Hunting and the XX chromosome; CPW programs get more women involved

Hunting big game isn’t just for the guys anymore.

“There are definitely more women hunters these days,” says Kathleen Tadvick, eduction director for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s northwest region. “It hasn’t always been a tradition to bring women along. If they were invited, oftentimes it was expected for them to stay in camp.”

According to CPW, of 2013’s 31,600 resident rifle elk hunters, more than 2,500 were women. The largest demographic for them was in the 26-35 age group with 673, followed by 537 female hunters in the 36-45 age group.

To help further attract female hunters, CPW offers several female-specific education opportunities. Its Mesa County Cast and Blast workshop teaches women about fly-fishing and shotgun shooting. At this year’s program,

several women say they found it a refreshing learning opportunity.

“It was a lot more accurate being taught by a woman,” Grand Junction’s Chris Erwin says.

During the seminar, Tadvick taught attendees how to find their dominant eye for shooting and how to size a gun properly. She also told them to utilize their hips when shooting.

“We have these hips for a reason,” Tadvick told them. “Use them.”

Tadvick says the women-only workshops are popular because attendees bond. “Women love to take the course with other women, instead of having their husbands or significant others here. They can just learn, then go back confidently and give it a try.”

Attendee Donna Aubert says she has been shooting guns while working on area ranches for years, but at the women-led shooting seminar she learned even more.

“My stance was completely wrong before,” she says. “They also showed me how to fit a gun for me. I always had guys just hand me one, and it was the wrong size.”

Participant Mary Lou Wetherstein also says the seminar was worth it. “It was very eye-opening and educational,” she says. “It was comfortable because we were all women trying to learn together.”

Making women more comfortable in the hunting environment was the focus, Tadvick says. “More couples are getting out hunting,” she says. “It’s become a generational change.”

Even though the Cast and Blast features shotgun shooting, it still educates women about safely using guns.

And Tadvick is excited to see more women experiencing the outdoors. “To enjoy hunting,” she says, “means they’re getting out there and enjoying wildlife in general.”