We Are the One Percent – On Being a Female Hunter

What one percent looks like.

I realized something startling in December while I was trudging alone through the woods on a solo deer hunt. I realized how “small” I really am. I’m only a novice hunter, but am a member of a tiny minority.

According to this article, the percentage of total U.S. population that hunts was less than 4% in 2016

According to the same article, 70% of those hunters are male.

If females make up 30% of the less than 4% of the population that hunts, that means that we female hunters are hovering in the 1%-and-change zone of the total population.

Only 1% -ish of the entire American population are female hunters. Think about that. One. Percent. Talk about being a “minority”. No wonder we find it hard to be taken seriously and find gear that fits us – we are virtually unicorns! And I’m just a novice. The experienced women hunters are an even smaller minority. Doing the mental math really puts things in perspective.

I’ve discovered from personal experience that learning the hunting arts mostly by myself can be a challenge – not impossible – but a definite challenge.  I’m wondering how these other women manage it.

You see all these online videos of female hunters, and “some” are working solo, but many of them have audible voices of the male “support staff” in the background. It sure must be nice to have a husband or boyfriend available to help you install a heavy tree stand, to scout with you (or for you?), or to range for you while you are drawing back on that prize buck in the video. Meanwhile, there I was hanging out there all by myself during deer season.

The writer hunting alone, captured by her own trail cam.

Don’t get me wrong – I actually enjoy my “alone time” in the woods – but I do admit to feeling tired and discouraged at times. It makes me think that maybe if I had some help or more lady hunter friends it would be easier.

The NSSF has recently introduced a new website called Let’s Go Hunting with tips on how to get started. In my experience though, reading up is the easy part. It’s the logistics that are the killers. Things like having a place to hunt and knowing the boundaries, obstacles, and habitat of that place; having a vehicle suitable to get you there in all weather and to haul your game out; having the proper gear and proper firearm and ammo; having the time off work on the right days of the season; knowing the intricacies of the game law for what you want to hunt  – all are part of the learning curve and logistical considerations. For details like that, having a knowledgeable mentor can be really helpful.

To assist in that mentoring department, there are now some “Women Hunter” websites that are popping up,  there are state Becoming an OutdoorsWoman programs, and some organizations offering women-only hunts. Three of the women-only hunt groups that come immediately to mind are Calibered Events (my personal and local favorite), LACE (by Babes with Bullets), and Sisterhood of the Outdoors

Admittedly, these ladies’ hunts aren’t cheap. In a perfect world, we could all learn to hunt on our own property from our own grandfathers without spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in the process. Hunting was originally about feeding your family “free” meat, after all. Alas, the world doesn’t work that way much anymore. 

Nowadays it costs money to hunt – sometimes a LOT of money. And mentors can be difficult to find. I’m personally trying to find the happy medium. At this point, learning how to hunt deer, squirrels, and turkey seems much cheaper than coughing up $5000 (that I don’t have) to go on a guided “Ladies Alaskan Bear Hunt”. (That’s not even counting the specialized gear/clothing I’d need to buy.)

We’ll put that adventure on the “someday” list and concentrate for now on what I can learn to hunt locally in my Walmart men’s camo. The good news is that one of my daughters has made noise about wanting  to learn about squirrel hunting WITH me! 

I’m not even there yet myself, and already have my “plus one”! Yay!! Now to pick some of my mentors’ brains!