Women’s View of Hunting

immature female northern goshawk

Immature Female Northern Goshawk

Many of the preeminent hunters on this planet are cats and birds of prey.  Females do most of the hunting in the cat world and while male hawks and falcons bring more prey to the nest, the females are larger and take larger prey. New research indicates that our female ancestors hunted along side men, but hunting is not considered feminine in our modern human world.

It doesn’t help that some guys approach hunting as if the only point of hunting is to go kill something or promote flippant bumper sticker philosophies like “If it flies it dies” or “Shoot to Thrill”. Similarly, some fishermen talk about “ripping lips”. Your wife or girlfriend might go hunting or fishing with you, but she is probably not interested in ripping lips or whacking and stacking animals like cord wood.

teenage girls are the fastest growing hunter population

Despite the jokes about taking wives and girlfriends hunting, the numbers of female hunters are increasing. Data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation showed the number of women (aged 16+) that hunted increased from 3,041,000 in 2008 to 3,346,000 in 2012. That was a 9.1% increase compared to a meager 1.9% increase for men and boys.

As hunters, we love to hunt for a number of reasons. Why not share that passion with our female family members and friends? If you would like to have your wife, girlfriend, daughter, granddaughter or niece to hunt with you, or if you are a women interested in hunting, it might help to understand why other women hunt.

Why Women Hunt

wwhy men and women hunt

Table 1. Reasons Men and Women Hunt. (Women in Pink, Men in Blue, data from Responsive Management, sponsored by US Fish & Wildlife Service, 2013)

When asked why they hunt , 47% of women said they hunt for the meat, 27% of women hunt to be with friends and family, 20% hunt for the sport or recreation and 7% of women said they hunt to be close to nature (Table 1).

The 47% of women that hunt for the meat (pink in Table 1) is twice as high as 22% of men (blue in Table 1) that say they also hunt for the meat.

Just like a momma cat providing for her kittens.

The percentage of women that hunt to be with friends or family is almost three times that of men (27% to 11%). This also makes sense, because women are the glue that hold our families and society together.

Most Women don’t Hunt Simply for Fun

But the percentage of women than hunt for sport or recreation (20% to 45% for men) or to be close to nature (7% to 22% for men) are both less than half that of men.

Twenty percent of women do hunt simply “for the fun of it”, but most women (74%) hunt to provide good quality meat for their families or because they want to spend time with family and friends.

No Reason Women Can’t Hunt

What is the stereotypical hunter? The averages may still say the typical hunter is a middle aged male from the rural South, but times are-a-changing.  Currently, older hunters are retiring and are not being replaced fast enough. The fastest growing segment of the hunter population is women from both rural and urban settings as both resident and non-resident hunters.

Most women are still identified as new hunters, but that will change in a few years as they gain experience and begin hunt on their own or take new friends and family hunting with them. I have had women tell me they take their kids hunting while the father prefers to stay home.

How many times have you heard the complaints about husbands that spend too much time away hunting? No situation is exactly the same, but is the problem really about hunting or about being away?  Hunting together can be a way to fill the freezer and spend time together at the same time.

Sure, taking your wife or girlfriend hunting will change the hunt, but so does taking anyone you haven’t hunted with before, especially someone that has little or no experience.

Why should we complain about taking someone hunting for the first time? Most of us started hunting because someone took us. They provided everything we needed and taught us where to go, what to do and how to do it. And I’m sure we messed up their hunts plenty.

Survey data also tells us that many hunters (both sexes) are first exposed to hunting as youngsters, but at least a third of first time hunters were over 20 years old on their first hunt. So what are you waiting for? None of us are getting any younger, so get out in the field and hunt, because the data also tells us that those that start early in life tend to hunt more often and continue hunting later in their lives.

I promise you this… The more you time you spend outdoors, the more it will mean to you.

“…the death of the game is not what interests him: that is not his purpose. What interests him is everything that he had to do to achieve that death – that is, the hunt… One does not hunt in order to kill: on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted.” Jose’ Ortega y Gasset

Look for the next post on Why People Quit Hunting


  1. Brad Blume says

    Great article and website! As a father of 3 daughters I am enjoying sharing my love and passion for hunting and the outdoors with them. The majority, if not all of my hunting friends are doing the same with their daughters. They enjoy everything about it from target shooting, setting up stands, checking game cameras, and all the fishing adventures.

    I agree that the stereotypes are changing and more females are embracing the hunting and fishing aspects of the outdoors. My hope is that my daughters will continue with this passion and pass it down to their children.

    • Thanks Brad.

      I see more and more fathers with their daughters in the field and have started to see few young women fly fishing the river by themselves.
      How can your daughters not share your passion? My hope is there will be enough of the Natural World left for them to be passionate about.

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