Ladies, Hunting, and the Dogs Who Lead Us There

By Erin Davis, Wildrose Great Lakes

Disbelief about the existence women who hunt and the caliber of their capabilities is simply a thing of the past. What was once unheard of or unacceptable and has transformed to encouraged and equal. Women are undoubtedly the fastest growing demographic on the hunting scene. Don’t believe me? Let’s talk numbers.


Erin Davis. Photo by Chip Laughton

According to data from the Outdoor Sports Foundation, National Shooting Sports Report 2016, and the National Rifle Association:

  • 2001- 1.8 million female hunters
  • 2007- 2.7 million female hunters
    • 2001 vs 2007-85% increase by gender
      • 2007- Women comprised 20% of all hunting licenses sold
      • 2013- 3.3 million female hunters
      • 2017- 3.9 million female hunters

○    2013 vs 2017-44% increase

  • 2017- Women comprised 21% of all hunting licenses sold
  • 2016- Women ages18-24 were the fastest growing demographic in hunting
    • 2016- Major retailers estimated 23% of all hunting related sales were to women
      • Female gun owners spent on average $870 annually on firearms and $405 on accessories
women in the field 5

Alec & Erin Davis and Lewis Matzat

The rationale for these trends are multifaceted. The evolution of social  acceptance and women being seen as valuable partners in the field has largely impacted those numbers.  Fueling that statistical growth is a vast amount of resources for empowerment and encouragement that is readily available. Accessing information is more appealing than ever with gender specific digital and print media such as Women’s Outdoor News and NRA Women, strong social media, presence within flunkers and Facebook groups, seminars like Becoming An Outdoor Woman hosted in states by their Department of Natural Resources, clubs such as Girls Really In To Shooting, and mentored hunts, as hosted by groups like The Sisterhood Of The Outdoors.

Furthermore, women are a vibrant representation leadership positions at Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, which further solidifies inclusion and longevity within the sport.

As a result of this growth over time a strong market presence developed. It enlightened manufacturers to no longer subscribe to the old philosophy of “pink it and shrink it.” We’ve seen a revolution in creating products for the specialized nature of a woman’s body type in relation to proper unfit and quality clothing. Established companies such as Beretta, Orvis, and Sitka have created women’s gear to the same quality as their men’s lines. New companies have emerged such as Syren shotguns, McKenna Quinn apparel, and Prois gear that create products exclusively for women. Even major retailers like Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas now have vast floor space dedicated to ladies gear.

women in the field4

Erin, Margie, Maria, Lisa and Sammye on a hunt

Motivating factors for pursuing the sport are personal. For some, this is a way to obtain organic, humanely harvested, and sustainable food options. This is something we can identify with at Wildrose. As a kennel, the foundation of our breeding program is to exclusively provide genetics for exclusively superior game finders. Many times, our pups are the biggest factor in a successful hunt. Seemingly everyone who hunts has a story about a bird that would have never been recovered without a dog. The ability to ensure an ethical hunt through the use of a dog is cornerstone reason for many women to start and continue to hunt.

Hunting is all about creating experiences with family, our dogs, and friends we’ve made because of our dogs from shed hunting to quail hunts. So many ladies of the WR pack initially came to puppy picking to get a hunting dog for their husband or son. These women never had an intention of personally owning a gun, let alone gearing up to hit the field. Much to their surprise, after witnessing their own dog’s natural abilities and desire many people feel compelled to help their dog achieve its full potential and the maximum amount of joy in its life. Every year the number of women who have converted in this way increases. The number of ladies who enter the Wildrose pack with clear initial intentions to hunt from the day they place their deposit on a pup is rapidly growing as well. The number of ladies actively participating at our annual Spring Handler’s Workshop in Oxford has sky rocketed. Female presence has become so strong it even inspired its own event aptly named “Dames, Ducks, and Dogs.

women in field chip3

Sarah Barnes in North Dakota

Any lady’s journey to the field is her own adventure to create. But for the women of Wildrose, that journey always includes dog.


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