Armed and female - states mark rise in women hunters

Mon Nov 7, 2011 2:42pm EST
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By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Thirteen-year-old Anna Yu is the first member of her family to handle a rifle, which she recently used to take down a deer with a single shot in an adult-supervised hunt in Idaho.

Yu is among the growing number of American girls and women -- from teens to senior citizens -- who have taken up hunting, a sport traditionally associated with men and still dominated by them.

"I thought, 'I can do this,'" Yu said. "Hunting's not just for boys, it's for everybody."

As wildlife agencies across the nation track an overall decline in the ranks of hunters, some states are reporting a surge in the number of females enrolled in hunter education courses and issued permits to bag birds and big-game animals.

The trend is pronounced in the northern Rockies, where a wealth of wildlife, vast swaths of publicly accessible lands and an outdoors culture has historically made for a hunting mecca.

Faced with flagging license sales in some years, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have renewed efforts to recruit new hunters. Females are a prime target, with states offering ladies-only shooting instruction, hunting clinics and workshops on outdoor skills.

"Women are not just stuck in the kitchen these days, and hunting is no longer a gender-specific activity," said Kelton Hatch, conservation educator with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Females in 2010 made up 19.5 percent of all Idaho residents applying for hunting licenses, a 10-year high. In Montana last year, women accounted for 14 percent of hunters. That compared to a national average of 9 percent.   Continued...

<p>Hunter Anna Yu poses with her father George and the deer she shot in Idaho in this October 31, 2011 photo released to Reuters, November 7, 2011. Reuters/George Yu/Handout</p>