By Haley Faith
I’m sure you’ve seen the title “real huntress” or “real woman of the outdoors” floating around social media once or twice. It is nothing new that social media, judgement, criticizing, and categorizing go hand-in-hand when it comes to female hunters. Unfortunately, some of the hate comes from within our own hunting community. Whenever a woman posts a picture in the field or on the range, it can quickly be followed by attempts to tear down the woman as a huntress. Some men and women are quick to make hasty comments like, “She’s not a real hunter,” while others are dying to downplay the success she may have had in the field.
What does it even mean to be a “real huntress” or “real woman of the outdoors” though? Is the answer in the number of years the woman has been hunting? Is the answer in the number of hours the female spends in the field? Or better yet, is the answer in the number of animals she has harvested? By some standards, I’m not even sure I would make the cut as a “real huntress.”
Despite being a hunter of 16 years, I do not have all of the answers when it comes to hunting. No one does. I cannot give you a textbook definition of what a real huntress is, but I think I have a pretty good picture painted. Over the last year, my image of a true huntress has really been strengthened. While there may be negativities associated with social media, there is also an amazing community of positivity tied to it. I accredit social media for really highlighting the attributes of a true huntress in my eyes.
In less than a year of being on Instagram, I have become connected with more huntresses than I have ever before in my life. Not all of these women spend every second, of every day, in the field. They don’t all take pictures with bag limits every day. Some women may not know every fact about every single game animal they hunt. They may not use every weapon known to man or have the exact same form as everyone else. They don’t all eat wild game, for every meal, of every day. Some women may not be able to field dress their game with zero assistance from others. Some women may not get out in the field more than a few times a year, due to busy work schedules and their children. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a “real hunter” though.
While some of the skills I mentioned above are great, I consider a real woman of the outdoors to be something a little deeper. The real huntresses are those that are passionate, hardworking, encouraging, and empowering. They are the women that understand the importance of lifting others up, rather than tearing them down. They are the ones that tell me to “hang in there” when I’m having a slow day in the field and am freezing my you know what off. They are the women that are not shy to congratulate others whenever they see success. They aren’t afraid to compliment others for the sake of knowing girls like compliments. They are the women that aren’t afraid to ask for tips and advice with the aspects of hunting they are unsure of. These women aren’t afraid to admit their weaknesses either.
I consider the real women of the outdoors to be those that are also selfless. They understand the importance of building a strong hunting community, to ensure a future for hunting. They offer up advice in a constructive, instead of destructive, manner. They aren’t afraid to share their tips and tricks so that others can succeed. They understand how crucial conserving the resources are for future generations to experience. They donate their time to good causes. These women may take a day off from hunting so that they can devote their time to helping a newcomer enjoy the sport. The real outdoorswomen don’t just worry about their own success, but also the success of others. They focus on the overall experience of a hunt, instead of just whether they harvest an animal or not.
These are the types of women that really bring a meaning to the term “real woman of the outdoors.” They are even the women that helped motivate me to pick a bow back up, after 14 years of not shooting. I previously wanted to avoid comments I’ve seen made to others, such as “Eye roll… another girl with a bow,” and “Jumping on the band wagon for the image.” It was the comments from the same people that are quick to say a girl “isn’t a real hunter” that gave me some hesitations.
Having access to a community of uplifting women, who welcome newcomers, offer advice, and help others through new adventures, puts comments like those to bed though. In the end, a title is just a title. A title does not make or break a woman. People are always going to have differences in opinions, and some may not think the women I described make the cut as the “real huntresses.” One thing is for sure though. These are the women I am proud to associate myself with, no matter what they are called.
I know first-hand how easy it is to be hesitant to embark on new adventures, especially in a male dominated industry. It is in our human nature to be afraid of failure, specifically when there is the potential to be ridiculed afterwards. Please do not let that put a road block in front of your dreams though. There is a community of women, including myself, that are waiting and willing to share stories, advice, and words of encouragement with you. Through social media like Instagram and Facebook, you can connect with Girls with Guns Team Members and female run organizations like SheLivesOutdoors, HuntressView, Women's Outdoor News, and The Well Armed Woman. You can connect with me personally on Instagram @haleyfaith1023, through facebook (Haley Faith), or you can even shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The real women of the outdoors know that candles do not lose their flame by lighting other candles. Instead, we want to spark a fire in others to love and enjoy the outdoors as much as we do.
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