CHEYENNE — More women are hunting and fishing in Wyoming according to recent Wyoming Game and Fish Department license trend data. Over the last ten years, women’s participation in hunting has increased 30.5% and 14.4% for fishing.
It’s a trend Game and Fish has been nurturing, reaching out to women who are interested in learning more about the outdoors and conservation. Game and Fish Hunter and Angler Participation Coordinator, Kathryn Boswell, coordinated two Becoming an Outdoor-Woman (BOW) camps this year to teach women outdoor skills and activities. The traditional BOW camp covers topics like local plants and wildlife, canoeing, maps, orienteering, fishing, archery, shooting sports and photography. Beyond BOW, a new hunting-focused camp for 2019, specialized in hunting ethics, firearms, archery, gun cleaning, optics and a simulated hunt with a mentor.
Boswell notes the camps have been popular and instep with the trends. In the past two years, 119 women attended either a traditional or Beyond BOW. In survey results following the hunting-focused BOW, all the women who participated felt they had the resources and knowledge to hunt.
“I think women are starting to see hunting as an activity that is accessible to them,” Boswell said. “And, it comes with a certain pride in putting healthy food on the table and knowing exactly how it got there — something I think all hunters regardless of gender can relate to.”
A focus for women at Beyond BOW was developing a relationship with a mentor. For Boswell, mentoring is the motivation and support any person needs to learn how to hunt or fish. But, that pathway to success relies on experienced hunters and anglers stepping up to give back to the community.
“Wyoming people are natural mentors — we are invested in our communities, and sharing our western heritage is second nature. That is true mentoring, and there are lots of opportunities, ” Boswell said. “Start by listening for people who are interested in what you are doing and encourage questions. It’s not only about taking someone into the field, it is also being a resource for questions about gear or techniques and sharing stories.”
While women’s participation numbers continue to increase, men’s participation in hunting and fishing is declining slightly. There was just under a 5% decrease in both activities. But, it’s not a bad change as the playing field starts to level.
“The demographics are changing. Our baby boomers are getting older, and at the same time women are seeing hunting and fishing as options for their recreation and food choices.”
Sara DiRienzo – WGFD