The author holds a shotgun for the first time at a Women Afield hunt. Photo by Crystal Egli/CPW.
The first time in my life I’ve held a shotgun is also the first time I’ve hunted. On a cold and clear morning in November, I joined thirteen other women for a Women Afield pheasant hunt organized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The number of hunting licenses sold to women has grown slowly but steadily over the past few years in Colorado, according to CPW data. In 2015, 9.4 percent of the total licenses sold were to female hunters, an increase from 7.8 percent in 2011. Recent articles in Denver’s 5280 Magazine and The Washington Times show interest among women in hunting, and CPW has identified a need for increased outreach to this population.
“Our main focus right now is getting youth and women into the field and trying to promote our hunting tradition,” said Crystal Chick, the statewide hunter outreach coordinator for CPW. “A lot of people don’t have a family member or friend who hunts and it’s really hard to get into hunting without that mentor.”
Cathy Brons and Aaliyah. Photo by © Jerry Neal/CPW.
A southerner by birth, I moved to Colorado last year with the mindset that I would be open to new opportunities. The moment arose last fall when a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in joining her on a duck hunt. I had met Randi through work, and was thrilled to make a connection with another female who shared similar passions for the outdoors and wildlife. I hastily agreed, eager to understand her enthusiasm for hunting and to find out if I might enjoy the experience myself.
I hadn’t given much consideration to hunting until I took wildlife management classes in college, which fostered both my appreciation for the hunter’s role in conservation and hunting as a valuable wildlife-management tool. Yet the physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness I experienced as a novice in the field was unforeseen; something that could not have been revealed to me from the pages in a book or a lecture in a classroom.
My initiation into hunting was unique in that it was not a traditional, family-centered process. My Granddaddy passed away when I was very young, but I have always been told that he was a passionate dove and duck hunter. It saddens me that I did not have the opportunity to learn from him—to go out in the field with him or to be able to listen to the stories of his endeavors. However, I believe that I am sharing a connection with my past generations through my present hunting experiences. I know Granddaddy would be proud of my newfound eagerness and commitment to preserve the hunting heritage in our family. Read more