“One does not hunt in order to kill. One kills in order to have hunted.”
–From Meditations on Hunting by Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955)

Every January, I like to look back over the previous 12 months and reflect on the wonderful times I had doing what I love to do—and of course, that is hunting (and some fishing)! Hunting for ducks, quail, turkeys, doves, deer, hogs, and crows rounded out an amazing 2018. Each year, I try to expand my hunting experience, and this past year, I added crow hunting. It’s a long season in South Carolina, and crows prey on the eggs of turkeys, quail, and doves, as well as damaging important crops. So, what new hunt is in store for this year? I have said for years that I would love to hunt Burmese pythons to help save the Everglades from this invasive species. How cool would that be for my 2019 new hunting experience?

Throughout the year, in my quest to promote hunting, I talk to as many hunters as I can, and I have picked up on a difference between men and women hunters. Take my hubby, for instance. He has always had a passion for bird hunting. He has been an avid duck, quail, and dove hunter since he was a child, and he has humored me by being “all in” on my own hunting adventures throughout the year. Yes, he ends up enjoying these other hunts, but not with nearly the same passion I have. No sir! Sitting in a deer stand for five hours at a stretch is not something he loves, and turkey hunting in the spring—with all the snakes and mosquitoes—is something he mostly dreads.

It seems that the goal for many men is a successful hunt, and the sooner the better, while women feel that the overall experience is more important than the success of taking the game. Men seem to compartmentalize hunting. For example, they go all out for deer hunting, and when it is over, they go about their lives and can’t wait until deer season rolls around again. Those who love waterfowl hunting wait all year for the season to start and are fulfilled until the next season.

There is no denying that these men are passionate about their hunts, but most of the women hunters I know remain passionate about hunting year round. They are always eager to get out and hunt, and it doesn’t matter whether it is for game, predators, or even shed or mushroom hunting, for that matter. While it seems as though hunting may be waning among male hunters, for women it is only gearing up.

I can easily speak for myself and for those girls I feel I know well, and we all seem to have been cut from the same cloth. We would love to hunt every day if we could. The excitement of being outdoors in nature is appealing, quite addictive, and the fact that we are putting ourselves in uncomfortable and oftentimes dangerous situations pales in comparison to the empowerment we feel having accomplished something that is so important to us.

It takes a good bit of courage for a woman to be in the woods alone as you quietly walk to your stand and wait and listen and watch as the light of day slowly dims into the shadowy dusk. As the sun sets and the woods come alive, your adrenaline flows as you wait and wonder what you might see come out of the shadows!

I have had the pleasure of hunting recently with one of my girlfriends, Kim Davis, who is also driven by the thrill of the hunt. We get a lot of stares as we pull up in an oversized truck, dressed in full camouflage and not fazed at all by the looks we get as we throw bags of corn in the bed of the truck. With full makeup and our hair pulled back in ponytails, we hardly remember that just an hour or so ago we were working our regular jobs, selling real estate.

“Are you girls hunting?” we get asked. We watch them craning to see if there are any men in our hunting party, and think to ourselves, What the heck do we look like we are doing? Don’t get me wrong: I feel these are very positive reactions from the onlookers, who appreciate that we love the sport of hunting. In our resort location, female hunters are not as prevalent as they would be in more rural areas. I network with women all over the world who hunt, and in many places it is normal to see women hunting on a regular basis.

As I look back on the last 12 months, I like to revisit my mission with writing. My inspiration more than 3 years ago to start my blog, Camo365, was to encourage women to hunt and fish. Why is this so important to me? Well, it mostly is derived from fear. I am so fearful that those who do not desire or do not understand or appreciate how to handle a gun will impact my own right to own a gun. It doesn’t matter if it is for hunting or protecting myself; I want to protect that right, as I understand that law enforcement will not always be there for me when I need them—that would be impossible. I know that criminals will never surrender their illegal guns, and that is terrifying. I know that in the world we live in, we may need a good guy (or gal!) with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. I know that a gun is a great equalizer for women, who may not have the brute strength to protect themselves. I know that the population of male hunters is on the decline, and I hope that women hunters will spark a renewed love for this tradition.

I understand that not everyone feels comfortable around guns, and that is fine if people choose not to own a gun. What is not fine is for someone else to attempt to remove MY right to protect myself. That’s why I want to encourage women to become comfortable with firearms, whether or not they want to hunt.

Just last week, I had a fellow Realtor pull me aside at a real estate function to tell me that she now owns and practices with a gun. She has no desire to hunt, but she is proud of her ability to protect herself. I was thrilled to hear the excitement in her voice. I want to make sure people know that I am proud to be a law-abiding citizen who carries a gun and loves to hunt, and this is why I post my hunts on social media and encourage others to do the same.

This year, 2019, my goal is to encourage more and more women to discover the thrill of handling a firearm with confidence and to promote hunting, so that this important tradition can be passed on to the next generation. So, stay tuned, as you never know if I might round up some Everglades pythons! What would make me even more excited is seeing you outdoors enjoying the amazing world of shooting sports and hunting! Happy hunting, 2019  

Written for Waccamaw Outdoor Magazine, January 2019 Issue