Skip to main content

Female Hunters Past and Present Deserve Respect

Female Hunters Past and Present Deserve Respect
Outfitter Alisha Rosenbruch-Decker (left) and Donna Boddington (right) with an exceptional Alaskan brown bear.

Some millennia back the human race emerged as omnivorous hunter-gatherers. We will never know what strapping young fellow developed the concept and managed to sell it, but somehow males took on the more exciting role as primary hunters, while the ladies did more of the gathering.

Even so, there have always been avid and successful female hunters. Although precise origin is unclear, Diana, goddess of the hunt, appears to have been invoked from the very dawn of Roman civilization. She has always been depicted as a woman (and a good-looking one at that).

Outfitter Alisha Rosenbruch-Decker (left) and Donna Boddington (right) with an Alaskan brown bear.

Humans were hunters before they were anything else, so in prehistory it's fair to say that the vast majority of us were hunters. In today's world, active hunters are a subset of modern society.


Either way, females have always been a minority of the hunting population. I doubt this will change, but their minority isn't as minor as it once was.


Women Hunters Increase

All surveys indicate that women are the fastest-growing segment in almost all shooting sports. But you don't need to study surveys to comprehend this fact. It's easy to see on shooting ranges, in hunting camps, in gun stores, in hunter safety courses, in shooting schools, and in the rich array of hunting gear designed for the distaff side.

Women are an increasingly important part of our shooting and hunting world€¦and they play a critical role in our ability to maintain that world.

Recently on HUNTING I wrote about the shameful Internet attacks on Texas teenager Kendall Jones, who posted pictures of (non-endangered and legally taken) animals she killed while on safari with her parents.


Since then Belgian teenager Axelle Despiegelaere lost a major modeling contract when cosmetics company L'Oreal discovered photos of her doing the same. The dazzling beauty went on safari with her parents, posted photos and then a different kind of hunt began. I may be naïve, but I don't believe there are all that many anti-hunters who are so committed as to issue death threats (and worse) against teenage girls.

A subset out there will show their claws if a female hunter is successful.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do not believe that these attacks are random. Rather, I believe they're part of a concerted effort targeting visible representatives of that fastest-growing segment of our hunting and shooting societies.


Unfortunately, female hunters often have to contend with, er, stuff from other sources besides anti-hunters.

It's Never Easy

Jealousy is a normal human emotion, though not one of our better outlets. Hey, I'm a guy, and I take my share of crap€¦some from anti-hunters, some from fellow hunters. I understand this. I'm visible not because I like the spotlight, but because it's part of my job. Said job includes doing a lot of what we all like to do. I work hard at my job, but I can't please everybody and there are bound to be some sour grapes. Women, however, have it much worse.

Nobody ever said this world was altogether fair. It is a simple fact that some people have more means than others, some through luck, others through hard work, and still others by marriage or birth. When a young person goes on safari with parents it isn't unnatural for some folks to turn a bit green with envy€¦and perhaps actually believe that he or she is unworthy and undeserving and thus open to criticism.

However, with women it sometimes seems to go beyond a wee touch of envy. Savvy male hunters recognize that the incredible growth of women among our ranks is, ultimately, the salvation of our sport.


"All surveys indicate that women are the fastest-growing segment in almost all shooting sports." 


Most of us welcome them. But there's an undercurrent out there. Too many of us give lip service to welcoming women€¦just so long as they aren't too successful. It doesn't take an African safari to trigger the response.

When a woman takes a really big whitetail or a monster elk or a giant bear, the majority of her fellow hunters will show some good-natured envy but ultimately wish her well€¦however, there's a subset out there that really shows their claws.

Are Women Really Wanted? 

This is too consistent to be denied; we've all seen it. Give it up, folks. We have enough trouble with the anti-hunters without squabbling amongst ourselves. As hunters I believe we all need to support all legal hunting, even though, for each of us, there are almost certainly various forms of the sport that we don't participate in and, privately, may not approve. And we need to give our full support to all hunters who pursue game legally, regardless of race, religion or sex.

When my girls were ready I took them on plains game safaris because that was what I could afford. Other fathers were undoubtedly jealous because they had avid and deserving kids they couldn't take on such hunts. And, without question, I wish I could take my kids on elephant or lion hunts while these are still possible. But I can't. So I deal with it, and support all hunters equally. I rejoice in their success, commiserate on their failures€¦for God's sake, keep the claws sheathed.

The author and his daughter, Brittany, drag a whitetail out of the woods.

Like it or not, women are competent and effective hunters, and they are a force to be reckoned with at all echelons. Just a few days ago it was announced that my old friend Renee Snider, a petite and attractive woman of€¦well, let's just say about my age€¦was selected as the 2015 winner of the Weatherby Hunting and Conservation Award.

Over the years two other women — Natalie Eckel and Barbara Sackman — have been nominees, but Renee is the first female winner in the 58-year history of the Weatherby award. I can't even imagine some of the guff she will take, but she won it fair and square, beating out all of this year's nominees (including me). Sure, I wish it was my year€¦but I'm happy for her and proud to be her friend.

Be Proud

For you ladies who hunt, and for you fathers, brothers, boyfriends and mentors of ladies who hunt, a bit of advice from a veteran father, husband, and mentor of ladies who hunt: First off, women who hunt should be proud of who they are and what they do. But it must be understood that hunting isn't favored in all quarters, and there is still a double standard to overcome.

There will be criticism€¦probably more than male hunters might endure. Hunters of all ages and both sexes need to be armed with facts about hunting's critical role in wildlife conservation. All hunters, and perhaps especially female hunters, need to have a thick skin and be ready to deal with detractors — preferably with truth, not emotion.

David Porter and Craig Boddington flank professional hunter Debbie Visser with a brace of Cape buffalo. Visser has hunted Mozambique for years and is both knowledgeable and fearless with buffalo.

But a word of caution is in order. Today the Internet and social media enable an instantaneous and overwhelming viral response.

I would never suggest not posting photos of game you're proud to have taken. But always think before you post, and understand those words and pictures are viewed not just by hunters, but by neutral non-hunters and foaming-at-the-mouth anti-hunters. Make sure the photos are tasteful and clean, showing respect for the animal.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

Stuffed Elk Backstrap Recipe

Stuffed Elk Backstrap Recipe

Take your venison loin to a whole new level with this delicious reverse-seared stuffed elk backstrap. Smoking the backstrap on a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill first, then finishing it on a blazing-hot skillet or flattop, creates a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak with a crispy, seared exterior. The filling of diced mushrooms and creamy Boursin cheese adds a whole new level of amazing flavors to an otherwise classic smoked venison loin.

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim on a whitetail that provides the best possible margin for error.

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the 6.5 PRC.Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC: Rifle Review Guns

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC: Rifle Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2020

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the...

Practice under pressure with these high-intensity drills.4 Shooting Drills to Make You a Better Hunter How-To

4 Shooting Drills to Make You a Better Hunter

Jeff Johnston

Practice under pressure with these high-intensity drills.

Montana's vast wilderness provides the backdrop for a test of fortitude on the hunt for trophy black bears.A Long Way Up: Montana Backcountry Black Bears North America Big Game

A Long Way Up: Montana Backcountry Black Bears

Joseph von Benedikt

Montana's vast wilderness provides the backdrop for a test of fortitude on the hunt for trophy...

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd? Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

See More Trending Articles

More News

We give hunters an edge on hunting public land close to home.Public Land Hunter Magazine Now on Sale

Public Land Hunter Magazine Now on Sale

Game & Fish Staff - July 21, 2020

We give hunters an edge on hunting public land close to home.

In a year trying daily to defy description, even longtime cartoon hunter Elmer Fudd is being affected by the craziness of 2020.As 'Loony' Year Continues, Longtime Rabbit Hunter Elmer Fudd Loses His Gun News

As 'Loony' Year Continues, Longtime Rabbit Hunter Elmer Fudd Loses His Gun

Petersen's Hunting Staff - June 08, 2020

In a year trying daily to defy description, even longtime cartoon hunter Elmer Fudd is being...

How COVID-19 is affecting hunters here, and around the world.Coronavirus and Its Role On Traveling Hunters News

Coronavirus and Its Role On Traveling Hunters

Joe Arterburn - March 23, 2020

How COVID-19 is affecting hunters here, and around the world.

Highlights included increased access, advanced conservation, and new employment.Great American Outdoors Act Closes in On Full Passage News

Great American Outdoors Act Closes in On Full Passage

Lynn Burkhead - June 11, 2020

Highlights included increased access, advanced conservation, and new employment.

See More News

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now