"In this article, Hunt Lift Eat Team Member Elizabeth Brownell shares her thoughts on being referred to as a "huntress" instead of a "hunter." Elizabeth is a great advocate for our Women In The Wild Group and the Hunt Lift Eat Team as a whole. You can find more content from Elizabeth of Instagram @rookie_hunting and as a host on The Onset Podcast. As always, thank you for reading!" -Josh
Before writing this blog, I honestly wasn’t sure why. All I knew was that anytime someone called me a huntress, instead of hunter, I would cringe. It’s the same anytime I’m reading an ad or article that totes, “Welcome to all outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen." I’m constantly wondering what it would be like to be a fly on the wall during that marketing meeting. I get it though, getting women into the sport and involved in conservation in general is vital to the longevity of this kind of lifestyle. Women are the fastest growing demographic in hunting after all. Whether you started hunting at a young age with your family, or maybe you started as an adult with your boyfriend or spouse, or like me you just decided to go with a friend one time and it ultimately changed your whole perspective on hunting and where your food comes from.
I can embrace my femininity and still call myself a hunter. I can lean into my compassion and cry when I kill an animal and still call myself a hunter. I can show up to a public land parking lot by myself and be the only female, and still call myself a hunter.
Many women who hunt can agree on a couple things:
One of them being the connection with nature. Prior to hunting I was an avid hiker and birder, but none of that could have prepared me for what it’s like to truly blend into the surroundings of the woods and have it come alive with activity of wildlife who are unaware of your presence. The wildlife interactions I’ve been fortunate enough to experience are scenarios that would have never happened while hiking.
Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the self-confidence and independence you’ll find within yourself. Something about being able to plan and execute a hunt, harvest an animal, and then take it home and process it, by yourself. It’s a true woods to plate experience that many people will never experience in their lifetime. It’s also an experience that makes you quite aware of what you are truly capable of and what many people would call instinctive.
Which leads me to my last point, the connection of knowing where your food comes from and what life it was living prior, and even how its life ended. Knowing that you are consuming something in its most organic form, free of steroids, hormones, and antibiotics. Anytime I pull something out of the freezer, whether it’s duck or venison, I know the hard work and time that was spent and why it tastes better than anything I could buy in the store.
So if we as women can all agree that we are better mentally and physically because of hunting, why do we need a different title? Hunter vs. Huntress, does it really matter? Does one command more respect than the other? It’s not that I feel disrespected when I’m called a huntress, and I’m not offended. But it just feels like people constantly want to point out our differences when at the end of the day we are all outdoorsmen. I can embrace my femininity and still call myself a hunter. I can lean into my compassion and cry when I kill an animal and still call myself a hunter. I can show up to a public land parking lot by myself and be the only female, and still call myself a hunter.
I guess at the end of the day, being called a huntress invokes a feeling that I’ve felt quite often since I started hunting.
It’s the same feeling when I’m in Bass Pro and the male employee isn’t taking me seriously or thinks I’m shopping for someone else. Or when I ordered a custom turkey slate call after seeing his previous work of all shades of natural wood tones and when I received mine in the mail… he had stained the wood pink. Or even trying to shop for hunting clothes and having significantly less options and sizes. It’s the same feeling when I spent $800 on a custom bow holder at an outdoor banquet auction for a non-profit and the man in charge kept talking to my boyfriend at the time as if he was the one who was spending the money and had been holding the auction number.
Fortunately, we live in a country where you can call yourself whatever you’d like. I kindly correct people when they call me a huntress but I would never judge others for their preference to be called that. There are plenty of hunting accounts and brands that profit off the term and have a loyal fan base, one in particular I can think of that totes female empowerment and specifically used the word huntress when she started her business because she knew it had a negative connotation in the hunting industry. The Duck Huntress owned by veteran Kate Hunt is actually the only brand I support at this time where I’m not embarrassed to use the word. At the end of the day if we can all respect, introduce, and retain women in the outdoors specifically in the hunting space, it really doesn’t matter what you call us.