It’s exciting to see the recent rise of female hunters. According to the Census Bureau statistics, the overall number of women hunters increased by 25% between 2006 and 2011. I truly believe that over the next few years, we will see the percentage of women hunters continue to grow.
As a female hunter, I’m constantly wondering how I can contribute to the rise. I believe women are perhaps hesitant to hunt due to one primary issue: a misunderstanding of information.
When I use the word “information,” I don’t necessarily mean that women don’t have access to proper education in hunting; I think a misinterpretation of the hunting industry exists for women. According to National Geographic, there are 13.7 million hunters in the United States, and guess what, most of those hunters are men.
Obviously, hunting brands are going to advertise to their target audience—men. From a marketing standpoint, that’s exactly who they should be advertising to; however, just because social media and advertising highlight men, that doesn’t mean the hunting industry is saying women aren’t capable hunters. I honestly don’t think that’s what’s being advertised at all. These companies simply just need to sale a product and a brand, and in what better way, than to appeal to their target audience.
Instead of feeling negative towards men being the primary focus in the hunting industry, I wish that would empower women instead. Enjoying the outdoors and hunting lifestyle should be something enjoyed by both genders. There is no need for women to feel overshadowed because at the end of the day, being in the outdoors and enjoying God’s creation is the ultimate goal and trophy in itself. My wish is for women to not feel incapable. Women need to understand the reasons we see men prominently in ads, social media, television shows, and beyond. It is simply because they are the target audience—not because we are inferior or designed to not hunt.
What Can I do?
I believe that getting more women involved in hunting truly lies in the hands of women that already have discovered the rewards of being a hunter. We can increase the number of female hunters by doing two things: providing encouragement and being a positive inspiration.
It’s easy to positively encourage those who already show an interest in hunting. When women ask me questions about which bow I prefer or which broadhead I use, I’m thrilled to answer. I think it’s so important to be kind and always remember to engage with others and share tips. Encouraging women who already have an interest in the industry is easy; however, you may ask yourself, “How do I approach women that haven’t approached me?”
For starters, approach women you feel comfortable with first—family and friends. You can start out with an easy conversation starter like sharing your favorite wild game recipe. This will certainly bring up hunting. After you engage in the conversation, you will be able to know if 1. She is against hunting or 2. She is interested. After that point, you will know how to gauge the conversation from there.
It’s crucial to actually listen to what she believes and what she is saying. Being forceful about hunting is not the right path. If she is willing to learn more and possibly even go hunting, then you’ve already reached your goal of being encouraging.
I think the overall best way to see the number of female hunters rise is by being a positive inspiration. Here are a few ways:
At the end of every day, I hope that I fulfill the tasks of providing encouragement and being a positive inspiration to women. I’m so grateful to those who have reached out to me with love and support, and I hope I provide others with the same incredible feelings I have received. Being compassionate is so easy, and It’s my goal to spread kindness when I can—will you accept the challenge, too? Will you help guide women to the outdoors?
First, let me get this out of the way. "Vidalia, Vidalia, Girl won't you tell me why! Sweet Vidalia, you always gotta make me cry!" Yes, I've had Sammy Kershaw on my mind ever since I found out I was going to be traveling to Vidalia, Georgia to hunt with Outdoor Militia®. The entire week prior to the hunt, I would randomly bust out singing the jam because I was so excited, and even though getting my first turkey didn't happen, Vidalia did not make me cry. I made forever friendships, shared countless laughs, and killed my first pig(s).
Destination - Vidalia, Georgia
I won't bore you too much with the recap of the drive down, but I will say this, it certainly included some calling and coffee. My drive was a short six and a half hours; I'm only kidding on the "short" part, but It was an enjoyable ride.
Friday Night Shennanigans
As soon as I arrived in Vidalia, I was greeted by Joe Paget and Conner Thigpen, two Georgia boys that are avid hunters. Joe owns Outdoor Militia® and Conner serves as Pro-Staff for the company. Also, Conner and his dad, Alan, own Gobbler's Ghost Custom Calls®. I will talk more about that later on.
Back to Friday night, the guys had a surprise in store for me; since I've never killed a hog either, the guys lined up a hog hunt for us to go on. After pulling up in the yard, I threw on my camouflage and we headed south to take care of a pig problem.
After getting settled in our prime time spot, about 50 yards from a corn feeder, it seemed to only take minutes for the pigs to arrive. Joe, Conner, and I were all holding an AR a piece, so we definitely felt like some annihilation was going to take place, and it most certainly did. Seventeen little piglets showed up. We waited on the sow to arrive, but after anxiously awaiting on her, we realized we were going to lose light, so we decided to unload on the little pests. Out of seventeen, we killed nine, so that's pretty good odds, I believe.
After our pig massacre, we took the piglets and skinned them. We had big plans for those little fellas, which included a smoker and some fine BBQ sauce.
Well, to be completely honest, we spent a little too much time around the fire on Friday night, so I can't promise you that we woke up chipper and ready to roll on Saturday, but we did manage to get to the woods prior to daylight, so I think that deserves some credit.
Conner's granddaddy allowed us to hunt in his little honey hole, and from what I hear, I should feel like a very special girl because he doesn't let just anyone hunt the property. As soon as we got out of the truck, it was like the woods awoke at the exact same time. The birds were chirping and in the feint distant, you could hear a turkey gobbling. Go Time.
Unfortunately, I think we all got a little too anxious because we scared a hen off the roost, and I'm afraid that may have also spooked the gobbler, too. We tried a few more places out that morning; however, we never had a gobbler come in commit. We were content with trying again the next morning. But until then, it was time to give some piglets a little attention.
Pork is What's for Dinner
Grilling good food with good friend
Wild Pork BBQ
Homemade Baked Beans
A selection of cold beer
Are you wondering what's on that pork?
Smoke over indirect heat with apple chips
Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
Spray liberally with vinegar periodically
After some time, wrap in tin foil, slather on BBQ Sauce, and let the magic happen. We used Hunters Pride BBQ Sauce in Original Flavor.
The Ghost Gobble
Another highlight from my weekend in Vidalia
I've heard of a ghost gobble before; however, I've never actually witnessed it happen. It's something I will honestly never forget. Conner, Joe, and I were posted up beside a very large field, and we had been sitting there for quite some time fantasizing about what we would be having for lunch. Suddenly, Joe says in a whisper, "There they are! Be still."
Sure enough, there they were; three jakes and one gobbler were walking into the field heading diagonally away from us. Conner started using the slate he had made personally for Joe to call them in closer to us. Conner is incredible using a slate and a mouth call. He is certainly one of the best I've ever heard. You can order a custom call here through the Instagram page by direct messaging the company.
When I say that Conner made those young turkeys put on a show, I 100% mean it. One was strutting and the dominant bird of the group was ghost gobbling. A ghost gobble is when the turkey makes the motion one would make when gobbling; however, a sound does not project from the turkey. It was so unique to see and made me giggle a little bit! Obviously, he didn't want the dominant bird of the area to hear him.
Sadly, we all noticed at the same time that the turkeys were distracted by a hen on the opposite end of the field. We were kicking ourselves for not having a decoy out there. Even though one didn't come close enough, it was still such an incredible experience to witness, and I will never forget it.
My trip to Vidalia, Georgia, didn't include me bringing home my first turkey, but in my opinion, it provided me with so much more. I will never forget the memories made and laughs shared between friends I plan to keep around for a long time.
Once again, I have to thank Outdoor Militia® for having me down for the weekend. These guys definitely understand the meaning of southern hospitality. This past weekend, I got to experience the true meaning of Outdoor Militia®; it's about the camardirie between family and friends that share the same passion for the outdoors. As the slogan goes, "whether it's killing deer, smoking pigs, busting birds or hooking fish, you can bet we are in." Will you join them? Check out their website and see what these guys are about and order some awesome merchandise!
Well, I hope you're looking forward to my next adventure. I will be back chasing the Alabama gobbler this weekend. Thank you for reading about my experiences in the outdoors!
Anticipation. A word that certainly sums up my mindset ever since deer season ended in February. For months, hunters have anxiously awaited the 4:30 a.m. wake up call, walking in the woods before daybreak, and the subtle hoot of an owl through the trees. So, when Alabama's youth season rolled around, I had waited long enough. I had to get out in the woods and do a little recon. The weekend prior to Alabama's Turkey Season opener, I spent my Saturday and Sunday in the woods scouting.
The Shock Gobble
On Saturday morning around 5:30 a.m., we headed out towards the property. It had rained the night before, so it was a little warm and muggy, but I still had hopes we would stumble on a turkey sign and maybe locate a few in the process. As I was walking down the dirt road, I discovered a fresh turkey track, where the ground had just been kicked up slightly. The track led down into a ravine, so I pulled out my crow call in hopes of a shock gobble. As soon as I blew the crow call, he answered loud and proud. I couldn't contain my excitement.
Spring Break: Beards over beaches
Luckily, since I work at a University, I get a week long vacation like the students. Needless to say, I had big plans for Spring Break, plans that didn't include a pretty tropical drink or swimwear. My plans, for the most part, played out pretty much how I wanted them to. I hunted eight mornings out of the nine and even four afternoons. However, there was one minor mishap. I didn't harvest a turkey. For the entire week, I struggled. At first, they would be hot in the tree and once they flew down, they would shut up. Then, I'd finally sit down on one and he'd get henned up. One morning, I had two gobblers coming my way, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would get one, and then, without a reason in the world, they disappeared.
But.... there was a morning where I had an opportunity. As I write this section, a part of me feels the tinge of defeat all over again, but I think it's so important for hunters to share both their victories and adversities. No one is perfect, and I'm most certainly not...
The Pain of a Missed Opportunity
I guess you never expect it to happen. Maybe that's why it hurts so much when it does. The morning was perfect. The sky was clear. The temperature was cool enough that you could see your breath but not too frigid. It was the kind of morning you get in the truck with your hot coffee in hand and say, "This is going to be a good one."
We started out in a few different places, but strangely enough, we didn't hear a peep. As we were about to call it quits, we stopped by a fairly large green field on the way back to the truck. I got out my crow call and loudly and proudly, gave it a blow. Bam! Two gobbled at the exact same time. You can imagine my excitement! They were maybe 150 yards away, if not a little closer, in the woods just beyond the patch.
We quickly assembled the decoy and found a seat across the patch facing the direction they would be coming. We started out with soft yelps on a Woodhaven mouth call, and let me tell you, they were hot on the trail. They were coming. There was no doubt about it. My emotions were everywhere. Then, within about ten minutes, I saw that blue head pop up deep within the woods. I'm really not sure how I even saw him that far away. I was staring very hard! Anyways, the moment I saw one head, I saw the other head pop up behind him. They were certainly on a mission because they made a lot of ground up quickly and were strutting the entire time. As I watched them strutting, I promised myself I'd be patient.
As soon as they got about fifteen yards or so from entering the field, they put on the brakes. They sat there for a good twenty minutes gobbling their heads off, but they wouldn't take a single step closer. My mind was racing. My heart was pounding. I knew they didn't want to come in the field. They wanted the hen to come to them. To the right of me was a clear cut and both gobblers began to make their way in that direction. They continued to gobble and strut, but I knew what was about to happen.
They got to the far end of the field, about 60 yards away from me, and once again, they put on the brakes. They were giving my decoy one last opportunity to follow along with them, it seemed. There was structure all in the way. I could barely see the top of their heads at this point. One gobbler turned to head towards the clear cut. This was it. The moment I had to decide, to shoot or not to shoot. It seemed like an eternity. I took my safety off and slowly pulled the trigger. He stumbled on the ground for only a moment, and as I was getting up to chase after him, he flew.
Failure washed over me like a flood. I immediately bursted into tears, not because I'm weak but because I'm strong-willed. I don't accept failure well, and I know that is most certainly a flaw. I sulked for a while, but then I was back in the woods that afternoon. A missed opportunity, most certainly, but a lesson learned, most importantly.
A New Journey on the Horizon
The elusive Alabama turkey hasn't been too kind to me, and now, I have a new adventure in sight. Let me say this in the most cliche' way possible: Georgia is on my mind. I'm excited to announce that I will be hunting with Outdoor Militia® over the weekend in Vidalia, Georgia. Two weekends ago, the guys of Outdoor Militia® were hammering on the Georgia birds, and now, they are so kindly giving me an opportunity after my lack of success over Spring Break. So, that being said, I hope you look forward to The Quest for a Limb Hanger Part II.
Hey y'all! I'm Sydney Broadaway, and I hope you choose to follow along in my outdoors journey. The most important thing you could know about me is my love for God. He has given me the skills to pursue my passion of being a conservationist and hunter. If anything, I hope I can inspire others to grow closer to God and to the outdoors.