More women turning to hunting
Becoming an Outdoors Woman: Offers a wide variety of classes and seminars covering outdoor activities, including firearms training. http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/bow or (877) 269-6626.
National Wild Turkey Federations’ Women in the Outd oors: Designed primarily for girls and women older than 14. http://www.nwtf.org/wito or (800) 843-6983.
The National Rifle Association’s Women on Target program offers shooting clinics and beginner hunts. http://www.nrahq.org/women or (800) 861-1166.
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Sherry Finck isn’t surprised that members of the Ya Ya Sisterhood are picking up their weapons and heading to the woods in growing numbers in search of wild game.
Whether it’s shotguns, rifles or bows and arrows and whether they’re looking for deer, turkey or ducks, Louisiana women are turning to the outdoors.
Finck, 51, didn’t begin hunting until several years ago when the couple’s only daughter left for school and left her with an empty nest.
“My husband was always hunting and I wanted to spend more time with him,” said Finck, a registered nurse. “I’ve grown to really love it. What sealed me was hunting with him in Montana when he killed a state record white tail.”
Now, Finck is one of 13,548 Louisiana women with hunting licenses. That’s an increase of more than 12 percent over the 2007-08 number of 12,037.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the number of female hunters is increasing because of a number of factors,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Steve Hebert. “There are a lot more opportunities for them out there where they can feel comfortable hunting and fishing.”
The National Wild Turkey Association’s Women in the Outdoors program is just one of several efforts encouraging women to get into the woods. The Purrin’ Hens of Shreveport and Bossier City hold an event every spring at Bodcau Dam, just north of Haughton, where women can learn to shoot various weapons, self-defense and survival skills among others.
“I’m 46 years old and when I was coming up, women and children didn’t hunt much,” said Bossier City’s Shelley Chamberlain. “Now a lot of single moms are raising sons and there are a lot more educational opportunities available to us. The economy probably also plays a part. You can spend a lot of weekends in the woods for not much money.”
The LDWF sponsors a “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” event each year, which te aches both similar and different techniques for enjoying the outdoors.
“Those type programs have helped lift the stereotype that hunting is a men’s sport,” said LDWF Education Program Manager John Sturgis. “Many husband and wife teams are hunting together. We have one in our office. It’s just a change in attitude, which is something that we’ve tried to encourage.”
According to a National Sporting Goods Association report issued in 2005 there were 3.3 million female hunters out of the 20.9 million hunters in the United States. More than 859,000 females hunted frequently 20 or more times per year and 786,000 used a bow.
An estimated $3.4 billion is spent annually on the sales of firearms, ammunition and hunting accessories with women accounting for about $500 million of that total.
Chamberlain enjoys the peace and quiet of hunting, although she takes her cell phone along for the ride.
“Even though I don’t stop communicating, hunting affords me a c ouple of hours daily to slow down and be quiet,” Chamberlain said. “Men usually don’t think about anything but the hunt, while they’re in the stand, but if I don’t see deer, I’m usually thinking about everything else I should be doing.”
Finck currently has a 140-inch, 210-pound, 11-point at the taxidermist waiting to be mounted. She harvested the trophy buck on a recent trip to Kansas. Finck said harvesting a deer or a turkey, which she also loves to hunt, isn’t the only reason she heads to the woods.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like to shop and do girly things, too. But I really enjoy being outdoors and watching nature,” Finck said. “Even if you don’t get anything, it’s rewarding and relaxing after being in the hospital.”