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Hunting traditionally is a male-dominated sport, with an emphasis on recreation. However, new studies indicate that women hunt for different reasons. During a nationwide survey of hunters regarding participation in and motivations for hunting, the Virginiabased research firm Responsive Management asked hunters eighteen and older about their single most important reason for hunting. The study found that women are twice as likely as men to hunt for meat, and that fifty-five percent of women hunters said it is their most important reason for hunting, compared with just twenty-seven percent of men. In addition, women are nearly two-and-a-half times more likely than their male counterparts to use hunting as a way to spend time with friends and family.

pitch a tent, to identify animals, to navigate using landmarks, and to handle guns safely. “I had to learn it all, literally,” Gonzales said.

Morgan did not grow up in a family of hunters. She became interested in hunting during college, and credits her boyfriend, now husband, with encouraging her to sign up for an archery course. Now she prefers archery hunting for elk and deer, but has taken animals using a rifle. “Regardless of what kind of meat you eat, you are taking a life, but you have more respect and a greater connection to the animal when you harvest it yourself and you put in the necessary miles and hiking to be in the animal’s environment,” Morgan said.

In New Mexico, women made up twenty-two percent of all residents who hunted or fished in 2011, according to US Census Bureau. Rick Andes, director of the New Mexico Youth Hunter Education Challenge, said he has witnessed a rise in the number of girls who participate in the challenge. During four days of competition, coed teams demonstrate their skills in rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, archery, wildlife identification, orienteering, and survival and huntersafety exercises. Last year, Savannah Graves of Las Cruces won first place overall as an individual and helped the Bullseye senior team rank fifteenth overall in the at the International Youth Hunter Challenge.

When women are in the field they mostly hunt big game. According to US Census Bureau, in 2011 only six percent of smallgame hunters were women. Of the 11.6 million big-game hunters in the United States, a full twelve percent were women, a thirty percent increase since 2006. The preference for larger animals could be tied to the number of cuts available per a carcass. A mature deer when butchered can yield forty-five to sixty pounds of venison, and more than two hundred pounds of meat can be harvested from a bull elk. New Mexican Christine Gonzales began hunting in 2002, and since has hunted almost a dozen species. Gonzales did not come from a hunting family and had never camped, but her interest in the outdoors motivated her to learn how to hunt and fish. With the help of mentors, Gonzales overcame each new challenge, learning how to

“If I shoot it, I have to try it,” she said of eating the animals she takes. Gonzales has hunted and eaten delicacies such as squirrel, sandhill crane, and oryx. “For family functions I try to make a dish using game meat because my family enjoys it, but they don’t hunt.” Gonzales said that sometimes she returns home empty handed. It frequently takes her three hunts to be successful, and often, being outside the city is enough of a reward. For her, the best part of the hunt is being in an unpredictable environment and experiencing the unexpected.

“The young women are very competitive, and they delight in beating the boys,” Andes said. Women hoping to hunt a New Mexico big-game species in 2014 may enter the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish drawing for licenses until close of business on March 19. They draw licenses are for deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, Barbary sheep, oryx, ibex, and javelina. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish offers hunter safety courses, and wealth of information about hunting and fishing. www.wildlife.state.nm.us

Rachel Shockley is spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. She lives in Santa Fe. WWW.EDIBLESANTAFE.COM

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Edible Santa Fe - Spring 2014  

Women and Food - The spring issue is a showcase of amazing women working in food and agriculture, from those defining local food distributio...