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Women and Hunting: More Women Give Hunting a Shot

Women and Hunting: For truly free-range meat, some say they prefer the woods to the grocery store.

In recent years, American women are spending more time in tree stands and deer blinds—and putting fresh meat on the table. Although men still account for the majority of the 13.7 million U.S. hunters, the number of women actively hunting is on the rise.

The total number of women hunters surged by 25 percent between 2006 and 2011, after holding steady for a decade, according to Census Bureau statistics. At last count, 11 percent of all U.S. hunters were women, compared to 9 percent in 2006.

Many state departments of natural resources have begun hosting Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshops that offer instruction in skills such as archery, shotgun, and rifle shooting.

“There is definitely a high demand. We have over 3,000 women on our mailing list, and workshops fill up quickly,” says Patricia Handy, Information & Education Program Manager at the Department of Natural Resources in Maryland.

Retailers have taken notice, too. Companies like SHE Outdoor Apparel, Cabela’s, and Próis are outfitting women hunters with clothing and accessories created for the female body, and archery manufacturers like Mathews Inc. are designing lighter bows scaled for shorter arm spans.

“Across the board, women are more independent than they’ve ever been, and they realize they are capable of hunting,” says Brenda Valentine, national spokesperson for the National Wild Turkey Federation and the self-proclaimed “First Lady of Hunting.”

The Next Food Frontier?

Gender roles in America have changed in many ways through time, but women still dominate household food and nutrition decisions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012 American Time Use survey found that nearly two-thirds of women are involved in daily household food preparation and cleanup, compared to 39 percent of men—and women spend triple the amount of time on such tasks in an average day.

Women are also leading a surge of support for sustainable food and agriculture initiatives like CSAs and farmers markets. One of the main ideas of such initiatives is eating locally, generally meaning foods produced within your state or about 100 miles of your home. This not only supports the local economy and environment, it also means the food often tastes better because it can be harvested and sold at its peak rather than spending days in transport.

But in many parts of the country, local meat can be difficult to find. Most of the available meat at U.S. grocery stores comes from one of the large-scale commercial farms, often called factory farms, concentrated in a few regions.

Hunting offers an alternative to the grocery store that lets women provide truly free-range and organic meat for their families while also helping create a more sustainable food system, says Lily Raff McCaulou, author of Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner.

“Hunting may be the next frontier for local food,” says McCaulou, who lives in Oregon. She regularly hunts deer and elk, and recently added grouse and duck to her repertoire.

“I was pretty detached from what I ate before I started hunting. Since I’ve started hunting, I’ve changed my relationship with the meat that I eat, and I eat a lot less meat than I did before. Hunting’s a way to reclaim some closeness to the food chain.”

It can make chefs more thoughtful, too, says Georgia Pellegrini, author of the book Girl Hunter.

“Hunting made me realize that there’s a lot that has to happen before that piece of meat gets to your plate,” says Pellegrini. “As a chef, I wanted to participate in that process because it makes the experience more meaningful. You think about the ingredients differently, you think about the experience of eating it differently, and you have more control over how the animal was treated.”

Making Connections

Many hunters—both men and women—say their hobby is not just about food. It also creates a sense of intimacy and respect for both the animals and their habitats.

Writer Tovar Cerulli was a longtime vegetarian when he took up hunting, deciding that eating “the ultimate free-range meat” was an ethical and sustainable choice.

“Hunting also allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the place I lived,” says Cerulli, author of the book A Mindful Carnivore. He argues that in a regulated, well-managed system, “there is nothing inherently ecologically damaging about hunting.” It can actually benefit the animals by preventing overpopulation, which can lead to starvation during winter months.

Hunters are also quick to note that funds from purchases of licenses, equipment, and ammunition go to support conservation efforts for a variety of species. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, every year nearly $200 million is distributed from the federal taxes associated with hunting to support wildlife management programs, the purchase of lands for habitat conservation, and hunter education and safety classes.

There’s another factor, too: fun. Hunting is a way for women to be outdoors and enjoy nature while spending time with husbands and children who hunt.

“Women are realizing how much fun hunting is and how close it can actually bring them in their relationships with their families,” says Tiffany Lakosky, co-host of the Outdoor Channel hunting show Crush with Lee and Tiffany and a top bowhunter. “The whole concept is that I am shooting my family’s dinner tonight and we’re eating something I shot. I would say probably 90 percent of the meat we eat, we hunted.”

While shooting the family dinner isn’t a realistic option for everyone, especially in urban areas, Lakosky says she hopes even non-hunters will start giving more thought to where their food comes from.

“We are all part of the food chain. There is a balance in nature,” she says. “People go to the supermarket and they think that somebody’s growing a TV dinner somewhere to feed them. They are just not connected to it like people were 100 years ago.”

For more information Women and Hunting, please visit

Hunting in Missouri: 3 Animals To Hunt in the Winter

Hunting in Missouri: If the winter blues have gotten you down, perhaps it’s time to schedule a hunting outing in Missouri. Hunters can take advantage of the end of turkey hunting season during the winter, as well as hunt several other small game from December until either January, February, or early March.

Here are three animals to hunt during the winter in Missouri.

Turkey – For hunters that either enjoyed the spring turkey season or did not get the chance to snag any Toms in the spring, a second turkey hunting season starts every fall in Missouri. Archers need to be sure that they take advantage of the late September fall open dates that last until mid-November and then open again during Thanksgiving week through the rest of fall. Firearm hunters can start getting their turkey hunting on throughout the month of October. In 2011, American Hunter named Missouri one of the top ten states for turkey hunting, and many experts continue to agree. Writer Doug Howlett shares, “Always my personal favorite and what I would honestly declare the number one turkey hunting destination in the country based on my experiences.” A season limit of two turkeys, any sex, is enacted during the fall hunting season.

Opossum – Officially, opossum season starts in the fall about mid-November and lasts until the end of January. Hunters do not have to worry about bag or possession limits on opossums as none exist, and dogs can also be used during this time except for dates in November that overlap with fall firearm turkey hunting dates. Regulations about killing any animal using a firearm differ from county to county, so be sure to check your local regulations before discharging a firearm for any reason.

Rabbit – Rabbit hunters have two options during the winter; hunting rabbits until mid-February, or trapping rabbits through the end of January. Either way, the bag limit is six with a possession limit of 12 unless the rabbit in question is a swamp rabbit. These species have much lower limits with only a bag limit of two and a possession limit of four.

For more information on Hunting in Missouri, please visit

Missouri Deer and Turkey Hunting Dates Set For 2017-2018

The fall seasons have just ended, and Missouri hunters now can mark their calendars for next year.

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved recommendations by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) for 2017-2018 turkey-hunting and deer-hunting season dates.

• Youth Portion: April 8 and 9
• Regular Turkey Season: April 17 through May 7

• Archery Season: Sept. 15 through Nov. 10 and Nov. 22 through Jan. 15, 2018.
• Firearms Turkey Season: Oct. 1 – 31

• Archery Deer: Sept. 15 through Nov. 10 and Nov. 22 through Jan. 15, 2018
• Firearms Deer Early Youth Portion: Oct. 28 and 29
• Firearms Deer November Portion: Nov. 11 – 21
• Firearms Deer Late Youth Portion: Nov. 24 – 26
• Firearms Deer Antlerless Portion: Dec. 1 – 3
• Firearms Deer Alternative Methods Portion: Dec. 23 through Jan. 2, 2018

Details on hunting regulations, harvest limits, allowed methods, required permits, and other related information will be available in the Department’s “2017 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information” booklet and the “2017 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting
Regulations and Information” booklet. Both will be available prior to the related seasons where permits are sold.

For more information on Missouri Deer and Turkey hunting, please click here.

Winter Hunting: Safety and More

Winter brings the holidays, the new year, and – for many – hunting. It may be too late to get in that big game hunting, but in most areas there’s plenty of small game hunting to be had. In Colorado, for example you can hunt pheasant, quail, rabbits, squirrels, prairie dogs, bobcats, coyotes, mink, badger, raccoon, pine marten, gray fox, opossum and muskrat in December and January. From mid-December to mid-January, you can hunt mourning doves in Tennessee. You can hunt fox, raccoon, skunk, weasel, mink, muskrat, beaver and river otter from the end of December through the end of January in Ohio. So, regardless of season, there’s no shortage of game to hunt no matter what state.


Safety boils down to the 3 W’s: Weapon, Weather and Where/When/Who


All of the usual hunting safety tips apply during the winter, with some added protection necessary. As always, follow THINK:

T: Treat every weapon as if it’s loaded

H: Hunter orange should always be worn

I: Identify target and what lies beyond

N: Never point muzzle at anything other than your target.

K: Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.


Be prepared for the weather. Dress in layers. The heat captured in between the layers will help insulate and keep you warm. Your inner layer should be something that wicks moisture away from your skin and the outer layer should be something that is waterproof and windproof. Pay special attention to your extremities – fingers, toes, head and neck – as these are the areas most likely to feel the effects of frostbite first.          Mittens keep your fingers warmer than gloves. Adding a warming packet to your mittens and boots can help keep your tootsies from freezing. Make sure your footwear is waterproof. Be sure to wear a hat and/or earmuffs.


Before you head out to hunt, be sure you have someone to hunt with and let someone know the 3 Ws – where, when and who.

Where: Let your emergency contact know where you’ll be hunting. Draw a map if needed to ensure that your emergency contact knows the right location.

When: Let your emergency contact know when you’re leaving and what time you’ll be back. If you’re going to be later than expected – even a few minutes late – call to check in.

Who: Tell your emergency contact who you’re going hunting with and his or her phone number(s).

If you’re going hunting by yourself, it’s even more important to let your contact know the where and when. If you’re injured in the woods, your contact may be the only one that can save you.

Hunting can be a great, safe experience free of hunting accidents as long as you prepare. Practice weapon safety. Dress for the worst-case scenario weather. Have an emergency contact that knows your whole plan including where, when and who. Following these tips will give you safe winter hunting.

For more information on winter hunting, please visit

How to Find Deer in Bad Winter Weather

Where and how to find bucks in the mercurial weather of the late season

Extreme Success

It’s no secret that food sources can be hotspots right after a snowstorm. But dealing with the varied weather extremes Mother Nature can dish out during the tag end of the season can be a lot more complicated.

If you’ve booked time off or only have weekends free, you can’t wait for perfect weather. You need to adapt both where you hunt and your strategy to whitetails’ weather-influenced movement patterns. Here’s a guide to hunting tactics for eight extreme late-season weather conditions.

1. Heavy Snowfall/Blizzard

You have three options here:

  • Hunt before it hits. Deer know when storms are coming, and they feed heavily six to 18 hours before heavy snows set in. Leave work early, take a day off, call in sick—do whatever it takes to be on a current food source before the storm hits. Orchards, food plots, oak flats that still have acorns, and fields of soybean, wheat, and radish can all be productive pre-storm stakeouts. In high-pressure areas, check out secondary foods like raspberry, honeysuckle, greenbrier, and plum thickets.
  • Hunt mid-storm. Put on tall boots or gaiters, wool, and waterproof outer clothing. Look for bucks hunkered down in sheltered areas, such as conifer thickets, brush, and blowdowns. Pinpoint this cover on the lee side of mountains and hills, on benches, or even in valleys where deer can find some escape from the worst of the storm. Still-hunt carefully along the edges.
  • Hunt post-storm. Find the best remaining food sources and take a stand downwind. Deer will be moving. They have to be—survival demands they get food after being holed up, sometimes for days.

2. Ice and Sleet

These can be even worse for deer than snow because the precipitation penetrates their coats instead of building up an insulating cover on it. Bucks seldom move well just before ice events, as these typically follow low-barometer periods (which are poor for movement) and often start as cold, chilling rain.
Focus on the same spots outlined above for snowstorms. Finding evergreens is vital for deer now, since deciduous trees and brush offer virtually no protection.
Bucks will be concentrated, so drive 1- to 5-acre pockets of evergreens. Have two flankers work the outer edge slightly ahead of a single hunter who zigzags up the middle of the conifers. Post other hunters at the end, or along ditches and side strips of cover that offer escape routes.

3. Light Snowfall

Bucks move well in light snow, often seeking a late-cycling doe or a bite of oats before the crop is buried. That sets up one of the most exciting hunting tactics of winter: tracking. You can’t try this on your favorite hundred-acre parcel. Locate a large, isolated tract of public land and hike in a mile or more. Try to strike a trail along a ridge spine, brushy creek, or bench with greenbrier, brambles, and plums. Search for a single large set of tracks, then dog them. As you move, try to predict the buck’s route and loop ahead when feasible.

4. Strong Cold Winds

Deer will escape the brunt of chilling breezes by heading to the lee side of hills and ridges, benches below peaks, hollows, and stream bottoms. Still-hunting these protected areas into the wind or crosswind is deadly now.

5. Bitter Cold and Clear

To soak in the sun’s warmth, bucks seek south- and southwest-facing hillsides and benches with mostly deciduous trees that let rays through. Stands of warm-season grasses also draw deer because they can remain hidden in the grasses, but the sun can penetrate and warm them. Take a stand and watch for deer entering these areas at dawn to bed, or exiting them in late afternoon to feed.

6. Bitter Cold and Cloudy

With heavy cloud cover, bucks will head to young evergreen thickets, especially those with shrubs, brambles, and other secondary foods. The conifers provide extra wind protection and can be warmer than more open areas. Try a two-man still-hunt through these small cover patches with one person working 50 to 75 yards downwind of the lead hunter to catch circling bumped bucks.

7. Fog

Deer hate fog because it makes them feel vulnerable. But they’re hungry when it lifts. Be there waiting for them at corn, soybean, oat, or turnip fields, flats with remaining acorns, or late-dropping persimmon stands.

8. Heat Spells

Bucks have heavy coats now and move at dusk or dawn, if at all, during a winter heat wave, staying on cooler ridges and shady conifers. When they do stir, it’s often to reach a secluded water source. Find one with fresh sign and stake it out until midmorning, then still-hunt breezy ridges and evergreen groves.

For more information on how to find deer in bad winter weather, please visit


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