Women heading outside like never before

Posted on: May 29, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Women outdoorsMadison Shoemaker, 14, harvested this 9-point buck while hunting on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 in Dunbar.

There was a time when this kind of event might have been considered a novelty.

No more.

Today, the demand is real, and it’s growing. Women want to be a part of the outdoors.

That’s why the Allegheny Valley Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is hosting a “women in the outdoors” event Saturday at Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club in Tarentum.

It’s a day for girls and women 14 and older — and them alone — to learn to shoot a bow, fire a gun, explore hunting and otherwise get a hands-on taste of outdoor sports.

Registration is open through Friday and can be done by contacting Sandi Hazlett at Hazlett7@consolidated.net or 724-777-5039.

Organizers are promoting the day by saying women are heading outside like never before.

“Hunting, hiking and fishing are no longer just for men. Women are taking to lakes and tree stands all over Western Pennsylvania to take advantage of its vast wildlife and majestic landscapes,” Hazlett said.

Indeed they are.

According to information released this past week by Southwick Associates, an outdoor research firm, women make up 27 percent of anglers and 11 percent of hunters nationally.

That trend is reflected here in Pennsylvania.

In the 2009-10 hunting license year — the first trackable under the automated licensing system — 67,165 women purchased a hunting license, Game Commission executive director Matt Hough said. That represented about 7 percent of all license buyers.

As of Dec. 31 of this past year, 93,210 women had done the same. That was a little more than 10 percent of all license buyers.

The figure assuredly went up because of spring turkey season, which annually accounts for a little bump in sales.

That trend is sure to continue, too.

Hough said it’s not uncommon for half or more of the students in some hunter education classes to be female.

We’ll be seeing more girls on the water, too. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is trying to figure out ways to recruit more women into the angling ranks.

It’s hard to see that not working to at least some degree.

All those women share some things with male hunters and anglers.

According to Southwick, 44 percent of women anglers say they fish primarily for bass. They’re also the most popular game fish with men.

Women, like men, hunt white-tailed deer more than anything else.

But women are different, too.

Compared to men, more women hunt with shotguns than with rifles, and a higher percentage bowhunt.

Manufacturers and retailers would be wise to make decisions with women in mind, Rob Southwick said.

“Women are a huge part of the outdoor market and even influence spending decisions by others in their households. Smart companies need to reach out to the female segment,” he said.

Here’s guessing they will. Their customers — their new customers — are waiting.

This story originally appeared at triblive.com/sports/outdoors.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.