What Women Want from an Outfitter
Just a few short years ago, a woman entering the average hunting lodge would most likely be followed by a man, and only after he had made special requests beforehand. There have always been women hunters, but until the last 5 years females seeking to hunt alone, or a group of women looking for a “Girls’ Hunt Out,” had remained a mysterious phenomenon. Historically outfitters have been hesitant to give such requests serious consideration. But with female hunters now noted as the fastest-growing demographic of hunters in the nation, the tide has changed, and a tsunami of outdoor women are breaking down the Great Barrier Reef of hunting tradition. In spite of the preconceived notions and challenges, outfitters are giving a nod to hosting serious women hunters. The benefits of serving women hunters include exposure, promotion and positive press, as women are more apt to use social media with unprecedented zeal to share good experiences and pictures, and shout praises from the rooftops.
Per expectations set between women and outfitters, the hunting experience can provide wonderful memories and lasting relationships. A celebration of a super successful morning for two huntresses with outfitter Mike Wheeler of Wheeler’s Whitetails in Kansas.
I’ve been a participant and organizer of several group women’s hunts across the country; I’ve also been the lone huntress in a camp. One thing I’ve taken away from these experiences is that regardless of gender, each hunter will have his or her own expectations and version of what the perfect hunt should be. I have also become keenly aware that simply setting the proper expectations is key to a more enjoyable experience for all parties involved.
My hunting adventures started 15 years ago with my husband, and my expectations have evolved over the years, rising and falling much like thermometers in Texas. In an attempt to bridge the gap between assumptions and reality for both women hunters and outfitters, I asked seasoned women hunters and novices to provide some insight for outfitters who seek to add female hunters to their list of satisfied customers. This information will hopefully remove some mystique and provide a better chance for more enjoyable experiences for everyone. Here are some of the most prevalent responses I received from the women about what they would like when hunting with an outfitter:
- Knowledgeable, courteous and respectful guides. Although most women have had a pleasant experience with guides, most have also had a bad experience (or two) with a guide that that does not take the hunt seriously, and seems a bit disinterested in the entire process. I believe that outfitters could easily avoid this by always having a conversation beforehand with guides, especially if they have never had women clientele.
My guide was a salty old guy who had never guided a woman and was used to most clients not being willing to help with cooking, splitting fire wood, gutting, packing, etc.
Having a professional and respectful guide who takes the hunt to heart is a huge positive point for women hunters.
- Details and proposed daily agenda. It’s important to present all the details beforehand, with few surprises. As a rule, women tend to be more detail-oriented in most activities and like to plan ahead. There is no detail too small to include for hunters, starting from the meals all the way through to the care and transportation of harvested game as the hunter heads home. Women are more inquisitive by nature, making communication and patience a virtue. Being open and responsive will prepare the women for the experience and prevent misunderstandings, which can usually be attributed to lack of communication.
If you’re on a guided or semi-guided hunt, clarify what, exactly, the guide is responsible for. Will they get you to and from the blind in your vehicle or theirs? Will a guide be nearby should a problem arise? What’s their procedure for taking care of your harvested animal: Who will field-dress, gut, clean and quarter, and do they have locker for keeping harvest until you depart?
- Accommodations and comfort. This is less of a concern for most women, ranking beneath guide behavior and hunt details, but it’s still a major one. Being clean and comfortable for the evening can take a lot of the edge off of a hard day of hunting. Whether the lodgings are rooms or tents, with bathrooms or porta-potties, kitchens or cook tents, making every effort to keep camp clean will ultimately be the key to a happy hunter’s heart!
After a long day of hunting in the field, going back to camp to shed my muddy hunting clothes, have a warm bath, a hot meal and a clean place to lay my head for a few hours of sleep leave visions of wild game dancing in my head.
Be it a lush hotel room at L’Banca Albergo in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, for a teal hunt in the marsh, or a tent in the remote wilderness of Kodiak, Alaska, clean and comfortable will help to keep your huntress happy.
- Extracurricular Activities: What happens between hunts, or after the hunt is over? Without sacrificing a moment of actual hunting opportunity, women look at a hunt as more of an adventure, and like to experience as much as humanly possible. If there is something of interest to see or do nearby, list it as a possible option, leaving all arrangements for the optional activity to be made individually.
After a morning of teal hunting, arrangements were made by Marion “Butch” Fox of Jefferson Davis Parish of Louisiana for the Gator Chateau to bring baby alligators for the hunters to hold, followed by a Dutch-treat dinner at a local restaurant, The Regatta, on beautiful Lake Arthur.
Sharing tips and advice below in comments is highly encouraged, as it will add to this article and help pave the way for many a woman hunter and outfitter in the future!
About Becky Lou Lacock
Becky Lou Lacock spent most of her life as an entrepreneur owning several retail businesses. Her shooting and hunting adventures began later in life, and her excitement and enthusiasm just seems to spill out onto everyone around her. She tells tales of her adventures here at The WON, in her column titled “Becky Lou Outdoors.”
With a firm belief of “Let No Woman Be Left Behind,” Becky Lou also participates, promotes and organizes female group activities and hunts across the country. She works diligently to provide women of all levels of physical and financial capabilities with perfect outdoor opportunities. As a professional freelance writer, she has been published by media outlets in print and online: InterMedia Outdoors’ Game & Fish Magazine / Sportsman Magazine and OutdoorHub.com
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