Happy hunting ladies

One in four new hunters in Ontario is female, according to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. This was one of the interesting statistics presented during the Hunter Education course that I took in September at Sault College from Jane and Reg Perry. Looking around my classroom, where women outnumbered the men, the numbers would actually show that 2.56 out of every four new hunters is a woman. When did women become so interested in hunting?

Since moving to Northern Ontario, I find women hunting less unbelievable. Granted, had you told me that I would be sitting in a hunters’ education course voluntarily when I lived in Ottawa, I would have probably choked on my chai latte.

I didn’t think about hunting at all then. Now though, I get it. I am exposed to more hunters and more reasons to hunt. Whether discussing the 100-mile diet, the obesity epidemic, or atrocities in mass food processing, the health benefits are certainly in favour of hunting.

As women have traditionally been doing most of the shopping and food preparation, we are more in-tuned to wanting to know where our food comes from, and how safe it is to eat. So It doesn’t surprise me that women want to participate in the food chain more by hunting.

Hunting a grouse that has been “free-range” in the woods doesn’t give me nightmares of chicken jammed like sardines into pens, force-fed until their legs often break, then transported in crates to a processing facility where they will potentially hit the boiling water bath without having been paralyzed or rendered unconscious. All this before their throats are slit by the machine, if they don’t duck it

In my hunt, I shoot the bird in the head and it dies quickly: it is incredibly civilized in terms of how the animal is dispatched, as opposed to conventional food processing. Until that moment, it lived an excellent life moving about the forest, eating natural foods. It is the ultimate free-range, organic food.

When I stand on the grouse’s wings and pull up by the feet and reveal a clean breast of meat, I’m not exposing my children to any additional chemical used in the processing, nor do I have to think of the savagery that the chicken went through to land in cellophane in the store.

From a health perspective, I’m also concerned about my fat intake, and I prefer lean meats. Hunters will be the first to tell you that grouse, rabbit, moose, deer, and bear, among others, are all incredibly lean meat, much leaner than beef, chicken, and pork. It is also delicious to eat. If you have acquired a taste for game, hunting is the only way to get it (though you might find the occasional rabbit in the meat department of your local grocery store).

Aside from the free-range, organic nature of eating meat from a hunt, there is also the added health benefit of getting outdoors and exercising. Getting fresh air and exercise, and becoming more aware of the impact of habitat loss is all part and parcel of hunting.

In addition, hunting locally is the ultimate in a 100-mile diet, reducing our carbon footprint by eating local.

Add to that the fact that hunters are only allowed to hunt what is in surplus. Hunters help to manage wildlife and control populations. Unlike many concerns of overfishing of species, hunters actually keep populations in check.

Basically, any knowledgeable animal lover will realize that hunting is done by people who are also animal lovers. Hunters respect the land, environment, and nature and hunters fund a large proportion of the habitat management efforts across the country, including organizations such as Ducks unlimited. Most hunters revel in the opportunities that they get to be up close and personal with the wildlife around us.

Women, like men, also enjoy the adventure of hunting and the camaraderie.

Given the desire to eat lean, local, organic, free-range food, to get outdoors more and exercise more, it really doesn’t surprise me in the least that the number of women in hunting is on such a sharp incline. The only surprise is why it didn’t happen sooner.

Happy hunting ladies!

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