Wives who hunt. Probably not a politically correct topic for an article in a post-modern culture, right?

After all, many women, married or not, simply take up hunting because they want to, not because their significant other sparked their interest, or brought them along in the blood sports.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

Historically, women, though a minority in the hunting community, have been hunting for years. According to an article in the Alaska News, pioneer Alaska had its legendary female hunters from the early days. Nellie Neal Lawing, known popularly as “Alaska Nellie,“ and Fannie Quigley were widely respected for their hunting and outdoor skills.

Fabled hunting and gun writer Jack O’Connor, though he rarely mentioned it, hunted often with his wife, Eleanor.

And in the early days of Maine’s booming outdoor recreation industry, our legendary “Flyrod Crosby” was the state’s first registered hunting guide. The lady from Phillips was best known for her skills with a fly rod, but she also knew her way around the deer woods and hunting camps.

Although women have hunted for years in Maine, they were not very visible in the popular hunting narrative until a national hunter survey revealed some stunning news: licensed hunters, for the first time in America, were on the decline. Suddenly, in hopes of stemming the tide and safeguarding the hunting heritage and the very conservation model itself, the addition of female hunters to the hunting community became part of the public focus. Manufacturers of gear and hunting apparel and popular outdoor media began to include the woman hunter.


Today, women hunters represent the fastest growing demographic of the licensed hunting community in this country. Ten percent of this country’s 11.1 million hunters are women.

Hunting wives are part of this 10% demographic. This slice of the statistical pie is the focus of this article for a few reasons: 1) The author’s experience with women hunters is limited to his time in the deer woods with his wife; 2) Marriage is a unique interpersonal dynamic with its own set of parameters and boundaries; 3) Most of the aging male hunters that the author knows who hunt with a woman do so with their wives. Fifty years ago, co-habitation was a rarity; couples got married.

My wife Diane took up hunting late in life after retiring from the grade school classroom in her mid-50s. It was her decision to hunt, not mine; there was no arm twisting. Like me, she always enjoyed the solitude of the woods. She said that she witnessed the passion that deer-hunting held for me and wanted to be part of that. And the idea of harvesting healthy wild meat for her family’s table was a big factor. Over the years, she has successfully hunted deer, bear, moose, turkeys and elk. It’s pretty cool to share the hunt passion with your life partner!

Have you considered “bringing your wife along” as a hunter?

There is a chapter in my popular book, Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook, called “The Kitchen Pass.” In it, there is a warning to young male deer hunters about to take the marital plunge. The suggestion is to either marry a young lady who grew up in a hunting family, or, if that is not possible, never marry in the month of November. This avoids wedding anniversaries during the critical month and will make it easier to procure a kitchen pass to cover your absence from the home fires during the fall hunt.

There is an even better option, as Sporting Journal gun dog writer Paul Fuller points out: “I never have to get permission to hunt.” Marry a hunter and you’ll never have an issue getting away from home. When your wife is your hunt buddy, you have a perpetual “kitchen pass.”

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at vpaulr@tds.net.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.