Like it or not, fellas, the number of women participating in the various outdoors activities is on the rise. I am glad to see this taking place, mostly for selfish reasons. The more people we encourage and mentor to hunt and shoot, the more people that will vote and fight to preserve our rights to do so for generations to come.
Some may feel that it’s somehow not a woman’s place to know how to handle a gun or to engage in hunting or shooting of any kind. This couldn’t be further from the truth for many reasons. Sadly, women as a group are specifically targeted each year by criminals. Women are fully capable of defending themselves against any deviants if they are properly equipped and trained. Guns, of course, are the proper equipment in a fight for one’s life, virtue, safety or property. They are an equalizer.
And as far as hunting goes, growing up in the country, all of us, boys and girls alike, were taught how to shoot, hunt and fish. I’ve never felt belittled or emasculated to be joined in the field by family members or friends of the opposite sex. I enjoy shooting and hunting alongside these skilled, experienced women. There is much to be learned from these huntresses. Being more patient with your shot and lighter on your feet when stalking come to mind. Hunting itself is a life skill, and being able to successfully provide meat for the table is something everyone should learn how to do regardless of contrarian social sentiments.
Women can and do shoot very well, and they are typically much better pupils than men. They follow instruction and take advice much better in my experience. While women can be biologically inclined to be more recoil sensitive than men, I know many ladies that shoot the big stuff too. Everything from 7-mm and .300 magnums clear up through the various .45- and .50-caliber shoulder stompers. Dealing with recoil is largely mind over matter, something anyone can learn to build up a tolerance for. Having a big game rifle that fits your physique does even more to mitigate a lot of “felt recoil” as well.
Most females I’ve informally polled about shooting and hunting don’t get caught up in the stigma of numbers or bravado like us males. They don’t feel desiccated by not carrying a veritable cannon or by refraining from lobbing shots into the next county. They do typically focus on what’s most important when hunting like staying warm and well hydrated, safe gun handling, making good shots and treating every game animal they take as a trophy, regardless of antler orientations. Bragging rights and Boone and Crockett scores are of much less importance than putting venison in the freezer for the women I’ve talked to.
In magazines and on television, we see an increasing number of female hosts with their own network shows and in professional capacities as competitive shooters or guides on dangerous game hunts. These lovely women are just deadly with a rifle or bow. And what a fulfilling way to spend time in the outdoors! Ladies, if you’re curious, look up Eleanor O’Connor, Salome de Villiers, Eva Shockey, Julie Golob, Lena Miculek or Melanie Peterson.
I, for one, welcome these newcomers and veterans alike. And I’m not alone, the various manufacturers have taken note. All manner of new product lines have been designed with the features most appealing to a feminine shootist in mind. Rifles, bows, camouflage clothing, boots, headgear and packs are just a few of the items available that are fit for Jane Q Hunter.
Don’t miss the chance to expose more folks to the wonderful traditions we here in Eastern Oregon hold so dear. Positive reinforcement and good experiences afield can impact lives for generations.
Ladies, if you’re wanting to learn how, or if you are already hopelessly hooked like the rest of us, we want to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and sound off.
Dale Valade is a local country gent with a deep love for handloading, hunting and shooting.