Women Hunters, 50 and over, are the demographic you need to be watching. Inspiring interviews with three amazing women!
As a “seasoned” female hunter, I do get a lot of second looks from people when they see me dressed in full camo, and quite honestly, I like it! Many of us “boomers” love the sound of gunfire and are becoming noticeably more enthusiastic about hunting and shooting sports than many men. We are living young in a world that, not so very long ago, was dominated by men: hunting and the shooting sports!
What you might want to know about “seasoned” women hunters
1. Don’t assume that we need help or want to be treated differently than the male hunters when at camp. Some of us are hardcore hunters, and some of us are not. If you see anyone struggling, whether a man or woman, it is appropriate to help. Otherwise, don’t offer help if none is needed.
2. We still like to be treated like ladies. Sure, when at camp, we will go first to the dinner line. We love and appreciate men who have good manners.
3. We strive for ethical shots. We are happy to pass on an opportunity to take an animal if we are not confident of a kill shot. I often hear from men hunters: “Why didn’t you take the shot?” Simply, because the idea of maiming an animal is totally unacceptable.
4. We don’t think of hunting seasons, we think hunting all year round! Women hunters seem to have a hunting passion that doesn’t start and stop with seasons. That’s why you see them enjoying a wide array of hunting opportunities throughout the year, including big and small game, predator hunting in the off season, wingshooting, and sporting clays.
5. We don’t mind long sits in the stand. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a sit that is too long. The kill is not what drives us—it’s the entire experience. We love the excitement and wonderment of what will be coming out of the woods. Having a quiet space just to breathe and take in all the beauty of the woods is our definition of hunting.
6. Potty mouths—who, us? Men, don’t be afraid to tell stories that might be a little off-color. We don’t want hunters to feel like they can’t be themselves when we are part of the camp.
7. We have some pretty good hunting stories, just as the men do. Don’t be surprised if we feel quite at home around the campfire reminiscing about our hunts.
8. When we take an animal, tasteful photographs are essential. We are careful to clean away any visible blood, and advocate dignified poses.
Are Women over 50 drawn to a particular hunt over another?
Some might argue that the vast majority of women boomers (and many men) are drawn to wingshooting. It very well may be that hunters can continue hunting into their golden years, and wingshooting is less demanding than deer and turkey hunting. If it were up to my husband, who is quite the gentleman hunter, we would quit all the hardcore hunting—such as whitetail, hog, and turkey hunting—and just shoot birds. He has plenty of reasons to want to do just that, as he has frequently reminded me.
Let’s compare a typical whitetail hunt to a quail hunt
Whitetail: You must wake up hours before daylight to get to your stands before first light. Depending on how far away you live from your hunting spot, this could require a wake-up call at 2:30 a.m. and a long drive. Next, you lug your ATV off the trailer and pack up all your gear, and head to the stands. You sit quietly for up to 5 hours waiting on a shooter deer. If you are lucky, you kill a deer, and if you don’t drop it, you have to track it, while combating the elements and the terrain. You have to either field dress your deer on the spot, or carry it off to the processor. You make your long trek home, clean your vehicles, gear, and clothes.
Quail hunting: Many regions no longer have wild birds to hunt, so many of us go to quail hunting destinations, and most offer first-class experiences. A typical day might go like this: Leisurely wake up to the delightful aroma of coffee and a perfectly delicious breakfast. Your guide picks you up around 10 a.m. and drives you to the field to begin the hunt and expertly works with the dogs as they eagerly leap through the bluestem grasses in search of birds. You enjoy your hunt as you stroll through the scenic fields, taking in the beauty and the joy of watching the dogs work. Your experienced guide takes care of everything, and when the hunt is over, arrange to have your birds cleaned. After a beautiful day afield, you arrive back at the lodge and are welcomed with a gorgeous and delicious chef-prepared lunch. I think you see where this is going!
Personally, I am not ready to give up hardcore hunting. I love the thrill of hunting turkeys, hogs, and whitetails as much as I love wingshooting.
Five things NOT to say to a “seasoned” woman hunters
- “It’s great that your husband takes you hunting.”- Wrong. I take my husband hunting. Most of the time he prefers to play golf.
- Don’t say, “I’m impressed how you are keeping up so well”! Just don’t go there.
- Don’t call me “Miss Maggie”! I know it is a Southern thing, but it makes me feel older than I am.
- Never say: “Isn’t it great that she is ‘still hunting’ at her age?” Hunting is a sport that you can continue to enjoy through your “golden years.”
- “Great photo! Did you really hunt that buck”? Wrong! Remember, we have guns.
Things that matter to us, and those that don’t when we hunt
- Personally, I prefer not to look like a swamp woman when I hunt. No, I’m not a girlie girl, but I’m not a dudette either. This is a topic that can get hunters in the weeds quickly, even between women. Women, for the most part, support all women, whether they wear fake eyelashes or no makeup when they hunt. Either way, it is a personal choice, and we encourage each other not to judge anyone else.
- Many of us love wearing great hunting clothes that match. No camo clash for me! Being a Próis staffer, I have a beautiful wardrobe of hunting clothes, explicitly designed for women, and I wear them proudly. I’m so glad that the days when I had to wear camo clothes bought in the chubby boys’ section in the department store are long gone! Stop what you are thinking. I know that animals don’t care. I know that it probably won’t make a difference in the outcome of my hunt, but I do care how I look. If I feel good, I will perform well, period!
- Most of the time, women prefer to hunt solo. Keep in mind that I am a big advocate of having a hunting partner in proximity for safety reasons, if at all possible. However, most of us are fiercely independent and have our own style of hunting, whether it is turkey hunting or whitetails or coyotes. It really doesn’t matter. But we also love dove, quail, and duck hunting, where you have a lot more ability to interact and socialize while hunting with friends!
- Many of us are a little heavy on what we carry in our packs. We like to be prepared for anything. If you need anything, just ask—we probably have it.
- We spend countless hours studying whenever we endeavor a hunt we have never experienced before, reading everything we can get our hands on. We like a good baseline of information, and then gain experience through the actual pursuit. We are tremendous listeners and take in as much advice and information as possible from other hunters.
THE DEMOGRAPHIC YOU NEED TO BE WATCHING
Women 50 and over have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the population who hunt, fish, and enjoy the shooting sports. Why is this the case? In speaking with a community of women hunters, I began to see a trend that suggests that women turn their sights to hunting more after 50 than before. Here are some of the reasons:
- Children are typically off to college or on their own, giving moms the time to enjoy their own passions, thus allowing them more opportunities to hunt.
- Many women adjust their workloads, putting their highest-earning years in the rearview mirror.
- More monetary resources are available to pursue hunting opportunities. Let’s face it, there is nothing cheap about hunting. Between gear, licensing, tags, hunting trips, leases, hunting club memberships, and more, the expenses are much more affordable once you are an empty nester.
- Hunting, unlike team sports, allows you to schedule hunts on your own timetable, with or without a hunting partner.
- Younger women, who hunt more often than older women, seem to live in more rural areas where hunting is a way of life, and many of these women actually live the hunting life as a way to make a living in a related industry. Lucky girls!
I am so excited to see the significant number of young women who have found their passion for shooting sports and hunting and amazed by the women hunters over 50 who have become role models for so many outdoor women.
Three Women Hunters Over 50 Who Will Inspire!
There is a sisterhood of women hunters all over the world, and I stand in awe of these women for their bravery, skills, and determination to be the best they can be with whatever they set out to do. It’s my privilege to introduce three women over 50 with fascinating stories. Here they are, in (mostly) their own words.
JAN PERRY, A.K.A. LADYBOWHUNTER
I am over 70 years of age, grandma to five, and great-grandma to three! I was a late bloomer in the hunting world and bought my first bow at 48 and shot my first hog and buck a few months shy of 50. I am proud of the sport I love and very vocal as well as visual regarding hunting. I proudly sport my handle, “Ladybowhunter” on the front of my truck as well as my tailgate, and have camo trim and muleys on the sides and rear window. I have never had issues defending my hunting passion, and I think my age and size played a role in my acceptance. I was quickly accepted into the bowhunting world and met some great magazine editors and manufacturers who became good friends and supporters. For many years, I was a treestand hunter, which all too often presented a lot of challenges, since I am only 4 feet,10 inches tall, and in the beginning, I weighed only 80 pounds. I managed with a lot of creative ingenuity.
I love looking back over the years and laugh at myself because I knew zero when I started. I had never hunted and didn’t have any friends who did. So I was on my own with Bowhuntermagazine clutched in my hand, absorbing every piece of knowledge I could find between the covers. M.R. James was my hero, and through the years became a treasured friend. He is also the one who dubbed me “Lady Bowhunter,” which has stuck for the last 23 years! For a thrilled great-grandma, life is good. I could talk hunting indefinitely. My “memory room” is a source of pride for me, holding many stories, little treasures I bring home, whether it be a rock, feather, or bone—they mean something to me. I can only wish the many huntresses out there to be able to enjoy the success and experiences I have been blessed. Through the years, I have made many good friends who share my love for hunting. The years 2018 and 2019 found me sharing several hunting camps with ladies only, and I am happy to have made lasting friendships with many of them. Life is good, and my goal is to continue hunting for another 23 years!
I asked Jan what she loves most about hunting, and she was quick to say that she loves the peace of the woods, watching various animals and birds from her stand, and watching the sun peek over the horizon. Her advice to anyone is to enjoy every moment. Be proud of anything you harvest, whether it be a forked doe or a big buck. My book says “minimum score” is whatever makes me happy! Her biggest fear is getting lost. “I don‘t have the best sense of direction, and I am forced to use lots of marking tape when I am deep in the woods!” she explains. If Jan could change anything in her life, her son would still be at her side.
Jan continuously educates herself on the impact hunting has on the health of the species, controlling overpopulation, and about the healthy protein source of wild game. She loves the relationships of hunting families as they seem to grow closer as they spend more quality time together, whether it be camping, sitting in blinds together, or sharing experiences. As a solo hunter, Jan is keenly aware of the importance of having honed tracking skills, as it is easy to get turned around while concentrating on the track.
Jan Perry lives in Santa Rosa, California and is highly respected in the hunting world by both women and men and has many accomplishments in her sport of bowhunting. You can learn more about Jan by following her on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/1.Ladybowhunter
THE HON. JULIE A. MOGENIS
I shot a rogue lioness in the Kalahari at age 50, which was my first bow kill at 24 yards after a seven-hour stalk. I am now 62 years old. Age is just a number
I was not up to hunt that day, but this rogue lioness brought her blesbok (antelope) kill into our Kalahari camp near the pool that night. The PH (professional hunter), fearful of his kids’ safety, changed up the daily schedule, and we were off to get rid of the unpredictable and dangerous cat. As I said, this was my first ever bow hunt. I left just the 25-yard pin on the sight, as I didn’t want to think about any other yardage. We had to get within 25 yards, and I had to make a righteous shot.
She ran us around in circles for seven hours. Yes, we were on foot and she, as cats do, toyed with us for a while, and we endured a mock charge as she tried to run us off. She was full and tired but also deadly. She became frustrated and put her ears down and thrashed her tail. The PH said that she could lunge at least 14 feet, so the pressure was on. I had to take a head shot down the throat chest area, which incredibly was an instant kill as the arrow expanded and took out the spine and vital organs. I was frozen, and my quads were shaking. I didn’t even know that the cat went down until my camera guy and PH started slapping me on the back. Then I yelled a big Woo-hoo! and somehow walked over to see her. She weighed near 400 pounds. One of the trackers made me a necklace from her claw. Yep, I wear it.
Judge Julie lives on the edge—“adventure” is her middle name. To fully understand, you need to know that she cheated death at the age of 47 when a life-altering hunting accident happened, and Judge Julie chose to fight for her life. She took a shot from a high-powered rifle to the abdomen at close range when she was guiding a group of hunters. Determination, 70 surgeries, and the support of many people who love her have enabled her to live life to the fullest. Now, at the age of 62, she has accomplished what many can only dream, including conquering the most challenging task of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, completing the Inca Trail, and trekking to Camp 2 on the Tibet side of Everest. Some might say that she has superpowers!
Judge Julie is outspoken, but delivers, and has been a prominent TV personality for many years, hosting hunting adventures in her state of Texas and all over the world. Her best advice to women at a hunt camp full of males is to be humble in what you say and show them up at the day’s end. She notes that we are now seeing moms leading the way, introducing kids to proper ethics, understanding the outdoors, and firearm safety, which is of enormous importance to ensure the outdoor legacy that we all love. What makes her the happiest is being outdoors, and she is excited about integrating her adventures with education, which she has done for the last decade. Her latest endeavor revolves around a partnership with Texas A&M (Dr. James Deer) in his Biogenetic Program to further the DNA Acquisition Project worldwide to better understand the range and health of indigenous animals around the world by taking blood and hair samples and GPS coordinates of the animals.
MARGIE NELSON, HUNTER, GOURMET CHEF, SINGLE MOM, SURVIVOR!
You might say Margie has stared down each challenge she has faced in her life and has never stopped growing and doing what she loves She is the epitome of a single mom raising her son in the tradition of hunting and conservation.
When she was a little girl, hunting and guns were part of her everyday life. You had to go through her bedroom to get the ammo room where her grandpa reloaded ammo and kept the guns and hunting gear. “Something was being plucked, scaled, or butchered in the garage year-round,” Margie explained to me as we talked about her life. Though we have never met in person, and the distance between Montana and South Carolina is far, we knew we are cut from the same cloth, laughing and reliving similar stories of our childhoods growing up in the country.
But Margie quickly turned the conversation from herself to her son, Rock. As a single mom, she introduced him to hunting at a very early age, always focusing on safety, and she recalls him begging her to take him hunting. “Rock had been learning hunting skills with me since he was 8 and got his first buck (⅛ inch away from Pope & Young) with his bow at 12 on his own!” Margie had to put her own hunting on the shelf, as they could no longer use all the game meat that Rock was providing—even though they gave much of it away—and she marveled at his passion for hunting.
Margie developed breast cancer when Rock was six years old, but she sheltered him from her pain and worries. But that was just the beginning of her health struggles. She would battle ovarian cancer, and as if that were not enough, esophageal cancer would next put her will to the test when Rock was 14 years old. She hurt so badly and had to make trips to Billings for six weeks for chemo, which was 110 miles from home. She always made it home and to his football games and weekend hunts. She protected Rock from the anguish of the diseases that dominated her life, but it was he who kept her going.
Margie has had a knack for connecting with some of the biggest names in the hunting industry, or more likely they were the ones who recognized sheer talent and determination in Margie Nelson. “I’ve been gifted trips to Costa Rica, Africa, and Cuba, where the fishing and hunting have been unbelievable. I’ve enjoyed hunting in Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Texas, North Dakota, and South Dakota with awesome friends making memories I will never forget!”
“My first degree was in marine biology, and I’m a divemaster scuba diver, and I almost always spend my birthday at the ocean, diving, snorkeling, and fishing. My second true love is the ocean! I also was gifted a trip to the Virgin Islands and spent two weeks sailing on a catamaran from St. Croix to Anegada and back. That was amazing!”
Margie’s a self-taught wild-game gourmet chef, and you will be amazed at her creative skills, from butchering game to preparing a feast before your eyes. She learned how to cook on a wood-burning stove and enjoys cooking on an open fire. She is the creator of the WyldGourmet.com blog, and if that is not enough, she is working with the She Hunts group, teaching wild-game cooking, and are co-producing the Skills to Skilletcookbook. She also works as the Montana Próis state coordinator, and you can follow her on her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margie.nelson1 ,blog,https://wyldgourmet.com and Instagram: #kampkubuk.
Her voice cracked, and I could tell there was a tear in her eye when I asked her about what stood out the most in her life. She responded: “When you stop and think, you can’t believe your kid is 25 years old. You only get to be a kid once. For Rock, it was motocross and hunting. Being a single mom is so hard. You don’t know how hard, and then you look back and say hold on, and it is over before you know it!
Margie always circles back to Rock—there is no doubt he is her rock!