Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hunting from a Female Perspective

   It's the middle of a sweltering hot day. I've been shooting archery all day when one of my arrows decided to break in half.  Stupid arrows, I mutter as I stalk out of my car, wearing home-made Real tree camo short overalls and matching camo flip-flops. Bass Pro looms in the distance when I see a gaggle of little girls reaching the same door I'm about to enter.  Given that I have manners, something that the majority of people seriously lack these days, I open the door to allow the girls and their haggered-looking parents an easy exit.  Unsure as to how to understand something they had never seen, the pink-Dora the Explorer clad group slowly meander by.  Muttering in muted tones saved for sideshow freaks, they make little comments about my chosen garb. One of the boldest, a girl whose father looked on with approval walked out the door but came back to ask, "You're GI Jane.. do you kill animals?" 

    Ever since my hunting love affair began, I have had to face many questions.  Some of them are hard to answer but the majority are just stupid assumptions by those who have no idea what they are talking about.  People don't seem to understand how someone, a girl; a very short one at that, can enjoy harvesting her own animals. Hence, I get bombarded with inquires about the guns I shoot, camo I wear, and my motives for partaking in such a sport.  The girl I encountered, as depicted above, had every right to ask that kind of question.  She may have never seen someone (who was her size) who hunts that she could actually relate to.

   I realize that I'm an oddity. I enjoy an ethical hunt, I shoot skeet, wear camo but can also string a couple words together.  When I began writing this blog, I figured that there were a lot of girls like me out there.  But unfortunately with society's new adoption of an anti-hunter attitude, with PETA and animal rights activists who chow down on burgers but work for the plight of the poor moo cows, people seem to be increasingly more ignorant about why hunters do what we do.  We're told over and over that guns are evil and so are the people that operate them.  That eating animals who are "organically" raised is more ethical to consume than a deer who has lived its entire life outside, in the wild.

  With all of the questions, speculation and negative publicity we hunters receive, it is refreshing when someone works to find the truth.  Days ago, I opened my e-mail, hoping that any of the jobs I've applied for had gotten back to me.  While I was downtrodden that no one had responded to my stellar resume, I did get an interesting message.  The e-mail was from an undergraduate student at Winona State University.  A communications study major, Ben, had stumbled across my blog and wanted to see if there was any way that I could help him out with his final project, researching the hunting motivation of females.  Besides being tickled pink that he deemed me acceptable to ask, I was struck that this kind of research can be brought into the realm of academia.  This idea began the wheels turning in my head for the kind of papers I'll write while in graduate school in the fall, including my theories about the Disney movie, "Bambi" and its implications of forcing younger generations to reject their primal instincts as hunters and gatherers, but I digress.  Benjamin sent his list of questions along which I decided I'd tackle as I did at Niagara University.

    So now I've regressed back into my good ol' essay writing days of college. I haven't studied at all, my kitchen is a mess and the only thing in the fridge is beer.  I've sharpened my #2 pencil, my blue books are ready and I've shaken off last evenings festivities in order to crush this final test.

   Name: The Writing Huntress
   Class: Hunting 463
   Professor: Dr. Benjamin

   Question 1: Why do you hunt?

        Funny you should ask, as I dedicated a post to this a handful of months ago.  But to reiterate, I hunt for the things that can only be obtained through the sport.  For the sunrises, sunsets, days spent laughing in the blind and the tranquility of solitude in the stand.  I've seen a fawn being pushed along by her mother, squirrels acting like heroine addicts, and a cat who had a stockpile of dead mice near my stand tree.  I befriended a hoot owl who softly roused me from slumber with his deafening calls as DU slept in a tree 40 yards away, his snores scaring any deer within a 50-mile radius.  Hunting has introduced me to various ways of feeling powerful and strong, which is important for a female of my tiny stature. I love the smell of gunpowder after a perfectly placed 5-stand shot.  I adore the feeling of my bow in my hands, hungry for another arrow.  Hunting speaks to one's ancient self; a way to operate as humans have always lived for centuries before the modern comforts of the present muddled our understanding of what it means to be human, as hunters and gatherers.

   It feels weird but to quote myself, "hunting purges its minions of  all confining things."

   Question 2: Who introduced you to hunting?

       My granddad.  He taught me to fish and injected a passion for safe hunting in my blood, even though it took years for it to cultivate.  My dad taught me how to shoot my first gun and various ex-flames introduced the actual process of hunting.  While I've hunted with men I've dated, it is inaccurate to say that I hunt because of DU, or for any man for that matter.  I hunt because it is what I love to do.

   Question 3: What, if any, motivations do you have to take a spouse/ significant other afield?

         DU and I hunt together but it is generally not within 100 yards of one another.  The first couple of times I hunted here, he stayed close just to ensure that my primary runs of getting up the tree were successful.  In terms of deer hunting, I have no motivation to hunt with DU. (This has nothing to do with the time that he spilled hot chocolate directly under my tree prior to a stand hunt.  Okay- maybe a little.)  There is no reason to, as we can't speak to one another and there are only so many deer on the property we hunt.  I don't need cues from him or need him for anything except entertainment during slow days. This stands in stark contrast to waterfowl hunting, as I have never hunted ducks or geese alone.  Given that it is in duck hunting's essential nature that the hunt be shared by many in a blind, DU and I always hunt together.  The real motivation to bring him out is that he is a superb duck caller while I'm still a novice.  I can't read ducks quite yet so it is nice to have him there to teach me the ropes.  Also, it is always nice to have a 6'5 guy to steal jackets from when the pre-dawn hours bring along a freezing chill.

   Question 4: Has hunting brought you and your significant other closer together?

         Yikes.  Well.  I guess to pass I have to be honest so I'll go with yes and no.  Obviously, DU and I spend a LOT of time dealing with hunting.  We prepare for it, shop for it, try to make next year's season better, and spend at least 8 months out of the year actually taking part in it.  We can talk about things and work out our problems in better ways than I've seen with my peers.   Although this may root from the knowledge that we both are heavily armed, hunting has indeed brought us closer together. If we're upset, we just shoot something (generally not one another) and the world just seems better.  However, we tend to get in a rut during season.  We'll eat, go to work, hunt, eat, sleep, hunt, work, eat and then on the weekends, hunt more.  Also, when DU had more success than I did this season, I was a little jealous.  As we've seen, I'm not the greatest loser.  Hence, when he scored a 6-point buck early on while I struggled and lost a deer on Thanksgiving, I was a little green.  Since I'm obviously not eight years old, I got over my issues and congratulated him after secretly figuring out a way to extract the firing pin in his gun to ensure the next deer harvested would be mine.  But considering the lies, deceit, fighting and bickering I've heard about via my friend's relationships, I don't think we're doing too badly.  Unless, of course, I don't get a turkey this season, then we'll have problems.

   Question 5: If you answered yes to the previous question,  what specific aspect of hunting has brought you together?

   I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we both share something that we love.  I don't hunt for him and DU most certainly does not get up at 2am because I tell him to.  Also, we work together for a common goal.  It isn't as if I'm working to get a deer and he's trying to build the biggest Lego castle in the garage ( I hope DU isn't reading this because he'll probably attempt it..).  As a team we work to fill our freezer with wild turkey, fresh duck and loads of deer. In the same respect, we're efficient outside of the blind as a team, tackling all of what life has to offer.   Most of all, there is something divine about waking up at ridiculous hours, freezing one's backside off, and enduring all of hunting's unpleasant aspects together.  If something negative befalls DU, I know that he isn't going to run away but he'll work it out, just as he did when our boat mysteriously ran up an invisible rock completely by itself.

Bridges looks confused after DU runs our boat up a rock.

   I feel blessed that I can share my passion with DU.  In all honesty, I do not think that I would ever be able to date someone who did not hunt, as he would not understand the amount of time I spend on it, even outside of season. 

   Question 6: If you don't have a spouse or girlfriend, or are going to get rid of the one you have, will you take your future beloved hunting?

        I've put this question to a couple of hunting buddies who flat out refuse to take their girlfriends, wives, mistresses, what have you, out in the blind or stand.  They say that hunting is "man time", that women aren't allowed or even invited.  I've had to toe this line in the past, as I know that there are some trips and excursions that DU embarks on that I cannot.  If I ever do get a chance to go back home to Indiana with him, I know that going goose hunting will be difficult, as a woman has never stepped foot into their underground pit.  Antiquated hunting code still reigns supreme in some circles of men that prohibit their female counterparts from participating.  However, as strong as DU and I are in our relationship, I hope that more men will encourage the women they love to take part so their relationship can grow along with their meat intake.

    Ours is a relationship that began mainly with the common love of hunting.  This is aberrant, as women that I know generally began hunting after meeting someone who hunted.  It is in the hope if this huntress that more women begin hunting for themselves or are encouraged by their partner to do to so.  Either way, from our experience, hunting strengthens relationships.  Except of course, if he bags a bigger deer.

   How I did on this test remains to be seen but Ben needs more information so please- men and women alike- if you have any interest in helping him out or want to express a different opinion, answer the same questions I did here and either post a comment or e-mail him directly.


Bob Mc said...

Just one thing, and you barely used the hated word; only once I think. There is such a thing as being to pc. I don't "harvest" animals, I kill them. I know; picky, picky, picky. It's just a thing with me. I don't know why hunters should be ashamed of what they do. I'm not bringing home an ear of corn for dinner; it's a piece of meat!

Anonymous said...

Well this was a post of all psts I'll say that. I for one am not ashamed of who I am or what I do. I always went by the thought that if you don't like it than that is too !@#$%^& bad. I hunt to feed my family and my time spent afield is my time I feel the most at peace.
I don't ask anyone to understand but the one's that know me do understand.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Deer Hunting and Blackpowder Shooting at it’s best.

Gorges Smythe said...

Interesting post. I hope they make good use of your answers.

Murphyfish said...

Hello HLYH,
An interesting piece giving a glimpse into your thoughts on hunting. I like the fact that your not full in the face protective about yourself. You have a Clear notion of all the aspects of the hunt, not just the taking of life for the table but of the whole process of being a part a nature when your 'out there', and you have a clear knowledge of your limitations. I find your outlook extremely honest and refreshing in this world where folk try to justify their lives with to much bullsh.... er embellishment.

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

Good post, Lorraine. I happen to be doing research on hunting, too, and also happen to be in a communication department.

I've interviewed a number of female hunters. In a fun twist, at least a couple of them have male partners/husbands who do not hunt.

Team Hunter said...

I haven't hunted yet, but will start this hunting with my significant other, an experienced hunter, this spring. We want to hunt to fill our freezer with good food, and I think we'll be as good a team while hunting as we are in other aspects of our relationship.

I had no interest in hunting at all when we met. In fact I wasn't even a big fan of meat and at mostly vegetarian when we met. His love of hunting has certainly changed my mind about meat, and how to put it on our table. He didn't have to convince me, and never tried to. It just evolved as part of our relationship.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Nicely done!

Funny thing: I rarely get that kind of negativity in person where I live. Here in NorCal, there's a huge ethical foodie movement whose members are intrigued by hunting.

People are usually negative only on the Internet, where they can be anonymous. I'm actually a little impressed that that girl had the chutzpah to say to you directly what her friends were content to mumble.

The question is, what did you say back to her?

Ian Nance said...


Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Bob Mc- Agreed... I feel like harvest and kill connote the same thing. Harvest just has more of an aesthetic feeling to it but I understand your feelings!

Rick- Nor am I ashamed. I'm glad to see there are hunters who hunt for their families and share the same views I hold.

Mr. Smythe- Thank you, sir! I do too.. I'm interested to see how he spins it- if I'm allowed, I'll post his project here.

Mr. Murphy Musing- As always sir, your comments spoil me. I'm shocked but extremely pleased that my outlook is refreshing. And of course I wouldn't fill it with a bunch of bull as you so eloquently put it!

Mindful Carnivore- Sir! Lorraine is my best friends name but I'm honored to be referenced to as such! That is very interesting- I would love to know how they deal with their partner not hunting.. I would miss him!

Team Hunter- Welcome to the club, girl! Keep me posted as to how you do! I love to hear that you want to hunt through your relationship- that is a great twist that I hope Ben will be able to incorporate into his paper!

Holly- Here in NC, there isn't much negative perception of hunters, come on now we're in the south. I'm more referring to what I had to deal with in NY.
Good question... I looked to her father for approval. He gave me a little nod. So I told her that no, I am not GI Jane and yes, I do kill animals to feed my family. She smiled, said her Daddy did the same thing and walked away.

Neat kid.

Ian- You're awesome.

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

Sorry on the name! I must have gotten webpages and twitter feeds and such confused. "Anti-social media," perhaps. Ah well.

SimplyOutdoors said...

I love hunting and fishing with my wife, and I just do not understand why some guys will not take their significant others with them. I can understand not taking them on certain sacred trips, but I can't understand not taking them EVER!

My wife and I have enjoyed some great times together, while ice fishing, and turkey and deer hunting; moments we'll never forget, which included conversations that probably wouldn't have never happened otherwise.

I truly, truly believe that these moments have brought us closer together as a couple.

She is still a little bitter about turkey hunting last year though. Hopefully I can get her a bird this year, and convince her that it really is fun again.

She's a little jealous that the birds cooperated for me, and didn't really cooperate for her last year.

Even that is a part that makes it great though - sharing in those experiences.

Rogue Huntress said...

A truthful and honest post.

I can relate in a lot of ways but personally have found wide acceptance hunting with 'the guys'. They may have just thought it a pretty sight at first to have a woman amongst them but when they realized I could actually shoot and retrieve animals on my own I gained their respect. I'm a better shot then half of them!

I have to credit my ex boyfriend for introducing me to hunting. He told me I was the best learner out of anyone he tried to introduce to hunting in the past(all guys before me). I truly believe it strengthened our relationship and allowed us to be the friends we still are today.

Great post.

LB @ BulletsandBiscuits said...

Awesome post! You and I share alot of the same views.

I don't get the whole "no women allowed" thing but fortunately I don't run into it much. Most never had the nerve to say it to Rambob or I but after spending the day with me and proving myself...I earned their respect.

Rambob and I do most of our hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities together....mainly because we need the entertainment of making fun of each other.

Coyote Assassin said...

Good read. I've found with the women that have hunted in our group are more precise in their shooting skills and seem to pay more attention to detail. I like seeing women in the field. To tell you the truth I believe they're the key to huntings future to pass on the traditions to their children being alot of single parent families on the increase.Keep up the good work.

Chaplain for the Outdoor Community said...

Great read... Thanks for sharing. I am a forester, hunter, and pastor from Texas who lives in Southern California. My wife is a city girl for Dallas/Fort Worth.

I live in the outdoors, she lives indoors. I love hunting, she can't stand the sight of blood and/or dead animals. I eat wild game, she eats processed chicken. We have 4 boys, all under 10 years old. We been in love for 13 1/2 years and married 12 years. Opposites do attract.

We are helping the boys see that God has created them with and enter wildness that he (God) wants them to embrace as young men. They are the next generation.

We love the outdoors.

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Simply- I love hearing your perspective. Great to see that you adore hunting with your woman! Keep me updated as to how she does next season!

Rouge- Girls are generally better shots than men, I've proven that. :-)
So sorry to hear about you and your man but it is great that hunting allows you two to remain friends.
Will you choose a hunter next time?

LB- Thank you! HA! I Love it! We definitely love making fun of one another too... especially when I do better than he does!
Make sure to check back and see if your perspective makes his final paper!

Mr. Assassin- You have an interesting perspective that has not been voiced yet. I think it's nice that you see us as the future of hunting. But it is true, if more women hunt then more children will. Thank you for your opinion, it is greatly appreciated!

Chaplain for the OD Community- First of all, it's an honor for you to stop by my little blog.
Opposites do attract and it is great that your wife is okay with you hunting.
God has chosen us to help not only in the conservation of animals but also in the preservation of traditions of yore.
God bless and come back again!


FC said...

I was just poking around your blog and came to this piece. It is great- I'm a female game warden, and I love it when I come across a woman hunting. It isn't very common around here, and I wish there were more female hunter role models like yourself. Do you ever get a chance to take young girls hunting? Thanks again and I am definitely adding your site as a link to mine.
Fish Cop

The Writing Huntress said...

FC- Thanks for reading through! I have never had a chance to take out a brood of girls to hunt but I would love the opportunity! I wish that I started younger than I did!

Thanks again!