As wildlife agencies across the nation track an overall decline in the ranks of hunters, some states are reporting a surge in the number of females enrolled in hunter education courses and issued permits to bag birds and big-game animals.
The trend is pronounced in the northern Rockies, where a wealth of wildlife, vast swaths of publicly accessible lands and an outdoors culture has historically made for a hunting paradise.
Faced with flagging license sales in some years, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have renewed efforts to recruit new hunters. Females are a prime target, with states offering ladies-only shooting instruction, hunting clinics and workshops on outdoor skills.
“Women are not just stuck in the kitchen these days, and hunting is no longer a gender-specific activity,” said Kelton Hatch, of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Females in 2010 made up 19.5 percent of all Idaho residents applying for hunting licenses, a 10-year high. In Montana last year, women accounted for 14 percent of hunters, compared to a national average of 9 percent.
Those states and Wyoming report an uptick in young females completing the safety program required for most hunting.