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Hunting continues to become more popular among women

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Hunting becomes more popular among women

Alissa Laborde with a nice buck she arrowed







This article was originally published in Gaylord HeraldTimes.com

Author: Mark Johnson

Date: November 24, 2014


NORTHERN MICHIGAN.- Hunter's orange and camouflage have been a popular fashion statement throughout Northern Michigan the past few weeks with thousands of hunters taking part in firearm deer season.
 
In towns throughout the state, hunters brought their trophy bucks to show off at buck poles, telling their hunting buddies and anyone willing to listen stories of the events leading up to the moment when they pulled the trigger.

Women are increasingly becoming a part of these conversations and events as more females of all ages are participating in what was once a male-dominated sport.



Bekah Myler, 16, a junior at St. Mary Cathedral School, shot her second deer and first buck on opening day, a nice 6-point.

She went out to her box blind around 5:30 a.m. with hopes of bringing home a trophy buck.

After waiting for a buck to come in for several hours, she fell asleep. But when she woke up, around 11 a.m., she opened her eyes to find the buck standing several yards away from her blind.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “My adrenaline was going crazy.”

As she became fully awake, she reached for her .30-30 lever-action rifle, took aim and fired.

It was a clean hit.



Bekah Myler, 16, shot this 6 point buck







“I knew I hit him,” Myler said. “He ran about 30 feet, then I saw him drop.”

Myler said she has been hunting for several years now, going out with her father, brothers and cousins for every deer season.

Every year, everyone comes up for deer camp at the family cabin and hunt on opening morning, something Myler looks forward to every year.

“I love being outside,” she said. “It is relaxing and peaceful, and it is really nice to be able to spend time with my dad and family.”

Technology adds to the excitement as her dad, brothers and cousins all bring their phones and text each other the latest news regarding deer they had seen or heard.

When Myler's father, brothers and cousins heard about her buck, everyone rushed to congratulate her.

“They were all really excited for me,” she said. “It was really cool to see my dad and brothers gets so excited.”





Breaking barriers


Myler grew up in the hunting tradition and was welcomed into the sport by her family. For other women, it is not as easy.


Historically, hunting has been a tradition for men. The number of female hunters, however, has increased as it has become socially acceptable for women to hunt.

According to statistics provided by the Department of Natural Resources, since 1960, the number of female deer hunters has slowly increased.

These statistics indicate the smallest number of female deer hunters was recorded in 1971, when just under 5 percent of licensed deer hunters were women, but over the past 40 years, this percentage has steadily increased, though it still remains low compared to the percentage of male hunters.

Last year saw the largest percentage of female deer hunters since 1960, setting a record at approximately 11 percent, still way below the percentage of male hunters at about 89 percent.


Numbers in the graph are based on historical DNR survey information







Though numbers are increasing, many women still remain hesitant to try out the sport. However, thanks to various initiatives and programs, women wishing to try their hand at activities like deer hunting are being encouraged to do so.

"Big Boys Adventures," a local TV show featuring Jada Johnson and her father, Kevin, going on hunting trips in pursuit of some of the largest animals in the world, hosts events throughout the year focused on teaching women the basics of hunting and encouraging them to participate in the sport.

As a result of these camps and events, Jada Johnson said she has heard back from women who attended their camps and who proudly don their hunting suits and head to their blinds every hunting season, thanks to the encouragement and training they received from the camps and events.



Jada Johnson harvested this great buck in Alberta, Canada







“Not all women are brave enough to do it themselves, sometimes they need a little push,” she said. “If we can give them that push and introduce them to hunting, it helps tremendously.”

A history of sexism is something that can make getting into hunting and the outdoors intimidating for women, Johnson said.

Some of this prejudice still lingers today.

“Some men don't take us seriously,” she said. “Men can be intimidating, especially those who have this image and belief that women need to stay in the home and cook and clean. That is the hardest part.”

For the most part, Johnson acknowledged that this blatant sexism has begun to ease, though it still exists.

However, there are men out there who have welcomed women into the sport, which has been very important to the success of female hunters.

One of the biggest factors in getting women into hunting, Johnson said, has been the willingness of fathers, husbands, brothers, boyfriends and other close male figures to encourage women to experience hunting with them.

“Hunting has become something they can do and be able to spend quality time together,” she said. “I sit in a stand with my dad and that is one of our favorite things to share and bond over.”

But maybe the biggest factor, Johnson said, has been women showing their independence and sending a message to men that not only are they capable, but they want to help their families through hunting.

“Times are changing,” she said. “Women have something to prove. We are perfectly capable of providing for our families and we want to prove that.”



The overall encouragement to hunt has spread to many women, including Myler, who said there are a few other girls in her class who also like to hunt.

Based on their own experiences, Myler and Johnson both urge women thinking about heading to the woods to give it a try.

“From my experience, it is just a really fun thing to do,” Myler said.

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