Go slowly when introducing a woman to the outdoors.
As much as we’ve been hearing about more women getting into hunting, the truth is there are still lots of them out there who would like to hunt if given the opportunity.
Hunting is still a vastly male-dominated activity, so that means the guys need to step up and be mentors for those eager women.
Before I share my thoughts on how to introduce your spouse or significant other to bowhunting, I must first point out the negatives.
The first is they might, and probably will, shoot a bigger buck than you and never let you live it down. Another is there will be two of you spending money on hunting trips and gear. You have been warned.
I was lucky and married a tomboy who was raised hunting with her dad. Unfortunately, women like Michelle are rare. A lot of women were never introduced to hunting or the outdoors, and you have to expose them to it a little at a time.
I’ve had friends ruin their chances at ever getting their significant other into hunting because they tried too hard or took them on an extended trip that wasn’t fun for her.
Another common mistake is trying to get a beginner to shoot an animal. That should never be your goal. Try to remember you were most likely introduced to hunting in small doses. Your father went and obviously enjoyed it, but it took several years before you could go along. Even then, your first outings most likely were as an observer.
Hunting is a natural progression. Your lady might want to hunt one day, but don’t push her. Start by helping her feel more comfortable in the woods. Take her scouting and teaching her about the outdoors a little at a time.
Some women are more nervous about animals than they should be. Snakes, bears, alligators, wild hogs, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats or other animals seem scary to them because they don’t know anything about them or have heard exaggerated stories. Alleviate these fears by teaching them about the animals.
A friend’s wife was scared to death of bears until she saw one with me. Once she realized they weren’t all out to kill her, the phobia was gone and she started to enjoy her time outdoors.
If a woman shows interest, get her books about bird watching, or track identification manuals. That can be a fun way to get them involved.
Make sure they have quality clothing and boots that fit. If their first experience is a cold, wet, miserable time, you might not get another chance.
Next, don’t wait to get a woman her own gun or bow. Even if she’s not ready to hunt, you both will enjoy the time practicing together.
My first gun was a BB gun, followed by a .22. These are important steps, so don’t make the mistake of starting your wife or girlfriend out with a big rifle or a bow that doesn’t fit or is too heavy. She will enjoy it more if you take her through the steps most of us went through when we got started.
Another way to help your lady feel more comfortable is to introduce her to other women who hunt. My wife has helped many women get into hunting because they see how much fun she is having. It’s also nice for them to realize it is not just a man’s sport.
When my wife and I have quizzed other women on the biggest factors that kept them from going with their husbands or boyfriends, two answers kept coming up.
The first one is they were nervous they would make a mistake. They understand how important hunting is to us, and almost all were worried about doing something wrong or not being good enough. Be patient and don’t criticize.
The second response was they were weren’t sure they were ready to shoot an animal. As I mentioned earlier, shooting an animal is the last step in the process — one she might never reach, which is perfectly okay. If you’ve done your part and introduced a woman to the outdoors slowly and taught her to enjoy the little things, she’ll let you know when she’s ready to take an animal. Chances are she’ll reach a point where she’s eager to do so, even if the nervousness remains.
When a woman is ready to hunt, consider starting with small game. Bird shooting and squirrel hunting are good ways to get her used to actually harvesting game. Many of us today take kids deer hunting for their first experience harvesting an animal. I feel that’s a mistake for any beginner, youth or adult.
Finally, resist the temptation to do too much for your budding huntress. Think about how much fun you have and the satisfaction you get when you’ve scouted hard and worked to put your stands in just the right places. Do not rob that experience from a woman by doing everything for her. Teach her why you do what you do and be ready to offer help and advice when she asks, but give her the opportunity to try things on her own.
Speaking of being on her own, my wife has been on several hunts where groups of women get together and hunt without the guys. These hunts allow women to share their new love of the outdoors with others who have been through a similar awakening. They learn from each other and often return with new confidence and an even stronger desire to spend time hunting with you.
Whether or not a woman ultimately becomes a hunter is not a measure of success. Your goal should be to introduce her to the outdoors and then let her decide how far she wants to take it. Even if you don’t end up with a dedicated hunting partner, your significant other will better understand your obsession and passion for hunting.
Read Recent Articles:
• Murphy’s Law: When things are going about as bad as they can, a big buck might be just around the corner.
• Shot Placement and Recovery: What to do before, during and after the shot to improve recovery rates.
• The Ultimate Practice: The best way to get really good at taking whitetails is to ... take lots of whitetails. This article was published in the September 2011 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.