. Those words are no longer allowed to be used on me. I hunt more often and harder than 90 percent of the guys on those hunts. Don’t tell me I can’t hunt- I’ll show you! I get so see so many things in the outdoors that most folks will never see in their lifetime. I enjoy the exercise. I like knowing exactly where my meat comes from. I enjoy cooking and discovering new recipes for using game. I also enjoy sharing with others who like to eat it, or who want to see what it tastes like. Every year, our Christmas is a novel of our outings and a bunch of pictures of our bounty. My mother always asks if there are ever any pictures without something dead in them. Sincerely,
Elizabeth A. Loar

Mary Cotton in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Thank you for your interest in one of my favorite subjects! I grew up in a hunting family, but back then the girls didn’t hunt, at least not in my family. My husband is the one who managed to get me out in the woods. Until then, I had been around carcasses, butchering, entrails all over the yard, but I’d never killed anything. That just wasn’t women’s work. I still find some old timers out in the woods that won’t even acknowledge my presence, or the fact that I have a rifle slung over my shoulder. My husband treats me like an equal. That is what makes it rewarding. We help each other, we shop together, and we razz each other. I have to say it cements our relationship nicely. I wish other guys, both hunters and non-hunters, were more accepting of women in the field. I belong to the local Safari Club chapter (no women allowed on the board, thank you very much). I overhear comments to my husband such as “You sure are lucky Mary puts up with you doing that!” Too bad they don’t take the time to find out how much I like to put the sneak on a nice trophy. As more women hunters appear, attitudes will change. I think your upcoming article will help.
Mary Cotton

Michelle Wilson in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
While growing up in Northern Wisconsin, my dad hunted. So, it wasn’t odd to me to see a group of grown men carving up a deer on the kitchen table. I remember during the last couple days of deer hunting season, the kids were allowed to help with the drives. It was always a celebrated time of year. Upon entering the Army, guns were second nature to me. Rarely did I have a difficult time with any weapon that I encountered. I listened to instructions given and became a good shot. Out shooting a lot of guys and seeing the disbelief on their faces was awesome. When my son was 8, he asked me, “Mom, when can I go deer hunting?” I told him when he was 12, we could take the hunter’s safety course. I didn’t have to take the course but did. Being a single mom, it was good for us to do this together. I also did this because Tyler doesn’t have a strong male role model that is an experienced hunter. Tyler and I completed the course in September of 2005 and made plans to hunt that November. We didn’t own any rifles and didn’t know where to hunt. So, we got advice and gear from a friend, and on opening morning, Tyler and I got up way before dawn, had breakfast, and set out. It was cold, and the wind was unforgiving. Yet, we managed. The only thing I knew is that we were doing this together. After an unsuccessful first day in the woods, Tyler and I called it quits and headed home. I learned a tremendous amount that day, but still went home frustrated, disappointed, and determined. We headed back out the next day, picked a new spot, and settled in. We saw rubs, beds, and droppings, so we knew we were close. When we heard something behind us, we turned around suddenly and spooked two whitetails. We watched as they ran into the thicket. Completely frustrated, cold, and hungry we headed home for lunch. As Tyler relaxed upstairs in his room, I sulked on the couch. The more I sulked, the more upset I got. The more upset I got, the more determined I was to hunt. I got dressed and went upstairs to tell Tyler that I was going back out. I told him if he wanted to stay home, he could, but I had to go back out. I (yes, I’m a girl) started to cry and said that I could not fail at this. Tyler said, “It’s okay Mom, we’ll do it together.” That made me cry even more. After wiping my tears and hugging my son for the unconditional support, we headed back out. We went back to the field we had sat in earlier in the day. I told him to watch the right side and I would watch the left. We were sitting on the ground about 15 minutes before I saw movement in the tree line. As the deer came closer, I saw at least 3 points. I brought the rifle into my shoulder, got a good grip, lined up my sights, just in time for this buck to stop and look right at me. In a millisecond, the gun just magically went off. The buck simply reared up and dropped. We accomplished a lot that year. Learning a great deal about hunting, sharing what I think is the shot of a lifetime, and gaining confidence in the fact that even a single mother with no hunting experience, could take a young man into the woods to partake in this annual ritual. I always will take the entire week of deer season off of work. What’s it like to be a female hunter today? As with any male dominated sport, they look at you differently and treat you differently. Some can see you’re serious and treat you with respect, and some just look at you and shrug you off as a freak of nature. Some say, “Ah, she’s too pretty to be a deer hunter.” Well, I’m getting serious about this and have begun to find solace and comfort in the quiet mornings in the woods just waiting for my next shot.
Much Respect,
Michelle Wilson

Lena Nemke in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
I am so happy that you are going to bring some light to female hunters! Every time I tell people I’m going hunting, they look a bit confused. Hunting is commonly viewed as a masculine activity, but actually a lot of the women I know have very good hunting skills. I can say for myself that I have a lot more patience than my brother. It’s fun to be a girl in orange. My theory was: anything they can do, I can do too, maybe even better. The worst part was last year I missed our neighborhood “Bullwinkle.” Everyone laughed and picked on me forever, my brother loved it. Turns out, my scope got all messed up earlier in the season, but no one heard that part of it. This year, I got the nicest buck on the country block. Even better, I got it in my brother’s stand. He never came out to sit, so he got the razz from everyone this year, not me! When I was growing up, my mother always dragged me to craft shows while the guys were in the woods. When Thanksgiving came around, guess who had to help her peel potatoes and do the whole cooking thing? When my brother got his first deer, I went out to help him track it. I had such a blast that the next year I asked to go sit with my dad. He took me, but we didn’t have much luck. Watching the snow fall and sitting in the peace and quiet of the woods was so exhilarating for me. I passed my hunter’s safety class, and the next year my dad and I got real nice bucks within three minutes of each other. After that rush, I knew why people hunted! I love the time I get to spend with my dad and brother preparing for the season. My dad’s getting older, and he’s not sure how many more years he’ll be able to go. This year was the best because we got to track my deer together, and he was super excited when he saw the antlers. Hunting is such a joy, a tradition, and a bonding experience. I’ll never give it up! When I have children, I will be sure to take them out in the woods too. When we built our stands, we put in funnels that ran down to drain under the ground preventing human scent. Well, sure this works great for the guys to use but I always have to make sure I have a coffee can in the stand because I can’t aim like them. I never thought this was fair because it really sucks when you miss the can. Sorry if it’s a little private, but I’ve always thought it wasn’t fair to be a girl because of this.
Wishing all a safe and plentiful hunt!
Lena Nemke

Shelly Icardi in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Being a female hunter has presented several challenges over the years. However, not one of the barriers I have encountered has ever resulted in hanging up my bow and giving up. Although I completed the hunter education program when I was 15, I did not start seriously bowhunting until 2002, at the age of 32. After my divorce ten years earlier, I found myself raising my daughter in my childhood neighborhood, a deer hunters dream. As a child, my stepfather and brothers hunted the same quarry I hunt today. In 2002, I was given a Browning Micro Midas as a birthday gift. That first year, I befriended six men in my neighborhood, all avid bowhunters. Although I am the eldest of our group, the boys have always treated me as a kid sister. Being female, I was at a disadvantage from the start. And I did not have access to a male mentor to provide me with the knowledge most men seem to have innately inherited. Most of the challenges for female hunters, especially during bow season, are focused primarily around scent control, proper gear, and physical strength. I find it very difficult to find clothing that accommodates my needs. Although I do purchase youth clothing and boots, I discovered that the quality is not the same as for adult males. For example, my rubber boots have only 400 grams of Thinsulate compared to a standard 1200 grams for men. Aside from gear, scent elimination has presented somewhat of a challenge for me. My hair is a thick mass of curls that traps everything from inanimate objects to air borne odors. Since my living arrangements are with my 18-year-old daughter, my hair is consistently exposed to girly scents. Although I take a deer shower the morning of the hunt, if I leave my stand in the afternoon for lunch, I dare not enter my house because I will exit smelling like the perfume counter at Macy’s. Physical strength is yet another challenge for female hunters. Hanging tree stands, although always better with the aid of two people, is not an easy task for a female. There has never been a time that I could manage to hang a stand independently. Being smaller in physical size also means a female typically shoots less poundage with a bow; resulting in lesser shot opportunities. There remain several other challenges for females that are more subjective. We want to be respected and taken seriously. When I first became a Massachusetts certified bowhunter education instructor. I was afraid that the men in my class would not take me seriously because of my gender. Many times however, men will surprise me by asking my advice. They still tease me, but they also tease each other. This year, I missed a 6-point during opening week because I was too busy eating a candy bar and reading the caloric value to notice him until he was out of my range. I will never live that down. But we laugh about it. My fear of the dark in the morning hour before daylight is also the butt of many jokes. The guys whisper over the radio about a coyote’s ability to jump twelve feet (the exact height of my tree stand). I would bet though, that some of the guys fear dark; their egos just refuse to allow them to admit it. To me, the challenges I have been presented over the years equal valuable experience, despite my gender. I do not want a handicap.
Shelly Icardi

Casey Cockrum in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
Recently, a security system worker walked into our home and saw the 8-point mounted above the mantle. The first words out of his mouth were: “Where did your husband kill that deer?” My response was, “My husband did not kill that deer. I did.” Many more stories like this have happened to me. In hunting stores, I often get asked if I am shopping for my husband. At the deer processor, I was told I was kind to drop off my husband’s deer for him. The mailman asked if my husband was enjoying his subscription to Field & Stream, even though the subscription is in my name. For my birthday, my husband gave me a Bushnell Elite Scope and when asked what he got me, there were looks of surprise, confusion, and some laughs. These comments do not offend me. I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be a hunter. I am proud to be a woman hunter. I did not grow up hunting. I began hunting with a friend in college and have not missed a season in 11 years. Hunting as a female is odd for some people to understand, but I feel as though people respect my love for hunting. My husband is teaching me to fish, and I am teaching him to hunt. When we have kids one day, we hope to have them in the woods, as well. There are some things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and me hunting for the rest of my life!
Waiting for a nice buck,
Casey Cockrum

Lee Yale in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
I just finished reading two articles that your magazine featured this month, and I felt that I had to respond. I have been hunting for over 30 years, I am a woman, and I have to admit that I was offended. I hunt because I love the sport. I have been shooting guns since I was 6, and the woods and outdoors are where I find my peace. I have never required special equipment or treatment because I am a woman. I believe if you do something, you do it because it is good for you not because it is the new, hip thing to do. I certainly don’t think that the prize for our views as women should be a shooting lesson from Dave Petzal. What an insult! If this was a man’s contest there would be a gun, a scope, or even a hunting trip as a prize, but women, well, we will need a shooting lesson. What a slap in women’s faces everywhere. I guess I should clarify this statement by saying real women hunters would be insulted.
Thank you for your time,
Lee Yale

Carli Ausmann in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
My name is Carli Ausmann. I am 14-years-old and live in Wyoming. My Dad is an avid hunter and loves the outdoors, so I took a hunter’s safety course last spring so I could go hunting with him. Although I had been turkey hunting with him when I was younger, I had never hunted big game. That is until I drew a Wyoming elk permit this fall. I went out and target practiced until I could hit clay pigeons on the ground at 100 yards. My Dad and I were hunting just two days when we came across a 5X6 bull elk, and I dropped him with one shot! I love to hunt and I don’t think that hunting is any different for me than it is for a guy. As a conservationist, I understand the importance of hunting and harvesting. I like being a female hunter, mainly because I enjoy learning about the outdoors, and it is a great family adventure. My male classmates gave me a little static for outdoing them, but that’s their problem.
Carli Ausmann

Genevieve Joelle Villamizar in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Hunting to me is gender neutral, but there are certainly differences, such as the physical limitations when dragging hundreds of pounds out of the hills. My boyfriend and I just got two deer, which I brought home and butchered myself. I’ve carved and wrapped up every animal I’ve ever gotten, actually. As a 19-year-old, I wanted to be an architect designing Colorado vacation homes. I wanted to live on a boat with my own slip in Manhattan. I wanted to wear stilettos and business suits and party at happy hour. I was young and unhappy. During my third year of college, I read an article about a back-to-the-lander in Maine that grew and caught the majority of his food. The photos of him stopped me in my tracks: now there was meaning. There was a man living life as purely as possible: generating his own source of food; living simply, in concert with the planet. My life changed in a moment. I was fortunate enough to witness inspiration by example. I changed degrees and now design properties that nurture the environment, buffer the impact of development, and sustain wildlife. I live in Colorado and savor its wilderness. I grow fruit and vegetables, I fish, and I hunt and kill animals. Hunting is a life long lesson. As a woman who started hunting on her own, I relearned the lesson about pursuing what you love. And in so doing, someone came to love me for doing just that. I will share the hunt and all of its lessons the rest of my life. I will put food on my table. I am a part of the planet, the rhythms of the pulse of all its wild creatures. I am a woman and I hunt.
Genevieve Joelle Villamizar

Lou Alexander in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
I just received my December magazine, and yes it comes to me, not my husband, although I do let him read it. Your request was something I couldn’t pass up. Growing up, my exposure to hunting was the men going out to pheasant hunt on Thanksgiving. My father shot on a trap league, where I would on occasion keep score and release the targets. I had a desire to hunt, but I didn’t have the knowledge, land, or gun to do so. I did fix the gun situation and bought a used 20 gauge and shot the occasional round of trap or skeet. I met my future husband, who is an avid bird hunter, in my late 20s. He took me bird hunting a few times. I ended up on my first big game hunt at 29, and I was able to take a spike as my first deer ever. We’ve been deer hunting ever since. I soon found out about turkey hunting, my new favorite. The first year, I never saw any birds. The next year, I went with a friend, learned some new tricks, and was able to get into the birds. I’ve never had so much fun. I never got a turkey that year either. I was too busy watching them and maybe a small case of tom fever. This past season I bagged both of my toms, while my husband came up empty. I have found that most guys don’t want to hear about hunting from a woman. I think the lack of respect I get from most male hunters is the most frustrating thing. I don’t know it all, but I know more than they give me credit for. Then there is the clothing issue. I’m too big for youth sizes and too small for most of the men’s. It is getting harder to find the small sizes, but if I wore an XXXL, I’d have my choice. When I was looking for a bow, I was limited to selection, not every one makes a 24-inch draw length. But the best part of being a hunter will come in two weeks. My 8-year-old daughter wants to go deer hunting, and I get to take her. I’ve been teaching her to shoot, and she has been in the stand with me in the past, so she has had some exposure. Getting to share hunting with a kid has got to be the best.
Thanks for your time,
Lou Alexander

Katie Liter in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
I sat down to read your magazine this month and was surprised by the editor’s letter on women hunters. Where we are, there aren’t many women who hunt, and I am considered quite the redneck. Last year, while home on leave from the Air Force in Ohio, my husband’s friends reminded him that hunting season started the Monday after Thanksgiving. I have never been the hunting type, but something peaked my interest, and I asked if I could go with them. They all kind of looked at me in shock and said, “You really want to go?” I was serious, so one of my husband’s best friends loaned me an old 20-gauge. I didn’t see anything the first day, but on the second day, late in the afternoon, I scared off a big doe. I didn’t miss my chance though when a spike came along 30 minutes later. Needless to say, my husband was livid when, at the end of the week, I was the only one who had got a deer! I was hooked, and this year, I joined a trap and skeet team in our squadron, bought my first shotgun, and next week, leave starts for deer season again. I even told my husband if he couldn’t get his leave, it was too bad because I have deer hunting to do!
Katie Liter

Suzanne Nagel in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
A good venison kabob motivates my husband to hunt. Love motivates me. For the past three years, I’ve played the hunting widow from about September through April. This year, I decided if I couldn’t get my husband to put his rifle down, I would pick mine up. I’m getting ready for my third trip into the Blair Witch-like woods my husband frequents in Western Kentucky. And while I have yet to shoot a living creature myself, I do find the fresh air, picturesque landscape, and time spent bonding over turkey calls and doe bleats quite refreshing. But hunting did pose a few challenges for me. First, I had never fired a gun of any kind. And finding the right muzzleloader for my petite, frame wasn’t easy. After a round of target practice, my husband declared that I’m a natural sharpshooter. I guess it helps that I have an Army-trained sniper as my teacher. Second, I have yet to find the perfect pair of insulated bibs to fit. I first tried jeans and froze. For lack of something better, I have settled on a very thick pair of olive, drab sweatpants over long johns that keep me warm enough. Third, I just don’t understand why we have to get up so early. My husband’s philosophy is the earlier the better. He says creeping into the woods in the dark is the only way to beat all the other hunters, so we will know where everyone is once they do come in. And, it allows us to sneak in as the deer head toward their beds. As I mentioned earlier, love motivated me to start hunting. My husband dedicated a good part of his summer getting involved in my gardening hobby. I felt obliged to take an interest in one of his. To my surprise, I’ve actually enjoyed the experience. Admittedly, I have a lot to learn about hunting, like not squealing with terror at every snapping twig I encounter in the dark. I also have to learn to not worry if my Mossy Oak bubble jacket makes me look fat. And the most important lesson is resisting my reaction to crane my neck to see from where every little sound originates. My lessons are already paying off. Last hunt, a flock of turkeys treated us to a fantastic display of pageantry. I have yet to see the deer we were scouting. The best thing about hunting for me is spending time with my husband, getting a true feeling for why he’s so drawn to the woods, and learning to appreciate all of it for myself. And when the deer do come, I’ll be ready.
Suzanne Nagel

Molly Doyle in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
On the first day of the season this year, I shot my first deer. I pretty much froze my butt off waiting for that deer to come. I guess all that waiting and Gum-O-Flage gum chewing was worth it. It was small, but that rush of energy when you see the deer fall in front of you was worth it. I used a 12 gauge, and I shot him right behind the shoulder blade. It fell and died very quickly. This made me happy because I knew that God had given it a less painful death. When the deer was coming my dad, who was sitting next to me, said he could hear my heartbeat. After I had shot it, I thanked God for letting me have this wonderful deer. I also thanked the deer for giving up its life here on earth. Being a woman hunter can be intimidating. When you go to the shooting range, you can feel everyone looking at you. I think that people are sometimes surprised to hear that I shot the deer, but not my dad. It is the most rewarding experience of your life when you hear the shot, and you see that you actually hit something. I got started by my dad and my brother hunting. I always wanted to be out with them. I remember watching Outdoor Wisconsin. I saw all the women shooting these huge bucks, and I remember telling my dad, “I want to do that when I’m 12.” So far, part of it has come true. I did start to hunt deer, turkey, and pheasants, but I didn’t get that big one. That won’t stop me from being one of the women hunters of the world, and I’ll keep trying no matter what happens. I hope I inspire young girls along the way to join hunting.
From your girl hunter,
Molly Doyle

Anna Laggis in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
My name is Anna Laggis, and I am 14. I really enjoy hunting and have been sitting in the woods with my dad since I was little. When I was 10, I started carrying my own gun. Getting this deer was very special because I was hunting with my mom. I think that she was just as excited as I was. I really enjoy hunting because I like being in the woods and seeing the wildlife. In the spring I hunt for turkeys, and I target practice with my family all year round. Hunting is something that will always be with me, wherever I go in life. I am proud to be a woman who hunts. There may not be many of us in the woods, but we still manage show up all the guys!
Anna Laggis

Jean Rapson in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
Greetings from Ontario, Canada. I have to tell you I don’t read my husbands issues of your magazine, the subscription is all mine. I have been fortunate to be able to have hunted most of my life. My dad and granddad raised my sister and I, and most of that time was spent in the bush. I have carried my own gun since I was a kid. My dad and granddad built our deer camp about 45 years ago. It is still used to this day and sits on 400 hundred acres of secluded, private land. It was here my lessons were learned, valued, respected, and above all loved. I hunt deer, moose, turkey, bear, and upland game bird. My favorite store in the whole world has to be Cabela’s, and I do spend most of my money there. My family knows never to plan a family event in hunting season, or I won’t be there, and my honeymoon was spent moose hunting in Northern Ontario. Female hunting is probably more acceptable today than before. It was traditionally a man’s sport, no women allowed! I organize our deer and moose camp and hunt with six or seven other guys. My daughter, Katie, also hunts with me, as does my husband, father, and son. When I first started hunting, there was no women’s hunting clothing or gear available. You found the smallest men’s sizes and altered them to fit. Years ago, I didn’t know any other girls that hunted. It was the guys and I. My husband and I would go places to visit, and most of the girls sat together discussing shopping, and crafts. I would always drift away to where the good conversations where going on. Hunting is not different for me, I am one of the guys, and have been told this by several men whom I’ve hunted with. Just this year we invited a new guy into our moose camp. He was awesome to hunt with and just fit right in. The following day he shook my hand and told me it was the first time he had ever hunted with a girl in his 30 years of hunting. He expressed that it had been an honor, and said that he couldn’t remember having a better time. I was one of the gang. Not a girl or a guy, just a hunter that he respected and appreciated. I have never hunted harder or tried to fit in because I was a woman. I stay quiet, humble, and do what I love. Let your ability speak for itself and it will. I have come across women hunters that have this chip on their shoulder about being a woman hunter. They feel they have to defend their right to hunt and to be treated as an equal. You don’t! Earn that respect and you will be a respected, accomplished hunter. I don’t automatically respect every man that has a gun in his hand either. It comes from what his capabilities and knowledge of hunting, safety, and the outdoors. Hunting is a passion and a way of life for my family and myself. I feel very fortunate and thankful that I have been able to have the greatest memories in the world as a hunter and outdoorswomen.
Thank you,
Jean Rapson

Shari Sokay in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Six years ago, my boyfriend took me out for my first hunt. He had told me so many wonderful stories about hunting that I had to see for myself. That first fall together, he took me out duck and grouse hunting. I was hooked in an instant. I couldn’t believe how close the birds came. I even had a chance to look at a couple up close that morning. As soon as I went deer hunting, I knew there was no turning back. I didn’t have the chance to harvest a deer, but I had several small bucks and a few does come by me. Now my husband and I plan our vacation time and weekends around hunting together, and we’re really lucky to be able to share something that has become a huge part of our lives. My experiences during the first few seasons inspired me to go back to school, and I’ve since graduated as a Fish and Wildlife Technologist and got a job as a Fisheries Technician. None of it would have happened had I not been introduced to hunting. I find being a female hunter can be a mix of good and not so good. I only know of a handful of women who hunt, and of course we instantly bonded. I would much rather swap hunting stories then talk about the latest fashions (unless of course, it’s about a new line of hunting clothing). The guys I deal with tend to have either one of two reactions: 1) They think it’s awesome that I’m into hunting and wish more women and/or wished their girlfriends or wives would get into hunting; 2) They think that women have no place at the deer camp or in hunting. Thankfully I haven’t met too many of the latter. Surprisingly, the most trouble I tend to encounter is at gun shops. There are a few I will no longer set foot in as they tend to ignore me altogether, or constantly give me a hard time. Now a days, there is virtually nothing I won’t hunt; everything from ducks, grouse, deer, moose, and bear, and hopefully some day, a mule deer to top it all off. It’s a shame to think of all the sunrises I might have missed had I never gotten into hunting.
Shari Sokay

Ivy H.Trado in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
When Field & Stream is in to our mailbox, I’m usually the first one to grab it and start reading. I think it is great that you are going to publish a special section on women and hunting, but I don’t understand some of your questions. What’s it like to be a female hunter today?
Absolutely wonderful! I love it! Why would I want to be anything else? How is hunting different for you?
Compared to what? Who? I don’t consider myself any different from any other hunter. How did you get started?
I got started hunting by retrieving my daddy’s downed birds. Then he passed his shotgun down to me, and I haven’t stopped yet. Early on, my daddy told me that if I killed something I had to clean it and eat it. So, I shoot it, drag it out of the woods, load it into the back of my truck, skin it, butcher it, and freeze it. I work five days a week and look forward to waking up before daylight on Saturday mornings to go hunting. And holidays mean more hunting! I could talk about hunting forever, but it’s late, and I have a date with a big buck in the morning, so have to go get my ” beauty sleep!” I commend Field & Stream for reaching out to women. And can’t wait for the next issue.
Ivy H.Trado

Marilyn Hughes in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Well, you were right, women do read your magazine. I love getting to the mailbox before my husband and finding Field & Stream waiting for me. I come from a hunting and outdoors family. I remember being 10, and our teachers were on strike. It was deer season, and my Dad said I could go hunting with him. He ended up shooting a 5-point buck. He called me his good luck charm. I believe this is when I knew I wanted to be a hunter. I started hunting when I was 12, and in 21 years, I’ve only missed two seasons, both because I was pregnant. As funny as it sounds, I remember my kids teething on our homemade deer jerky. My son is 10 now, and with the mentored youth hunting seasons, we get to enjoy the outdoors together even more. When we’re out hunting together, I love asking him, “How many kids do you think are out hunting with their Mom today?” He laughs and says “None.” He’s put a good dent in the gray and red squirrel population, and next spring he hopes to harvest a turkey. Being a woman hunter does draw attention. I think most guys think that this is a man’s sport, and some are surprised to see a woman in the outdoors. All I know is that I love the outdoors, and I was taught to respect and be thankful for everything I was able to harvest, and my children are learning that too.
Enjoying the outdoors,
Marilyn Hughes

Lisa Cloutier in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
I started hunting when, a couple of years ago, it became very difficult for my dad to get to his hunting shack. I decided that I would go with him and give him a hand. I found that watching for whitetail was more interesting than I thought. To be able to observe deer in their natural habitat was exciting and interesting to me. I got to see him shoot a 7-pointer that year, on the very last day of the season. I knew that I would be with him following year, and that I would be hunting. My husband showed me how to shoot and site in my rifle. This inspired my youngest daughter as well, and she successfully completed hunter’s safety in 2006. We were going to get her a gun of her own until her grampa (my dad) asked her if she would like own his 30-30 that he had used most of his life. Her eyes lit up like candles as she gracefully accepted his gun. Then came opening morning of deer season, I wondered what it was going to be like the first time I got to pull the trigger. Suddenly my dad says, “Lisa look a big buck, shoot it, shoot it.” At first I thought he was just kidding around. This wasn’t the first time I had heard those words that morning. I soon caught his eye and saw he wasn’t kidding. My eyes were fixated on the horns this buck had. I quickly noted there was a doe standing at his side, so a broad side shot was not possible. It was a privilege just to see such a majestic animal. I had my gun in hand and was trying to get a good shot. I didn’t want to miss and disappoint my father. As I brought my gun up, they saw me and took off up the hill. I fired just as they were turning to run. I was so nervous that I couldn’t get another round into my gun. They stopped about 140 yards away atop of a hill. I was shaking like a leaf in autumn ready to fall. I had a second chance to make my father proud on opening morning. The buck was standing perfect broadside. Both animals were looking down at our hunting shack as if wondering what had just happened. My father was chanting: shoot, shoot, shoot. With arms still shaking, I fired my gun and watched this big buck fall over. Once I got the deer down in front of my dad, I saw his eyes light up. He shook my hand, congratulated me, and welcomed me to the world of whitetail hunting. Then we shared a hug. He handed me his knife and explained step by step how to gut the animal. I didn’t do a perfect job, but I will get better as time goes on. The rest of the day we drove around with the buck in the back of the truck showing friends and relatives. It was one of the happiest days of my life to be able to share something like this with my father. There are a few female hunters in this area. It feels slightly awkward to be the only female in a group of men. I take a little bit of razzing from the guys, but I give back as good as I get. All in all, I think they are happy to see woman hunters on the rise. The guys in my family that hunt have been more than helpful in giving me hunting tips and filling me in on all the stories from years past. To me, it isn’t all about getting a big buck (although that was an awesome feeling in itself). It’s about being with friends and family and sharing hunting stories. It’s about being in nature and observing the beauty of it all. Perhaps I will get to pass this on to my children, and, one day, I will be the proud parent who gets to see the joy in the eyes of my child.
Lisa Cloutier

Katherine Perry in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
It’s great being a female hunter. I’m only 16, and I’m a better shot than most of the guys I know. I think being a female hunter isn’t a lot different than being a guy hunter. We might not use the same tactics, but we still get the job done. When I show off my 8-point whitetail, I raise a few more impressed eyebrows than the guy next to me. I got started hunting when I was about eight, and I got my first gun, a 20 gauge for Christmas. My Dad got me interested, and I love the excitement and rush of energy when you’re out in the field. I’ve gone from bagging squirrels, to Canada geese, to my recent 8-pointer. Each year I go hunting I seem to appreciate it all more and more. Where and whatever the game might be, count me in to be there.
Yours truly,
Katherine Perry

Michelle Berth in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Northern Wisconsin has all the opportunities for any avid sportswoman looking for some time in the woods or at the lake. During the summer months, there are plenty of women around who fish and experience the outdoors, but as soon as the leaves vanish, so do the females. I am one of the few who remain. Unfortunately for the past few years, my college schedule has kept my weekends to experience the great woods of Wisconsin to a minimum. There is one weekend, however, I will not miss for anything: the opening of deer season. I take off classes and drive six hours across the state to be at deer camp. The past four years, I have been the only female at deer camp, and I’m one of very few females hunting in the area as well. Although there is a severe lack of representation from the female demographic, I take great pride in fitting in with the rest of the guys at deer camp, and any woman should have the opportunity to share such an experience. I believe my love for the outdoors was handed down to me from my grandpa and dad. They were avid sportsmen, but never treated hunting as a guy’s only sport. I was always included and encouraged to be responsible and respectful when out in the wilderness. As I spent most of my free time there, my passion for it grew. There are awkward moments during deer camp, especially at the rifle range where it is rare to see another woman anywhere near the shooting. But, being at deer camp is the best time of the year for me. There isn’t anywhere else in the world where I can be myself and not worry about what other people think of me. I look forward to the long games of cribbage, listening to bluegrass on the radio, and just enjoying the overall experience. There isn’t any other feeling like being a part of the gang, being given respect just for being yourself, and finding successes everyday in what you do. Every woman deserves an experience like this.
Michelle Berth

Teresa Walters in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
It doesn’t have to be a big deer for me to get all excited, and if you could only be in my head when a big buck does appear. I started hunting when my son, at 3-years-old, was going hunting with his dad. I said, “You cannot take him unless I go.” It’s been 15 years, and I’m still going strong. It means a lot to me to be a female and can kill deer without bait. I think more women should try hunting. It’s a family thing to me, with my son, husband and friends.
Thank you,
Teresa Walters

Monica Ganz in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
I come from a hunting family. My father is an old-fashioned guy who feels his daughter is “too feminine” to hunt. He is a big game hunter and has traveled the world hunting, having been to Africa 34 times. I have had to prove to my father with the help of Safari Club friends (males and females) that a woman can hunt, and that there are men out there who do not mind a woman on a hunt. I have gone on three hunts and have had frustrating moments because I have not had formal shooting training. I have not been trained to set up quickly, sight in the gun, shoot from different positions, etc. I’m a true beginner. So Dave, where are you? I need your assistance. I’m up for the challenge of outshooting you. If I learn from the best, it should be possible!
With sincere regards,
Monica Ganz

Christine Vance in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
I am writing to let you know of my 16-year-old daughter. She has bear hunted with her dad every year since she was 5. Last year she killed a black bear that weighed 586 pounds, the third largest in Western North Carolina and a record bear for Avery County. She and two guys were headed into deep woods after the sound of the dogs chasing the bear. She lucked up and got a shot the bear, which dropped in its tracks. It took 45 minutes for the other hunters catch up. She also likes to deer hunt, but her great love is her bear dogs and bear hunting. Thank you for the opportunity to share this with you.
Christine Vance

Susan Urquhart in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
Overall, I feel the main difference between being a male and female hunter would be hunting away from home. Extensive research is needed to locate a reputable hunting lodge that suits the needs of a female hunter. Not all hunting lodges even welcome female hunters, which is understandable. Being a petite has forced me to solely turkey hunt. Pulling a deer out of the woods, if alone, was extremely difficult for me. I didn’t mind giving up deer hunting due to the nature of my addiction, the wild turkey. It is difficult for a serious female hunter to locate the necessary equipment: shorter and lighter archery equipment, smaller mouth calls, and camo. Not every hunter wears XXXL, which is always on the racks. One last comment, which really doesn’t bother me any more: Male hunters do not take female hunters seriously. On one hunting adventure, planned a year in advance, I was dumped on by the lodge owner. I paid the same, however, all guides were given to the three other male hunters. I was told to stay in the fenced in areas and I would be fine. To make a long story short, I was the last to be picked up, three hours after dark. All hunters were on the truck without a gobbler. No one said a word when I loaded my tom and myself on the truck. No congrats, no good job, nothing. I started when my husband, boyfriend at the time, invited me to go whitetail hunting. I fell in love with the woods and wildlife. Eventually I began to rifle hunt. After we married, bowhunting became our passion. Sitting in the woods one fall morning with turkeys feeding 40-yards away, my husband said, “Now that’s a challenge.” He briefly educated me with turkey hunting 101. For the next four months I read everything about hunting wild turkeys. Spring came around, and I harvested my first wild turkey. Last years challenge was to harvest a turkey using a bow, which I accomplished Thanksgiving morning. As a female hunter with countless opportunities, I give back to the sport by way of teaching young women archery and rifflery at our local Girl Scout camp.
Susan Urquhart

E.L.Wills in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
My first hunting experiences took place during the summer weeks that I spent with my grandparents as a child. Of their three grandchildren, all girls, I was the oldest and my grandfather’s most willing companion. I learned to read game signs and drink ice-cold water from mountain streams. My Grandpap died the year I turned nine, but not before passing his love for wildlife and the outdoors to me. All of my hunting has been with either male friends or alone. Although a number of modern day fathers are encouraging their daughters to hunt, I have not yet met a female contemporary who shares my love of the outdoors. When hunting alone, I go armed with a camera as frequently as a weapon. Seeing a doe with fawn, watching a passing flock of turkeys, or spotting a meandering black bear, and then capturing the sight on film can be as exciting for me as bringing home dinner. Archery, much more so than guns, has always appealed to me. The ability to accurately shoot a bow remains one of the most challenging forms of hunting I have attempted. I love the feel of pulling back the bow, hearing the quiet hiss of the arrow flying through the air, and the resounding thud when a target is well hit. Hunting turkeys, either during spring or fall, is definitely my favorite hunting season. I get so excited during the days leading up to opening day that sleeping is nearly impossible.

Lorna Rischmueller in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
I have been involved in hunting and fishing all my life. My parents both grew up on ranches and hunted for food. When they met, married, and moved to Arizona, they continued to hunt for food and for fun. They also chose to include their children, my two brothers and me, in every part of hunting and fishing. Once I could walk, we all went hunting together. At first, my parents only received or bought deer tags. Then, over the years, they received deer, elk, and turkey tags. We deer hunted in the same spot for many years. My parents would fill at least one of their tags, and my brothers and I would trudge along on the journeys taking turns with each parent. Whenever I followed my dad, I would step in every step that he made. This was a yearly ritual. Why? I don’t know. I still tend to do that with him and sometimes my husband. During these years, my parents took my brothers and I out and taught us how to properly use the guns they owned. They proceeded to take us squirrel hunting. I eventually decided that I should try to get a tag and give it a shot, so to speak. I was about 15-years-old. Unfortunately, I did not get anything, but from that time on, I was hooked. I kept trying, and I even picked up archery. I bagged nothing then either. I went on many hunting trips with my family, but nothing. Finally, after getting married at age 25, I killed my first deer, a little forked horn. My husband loves to hunt, fish, camp, and hike as much as I do. He is my hunting buddy. I am now 42, and I have shot mule deer, turkeys, antelope, javelina, and bear. I have had three archery bull elk tags but have not made the connection. Part of the main problem with archery elk hunting in Arizona is some of the units have way too many tags and too many inconsiderate hunters. I also teach, so if anyone cuts me off in the morning, I have to stop chasing bulls and go to work. It is a long wait throughout the day to get back out there after school. This makes for a long and tiring two weeks. Thank God for student teachers. I think being a female hunter is just fine because I have never known that women could not hunt. If all my teaching, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and other activities did not get in the way I would hunt more. The clothing these days also makes hunting more comfortable than when I was younger. Unlike other women, my favorite places to shop are Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Sportman’s Warehouse. I ask for new bows and Scentblocker suits for anniversaries and birthdays. Bowhunting is my first choice. I don’t compete; I just like the challenge. Sometimes it is frustrating, but I would get up and do it all over again the next day if it meant being out in God’s creation on a beautiful day. Hunting is in my blood all because of two great parents and a hunting husband.
Lorna Rischmueller

Candice Smith in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
My name is Candice Smith. I live in Fairfield, Idaho and took my first buck this year. I had always had an interest in hunting, but much like Susan Casey, my mom is anti-hunting and my sister is a vegetarian. It was not until I married my high school sweetheart, Dallas (who is an avid hunter), that I began to appreciate hunting as a sport. I am a natural competitor, so when I drew my tag, I was willing to do whatever it took to take a nice buck, and I did. It was one of the most exciting adventures that I have ever been on. Since I had only shot one squirrel in my entire life, this buck was truly a trophy buck to me. Being a female hunter means getting an opportunity to try something that you never thought you could do. It means getting to take a break from the balancing act of home and work. It means withdrawing yourself from everyday life and getting to be true to you. It means retrieving the part of you that somehow got lost in the midst of being a mom, a wife, and a woman. We are all alike inside, and we deserve to accomplish something that is as rewarding and satisfying as hunting. Hunting is a time to relax, to let go of all worries, to put all your energy into conquering the unknown. I am a strong believer that women can accomplish anything they want to if they put their mind and heart into it. Whether you are male or a female, hunting is only as different as you make it. Since I am extremely competitive in sports and married to a major mule deer enthusiast, I chose to set standards. I did not want a walk in the park. I wanted to make my hunt as challenging for myself as I possibly could. I wanted it to be the ultimate sport. If I was going to pull the trigger, I was going to have to work hard so that I felt I deserved him. I am like this in any sport. If I am going to do something then I am going to do the best that I possibly can.
Thank you,
Candice Smith

Kelly Reinemer in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field and Stream,
I am excited that you’re going to have a section on women and hunting. However, it shows the biggest stereotype female hunters often face. As you stated, there is an estimated 3 million female hunters, then why are we treated as such a rarity? When I shot my antelope last year, it was not just a good shot compared to other hunters, it was an unbelievable shot because I am a girl. When I go to gut an animal that I have been lucky enough to harvest, I often have to stop the guys from taking over. I have been bowhunting for two years, rifle hunting since I was twelve, and fishing since before I can remember. I started hunting with my dad and brother, both teaching me the proper techniques. The biggest difference in hunting for me is with a shorter walking stride; I need to take twice as many steps to keep up with the guys I hunt with. It is also hard to find women’s camo or men’s camo small enough to fit (thank goodness for youth sizes). I love hunting and fishing, and these sports are a huge part of how I spend my free time.
Kelly Reinemer

Renee LeBlue in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
My name is Renee LeBlue, and I am a 21-year-old hunter from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, Canada. Of course, I acquired the magazine from my boyfriend who subscribes. I got my first hunting lesson from him last year. I just went with him see what it was about and got interested. Being a female hunter is different because not a lot of people expect a female to be into that kind of thing, especially because I don’t look like the kind of girl to go out and kill “a cute little deer.” I find that guys really dig that a girl hunts, especially my boyfriend, because it’s a great way to bond. Hunting is different for me because it’s a sport that I never thought I would take interest in, or if I could make a good kill shot. Hunting challenges you beyond what you think could be possible and gives you a new respect for all the animals in the wild. My first deer hunt went really well this year, and I was able to shoot a nice 5×5. I was proud of myself, and my boyfriend was really proud of me. I’m really looking forward to next year’s hunt and the years to come.
Renee LeBlue

Sherry Bombardo in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
I grew up exposed to hunting. My dad was an avid deer hunter and an enthusiastic bass fisherman. I grew up fishing, but never tried hunting until last year. I just completed my degree in Nurse Anesthesia. I had been spending a lot of time studying and practicing anesthesia. When deer season came around last year, I was longing to spend some time with my husband. I reluctantly agreed to put on some of his old hunting clothes and sit with him in his blind. I remember thinking, “Boy this is going to be fun, putting on these bulky clothes, boots that are too big, trample through the woods, and sit quietly in the freezing cold.” I almost changed my mind, but for some reason I decided to go. To my surprise, we had a 6-point come in. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. My husband got a nice buck, and we had a hunting memory to share. This year I wanted to take my own buck, and to make a long story short I did, with my husband’s muzzleloader. It was quite an accomplishment for me. I think some women are afraid to try hunting because they just don’t know enough about the sport. Or, they may be worried about what others may think of them. I have received mostly good comments, sure I have heard the anti-hunting, or how can I kill an animal bit. Not everyone agrees with hunting, but I am glad that I decided to give it a try.
Sherry Bombardo

Jamie Elliott in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
Let me tell you what it’s like to be a female hunter today. As a sophomore at Lake Superior State University, there couldn’t be a better time or place to be a hunter. Nestled in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it is one of the best colleges for outdoor recreations, such as hunting. I never really hunted much before going to college; only a few squirrel hunts here and there. Once I got to college, though, I realized it was inevitable, and that I would have to learn to hunt if I was planning on spending four years here. My father, being a little worried about me hunting knowing he had not taught me how, took me out on my first deer and turkey hunt during my freshman year of college. This year, I brought the gun to school and got a major kick out of walking across campus carrying a gun case. I had quite a few guys stop and tell me where I should go and what techniques I should use. I’d have to say it’s not very hard, especially in this area, to find people willing to take you hunting and teach you the ropes. It also helps when six out of eight of my female roommates are outdoor enthusiasts as well. We fish together, and we hunt together. One of my roommates and I took up duck hunting pretty seriously this year. For both of us, I’d say this was the major start of our hunting kick. The guys took us out, tried teaching us how to call, and taught us how to set up decoys. On our first hunt alone, we managed to miraculously call in two ducks off a flock of about seven only to find ourselves unable to raise our guns fast enough because we were laughing so hard because my dying duck call actually worked. Females hunting are not that different than males hunting. The only difference may be the looks we get! We go out to have a good time, get away from the real world, and enjoy the outdoors. It just so happens that it is not stereotypical for women to hunt. I can see a change taking place though, especially in the younger generations. People are becoming more aware of our changing gender roles and there are a few good men and women who are beginning to get females involved in hunting. We don’t know what we are fully missing until we try. I believe that many women would love hunting for many of the same reasons that men do, it’s just a matter of getting them out there. I only hope to someday see my own sons and daughters learning to hunt from not only my husband, but myself as well.
Thank you,
Jamie Elliott

Joyce Kiemle in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
I started hunting at age 8. My father bought me a .410, and I started out shooting squirrels. I went out frequently with my father, hunting pheasant, quail, deer, and elk over the years. To be a female hunter is awesome, you can always outshoot the guys. I’m looking forward to that personal shooting lesson from Dave.
Joyce Kiemle

Meadow Jean Kouffeld in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
My name is Meadow Jean Kouffeld, and I am a woman hunter. Soon I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation Biology from Humboldt State University. I am 23, but I have known for a long what I wanted to do. My father came to America from the Netherlands when he was my age so he could hunt. In Europe, only the rich have the opportunity. He has a great appreciation for this privilege and made sure that my sister and I grew up with that same appreciation. There has not been a deer season that I have not tagged a Columbian blacktail buck since I could legally hunt, and only few years where I have not tagged a black bear. I also hunt turkey, squirrel, valley quail, morning dove, pigs, and, within the past five years, I have taken on duck and goose hunting as well. Hunting has given me a solid advantage in my career as a wildlife biologist. My time here at Humboldt has not always been easy. The town is not exactly hunter-friendly, but there have been many times that I have had the chance to defend the benefits of hunting for the environment. It is generally a hard pill for people to swallow, but I pride myself in being able to make an educated argument with solid facts and examples. I guess that being able to defend my lifestyle has been one of the best things that I have brought away from my undergraduate career. People are always caught off guard with a “pretty” blonde defending hunting. One of the most amusing things that I experience as a woman hunter is the reactions I get from men. Whether they realize that a woman clutching a high-powered rifle has been watching them in the woods for the past hour, or see me hiking a giant decoy back out to a slough to hunt, they always seem shocked. I don’t know if they are threatened by my presence, or if they just don’t want to be out hunted by a female. I live my life in a sea of men, and respect is hard to win. I also enjoy bringing new people in to the field and introducing them to hunting, as well as new game for seasoned hunters. This season, my boyfriend decided to buy a bear tag. Coming from a non-bear hunting family, he had a great distaste for hunting with hounds. So, on a late-season deer hunt, I used my voice to call in three bears in a half hour, he tagged the medium-sized bear of the three. This event brought me great pride in knowing that, once again, I had introduced someone to a new game species in a very positive way. I am not the only serious woman hunter I know, and I have several female friends that hunt as hard, or harder, than me. So if you are looking for women hunters, we are here, and I guarantee that we aren’t all talk.
Meadow Jean Kouffeld

Renee Coffman in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
My name is Renee Coffman, and I am a first grade teacher in Huntingdon, Pa. I come from a suburban family setting in Columbus, Ohio. I never embarked upon the adventure of hunting, until this year when I picked up a bow. I fell in love after my first hunt! I watched my son and husband hunt for many years. I would have never imagined I’d be beside them. I had thought I’d done all I needed to make my life and goals complete. This was untrue. I began to feel unchallenged. I needed more, but I had no idea where or what it was. After trying a few things, I decided to purchase a bow this summer and begin a new adventure, archery. I shot every morning before work, after work, and every weekend until the season began. The hunt was on, and I was hooked. I was fascinated and overwhelmed by nature’s beauty. I wanted to track animals, watch their behaviors, and challenge my personal strength and condition. I saw many bucks, but all of them were too far away for me to shoot. I realized this sport was harder than I thought. I was not as successful during archery season as I wanted to be, but I traveled into a new world, which was unknown to me. I felt as if I had been missing one of the most powerful, beautiful, and challenging sports ever. On Thanksgiving morning, I expressed my desire to shoot a gun. My husband was shocked, but supportive. I used a .243 Remington I had bought my son when he was 11. I shot only three days before the hunt began. I was nervous, excited and, again, unsure of what to expect. On the second day of the season, a big buck came running out of the brush on the other side of the mountain. I was shaking, the adrenaline was moving through my veins and the moment had come. I located him, looked for an open space, shot, and he fell! I had just shot my first buck, a 6-point. My heart was racing as tears fell down my face. I was so excited and the challenge had just begun. I am hooked for life; hunting is an amazing sport that has so much more to offer than the “kill!” It fills a void in my life like no other sport ever has. Becoming a woman hunter is not easy where I am from. Huntingdon is very small and males dominate the sport. I really stirred up some testosterone when I decided to become a hunter. I received a lot of negative feedback, however my husband and son were supportive. Many men feel the woods are not a positive setting for women, and that I was stepping on their “guy time.” Well, I needed a challenge in my life and hunting fills that void. As a woman, hunting is not all about the kill; it is not trying to prove something. For me it is utter silence, inner peace, and the serious rush you get when anticipating the animal’s movements and habits. Hunting is a time without cell phones, parents, public gossip, and all other distractions. This is an unpredictable sport. Chasing the silhouette of the “big one” you saw in archery season 50-yards away becomes your quest. This quest invites determination and stamina to go places unknown to others who have not ventured out into this world. After the first archery season had ended, I began to earn the respect from many of my fellow hunters who doubted my ability and commitment. I was not looking for their approval, however it does feel good to be a part of the “gang!” I am the only woman in our hunting group, however my 13-year-old daughter is showing some interest in becoming a part of the new breed of women hunters. The quest never ends and the love for the sport only grows.
Answering to All Women,
Renee Coffman

Mary Workman in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
I have been hunting for about 11 years. Hunting means so much to me and does so much for me. It’s a wonderful hobby that I look forward to it all year long. But being a woman hunter does have its challenges. The looks, the comments, the raised eyebrows must all be overlooked. People seem to not want to believe that I know what I’m talking about, so I try to resort to keeping quiet and producing something for my efforts. Men make hunting thing so competitive, but I am just enjoying nature and anything it sends to me. I seem to be the one in our hunting group of men willing to try new things. If it makes sense to me, I try it, and have had pretty good success. The hunting scene is different for me in a lot of ways. I generally see more deer in the field than my male hunting buddies, which makes them mad. I stay attuned to certain aspects of scent that the men say they respect, but blatantly overlook, and they will not listen if I suggest a scent remedy. I also use my calls and rattling sac differently than they do. I seem to try to feel the part, and they try to act the part. Also, the tree stands can sometimes be a problem. I am 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and my hunting partners are all at least 6 feet tall. So, those steps can sometimes be a challenge. Over the years, they have been adapting things. Being a female hunter gives me great pride. Most women that find out I hunt say they could never do that. They say they couldn’t even go in the woods alone in the dark, let alone shoot something. But nothing feels better than overcoming obstacles and fears, or making a good shot. I got started hunting because of the man I started dating over 11 years ago. We are both animal lovers, and his passion for the sport got me interested. He was more than willing to take me hunting and taught me everything he could. Once I shot my first deer, he proposed to me. That’s the hunting buddies version of the story anyway. I have been so fortunate to have such good friends and a husband who believes in me. Hunting teaches and demands many things. It is a wonderful privilege and a treasured right. Hope you enjoy the photo of this year’s buck. It is the biggest one I have shot, and he was taken on opening day this year.
Take care and have a great day,
Mary Workman

Lorinda Moll in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream,
When my husband and I got married September 1989, I quickly found out that deer season started in October. He bought me a compound bow, put one sight pin on it, and taught me to shoot. On our first trip out, I was excited, but had no idea what I was doing. That afternoon, he was showing me some tree stands and explaining how the whole deer-hunting thing worked when we saw a porcupine. Until then, I don’t know if I even thought such an animal existed. My husband made me believe that it could shoot needles out its back at any time, which had me wanting to run back to the cabin. We walked to my stand, and my husband gave me a few pointers. He handed me a radio and said he would only be a 15-minute walk away if I needed anything. About an hour went by (which seemed like a week), and I caught some movement coming down the trail we walked in on–it was the porcupine! My heart started beating, and all I could think of was this thing unloading his armor of quills at me. He walked a complete circle around the base of my tree, and I knew he was trying to find me. As I was fumbling to get to my radio, he slowly started climbing up my tree. My husband could hardly understand me on the radio because I was in tears. He tried to tell me that he was just kidding around earlier, but I knew he was only trying to calm me down. I told him to get to my tree as fast as he could. The porcupine was about 3 feet up the tree, and I used all but one arrow trying to stop him from climbing, but he made it another 3 feet up the tree. I radioed my husband again and told him he better move quicker. I remember thinking, “What the hell am I doing out here.” Up to that point I have never had any interest in hunting. Just then I looked up and saw a deer coming in from my left. I radioed my husband and told him to stop! I focused on the deer trying to replay everything my husband had been telling me to do. The deer stepped out; I put my pin behind the shoulder, and let her fly. I hit the deer below the back. The deer ran 50 yards and rolled. I was never so excited in my life. My husband heard me scream and came running only to find me doing a victory dance in the stand. He ended up shooting the porcupine out of the tree, and I was hooked on hunting forever. That was 18 years ago, we now have six kids, own 120 acres, and all we eat is venison. I consider myself a pretty good hunter now, and I’m no longer am scared of porcupines. I talk with a lot of the “hot lunch” moms that can’t believe I hunt, and I try and explain to them that once you experience it, you will love it, and if you take proper care of your kill, there is no better meat. Most of them don’t understand, and a lot of them think hunting is terrible. I constantly argue that it is the best thing our family does as a group, and we look forward to it every year. I would highly recommend that every woman out there at least try some sort of hunting, or you could be cheating yourself out of one of life’s greatest thrills.
Lorinda Moll

Melissa Snarr in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Hello Field & Stream,
My husband, children, and I love to hunt–especially for mule deer. In 2005, after hunting for three years, I finally took my first buck, and he was a beauty. Not only did it make a record with Boone and Crockett, but I was also four months pregnant with my third child. I shot him in Arboles, Colorado, on opening day at sunrise. I had morning sickness and really did not want to be there, then, here he came. I dropped him from about 75 yards away with a .270 Winchester. The picture I am sending you is of my son, Mason, who was 4 at the time, and me. My husband says it’s every hunter’s dream to have a family who loves to hunt with him. Sincerely,
Melissa Snarr

Margie Plagens in the Women and Hunting Photo Gallery

Dear Field & Stream, Yes, I am a woman, and yes, I am a hunter, but I don’t generally think of myself as a “woman hunter.” When I go to the field, I know why I am there and my responsibilities to myself and to the game that I am hunting. I have been hunting for close to 30 years and field dress, butcher, and package any game I take. I truly am dedicated to being a responsible hunter. When I met my husband over 30 years ago, I quickly learned that if I was going to spend the rest of my life with this man, I was going to have to learn about this “hunting thing.” Dave, my husband, was a devout archery hunter, and spent every weekend from October to January hunting. At this time, I had never even touched a gun, let alone tried to shoot one. That soon changed, and Dave had me hunting squirrels and quail. He then encouraged me to go with him while he bowhunted. I loved being out in the quiet of the woods and remember well seeing my first whitetail under my stand. As soon as I took up archery, I was hooked on shooting my bow. However, I had no idea of the new challenges that I would have to face in being accepted among “the bowhunters.” Dave explained to me that bowhunters are an elite group of guys, and if I wanted to be a part of that, I would have to be better then they were. I would have to shoot better, see better, climb better, and get deer in closer. Most important, I had to have nerves of steel, so when a deer looks at you with those big brown eyes, you know what you are there for, and what you need to do. That is when I ceased to be a “woman hunter” and became a full-fledged “bowhunter.” I have had many, many years of successful hunting and hope for many more. I now feel totally comfortable in the company of fellow hunters, but still get a chuckle when a new hunter comes up to us and realizes I am a woman. Sincerely,
Margie Plagens