Miss. sees in­crease in fe­male hun­ters

The Covington News - - Agriculture & outdoors - By Steve Sanoski

VICKS­BURG, Miss. — Tanya An­der­son didn’t grow up in a hunt­ing fam­ily, but she took to it af­ter mar­ry­ing Bill An­der­son.

“At first it was just a way to spend some time with him,” she said. “I didn’t come from that kind of back­ground, but I would go along and just sit on the stand with him.”

Her first year tag­ging along, Tanya An­der­son spot­ted a “mas­sive buck” while sit­ting just be­low her hus­band on a stand. She tried to point him out to her hus­band, but he couldn’t spot the deer from where he was sit­ting.

“I had never re­ally wanted to kill a deer be­fore, but I said ‘hand me the gun,’” said Tanya, who killed her first deer last sea­son with a muz­zleloader.

She didn’t get a shot off at that first deer, but she got that first shot of Adrenalin that turns many first-time hun­ters into life­long en­thu­si­asts. Since then, she has gone hunt­ing with her hus­band year af­ter year, and the cou­ple’s three daugh­ters have fol­lowed her foot­steps into the woods.

Tanya An­der­son and her daugh­ters are a part of what of­fi­cials say is a grow­ing num­ber of fe­male hun­ters in Mis­sis­sippi and across the na­tion.

Be­cause the Mis­sis­sippi Depart­ment of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks does not re­quire gen­der in­for­ma­tion when a li­cense is bought, spokesman Jim Walker said there is no sta­tis­ti­cal record of the num­ber of women hun­ters in the state. How­ever, based upon his ex­pe­ri­ence, Walker said there is def­i­nitely an in­crease in women tak­ing to out­doors sports.

“Go to your lo­cal sport­ing goods store; go to a wildlife trade show; go to a hunt­ing camp and you will see lots more women than you ever have be­fore,” he said. “I have no­ticed a large in­crease in women, and that’s great.”

Ac­cord­ing to the 2006 Na­tional Sur­vey of Fish­ing, Hunt­ing and Wildlife-As­so­ci­ated Recre­ation, the lat­est cen­sus avail­able, the num­ber of fe­male hun­ters has held steady since 1996, while the to­tal num­ber of hun­ters has dropped slightly. An es­ti­mated 1.2 mil­lion women hunt in the United States each year, com­pared to 11.4 mil­lion men.

“I love get­ting up in the stand. When you shoot, your stom­ach drops and it’s the best feel­ing in the world — it’s the great­est,” said the An­der­son’s 13-year-old daugh­ter, Anna, who killed her first deer, a doe, last sea­son.

Anna’s twin sis­ter, Sara, said she be­came in­ter­ested in hunt­ing af­ter spending time tar­get-shoot­ing with her fa­ther and sit­ting with him on the stand.

“Af­ter shoot­ing on a tar­get range for a while I re­ally wanted to go hunt­ing,” she said. “But shoot­ing at a tar­get is to­tally dif­fer­ent from shoot­ing at a deer. You’re so ner­vous in the stand, but it’s awe­some.”

She has killed three does in her three years on the stand.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to shoot my first buck,” she said.

Bill An­der­son cred­its the MDWFP that in­tro­duced the youth hunts years ago with help­ing him get all his girls, in­clud­ing his el­dest, 20-yearold Jessyca, in­ter­ested in hunt­ing.

“The tra­di­tional deer camp can be kind of in­tim­i­dat­ing for the girls, but the youth hunts give me a chance to go out with just the girls and have a good time,” he said. “You have to make it fun for them or they’ll never learn to love it.”

Amanda Mills, host of MDWFP’s Mis­sis­sippi Out­doors TV show and out­reach co­or­di­na­tor for women and chil­dren, said many women and girls are tak­ing to hunt­ing through the same fam­ily ori­en­tated process the An­der­sons have.

“It’s qual­ity time spent out­doors with their fam­ily mem­bers, and that alone is a huge draw for fe­males,” said Mills. “The num­bers are in­creas­ing not only in Mis­sis­sippi, but na­tion­wide. We’re mak­ing it eas­ier for women to learn to hunt, and they’re find­ing it less in­tim­i­dat­ing to go out and do it.”

One way the MDWFP is try­ing to in­tro­duce more girls and women to the out­doors is a week­end event called “Women In The Out­doors,” which it will co-spon­sor with the Na­tional Wild Turkey Fed­er­a­tion in May at Roo­sevelt State Park in Mor­ton. The “Women In The Out­doors” week­end will fea­ture clin­ics on sport­ing clays, archery, hik­ing, fish­ing, disc golf and Dutch oven cook­ing.

The event — a first of its kind in Mis­sis­sippi — was orig­i­nally sched­uled to take place in Septem­ber, but was can­celed and resched­uled be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Gus­tav.

Mills said an in­creas­ing num­ber of young hun­ters are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the youth hunts each year and are ac­quir­ing a spe­cial first-kill cer­tifi­cate through MDWFP’s Mis­sis­sippi Out­doors for Kids pro­gram. Among those get­ting the cer­tifi­cates ap­pears to be an equal num­ber of boys and girls.

“This gen­er­a­tion is dif­fer­ent, and it’s re­ally a new age in hunt­ing,” Mills said. “There are a lot of girls who have been given an op­por­tu­nity to hunt and they’re re­ally tak­ing an in­ter­est in it.”

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