MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of hunters are gearing up and getting ready to head out in the woods this weekend for the firearms deer hunting opener.
More than half a million people take part in the nine-day season, and a growing number of those hunters will be women.
On the eve of deer hunting season, most customers at Capra’s Outdoor Sporting Goods are men.
“Generally, the men have been the hunters and gatherers,” said Tyler Corrier, a Minnesota hunter.
But mingled among the rifles and other firearms, customers can’t miss the hint of pink.
“I see it happening a lot more these days,” Corrier said.
A sport long dominated by men is now getting new blood.
“Yes, I will be in the woods. We’ll be up in Motley area,” said Alex Larson, a hunter and employee at Capra’s Outdoor Sporting Goods.
Larson is one of a growing number of women who no longer stay behind during the hunting season.
Over the last 12 years, there’s been a nearly 50 percent increase of ladies who buy deer hunting licenses. In 2000, 50,000 women bought licenses. Last year, women bought 72,000.
“I just started 3-4 years ago. I was primarily a bird hunter, but deer hunting, there is something about the big game that is different,” Larson said.
Part of the reason for more female hunters is that manufacturers have grown wise to an untapped market.
Stores now sell gear with feminine colors. Manufacturers are also making smaller firearms to better fit a woman’s body.
“This is another 52 percent of population that’s spending now,” Larson said.
But there’s a push to educate new hunters.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers workshops teaching hunting the basics, like placing tree stands to firing a rifle.
“There’s a lot of laws that go along with that, and this gives them a safe environment to experiment,” said Greg Salo of the DNR.
Deer hunting season is no longer just a guys get-away, women are now a permanent part of the tradition.
The number of female hunters in the woods still doesn’t come close to men. They make up about 10 percent of the hunting population in Minnesota.