Saturday, June 21, 2008

A theory: Why women dig bowhunting

A few months ago, I posed the question: What is it with women and bowhunting? I wondered why the number of women bowhunters is rising far more rapidly than the number of women hunters.

I've found one possible explanation for why women gravitate to bowhunting in a book I just devoured, In Defense of Hunting by Dr. James A. Swan. If you're an expert in psychology, please bear with my grossly inexpert translation: Carl Jung's theory is that our inner personality is generally either more male (the animus, characterized by rational thought and physical aggression) or more female (the anima, characterized by emotions, intuitions and feelings).

Swan applies those traits to hunting:
"The more a hunter relies on stalking and on weapons with a limited striking distance(emphasis added), the more important to success is the feminine mode of consciousness. Sights, sounds, odors, and intuitions that come must be screened and woven into an awareness of the whole of a situation to make the connection between the hunter and the hunted."

Now, if you're a male bowhunter, don't protest - under Jungian theory, each of us has a bit of the other in our personality. According to Swan, you're just tapping your anima. Your manhood is safe!

Is it psychobabble? Don't ask me - I took one psych class in college and one in high school (Ironman, do you remember the old lech who taught that class?) and the only thing I remember is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I'm just saying hunting with a bow really resonates with women, and I'm looking for answers to the question why.

When I read descriptions like Swan's, they ring true with me - some of the things I love most about hunting are in fact a reflection of feminine traits.

Of course, I still don't have a bow, so I haven't tried bowhunting yet. For now, I must remain content to hunt with my beau instead.

Holly and Boyfriend

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


Ken said...

I've never done any bow hunting, but I've done some archery back in my undergraduate days at Dinosaur Tech. I loved it because you can see the arrow in flight. You judge, intuit, hold up your wet finger, all of these things and more. Then you draw your bow, release smoothly and skillfully, and then watch the arrow do whatever it's going to do. It's beautiful. It's aesthetically appealing.
I like frisbees too.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I wasn't that astute last time I had a bow (sometime in Orosi, probably elementary or junior high), but I remember how pleasing it was to shoot. Gotta get me a bow!

Blessed said...

You'll enjoy bow hunting, I just have a feeling...

Hunting with a rifle is just so loud - the boom shatters the stillness of the woods, when I hunt with my bow it is all about being quiet, hiding my scent, getting the deer in close enough to take a good shot - it seems more "fair" to me. Maybe that is why I like bow hunting better, I feel like my prey has a better chance than if I'm shooting at them with a rifle.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking something that Blessed actually said in her comment. Shooting a gun is loud. I've only shot a bow once, but I liked the gracefulness of it, and the quiet. That might be part of why bow hunting appeals to so many women.

As for the last sentence of this post, all I can say is "Oh dear". The picture is very cute though.

Tom Sorenson said...

Ha! I'm glad you put that disclaimer in for male bowhunters! My imagined manliness is saved!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Kristine, are you sure you didn't mean "Oh deer"?

And Tom, you're welcome. :-)

SimplyOutdoors said...

My machoness is saved as well. I must be quite feminine because I really love to bow hunt. I mean REALLY love to bowhunt.

I can understand how bowhunting would draw more women then gun hunting.

If you want my honest opinion, I think more women bowhunt because it generally happens during the warmer time of the year in many places. That is why my wife started bow hunting.

Huntress said...

Someone recently suggested I read your blog. I have been skimming through it. I like it! I am a woman huntress! I hunt everything, every season, with just about every weapon possible. I love it! I think my favorite is bow hunting. The woods are quite, the animals aren't as scared as they are later in the season and it is a great feeling to "get back to nature" a little more. I recently picked up a cross bow and I love it. I hate that some people think it isn't bow hunting. It is! I would not shoot an animal any further with my cross bow than my bow. More then 40 yards is too far. There is too much margin for error. Just wanted to know what you thought about cross bows. Would probably be a good topic for discussion.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Wow, that's a dangerous topic - I know some people are rabid about this. But on principle, I don't have a problem with hunting with a crossbow. In fact, as someone with arthritis in her hands, I'm thinking that would be a lot more doable for me.

I think the more controversial question is should crossbows count as bows for purposes of participating in archery season. That I haven't given much thought to, so I'm really not sure.

Thanks for stopping by - glad to have you here!

KnobbyGoGo said...

Cazadora! So glad to find you here! I, too, am a woman who started hunting at 40 yrs, after having carried around a hunter safety card from the time I was 12! As a kid I never got the opportunity to hunt big game, as my dad was an upland bird hunter. I hike, mountain bike, fish, climb, but I had always wanted to experience hunting deer, pronghorn, elk, moose, sheep, and goats.

I am just about to enter my 4th season as a rifle hunter, but I have picked up a bow this year as well and cannot wait for the season to start. I have trained, practiced, studied ungulate behaviour, poured over maps all winter, spring, and summer, and I am dialing in my kit.

Hunting has expanded my understanding of the natural world in ways I could not have anticipated but am profoundly grateful for. The "beauty of wild things" has opened up to me, and I have been liberated, delighted, consoled, and strengthened.

The singular challenge of a hunt which requires getting within mere yards of an awe-inspiring creature that outmatches me in its ability to smell, hear, and see motivates me to be out in the woods and on the prairies.

I so appreciate, and am encouraged by, knowing that other women are out there who also feel passionate about this. I am going to check out the book you mentioned above - sounds great.

If you're ever in Wyoming, I am always looking for women to hunt with. If you can possibly do it, get yourself a bow. The sheer pleasure and physicality of using such a simple weapon/tool has a zen all its own. I absolutely love it. Good luck this season, btw :-)

NorCal Cazadora said...

KnobbyGoGo, good to meet you! We sound like kindred spirits, too, especially the part about not being prepared for what hunting would show us. I am so grateful for that, and at the same time gobsmacked because I never knew about this world that was at the outskirts of the one I used to occupy.

I would love to get to Wyoming one of these days. And I'd love to take up archery at some point, but I'm taking it slow and easy at this point. I started hunting with guns with a minimum of practice - enough to be safe, but not enough to be successful. With archery, it'll be important for my shooting to be excellent to avoid wounding (as much as possible). My goal is to get there before arthritis makes it impossible :-).