Women Who Hunt, Part II: 41 More True Stories From Field & Stream’s Female Readers

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Dear Field & Stream, Being a woman hunter today is just that: you’re a hunter. There are no restrictions. You should know safety with firearms and especially the ones you are using -” know them well and have the correct ammunition. Have knowledge of the game you’re hunting, regulations in the areas you’re going to hunt, and all the licenses you need to hunt. And remember your manners -” hunters should know common courtesy and have manners. How did I get started? I went fishing and hunting with my family -” well, not so much with my mother, but with my dad and seven brothers. It’s getting outdoors with family and/or friends that’s very rewarding, not only to be out in the woods and along the streams but to bring home some trophy steak -” fish, game, or foul! Sincerely,
Jan Johnson

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Hi Field & Stream, I am a female hunter from Bay City, Michigan. I think there are many benefits to being a female hunter today. More companies are realizing that women are joining the sport and have adapted by including clothing lines and equipment for women. Personally I don’t think there is any advantage to being a male hunter versus a female hunter with all the new technologies. Hunting is different for me than most females because it’s not a family member who got me involved. My mom is very against hunting; she supports me, but hates the sport. My father never hunted while growing up. It’s hard for me living at home with two people who don’t really care for the sport because I can’t talk about my weekend or my successes. I got started hunting because my boyfriend is an avid hunter. He breathes, eats and sleeps hunting. I thought that I would give it a shot. At first he took me out with him and I would videotape or just watch. But then I went out and bought my first bow and practiced with it all summer long. It didn’t take long before my first bow kill, only my second time out hunting! I then bought a shotgun and went out during gun season. Just last year, my boyfriend bought me a top-of-the-line bow that I absolutely love and it took my passion for the sport to extremes. I was out hunting just as much as he was this year. Sincerely yours,
Amy Claybaugh

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Dear Field & Stream, I got into hunting in my late 30s. It all started at a “women in the outdoors” event my dad told me about. I had never touched a shotgun or a bow or a muzzleloader. That day six years ago, I tried all three and was a natural at all of them. By the fall of that year I owned one of each. So I started to hunt, usually alone, and have never looked back. I also got into shooting skeet and am now addicted. I realized how hunting and shooting changed my life and I wanted to make a difference in someone else’s. So I became a volunteer at the same event I started at and helped out there for five years. I am now the co-chairman of a group of women hunters called Camo and Lace. We all volunteer our time to teach women’s-only hunter education and we also have our women’s-only expo day. We also do a women’s-only bow hunt weekend, shooting day, and skeet league, just to mention a few. By the way, my husband neither hunts nor shoots. I field dress my own game as well as butcher it. In fact, my husband won’t touch it until it’s cooked. I have a hard time convincing him I need a new gun. I applaud all the women who have tried the hunting and shooting sports and hope that they, like me, realize it’s not just for men anymore. Let’s put the Mother back into Nature. Sincerely,
Kelly Sheffer

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Dear Field & Stream, Before my husband and I married, I had only hunted one time (for squirrel) and hated it. My husband has always been an avid deer hunter, so I knew I’d be left at home a lot during deer season. Becoming a “hunting widow” didn’t appeal to me, so he bought a compound bow for my birthday and I started bow hunting. Then for rifle season, he bought a .243 Remington 700 for me and I harvested my first buck. To say I was hooked is an understatement. Now I hunt every chance I get. To be a female hunter is to be an odd specimen. You tell someone you hunt and they give you a funny look and just say, “Really? Huh.” When my husband says he hunts, they take him seriously and ask things like, “Kill any good ones this year?” I guess that’s what makes it different for me -” kind of being dismissed or excluded from the group, in a way. Men may not mean to be like that; it’s just that hunting is usually a “guys only” thing. Like I said, I’m the only serious female hunter that I know of, and I’m not being exclusionary in that statement. The guys in our hunt club all have hunting buddies, even my husband. We only hunt together maybe once a year, if that. The rest of the time it’s just Mother Nature and me. It’s not that I’m a bad hunter -” I usually kill two gobblers in the spring and harvest at least two deer in the fall. It’s just that the guys stick together. What I wouldn’t give for a serious female hunting partner. And by the way, all but one of the fishing and hunting magazines we get (around five or six) come in my name. I read them first, and then everyone else can have them. Hunting is my number one thing to do! Sincerely,
Alicia Love

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Dear Field & Stream, Today I’m finding it easier to be a woman hunter and find that there is much more support for women hunters. Stereotypes die hard, but today I rarely find a man that thinks women afield are “wannabes” or are somehow infringing on their deer camp rights. More women understand that hunting is not about “the guys” hanging out, drinking beer, and shooting everything that moves. When I mention I’m a hunter to a man, most likely he will respond with serious interest. For some, it’s still a novelty, and more often than not, many of the guys I talk to wish their girlfriend or spouse would get into hunting. When I talk to women about it, some are hesitant, but some are interested and have no idea where to go to learn how to hunt. I’ve also learned as a woman hunter, there is no way I would ever date a man that didn’t hunt. Luckily I’m with one that not only hunts, but also is willing to teach me more. Sincerely,
Jennifer Stark

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Dear Field & Stream, Hi, I am Kami Smith of Helena, Montana, and I am 12 years old. To be a female hunter today is amazing! I love to hunt and had an amazing hunting season for my first year of hunting. This year I have gotten four animals -” an antelope, a cow elk, a whitetail buck, and a mule deer doe. My dad got me started hunting and now all I can think about is what animal I want to go after next. I really like to hike and be in the outdoors. Hunting is no different to me than if I was a boy hunter. I enjoy talking to the boys in my class about hunting and about what all they have shot. To me, hunting is a great experience that I will keep on doing forever. Sincerely,
Kami Smith

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Dear Field & Stream, I consider being a female hunter a great honor. I hunt with my husband, stepson and several male friends. I fit in with all of these men because I have been taught well, make sound shots and have been successful at harvesting animals. Some people are amazed that I hunt. Hunting is different for me because it gives me time to be in the woods by myself, and allows me to be calm and quiet and at peace, unless an animal comes in. Then I am full of adrenaline and ready to make a shot. I started hunting right after my sister was diagnosed with cancer and while I was working 65-plus hours a week in the technology field. Needless to say this time in my life was almost unbearable and by far the most difficult. My husband Lonnie was worried about me because I was so fatigued and stressed, so he asked me to go hunting with him. He also wanted to spend some time with me because, between the endless demands at work and my sister’s treatment, we had no time for each other. I am so thankful my husband asked me to go hunting with him. It has brought us closer together and has also helped me deal with the loss of my sister. It has also taught me that spending quality time with family is much more important than working yourself so much that life passes you by. Sincerely,
Meegan Turnbeaugh

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Dear Field & Stream, My husband and I hunt in four different states and look for whitetail sheds in even more. My husband has opened my eyes to hunting details. He taught me to be scent-free, how to hunt the wind, and how to shed hunt. Shed hunting is one of our favorite past times. Since I met my husband, my big-game harvest numbers have gone way up. I am thankful for him. My husband and I believe that a person, whether male or female, is born with a hunting instinct and, in us, it is strong. Hunting is, no doubt, a male-dominated sport. I am usually the only woman on the deer drives, but in the last few years other women have joined in the fun. Now we have two or three. Sometimes, being a woman in the outdoors is an adventure. Walking for miles up and down mountains in Pennsylvania with layers of clothes and equipment can sometimes be physically challenging, but it’s a great way to keep in shape. It’s invigorating. I would like to let everyone know that I love my life as a hunter. It has brought so much satisfaction. I encourage everyone to take a child hunting. Don’t hesitate if she is a girl. Who knows? You may release an instinct in her that she’ll be thankful for forever. Sincerely,
Jennifer Bilott

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Dear Field & Stream, I write this letter in the hopes that your focus on women hunters will inspire more than a few women, young and old alike, to take up hunting as a sport. I know it has changed my life in a way I can’t really put into words. Though I had an interest, my father never asked if I might want to learn how to deer hunt. He was 43 when my brother and I were born, and he was a little old-fashioned. Girls didn’t hunt. Many years later when I asked my future husband’s friend whether he thought my future husband would let me hunt with him, I was elated when the answer was of course he would. That was seven years ago. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to hunt with my husband. It has brought us very close as a couple. He is even more excited when I take a deer than he is when he does. All of our deer are personal trophies, no matter whether it is a doe or a buck, and we are contributing to the feeding of our family, which includes our three-year-old son. I even hunted when I was pregnant with him! Got a doe. Slipped and slid through a lot of mud feeling like a basketball! Is hunting any different for me? No, I still feel the excitement just like any hunter. I practice just as hard as any good hunter would and I still stare with admiration at the big bucks. The only thing that is harder is peeing out in the woods, particularly on an icy cold, blustery day. Sincerely,
Karin Peters

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Dear Field & Stream, I grew up in a family that did not hunt. Perhaps my great-uncles did at one point, but the people closest to me lived by the mantra, “Why hunt when we can just go to the store?” I watched Bambi as a child, and lived by the clich¿¿ that I would “never eat Bambi.” I had a friend in high school that made venison stew and I bravely stuck to my guns in refusing to eat it. I met the man who would later become my husband while in college. He was raised on an 80-acre horse farm and had hunted since he was 12. His parents prepared all of the game they hunted and really seemed to enjoy it. I felt no qualms in proclaiming my adversity to eating venison. One day when I complimented my future mother-in-law for the tasty spaghetti and meat sauce she had served, she felt no qualms in letting me know the delicious meal was prepared with venison. Was I ever upset! I had broken my promise to myself to never eat such a sweet creature. My husband-to-be looked at me and said, “What’s the big deal? Would you rather see them dead on the side of the road and their bodies wasted? Really, hunting is a much more humane way for them to die and it’s not like we do it just for the trophy.” I grew to understand the concept over the years. I encouraged my husband to hunt with his father and was proud of him for his successes. I started to learn to cook venison properly, thanks to my patient mother-in-law and her recipes. I even started to enjoy eating it. Never having hunted before, I decided two weeks before the start of rifle season that I wanted to shoot my own buck. On the last day of the season, I saw a 7-point buck among several doe in the field behind my in-laws’ property. Using my husband’s rifle, I shot the buck from approximately 75 yards away and was successful. We are enjoying the venison and anxiously awaiting the taxidermist for the mount. I cannot wait to go hunting with my husband again! I find my heart beating faster every time I think of making that shot. I feel glad that I took the advice from my wise father-in-law and husband -” to use a good rifle with a scope and “do it right.” I can’t wait for more hunting adventures and I dream of the day my husband and I go out west for an adventure together. How does it feel to be a female hunter? It feels like one more reason to be happy with the life my husband and I chose for each other. It feels right. Sincerely,
Megan Snyder

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Dear Field & Stream, I’m a special education secretary in a local public school. I started hunting so I could spend more time with my husband, Tom. When we were married last April, I knew that in order for our marriage to work we had to do things together, and Tom just loves to hunt. My first opportunity to hunt came in the early muzzleloader season, using the new in-line Tom had bought for me. We sat together in a hedgerow looking out into a harvested cornfield. It was great sitting there quietly, just waiting for a deer to appear. But with only five minutes of legal shooting light left, things looked bleak. Then Tom slowly stood up and looked down the edge of the field, where we couldn’t see while sitting. He whispered, “Dawn, stand up slowly. You may get a shot.” So I stood, looked through the dusk, and there she was -” a nice big doe. I hadn’t practiced many standing offhand shots, it was almost dark and it was a pretty long shot, so when I squeezed the trigger it wasn’t surprising that the deer ran off. “I missed!” I exclaimed. We gathered up our gear and were walking to where the deer had stood, when Tom remarked, “That looks like the white belly of a dead deer!” “No way,” I said. “It’s just a piece of paper.” But as we got closer I saw it really was a deer -” my deer! It turned out to be a perfect shot, right in the heart and the deer only ran about 40 yards before dying. I was so excited, jumping up and down and exchanging high fives with Tom. What a fantastic ending to a first hunt! Some of my friends and family members were skeptical at first about the idea of me hunting, but after hearing my stories and seeing pictures of me in the field, most of them now accept me as a hunter. Being a woman hunter is not always easy; sometimes other male hunters don’t take me seriously, but I’m doing my best to prove that I belong in their ranks. Hunting has made me feel good about myself -” proud of myself. And my husband is proud of me, too! Our time spent together in the woods is special for both of us. Now I’m taking up bow hunting, so we can share more of these “special moments.” Sincerely,
Dawn Schulten

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Dear Field & Stream, You nailed me. I’m one of those women that steal my husband’s Field & Stream off the nightstand. I’ve learned a lot from your articles. I’ve been hunting and fishing with my husband for 26 years. My favorite gun is a Rossi .50 caliber with a Leupold scope. I love still hunting from a stand. My husband, Eric, and I maintain 12 stands on 120 acres. We have been members of the Virginia Deer Hunter’s Association for 10 years. It is a fantastic organization that promotes hunters’ rights and provides education for hunters. The biggest challenge I face as a woman hunter in the field is having to urinate without blowing the hunt. You don’t even want to try mastering buck fever and a hot flash at the same time. Whew. Hunting is not just about killing the big one or even being with my husband and having a hobby we both enjoy. Hunting is almost a spiritual experience for me. When I’m in the woods, I spend time talking to God. If things are slow, I read my Bible. Even if I don’t see any game, I leave the woods refreshed and in touch with what matters: God and His creation. Sincerely,
Rosalie Coultrip

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Dear Field & Stream, I am one of the many female hunters who were introduced to hunting by their husbands. It all started when he brought home a German Wirehair pointer that needed a home. He then encouraged me to go along with him to see her hunt. Never in my life had I seen a dog in such heaven doing what she knew best. The stamina and natural instinct amazed me. My husband then encouraged me to carry a gun and take a few shots. It was then that I decided I had better start practicing if I wanted to do this, so I took up trap shooting. Not long after that, my husband bought me my very first deer rifle. That introduced me to deer hunting, which became a very common interest for us. I now have my own German Wirehair to hunt by my side. Having such a wonderful hunting partner to hunt with makes hunting that much more rewarding. We have had many successful hunts with wonderful friends. In the fall of 2006, I had a chance to sneak out to a stand that is about a half mile from our home after deer season had opened. I loved the solitude and being away from the hustle, to be able to listen and just relax. I had been enjoying a warm, beautiful, fall night when I saw a buck about 35 yards away standing behind some trees. I thought my heart stopped, but it was beating so hard I hoped he couldn’t hear it. I waited patiently for him to step into an opening but he decided to walk further away. I felt blessed just to see a trophy like him before me. He was now 50 yards away and I could still see him. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try something, so I started bleating like a doe. After about 10 bleats, his curiosity got the best of him and he started back toward me. It was exactly like I had practiced and learned, except this time it was real. I had never shot a deer before, so I was really concentrating. He came within 25 yards and the rest was history. A little bit of luck, a little bit of knowledge, and a whole lot of praying paid off for the trophy of my dreams. I had never felt such a sense of accomplishment, happiness, and excitement all at once. Calling my husband and telling him I shot the buck was one of the proudest moments I have ever had. Sincerely,
Mary Swanson

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Dear Field & Stream, I married in 1982 and my husband was an avid outdoorsman. We hunted deer and squirrels and birds. For years, the men had been gathering at “buck camp” over near the Rubicon River at an old place their uncle ran cattle. I was actually invited and enjoyed the harvest of my first buck and the first in camp that season. Needless to say I was accepted with open arms. We now live in western Montana where the boundless opportunities are out our back door. Not a day goes by where the past lessons don’t fill my heart with extreme appreciation and wonder of the wilderness. From bucks to ducks and elk to pheasants, I have been blessed with the health and willingness to continue this sport of hunt and harvest. To be an outdoorswoman in this day and age, I believe, is a most blessed gift. One day in your camo and woolies with your favorite gun slung over your shoulder, the next day in a business suit sitting at a computer at the office wishing you were in the field. I have a passion to teach, uncover and help other gals enjoy the wonder, survival and accomplishments of the wilderness. Being a female hunter is something I am very proud of. I feel that we are environmentalists in a positive way -” we take care of it and it takes care of us. My wish for women in general is to at least try the experience, study like you are in school and take away from it something you will hold dear forever, as I have. Sincerely,
Sheila Veerkamp

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Dear Field & Stream, I am 21 years old, but I began hunting when I was 12. My dad and two older brothers, as well as my mother, always included me in their hunts as long as I can remember. They would always come home and I would be the first one to run out on the porch to greet them to see what they got. I’ve been hunting by myself for the past five years or so. Two years ago, my brothers and dad were pretty far from where I was hunting, so my dad told me that if I were to shoot a buck then I would have to go down and cut him open to release the air and let him lay there until it was dark for them to come and get him. We live in the middle of 60 acres, so of course I hunt near our property. About 50 yards from my tree stand is the top of a ravine. Of course I shot my buck at the top of the ravine and it decided to run to the bottom to die. I didn’t feel safe leaving him there, so I went down to cut him open and I decided to drag him to the top of the mountain. I’m a pretty strong girl, but the deer was about 200 pounds. I ended up getting him to the top of the ravine, which only took about 45 minutes! The catch of the story is that the next day, I had a formal at Penn State University and I was wearing a pretty nice gown. On my right shoulder, from the rope that I used to drag the deer, was a huge rope burn. And sure enough, you could see it when I was wearing my gown. Needless to say, I was the talk of the party after everyone found out I got the burn from dragging a deer to the top of a mountain. I have a feeling that story will be with me forever. I am a country girl who loves to hunt and fish, but also dress up and go out! I know that a lot of people look down on women in hunting, but I have always been proud to be a woman hunter. I feel that women hunters are becoming more of a common thing and I think it’s a great way to spend time. I would recommend that more people, especially women, get into hunting. If you were trained correctly, then hunting can be so much more than a sport, and it doesn’t have to be dangerous. It’s a great way to spend time with family and a great way to stay connected to them. It has done wonders for my family, and I will continue this awesome tradition with my own family someday! Sincerely,
Ashley Petrof

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Dear Field & Stream, I’m always looking for articles related to, or that acknowledge women hunters and I applaud magazines that recognize us. I realize that as a woman I am probably not your target audience, but myself and many women like me are loyal fans whose husbands have to steal the magazines off our nightstands. I cannot pinpoint the start of my love and devotion to hunting because hunting has just always been a part of my life. I can honestly say I do not remember a single year in my life that isn’t filled with fantastic hunting memories. In fact, opening day of hunting season was a bigger event to me than opening presents on Christmas morning. I was lucky enough to be raised in the beautiful state of Montana. This allowed me have exposure to hunting and the outdoors right from birth. My father is a devoted hunter, and I grew up living and breathing hunting. In the town where I was raised, some of the juiciest gossip to be heard on the street was where someone saw a big buck or a huge herd of elk. I think as a female hunter you face more challenges than any of our male counterparts. As a woman hunter today, you have try twice as hard, hunt twice as long, shoot twice as accurate, and be twice as dedicated as any male hunter just to be taken seriously and treated equally. I have never understood why as women we are not accepted as equals when it comes to hunting since the only part we can’t do as easily or better than men is answering the call of nature while in the woods. I encourage women to pursue their love of hunting, and to those women who haven’t tried it or turn their noses up at it, I challenge you to try it at least once. Because once you try it and realize that it isn’t just about killing, but is really about the experience and the challenge you may actually find out that you actually enjoy it or, like me, love it. Sincerely,
Angie Haas

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Dear Field & Stream, It tends to be a man’s world in the hunting realm. Therefore, being a female hunter gives me a sense of pride knowing I can accomplish the same end result as a man -” being able to shoot any caliber of rifle or any gauge of shotgun, being able to make my mark, and being able take home my kill. But what makes me most proud is setting an example for my 12- and 7-year-old daughters. I’d like for them to know that if Mom can do it, then so can they. They both go to the shooting range where my husband has taught my older daughter that she can shoot any caliber of rifle -” accurately. As a matter of fact, she shot her first deer when she was 10 years old and that was a buck. In dealing with the everyday big town hustle and bustle, a need, not only to go hunting but also to get away, is always knocking at my door. We’ll head west to our property in the beautiful Texas hill country. It’s breathtaking to step to the decline of the enormous draw where arrowheads have been found and the thundering of axis deer herds can occasionally be heard. Or to stand on the edge of a bluff overlooking the field below, the river just past it, the rising hill beyond that and the buzzards gliding in the updrafts of the quiet wind on a cloudless day. Or better yet, sitting alone in a deer blind on a cold morning, watching the sunrise over the hills and waiting for the right moment when you see the deer you’ve targeted, feeling the adrenaline running through you as you squeeze the trigger. Yes, I enjoy deer hunting, but I have taken quite a liking to bird hunting as well -” dove, duck, pheasant, and turkey. Now, like male hunters, I still get my fair share, of “You kill Bambi?” or “Why did you have to kill that poor thing?” to which my responses respectively are, “I only kill Bambi’s mom or dad” and “Because it got in my line of fire” or “Because it tastes good and looks good in my living room.” Fact is, I’m still a woman and very much enjoy and take pride in being a woman. And, as I’ve told family and friends, “Just because I enjoy male-dominated activities doesn’t mean I have to look like a man.” Sincerely,
Belinda Martinez

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Dear Field & Stream, My outdoors experience began quite by accident. I was born in 1942 to a hunting and fishing family who never even offered to take the women. In 1974, I met Bill, a handsome outdoorsman, who offered to take me along on a weekend deer trip. Having never tent-camped or hunted, I immediately accepted. Our relationship was forged with the bond of learning to become and thoroughly enjoying the outdoor experience. We’ve hunted in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming. We’ve never taken a non-hunting or fishing vacation. My adventures include all three deer species, blacktail, whitetail and mulies. It’s been my good fortune to have harvested all three with very little damage to the front of the truck. Did get a cow elk a few years back and managed two wild hogs last year. Thanks for listening, “guys.” There’s no other life for me other than the great outdoors. No trip to Hawaii or the Bahamas to rest up could hold a candle to the 31 years I’ve trudged in the woods, beat my body to death, been so exhausted that Bill had to cook, helped drag deer or pigs out of a canyon or just sat on a hillside as the sun rose, shadows shifted and dawn enveloped my being. That is pure magic, and even when you don’t hear a gobbling Tom at first light, there’s no better place to be. Sincerely,
Gerry Madrid

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Dear Field & Steam, I am a 23-year-old hunting and fishing enthusiast from Northern Minnesota and fortunate to be a part of a rich heritage and long history of experiences and tales, many too humorous to be possible to live again. I have two much older brothers, 14 and 11 years between us, and being the “baby sister” meant growing up tough. I was the girl who was hunting in the fall and shooting clay pigeons on a Saturday afternoon when my girlfriends were at cheerleading practice. When the aunts and grandmas in the family were getting their Christmas shopping done during the November weekends, I was in the woods, putting my time in pursuit of the monster buck. As high school drew to an end, I was voted “Most Likely to Be Found Outdoors” by my graduating class. At every opportunity, my ideal summer day consists of hitting the lake to land some nice walleyes for an even nicer dinner. There are many things I’ve been blessed with in life, but the chance to hunt and fish as freely as I do, in the company I keep with two brothers, a cousin and some very special friends, is something I’m profoundly grateful for. Although college and schoolwork has been my main focus for a few years now, I still get out quite a bit and even have taken the homework into the deer stand. Dedicated student or obsessed huntress? A little bit of both, I think. Sincerely,
Sarah Holmbeck

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Dear Field & Stream, November 2005 found me standing in the Central Michigan woods holding a gun and watching an open field for whitetail deer. For most of your readers this may seem rather ordinary. You would have to know that I was a 45-year-old widow on my first deer hunt to know how out of the ordinary this was. I grew up in Michigan, so I was not totally oblivious to hunting. But my first husband was not a hunter, so I never hunted either. Sailing, cross country skiing and photography were our pastimes. After my husband passed away, I didn’t have the time or energy to pursue even those hobbies. Hunting was the furthest thing from my mind. Then I met Mike “Mac” MacEachron, who has been a hunting guide and outfitter for 28 years. He guides turkey and deer hunters in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and bear and deer hunters in the Upper Peninsula. He also offers fishing trips, Colorado elk hunts and exotic hunts. Getting to know and love Mac has been an adventure for me. My world as I knew it was about to change. I was living a relatively calm existence as a college professor and then Mac entered my life. By the end of that November day, I had harvested a nice-sized spike and officially became a member of the hunting family. In between the spring and fall turkey hunts, Mac asked me to marry him and I said yes. Mac thought it would be neat for me to shot a boar to roast for our July 2006 wedding reception. I had a great time shooting a 260-pound Russian boar. One shot and down. Not too many brides can say that they shot the pig for their wedding reception! So far I have not felt out of place being a woman in what many feel is a “traditionally male world.” Mac’s clients have all been supportive of me and never make me feel out of place at camp. They also don’t offer to carry my gun or help me out because I am a woman, which I appreciate. Mac always makes me feel like I can do whatever I set my mind to. Sincerely,
Sheila MacEachron

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Dear Field & Stream, I am writing in response to your request in the “Calling All Women” article. I am 48 years old and have been hunting with my dad since I was a child. I live in central Illinois and we have some property along the Spoon River. We had English setters and beagles and I grew up hunting quail and rabbits. When I got a little older, I started squirrel hunting. That was my favorite until I took up deer hunting about 10 years ago. I had done some deer hunting while in high school, but really did not like it. After I got older, I got this urge to go deer hunting again. I went with my dad and uncle and got a little button buck the first time out. It was so exciting and I just wanted to get more and more. You wanted to know what it’s like to be a female hunter. I like all the attention I get. People, mostly men, are amazed when I tell them I hunt. They think it’s great. I have some friends whose husbands hunt and I love hearing and telling hunting stories with them. It’s especially fun when I get bigger deer than them. I’m not sure how hunting is different because I’m a woman. I have found that the men I hunt with take care of me. I think it’s just natural that men feel the need to help women with manual labor tasks like field dressing. My dad taught me to field dress and I can field dress my own deer, but the only time I have actually done this by myself was in 2003. I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually do it. All the other times, it’s great to act like a girl and let the manly men do the dirty work. Sincerely,
Julie Lillie

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Dear Field & Stream, I suppose there are a lot of reasons why some females hunt, but for me I just love the outdoors and hunting has been a part of that for my entire life. I also think some of it is just the way you’re made. As a little girl, if I was given the choice of a cap gun or a doll it was a no-brainer. I could never see what was fun about dressing a doll, but if I could get outside where I could climb a tree or make a fort or play a ball game, I was happy. There were those years when being a female did keep me from hunting. I was having and caring for babies and small children, but when our first son turned 12, it was just “in his genes.” As soon as my youngest was old enough to stay home on her own, I was back in the woods with my family. We didn’t have private land or money for paid hunts, but we have a garage full of antlers and lots of wonderful memories to go with them. Now that the kids are all moved away, I go hunting with my husband just as often as we can. We hunt in the morning, have a picnic lunch that I’ve packed, take a nap in the pickup, and go back to the woods for the evening hunt. Eat out on the way home. It’s a great date! We hope to go on a hunt where we can shoot a trophy deer and/or elk, but he teaches public school and it’s hard to find a good hunt during Christmas vacation. There are a few disadvantages to being a female hunter, not the least of which is sitting in a tree stand for five hours, but I’ve had lots of practice. Another is we just aren’t as physically strong as the men, so we aren’t the best help when it comes to pulling a deer out of the woods or getting a tough hide off. It’s also hard to get the best hunting clothes in our sizes sometimes. I get some strange looks when I’m out in my camo, but I love it. I work a job five days a week where I have to wear nylons and a skirt! Sincerely,
Cheryl Rude

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, My name is Kim (Kimmer) Wallis from Cadillac, Michigan. I have been hunting for 15 years and started because of my dedicated, diehard, fanatical husband. Hunting gives me peace and quiet, time without all the high pace pressures of life. Women today have many more opportunities than in years past. Men are starting to accept our presence in the field, whether it be bird, small game, deer, elk, or bear hunting. I could go on and on. I also believe we project a positive public image. Many men hunters don’t take women seriously and feel we don’t have the ability to accurately perform the same. In many cases, women are excellent shooters and we up hold the heritage of hunting. In conclusion, I am always willing to master the way of shooting with precision from the experts. Thank you,
Kimmer Wallis

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I love the outdoors and basically any kind of hunting, although my favorite is bow hunting for whitetail deer. I cannot recall at what age I began hunting, but I know it was very young. I can remember being so young, in fact, that my dad used to climb into the tree stand and hoist me up with a rope secured to my waist. He would put me inside his coat -” an old green army coat with a zip-out liner that was so thick you could use it as a sleeping bag! I guess you can say I have always loved the sport, no matter the prey, for as long as I can remember. Although I have never hunted anywhere other than Mississippi, I have always wanted to. My husband and I recently drove out to Montana on business and the abundance of wildlife overwhelmed me. I now have a hunger to go back and hunt anything, but mainly elk. I can’t imagine a more awesome feeling than to be sitting in the woods listening to this massive beast bugle. I get chills just thinking about it! One day, I shall go back and kill me one of those big elk. The only thing that truly amazes me about being a female hunter is that we are so few and far between. If more women knew how peaceful and calming the outdoors were, maybe there would be more female hunters. It relaxes me, not to mention the thrill it gives me to take down a wild animal, just like the Indians used to do it. It doesn’t get much better! Sincerely,
Mary Robinson

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, All my life, I’ve been a tomboy and outdoor enthusiast. I’ve mostly done a lot of fishing and went hunting on occasion, but actually never hunted alone. The past five years I have been hunting in November for deer in the great Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I love it. Today being a female hunter is different. It is usually looked upon as a man’s sport, but things are changing and we are out there and loving it. I watched a local television program and there were these two women in their mid-80s that had hunted all their lives and, to this day, still hunt, and I was amazed. Back then, you would never see women at hunting camp with the men, and now today there are just as many women as men out hunting and fishing. My final note is to say to all women -” go out and enjoy the great outdoors. I love it and will continue until I am 80 with the hunting, fishing, and so forth. Thank you for the excellent magazine. I really enjoy it. Sincerely,
Barb Montgomery

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, Growing up in a family full of sportsmen, you would think I would have at least shot a gun. However, before my mom practically forced my to take the hunters’ safety course, I wasn’t really allowed to hold a gun, let alone shoot at something. If I didn’t go with my little brother to take the course, my mother wasn’t going to let me go to the movies with my friends. Mind you, this was at the age of 13 when weekends and movies were much more important to me than shooting at helpless animals from trees. Since I am a woman and I enjoy hunting, I seem to attract a lot of attention. Some of the attention is positive. One of my favorites is how guys think it’s “hot” that I hunt. I always seem to get a kick out of that. On the other end, some of the attention isn’t as nice. My friends from the city think it’s gross, and some guys are a little scared of a girl who knows how to aim before shooting, which is fine. They should be. For me, the most important and enjoyable thing about hunting is the experience. I have noticed that men seem to hunt in order to accomplish something. This has to be the biggest difference I have noticed between men and women hunters. I have had very good luck while hunting, but I know not to expect to see deer every time I go into the woods. Since I don’t expect it, seeing deer and other wildlife is that much more enjoyable. Since I have proven to my family that I’m dead set on keeping up with hunting, hopefully in years to come they will believe me and realize I do need a gun of my own. I’m buying my first bow with my next paycheck. I hope to be as fortunate as I have been in past years and continue hunting my entire life. One day I hope to be able to hunt elk, or pronghorn, maybe after I graduate college. I want to learn as much as I possibly can about hunting and wildlife, so I can pass it on to younger generations. Sincerely,
Kimberly D. Poe

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, There is not one simple answer as to why I hunt, but I will try to give you a summary of the reasons why I do. First of all, I should explain that I’m a new bow hunter. I’m 27 years old, and I just bought my first bow in October 2006. My first reason for being a bow hunter is plain and simple: I love venison. My husband, being a bow hunter himself, did not get a deer in the 2005-06 season. Needless to say, we were “deprived” of venison for the entire year, other than the venison so kindly shared by my parents. Not having venison in the freezer for the whole year was really the motivator for me to try hunting. Like my father and mother, I like to harvest for myself. I have always loved fishing and have done so since I was old enough to hold a pole. I remember filleting fish -” with my dad’s help, of course -” when I was 9. My husband and I go up to northern Minnesota every year for great fishing, and now my husband and I both hunt. It isn’t easy to explain, but I get a sense of satisfaction and contentment knowing that my husband and I can provide some things for ourselves. There are many more stories that I could tell regarding my hunting experiences this past year, including shooting and killing my first deer, which was bittersweet. I have had some negative feedback from people regarding my hunting, as expected, but I don’t think too much of it. They probably didn’t grow up with it as I did, and until they go out and hunt for themselves, they can’t fathom that it’s more than just a thrill. Sincerely,
Kelly Frederick

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, My dad was the first to introduce me to hunting. He took me whitetail hunting at an early age and I sat with him until I reached the age where I could hunt in a blind alone. I rifle hunted every year and truthfully can’t remember ever missing an opening day of season. Even when my boys were small, we would spend the night at my parents’ home, so mom could watch them while I hunted. One of my sons has the same passion for hunting that I do. My husband hunts and his brother who owns property adjacent to ours does as well. Four nephews hunt close by and we all keep in contact during the hunting season to share stories and show off the deer taken. It makes me so proud when one of those teenage kids calls to either ask what I saw while hunting or share their stories of the hunt. All of those young men, including my son, have made me feel like a true hunting equal. Not one time have I felt outed because I was a “girl.” The day I got my bow, I chose the animals that I hoped to someday take. One was a color-phase bear and the other was an elk. I have taken a bear, but hope to check if off my list when I bring that big blonde or cinnamon home in May. But it is the desire to take an elk with my bow that burns like a fire now. It is a goal that I have set for myself and I pray that I am able to accomplish it in the future. Sincerely,
Judy Black

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I am employed full-time as a paralegal at a general-practice law firm. My job keeps me quite busy. Everyone I work with knows what hunting means to me, so I do not get hassled too badly. In my free time, you can find me doing something outdoors with my husband and our black lab, Yukon, whether it is snowmobiling, fishing, hiking, biking, four-wheeling, or hunting. We all really love the outdoors. I am the adventurous type and I love new challenges. I have been hunting since I was seven years old. A large portion of my family hunts and I have learned a tremendous amount from them over the years. I remember sitting in the woods with my dad for the first few years and it was then that he taught me the basics of hunting. Sometimes I think I may have talked too much and asked too many questions, but now that I look back, I’m glad I did. The first time I went out in the woods with him, I was a little unsure of it all. However, I was only seven years old, so it was all a bit overwhelming. After that, though, I was hooked! When I became of age to take my hunters’ safety course, I signed up for the first class that I could and the rest is history. I have shot my share of deer and small game, but in the area where we hunt (Trempealeau County, Wisconsin), there are several animals that I have not had the opportunity to hunt but would love to get a chance to someday. I think the biggest challenge for me, once I had my hunting license and began hunting on my own, was to learn patience. I tend to get too excited. Those first few hunts were pretty intense to say the least. The feeling I get when I’m hunting and have a successful kill is hard to explain. I get excited, nervous, anxious, and my adrenaline pumps throughout my body like I’ve never felt. It is super cool and I love it! Sincerely,
Jill Sherry

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I am a 41-year-old from northern Wisconsin. I have been involved in hunting since I was 12 years old and passed my hunters’ safety course, although I didn’t begin truly hunting until the past six years. What’s it like to be a woman hunter today? Well, to me, it’s wonderful. It’s really hard to put it into words. It’s a feeling and a passion for me. It’s my peace of mind. It is not so much bagging the game, but enjoying it and the company you’re with. While you’re sitting in your blind or under a tree and really look around you, there is no better place. I do get a lot of looks from men in disbelief when I register the animals I shoot. It is kind of like they don’t believe I actually shot the animal. I’m not sure why that is. I have even had them say you shot it over a bait pile and at night. But my thought is they are unsure of the possibility that a woman could do this. It actually makes me more proud of the game that I have taken. I hunt about three months a year; my job enables me to do this. I recently went over to South Africa where I shot an African Kudu, Stein buck, Duiker and a Blue Wilderbeast. That was a hunt of a lifetime -” we walked, crawled and stalked. I could go on for hours. I’m not sure what’s next for me. I would love to hunt perhaps an elk. I process and eat all that I kill. I feel you shouldn’t shoot what you won’t use. There is nothing better then sitting down to Thanksgiving to eat a wild turkey that you shot. It really makes you thankful that you are able to hunt and the freedom that we do have. My father always taught we right to respect the land and our right to hunt and obey the laws that are set for that. A gun is only dangerous if you allow it to be. Safety is the most important thing. Sincerely,
Janine Norton

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, What began as a ploy to change my husband to the person I thought he should be ended up changing my life. I had been married to Alan for about two years when I went to my sister-in-law to complain about the amount of time he spent hunting while I sat home. She said, “He’s a man. You are never going to change him. My suggestion is that you learn to hunt and spend time with him doing what he likes.” I did, and I’ve never regretted it. I love hunting. I am now the one who gets the most excited when the leaves start to turn and the air begins to get that fall chill. I love hunting because I enjoy spending time outdoors spotting animals in their natural settings, walking through the woods, and relishing the quiet. Mostly, I love hunting because I love sharing this time and these experiences with my husband and sons. When Alan realized I was interested in hunting, he taught me everything he knew. He taught me how to shoot and bought me a gun for our anniversary. He taught me how to stalk animals, moving quietly and stealthily through the woods or across an open field. He taught me how to field dress an animal so I would feel confident hunting on my own. He instilled in me the desire and skill to make a clean kill and reassured me that it’s OK to cry and feel sorrow after killing an animal. He taught me that hunting isn’t about killing animals; it’s about protecting a species of animal by maintaining healthy herds. It’s about taking what our fathers and grandfathers taught us about hunting and teaching our children, so they can carry on a tradition. Being a female hunter today is awesome. Gone are the days when the men went hunting and the women sat home. Hunting has become a part of many women’s lives and I personally find it empowering. Ten years ago, if you had told me I was going to be an avid hunter, I never would have believed it. Now I can’t imagine my life without hunting. Sincerely,
Virginia Hale

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I’m 41-year-old female hunter. I started deer hunting in 1989. I know I’ve always been a tomboy my whole life. When my husband (who was my boyfriend then) asked me, the thought of hunting with him was exciting to me. I was born in Thailand, and my parents migrated the family to the United States when I was 5. I was sworn in as an American citizen when I was 18. I didn’t grow up in a hunting environment. I can’t explain why it would this seem remotely exciting to me, but the feeling was there. I really wanted to hunt. Being a female hunter today is better in a lot of ways. Today the resources, the gear, and clothing are much more accessible. I am seeing a lot more women out there, on TV and in magazines, but it’s still not a favorite pastime for many women. Hunting women are still few and far between. It takes a certain woman who can really “hunt tough” to be able to keep up with their stronger counterparts and not whine or complain. The experience of hunting is different for a lot of people, and mine hasn’t included a trophy buck. I’m not out sitting in a tree stand shooting pest deer with big racks in my backyard and sending them in to a bragging board. I don’t hunt with my truck nearby a few feet away. I hunt more days, will walk more miles, and will stay out in the cold longer than the next guy. I put in just as much, if not more, effort and I still have never shot a trophy buck in my whole life. Some guys have all the luck! It doesn’t mean I’m not still waiting for my big break, though. I still want to some day be the talk of the town, and I’ll get to say I did it the hard way -” the way it used to be done. Sincerely,
Cindy Lavender

Photo gallery of women hunters

Hi Field & Stream, My name is Christine, but my friends call me Grizz. I’m 43 and I’ve bow hunted for over 20 years. I’ve harvested several whitetail deer over the years along with a black bear and an antelope. In December, I took a 128-pound tom mountain lion in Colorado. Some of the main problems I’ve encountered as a female hunter are as follows: 1) When planning an out-of-state hunt, you have to make sure it doesn’t fall on your monthly cycle. Most hunting camps are geared toward male hunters and they don’t really mind going a little dirty or stinky, so showers and water are sometimes in short supply. Check before you book. 2) Answering the call of Mother Nature is a problem when hunting with men and having limited cover. 3) Even though times have changed, I have been the only female hunter in a camp and the other hunters didn’t roll out the red carpet for me. I guess I cramped their style or made them feel uncomfortable. 4) It’s very hard to find hunting clothes and equipment designed for females. The companies want women to purchase from the boys’ line. This does not always work. I love hunting and the outdoors and, regardless of the drawbacks and the attitudes, I’ll be out hunting for as long as I’m able. All of the hunting trips my husband and I have gone on hold so many funny and wonderful memories I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Sincerely,
Christine Adams

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I am a 34-year-old hunter from South Dakota. When I met my husband, he was an avid hunter of every sort. I had only shot a shotgun and hunted for pheasants and ducks. He wanted me to apply for a Custer State Park elk hunt in the Black Hills. I thought he was joking and laughed him off. As I explained to him I had never fired a rifle, didn’t own one and would be a laughingstock if I tried to hunt an elk. He kept after me and I finally gave in and applied. The first day was tough. We could hear elk, but couldn’t find them. The second day we scanned the horizon from where we sat high on a hillside. Close to dawn, I spotted what I thought were elk. Sure enough, it was a herd. Miraculously, they worked their way toward our hiding spot. We tried to work in closer to them, but they heard us. So we stopped very still and they came closer and closer. I was nervous because I also had to shoot at a downhill angle. But I harvested my cow elk after two shots. This was my best hunting memory and one of my proudest moments. It is very difficult at times being a woman and hunting. I have trouble keeping up with my skills and being able to go in the field. I have a son and am expecting another child. I also have gestational diabetes, which means I have had to deal with not being able to be in the field this fall. I am on bed rest now. It is hard because I would like to be pheasant, deer, or antelope hunting. I felt left out this fall when I have had to sit at home because I could not go along. I have not been able to fire my gun all fall either which, to me, means that much more practice before I can go in the field again. Sincerely,
Jennifer Fischer

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, A drive in May 1972 in the foothills with my soon-to-be-husband was what started this hunting woman and fisherwoman in outdoor sports. Kenneth had his rifle along and we were scouting for elk. He asked me if I’d like to shoot into some dirt and of course I did. That little drive ended up changing my life. Since then, I have gone on bear, elk, deer, pheasant and grouse hunts. The outdoors has always kept my interest. I grew up on a farm where we butchered beef cattle, pigs, and chickens, and my father would go deer hunting in the fall. This past fall was my first hunting after my ordeal with breast cancer. On the first day, I spotted a nice buck mule deer standing next to a bush. My movement stopped after the deer appeared. After about five minutes the deer decided I was not anything to worry about and started eating on the bush. He trotted up to the top of the ridge and checked the area. The deer decided to go across the hillside in front of me. With my rifle upon my shoulder, I started shooting. The mule deer went down on the fourth shot. My sister told me to get a deer on opening day and then come home. We had to go through my mother’s things after she passed away. So with my lucky day, it was possible to return home early. My mule deer was the only meat for the freezer. Sincerely,
Judy Dodd

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, Being a contemporary hunter is one more open door of hope for women to be able to learn, share and enjoy the outdoors with their relatives, friends and community. It provides an opportunity to keep us sharing a dream, a passion and a mutual respect for our natural resources. Hunting is different for me in the sense that I cannot be as strong as a man. As a result, adaptation, perseverance and creativity all work in my favor to take care of most of the obstacles. I got started thanks to my father, uncles and cousins. I grew up listening to their stories; seeing my mom cleaning the birds and cooking nice, tasty dishes; smelling the Hoppes oil while they cleaned their guns; seeing how fulfilled and happy they were both before the hunt, in anticipation, and after the hunt, in mutual respect and laughter. It did not take me long to make up my mind that it was more “fun” to be out there hunting than to be indoors cleaning the house. It has been a most rewarding life being a true outdoors lady. Sincerely yours,
Mildred Irizarry

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I am in my 30s, and grew up in a non-hunting family in the Cincinnati area. I rarely ever tasted any game animals, since I had only a few acquaintances that hunted. Through changes in my life and some fate, I met a great guy from Minnesota who had hunted and fished since he could walk. He has introduced me to eating various game foods, and I found I love venison and grouse the best. I moved to Minnesota a little over two years ago, and we got married. My husband explained all about the beautiful game birds of northern Minnesota and I was very excited as we drove north to go hunting. As luck would have it, we saw a couple of grouse, and he shot one. Other than pictures, I had never seen a grouse before and I thought, for being a brown-gray bird, it was beautiful. My husband knew of a trail that led to one of the many secluded lakes in the area, where he cleaned the grouse and cooked it over an open campfire. I can’t put into words how this first day of hunting made me realize that this is something that had been missing in my life. I vowed to do it as often as I could. I am hooked on hunting. I may not have harvested a 10-point buck (yet), nor gone on some once-in-a-lifetime hunt, but I have found a hobby that I think a lot of women do not even give a second thought about. For me, having a husband who has introduced me to it a little bit at a time has meant all the difference in wanting to learn more about it. It is our “together” time, too. My Christmas wish list includes my own shotgun and rifle -” not that I don’t also like finding sparkly things in small velvet boxes under the tree like other women. Sincerely,
Ronda Waydula

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, Hunting has become a very enjoyable activity for me in recent years. As a child, my father would go out with my uncles and hunt on our 180-acre farm in Vermont and, for years, that was all I knew of hunting. Fortunately when I met and married my husband he was more than happy to teach me how to shoot a gun, scout, and shoot a bow. Yes, he even consoled me when I would get frustrated and cry about being afraid to shoot guns. There are two things that have really propelled me into the ranks of women hunters. One is the food that is available for us to buy in the grocery store absolutely lacks freshness. After becoming a mom, I started to pay much closer attention to how we eat. I choose to hunt for game to feed my family rather than settle for a preservative-bathed piece of old meat from the supermarket. I take great pride in preparing food that tastes great and is healthy for my family. The second reason is that being in the woods has become a sanctuary from the demands of my business and toddler. It gives my mind a break, my body exercise, and I get to revel in the beauty of this earth. Being a female hunter today is extremely rewarding. I have hunted deer, geese, ducks, turkey and grouse, and have been successful with all of them at one time or another. I still look to my husband to be the provider and I feel that my place is beside him. We form a united front that covers provisions for our family, conservation of our natural world, and building a strong relationship and memories to look back on in the years to come. Sincerely,
Annette L. Southworth

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, I was interested in hunting at a young age. I would always anticipate my dad coming home from a week of hunting. He would take my face in his hands and rub his week-old beard on my cheeks. The smell of the Nevada sage on his clothes was intoxicating. I begged him for years to take me hunting, but he would always say, “It’s not a place for girls.” As time went on, ideas changed. When I got married at age 21, it was more acceptable for women to go hunting, but it was not common. My husband and I hunted together for a few years before my dad started hunting with us. We raised our sons as hunters and we hunt as a family today. It always surprises people to hear I hunt with my sons. Hunting is not different for me. When I hunt with my sons, we all compete to see who has the best day. The adrenaline rush and the highs and lows that I feel are no different than what my sons feel. I don’t have fancy high-priced guns. I don’t travel to faraway places. I love to be outdoors hunting with my family here in Nevada. Sincerely,
Pam Mortara

Photo gallery of women hunters

Dear Field & Stream, Lucky for me, I grew up in the country with a father from Montana who encouraged his daughters to fish and hunt the land with respect and excitment. That respect meant shooting, catching, cleaning, and eating whatever we gathered. My career led me to the Safari Club Convention, meeting an Safari outfitter from South Africa and in turn being invited to hunt in South Africa last March. This beautiful 52-inch Kudu hunted in the Cowie Valley (Eastern Cape) was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. Everyone says hunting in Africa is the ultimate experience, yet I never would have known the true essence of that expression had I never been given the opportunity. As silly as it sounds it’s magical—the land, the people, the animals—all of it. My point in all this leads back to fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, and their girls. It’s not hard to identify that men still have a strong hold on our industry, but it’s important that they recognize the future of it includes women. Just as you educate your sons on the excitement of the outdoors remember that there is a girl or woman in your life that will find it just as fascinating! My next goal in hunting? Getting my dad to Africa for a hunting experience he never knew I would have some 20 years after he planted those “seeds” of interest in his little girl. Sincerely,
Melinda Calnan
Portland, OR