Hot new craze among cool, with-it ladies: killing animals and eating their flesh for nourishment. And whether or not you think you could bring yourself to use a weapon to kill a living thing, let's all agree that this trend is 1000 times Better For Ladies than twerking.
According to piece from National Geographic, while hunting is still an activity dominated by men, the proportion of women who hunt has risen 25% since 2006. Women, explains the article, are finding that hunting gives them a chance to connect more closely to the food chain and to nature, to eat food that is more "natural," to understand where their meat comes from, learn about the Circle of Life, etc. From the piece,
Hunting offers an alternative to the grocery store that lets women provide truly free-range and organic meat for their families while also helping create a more sustainable food system, says Lily Raff McCaulou, author of Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner.
"Hunting may be the next frontier for local food," says McCaulou, who lives in Oregon. She regularly hunts deer and elk, and recently added grouse and duck to her repertoire.
Others are finding that hunting is, and I quote, "a way for women to be outdoors and enjoy nature while spending time with husbands and children who hunt."
Both of these reasons for hunting are just fine, but they seem pretty removed from the reason women I knew growing up hunted: economic necessity and cultural reinforcement. No one in rural Minnesconsin is freaking out about how beef additives are going to affect little Flannery or Finn. They're hunting because meat is expensive, deer licenses are relatively cheap, and everyone has hunting rifles, anyway. Most of the meat I ate until I was a tween was venison, or pheasant, or partridge, or goose, or something else my dad had shot. I've eaten squirrel, snapping turtle, woodcock (this parenthetical allotted to giggling about "woodcock" being the name of a bird because lol dicks). Not only is eating wild game healthier for the Whole Foods-y reasons listed in the NG piece; for people who live in rural areas like mine, it's cheaper and more convenient. Almost everyone I grew up with had an extra freezer in their family garage that was brimming with deer meat, an appliance that came in handy when you lived down a dirt road and sometimes after a snowstorm it was a day or two before you could safely depend on your car to get you to town down the unplowed roads again.
Further, women aren't hunting simply to get closer to their husbands and kids; they're hunting as a way to get closer to each other. The other week, NPR ran a piece about groups like the Wyoming Women's Foundation, which is using hunting as a way for women to bond with other hunting women. Just a girls' trip into the wilderness, with guns.
The group says hunting is an important way to teach self-sufficiency and economic independence — and taking meat home is a part of that, Kite says. "There's a lot of young women who are single mothers, who are trying to provide for their families," she says. "And [hunting is] certainly one way to do it."
Among the other lady hunters on one recent Wyoming women's hunting trip? Marilyn Kite, the state's first female state Supreme Court justice.
But hunting isn't only taking off as a ladies' activity in the West. The University of Wisconsin at Stephens Point College of Natural Resources offers a program called "Becoming an OutdoorsWoman (BOW)" which gives women a chance to learn outdoor skills like archery, fly fishing, and shotgun and rifle shooting over the course of a few days. The program also charters trips to other countries. And on Facebook, Women Hunt, Too (which has over 128,000 likes) provides a forum for women to swap stories and photos of their experiences in the field. A sort of virtual cabin.
Women who hunt are made of different stuff than women who don't, in my experience with living in both the middles of nowhere and the center of everything. Much to my dad's chagrin, when I turned 12 and was thus old enough to qualify for Wisconsin's Hunters Safety course and earn the right to join the family deer hunt, I declined on the grounds that I just don't have it in me (I saw a dead stray cat this weekend and it ruined my morning). But I respect the hell out of people who do hunt for subsistence, like many of my high school classmates. And even though they're doing it for reasons that seem alien to people who hunt out of necessity, I have to respect the women mentioned in the National Geographic piece, the ones who hunt because they believe that's what's best for their families and they're willing to work to get it.