Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What is it with women and bowhunting?

This question has been on my mind for quite a while: Why are women so drawn to bowhunting?

The question has been weighing on me for a number of reasons. One is an imminent visit from my sister-in-law Suzanne, who's a bowhuntress in New Jersey. Another is women I've met recently who are bowhunters, including Kirstie Pike - founder of Prois Hunting Apparel - and Julie Kreuter of the Outdoor Channel show Dream Season.

The big one is a statistic I found last fall. While the number of women who hunt with firearms is holding roughly steady, the number of women who hunt with bow and arrow has increased substantially in recent years.

Data source: National Sporting Goods Association. Click to enlarge.

Boyfriend isn't remotely interested in bowhunting, but this is one place where I'm certain our paths will diverge.

When I was a little kid, my parents bought me a toystore longbow, and I absolutely loved it. We lived on five acres of undeveloped land - part of it covered with weeds, part of it an excavation project where sand removal left giant pits and mountains - and I was out playing with that thing all the time. It's the closest I ever got to hunting as a kid, though I just had target arrows and never aimed them at any critters.

When I was in college and hadn't yet figured out a way to dodge P.E., archery was going to be the class I took.

And as a fan of postapocalyptic fiction, it's always on my mind: If civilization collapses and we can't run down to the supermarket for our dinner, how would I gather my food after the ammunition runs out? You can make a longbow with readily available materials (go Tred Barta!); guns and ammo, however, will not last forever.

But that's just me. I really would love to hear from other bowhuntresses out there about why you love it. And at some point, of course, I'll be asking for tips. It's inevitable.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


Anonymous said...

I've tried shooting a bow and I really liked it. There is something so graceful about it. There is also something very satisfying about thwhacking an arrow into the target (although I don't know a lot about that yet).

NorCal Cazadora said...

Ahhhh ... sounds like the same reason I loved tennis - both the grace of a good shot, and the satisfying thwack!

kirstie pike said...

I love the technical aspect of shooting a bow- it takes strength, poise and skill. It is a powerful feeling when your skill level improves. It simply adds a new dimension to the hunt because you are not just focused on taking a have to take the perfect shot. You must be silent and you must be close- it ads such depth to the entire hunting experience! Absolutely thrilling!

Suzanne said...

Well, for me, I prefer bow to gun hunting for deer because of the challenge. Bows are a lot harder to learn to shoot and aim properly than a gun, and (at least with mine only set at 45lbs.) they have a much shorter effective range. Also, since there's only one projectile (as opposed to a load of shot) your aim has to be a lot more precise. In short, using a bow sort of levels the playing field.

NorCal Cazadora said...

That makes sense. I love a good challenge (or, more accurately, I love the idea of maybe actually overcoming the challenge).

And there is something almost mythical or mystical (or both) about a perfectly shot arrow, isn't there?

Blessed said...

I love bow hunting - it really does level the playing field with the game you're hunting. It's kinda like waterfowl hunting - if you have a successful waterfowl hunt you've tricked the duck and geese into thinking your decoys are real - when you bowhunt you get your game in close enough that you've tricked them - you're really hunting. With a rifle you can pick your dinner off at 100 yards or more - the skill, the stealth it just isn't there. I do both - we're meat hunters so meat is meat 100 yards away or 15 yards away it doesn't really matter! But I enjoy bow hunting and hope that if I ever do shoot a trophy that I do it while bow hunting.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Excellent point! I guess it really depends on your goals. I totally respect the purists (I'm a huge fan of Tred Barta). But personally, I'm a meat eater, so my ultimate goal - after going through whatever degree of challenge and fair chase possible - is to put dinner on the table.

Othmar Vohringer said...

I can see why bowhunting has great appeal to women. A bow is a very graceful tool to look at. There is also something romantic about a bow and unlike a gun it is quiet. Women are by nature more patient than man and many women like that aspect of bowhunting. Women by large like challenges and bowhunting offers plenty of those too.


NorCal Cazadora said...

Interesting that you bring up "quiet," Othmar. As I've been thinking about getting into bowhunting, the realization that I wouldn't need earplugs, and that I wouldn't be doing any hearing damage, seemed like a huge plus.

Then there's being able to practice in my back yard instead of having to go to the shooting range.

As for grace, I can't stop thinking about Legolas in Lord of the Rings and how flawless he looked shooting arrow after arrow.

Keli said...

My Grandfather was a bowhunter. My Father is a bowhunter. I know ONLY bowhunting. Growing up in the mountains of Colorado was my childhood playground. We filled our freezers with wild game. I'm probably one of very few females who grew up with this lifestyle. I'm very proud to now make my living in the Bowhunting World!