Study Examines Why Hunting Is A Growing Sport Among Women

May 12, 2015

According to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, women are the fastest growing group of hunters in the country. While the number of young men picking up the sport has taken a nose dive in the last 30 years, participation by young women has increased.

Credit Susan Drury / Flickr Creative Commons

Stacy Keogh is a sociology professor at Whitworth University in eastern Washington. She became interested in the growing trend of female hunters, and interviewed 40 women from 11 different states, including Idaho. Keogh wanted to know how they got involved with the sport, and what it's like to be part of this male-dominated group.

"The more I looked into it," says Keogh, "the more I realized women were hunting primarily with their partners or with their fathers."

Keogh says this trend could have something to do with hunting being a traditionally gendered activity, and women might not feel comfortable right away.

"That's significant because there's what we call in sociology 'male entry.' That women feel like they almost need permission to get involved in a predominantly masculine sport."

But Keogh says that feeling could change as more and more women become hunters. Keogh's findings also suggest differences in the reasons why women pick up a the activity.

"A lot of women will talk  about using hunting as a way to connect with family," she says. "So a number of women will  say 'I want to go out with my kids,' and 'It's a way for all of my family to be together,' I want to spend more time with my dad and this is a way I can connect with him."

The women Keogh researched were more likely to hunt deer, elk or birds and to use the meat to feed their families, rather than killing predators like coyotes.

"Because there's that consumption aspect of it there's this idea that women are hunting for food," Keogh says. "They're hunting to feed their family, to provide another way to provide for their family rather than just going to the grocery store."

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio