Thursday, February 5, 2009

Swamp Witches: My sistahs in Mississippi

The media was getting me down on Wednesday. FS Huntress had highlighted a story in The American Spectator that was either an example of really lame humor writing, or an ugly public display of virulent hostility toward women in hunting. (Click here for FS Huntress' take on it, and here if you want to read the stupid article.)

But today, my friend Bob sent me an email about a story in the New York Times about a group of women who reminded him of me: the Swamp Witches. Duck hunters, baby!

I'd love to wax poetic about it, but I'm neck-deep in getting ready for the classes I teach today, so I can't dawdle. The upshot, though, is it's a nice portrayal of a group of women who've been hunting ducks together in Mississippi for more than a decade.

The highlights:

  • “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, sure, women hunt, but there are men putting out the decoys for them.’ We have our own dogs, we put out our own decoys, we do it all without power, we canoe in,” said swamp witch Susan Williams. I think every woman duck hunter I know can relate to this - people are always surprised that we actually go out and do this stuff all by our little selves.
  • The reporter, Michael Brick, cites my favorite statistic: That there are a mere 131,000 women who hunt migratory birds in the U.S.
  • The photos by Will Smith are really lovely - if you click over, be sure to click on the "more photos" option. Gotta love the crazy hats...
The only thing I didn't like? Yikes, the story and one photo show the women drinking in the field - not a helpful image. I'm no teetotaller - far from it - but I just don't think guns and booze go together. This isn't the New York Times' fault, though - the reporter and photographer were just showing what they saw.

Overall, though, it's a positive piece and it's done wonders to soothe the cerebral rash I got from reading the piece in The American Spectator yesterday.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


Terry Scoville said...

Great story about the the Swamp Witches. I especially like photo #9 and the Red Fox hat, that is sweet!

As for the other, uuhhmm. Just let me say that I am so appreciative and thankful that the men I hunt with are wonderful people and we truly enjoy each others company. And yes the boys can sure be chatty.

Josh said...

I, of course, read the crappy article, but I'll get to the good one, I promise!

I also commented on the crappy article, and I kinda ranted a bit. It was cathartic.

Have a good time at school!

sportingdays said...

Yes. Fantastic photos. Nice story for the most part.

But ugghh .... the writer screwed up the lead by calling those beautiful Winchester 101s a "repeating shotgun." Unfortunate about the drinking, too.

A real positive message here, in my opinion, is the eschewing of technology in favor of tradition: No motorized boats to the blind, no robo ducks, the culture of the duck club, lovely o/u shotguns instead of synthetic, 3 1/2-inch autos, etc.

Nice to see some of the traditions of waterfowling captured -- and celebrated -- in this story.

Anonymous said...

I went and read the American Spectator thing.

Why did I do that?


God help us if writers think this sort of article is what should be written in support of hunting.

oldfatslow said...

The Orlet's article is
poorly written spoof.
Nobody is that dumb
for real.


SimplyOutdoors said...

That author is a neanderthal for sure. And I say again that all you ladies are welcome at my hunting camp, and on my hunts anytime.

On another note: Why are they drinking beer in the field? Guns and booze does not a party make.

Let's all leave the beer for when we come in from the field. Geesh!

Overall, though, I'm glad to see a piece such as this in the Times. Normally I use the times for a fire starter, but that is two positive outdoor articles they've ran in the last couple of days.

Very cool!

Jesses Hunting And Outdoors said...

What kind of friggin idiot takes swigs of booze while hunting and then lets someone photograph the act and publish it?

Absolutely disgraceful. What a black eye to hunters and gun owners. Shame on the sistahs. Not the message we want to send to the non hunters. What part of gun safety did this gal miss? Drinking while hunting is also illegal in many states and I recommend if that is the case in MS, that they state cite her goofy azz.

You really want someone in the blind next you who's buzzed with a shotgun?

Unfreakin believable that with all the hunter ed and alcohol education out there we still have idiots like this endangering others in the field.


NorCal Cazadora said...

OldFatSlow, there are TONS of men like this out there - I come across them on the forums all the time. They say the exact same things this guy said (and some of the commenters on his story, too). That's why I'm really not sure whether he's trying to be funny or whether he's an ass who just got lucky enough to be published someplace respectable.

As for the booze, it blows me away too that they did that in front of a reporter and photographer. Do they really not know that it's considered a bad idea? I tell ya, if I need to "stay warm," I drink coffee, tea or broth. I'm fine waiting until plucking time before I pour bourbon.

Sportingdays, I had the same reaction to "repeating shotgun." Ay!

Marian Love Phillips said...

This is a great article of the Swamp Witches in MS. It's unfortunate about the pic of the huntress really gives a poor image of us Mississippi huntress. Of course it is illegal to drink while hunting in our state. I'm so proud of them that they get out there and do what they have to do on their own to enjoy the sport of hunting! :)

NorCal Cazadora said...

And oh yeah, cheers to everyone who went over to American Spectator and weighed in. I'm having lots of fun with the trog commenters...

Jesses Hunting And Outdoors said...

The really sad part is the article COULD have scored some major points with female readers and non hunters. Instead, we hand the anti gun and anti hunter crowd their pic of the year.

I can hear them now. "Not only is bubba a drunken slob hunter, so are his women."

I sent the writer a note letting him know this is not what is taught in hunter ed and this is also not tolerated in the field when guns are out.

If you can't go 6 hours for a hunt without a swig, you need help. I don't buy the BS excuse it was to keep warm, we all know that's a fallacy. Put on another layer if your so dang cold.

oldfatslow said...


I'm sorry that you have
to put up with them, but as
has been said, "The boors you
have with you always."

That said, last weekend
was Florida's youth waterfowl
hunt. Lots of girls were
out in the marsh. My daughter
and #5 son came with me. We
had a lot of fun.

BTW, I'm with you; a hunt
is best celebrated afterwards
and with bourbon.


Anonymous said...

Well, Holly, you inspired an OBS challenge, or rather that stupid article did. I just couldn't let it go, so I'm rallying the OBS troops.

I've loved seeing everyone's comments on the American Spectator site. We've made some good points.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Woo hoo!

I've just enjoyed being a smartass. I feel sorry for their women (assuming they actually have women).

gary said...

Its to bad the guys mind works this way, worse yet that he wrote it down and very unfortunate that he found someone to print it. Since my wife has been free from other responsiblilities the last two year, she has become the very best hunting partner. She took her first animals this year and I was there for both of them, loved it.

flanhammer said...

Reading the bad article and the comments -- most of them blasting "metrosexuals" -- makes me think both you and commenter 'Hank' were on to something.
This really is a "troglodyte" attitude, more appropriate for maybe a 1950s comedian ("What is the DEAL with women?") than anything that could be considered humor. Boo.