Ladies first: Women fast-growing segment of outdoor enthusiasts


Move over, boys. The girls are coming to deer camp and the ol’ fishing hole, too, and they are doing it in record numbers. While that might not be news to folks who have been around the outdoor world for more than a few years and have read the sign, it probably is to those who haven’t. Not to mention those who don’t necessarily appreciate the hunting and fishing sports for what they are.

Just this week I received an email from an outdoorswoman who drew her first Nevada bull elk tag and was looking for information about the elk in her unit. “I am looking for advice on the best location for the biggest one. Any suggestions? I have hunted this area for deer but never an elk.”

I hope she bags the bull she is looking for.

Earlier this week I received a text message from Calli, my youngest daughter who is away at school. Her words were simple yet full of meaning and memories. “I want to go hunting,” she wrote. It was just a few years ago that I had the privilege of looking on as Calli calmly took a dead rest and harvested her first deer. It wasn’t a monster, but that didn’t matter. We shared a unique outdoor experience, and the smallish two-point helped fill the freezer.

Calli also has a wild turkey to her credit. Funny thing is, of my three daughters she is the girliest girl. So much for old stereotypes.

The fact is that women not only account for 25 percent of all anglers, and nearly 11 percent of all hunters, but also comprise the fastest-growing segment within the hunting and shooting communities, according to a new report entitled Women in the Outdoors in 2012. This report on women’s participation in outdoor recreation was compiled by Southwick Associates, a research firm specializing in fish and wildlife economics and statistics.

When it comes to freshwater fishing, largemouth bass hold the top spot in the interest column for male (63 percent) and female (51 percent) anglers; however, there is a significant difference between the two regarding their approach to fishing. Men tend to be more species focused than women. While 43 percent of female anglers indicated they fished for “anything that bites,” only 27 percent of male anglers did the same.

So why do men and women spend their time fishing? Both indicated they did so in part because they like to spend time on or near the water. In fact, this was the No. 1 reason women (86 percent) enjoyed fishing. An equal percentage of men indicated this was one of the reasons they chose to fish; however, their No. 1 answer was that they liked to spend time outdoors.

On this topic, the biggest difference between male and female anglers showed up when friends and family came into the picture. Nearly 84 percent of the women interviewed saw fishing as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, while only 71 percent of men expressed this same thought. It appears that some of us guys don’t like company.

In the hunting realm, the most popular game species for hunters of either gender is deer, and statistically there is little difference in the level of interest between females (71 percent) and males (72 percent). The same is true for wild turkey and small game animals.

If there is a surprise in the research results, it is the fact that a larger percentage of female hunters choose to pursue elk than their male counterparts, by nearly double — 10 percent of female hunters compared with 6 percent of male hunters.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.