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Women outpace men as new hunters

July 23, 2010 |  1:36 pm

An unidentified woman shows off the turkey she shot. More women than men took up hunting last year, according to new figures from the National Sporting Goods Assn.

While total hunters in the U.S. decreased slightly (.05%) between 2008 and 2009, the number of female hunters increased by 5.4%, netting 163,000 new participants. Growth areas for women included muzzleloading (up 134.6%), bowhunting (up 30.7%) and hunting with firearms (up 3.5%).

The data also show women outpaced men among newcomers to target shooting with a rifle, with female participation growing by 4.1%.

"New hunters, shooters and anglers are a good thing for everyone who loves the outdoors," said Denise Wagner of the Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield, Mo., the official home of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

"Hunting and fishing license sales, combined with special taxes on firearms and ammunition, bows and arrows, and rods and reels generate about $100,000 every 30 minutes, totaling more than $1.75 billion per year, for conservation," Wagner added. "When it comes to funding for wildlife and wild places, more is definitely better."

National Hunting and Fishing Day, scheduled for Sept. 25 this year, was established by Congress to recognize America’s sportsmen for their leading role in fish, wildlife and habitat conservation.

The growth in new participation among women is no surprise to Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry.

"Over the past several years, our industry has worked hard to help build this segment of our market. We’ve developed shooting and hunting products especially for women, reached out with welcoming and instructional workshops for women, and encouraged existing hunters and shooters to introduce their spouses, daughters and other newcomers to shooting sports and outdoor lifestyles," Sanetti said. "I believe these efforts are paying off, which is a bright spot for our industry as well as for conservation."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: An unidentified woman shows off the turkey she shot. Credit: Jim Bulger / Colorado Division of Wildlife