Miss. sees increase in female hunters
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.”