Women now fastest-growing hunting demographic
Women have become the fastest-growing hunting demographic in the U.S., and according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, it's a trend that extends to the 49th state, too.
The department says increased interest led to new women-only hunter education classes.
"We've found over the years that women sometimes like a more safe environment where they can ask questions," Ginamaria Smith, the program coordinator for the department's hunter information and training program. "They don't have to feel like they might be asking what they would term 'stupid questions,' even though they're not."
In 2001, women made up just 10 percent of the hunting population nationwide, but by 2013, that number grew to nearly 20 percent, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
"More and more women are getting interested in what used to be a male-dominated sport, and they see the fact that they can spend time with family and friends and get out, harvest sustainable food and wild game locally, instead of having to necessarily outsource that," Smith said.
Smith herself grew up hunting, starting when she was 12, and said she was the only girl on her dad's trap shooting team. Now, she enjoys teaching other women.
"A lot of our volunteers, directors, are men. And we're just starting to get more and more women instructors as well that are volunteers, that teach the classes and make sure to pass on our hunting heritage and pass on the firearm safety, and everything in the class," Smith said.
The hunter education class focuses primarily on firearms safety, but also touches on wildlife conservation, hunting ethics, and survival skills.
The next women-only class takes place on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rabbit Creek Shooting Park.
More information is available online at huntereducation.alaska.gov.
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