Role models are essential, and I was blessed to grow up in a family where women hunted. I never knew women didn’t hunt. Having a mother who hunted taught me how to be strong, self-sufficient and to respect nature. Our family really bonded over the experiences we shared in the field.
In our little town I took firearm safety after school and there were just as many girls as boys, maybe more. Most of the kids spent the opening weekend of deer season in the field, and of course not all of them stuck with it, but it was a tradition for all. As a young girl I hunted only deer with my mom, but now she’s traveled with me all over the world hunting some pretty amazing animals. We’ve gone after mule deer, alligators, red stag, whitetails, antelope, pheasants, ducks and so much more. She may not sit out and hunt in the freezing cold or rain, but she’s a hard hunter and truly enjoys it.
My grandma said women hunting was definitely not the norm when she was growing up, but she shot one of the biggest bucks on a mule deer hunt with my grandpa in her 20s in Wyoming. Their primary goal was always to bring food home for the family as they had seven kids. She hadn’t hunted in years when I invited her to join me on a Colorado mule deer hunt. We had a blast together! She did it all, spotting and stalking at 79 years old. She notched her tag on a beautiful buck and I know she was so proud and had a wonderful time. Her message to everyone: It’s never too late to get back at it and enjoy the outdoors! These are the stories that ensure women feel welcomed into the hunting community.
Our family traditions go back four generations. Learning how to hunt, safely handle firearms and understand nature are all wonderful lessons, not easily forgotten. It’s empowering to know if needed you could fill your freezer, protect your family and conserve wildlife and the great outdoors so future generations will be able to enjoy the same things.
As a young kid I wanted to hunt immediately, but Minnesota required I wait until I was 12 years old. Luckily my parents didn’t just leave me at home, they brought me along. They packed snacks, made it fun and taught my siblings and me so many lessons along the way. Some weekends we would all hunt ducks together on public land; some weekends we would chase pheasants around our home, and during deer season we sat in various stands behind our house. The education didn’t stop when the hunt was over. We learned to clean and process the animals, package the meat for the freezer and ultimately cook it for Sunday dinner.
This is exactly what I want to teach Brynn as we head out on her first deer hunt this year, and her third turkey hunt this spring. I’ve come from a long line of women hunters and want to continue that wonderful experience for our kids and grandkids into the future. It’s one thing to learn about conservation or where your food comes from in a book, but it’s much more memorable when you can experience it first hand from start to finish. It’s never too late to start passing down hunting to the younger generations in your life.