I can’t count how many times I’ve read about “women blazing the trail” or “making room for women in the outdoors”. These phrases irk me slightly; don’t get me wrong, I love the passion and the intent behind them, I do.
But many are already here. They’ve been here.
I don’t think it’s a matter of getting more women in the outdoors, I think what this really is about is how to connect to these other outdoors women since they are harder to find. Most of the women I know (I am the exception) have grown up around hunting or fishing or been involved with it some way throughout many years of their lives. This passion was already there; their fire wasn’t stoked by social media, by a desire to become famous, or by an Instagram “huntress” inspiring them. This is something they have always wanted, craved, and needed in their lives. The excitement. The adventure. The connection.
Personally, social media has been a wonderful tool for me. Growing up and living in suburbia in Southern California has made it difficult to meet other people in general, let alone women, who fish or hunt. Through social media, I have met many wonderful women who grew up fishing with their fathers, hunting with their mothers, or joining along with their grandparents. I have made many lasting friendships through social media, and I’m talking about the kind of friendships where you talk every day, you share your excitements and achievements, you ask them for advice when making big decisions, and you call them to console you when you are upset.
Much of the social media audience has put female Instagram hunters into an extremely negative light the past couple of years. When these women become friends with others and share that with the world, they are often mocked for joining together for “likes” or to gain more “followers”.
To most, it’s not about that. It’s about common interest. It’s about mutual respect for fellow hunters, nature, and rules. It’s being able to send a photo of a deer you finally harvested after spending months preparing and having your best friend join in your excitement. It’s sharing about a difficult hunt when you are down and having them feel your pain and find a way to lift you up. It’s being human and making a mistake, and having them turn it into not only a lesson, but something you can look back at with a positive light and laugh at later on.
If I was to tell one of my girlfriends who lives near me any of these things, she wouldn’t really understand. I wouldn’t be able to connect with her on the same level. Even if I told a male non-hunter who lives in my town any of these things, I’d often be met with “Wow, that’s so cool,” and that would be the extent. Outdoorsmen lead very different lives with different priorities and views on life. It doesn’t mean we can’t befriend non-hunters (one of my best friends is a vegan), it simply means we find deep connections in shared interests.
This connection: this is what these friendships mean to me. I can guarantee you, they are not a dime a dozen. Social media has connected me to thousands and thousands of people, yet there are few I would call good friends for a reason. Sure, I get along with most everyone. I am a happy person who loves adventure and always wants to try new things, so it’s easy for me to make friends. But as you get older, you learn not to waste your time on superficial friendships. You learn to look for quality over quantity.
So for those of you mad about the Instagram “huntresses” and “tribes,” get over it. Do your own thing and make your own connections. Live YOUR life. These women don’t have to prove anything to you or anyone else. Scroll by and find your happiness in another post, another person, another connection. Make your own happiness instead of trying to drain others.
I hunt, therefore, I am a hunter. I have nothing to prove and will continue living my life and sharing as I please, because it pleases me.