Women hunter numbers in Wyoming increase as male participate drops slightly


Lily Lonneker dropped her first pronghorn at 12 years old.

She rested in the grass next to her mom as they watched a a doe and a buck. And in one shot, Lily killed the doe.

“I felt really proud of myself. I didn’t know I could do that since it was my first one,” Lily said recently. “It is fun when you get an animal to know you’re feeding your family, and you know the animal died in a humane way.”

Now 14, Lily plans to chase a bull elk this year outside Jackson.

In a sport historically dominated by men, who pass their skills along to sons, stories like Lily’s are becoming ever more common.

Between 2008 and 2016, female resident hunters went from 11,189 to 14,770. Male resident hunters during the same period dropped ever so slightly from 64,649 to 64,371, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Wyoming is one of the states where we’re not losing resident hunters,” said Kathryn Boswell, hunter and angler participation coordinator for the department. “Our numbers are going up, and it’s because women are increasing, and they’re making up the difference.”

Boswell, who is also a founding member of the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt, doesn’t have hard data explaining the increase in women hunters. But she has a few theories from what she’s heard from other women.

“It’s something they can do with their families. They want to put organic meat on the table,” she said. “And there’s a camaraderie that comes with it.”

University of Wyoming student Lexi Daugherty agrees. She’s been hunting with her father most of her life and shot a pronghorn in 2015 at the Women’s Antelope Hunt.

The 18-year-old believes improving access to hunting will also help create more conservationists. She spent the last two years working with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Game and Fish to secure a 20-acre piece of ground near Jackson that opens access to almost 17,000 acres of public land.

“Now it will be there forever, for young girls like me to go hunting on it,” she said. “And it’s something that’s really special to me.”

Hunting also teaches her skills to stay safe in the woods and find food for herself.

Casper teen Krysten Cutler started hunting and fishing with her grandfather, Dale Leatham, who has taken her across Wyoming and the world to chase wildlife.

The two went on a safari to Africa in June with other family members. The 12-year-old shot four African animals including a zebra and impala.

“Why not encourage young ladies to go hunting and fishing?” Leatham said. “It’s something you can do the rest of your life. And it doesn’t cost that much. You can always go hunting and fishing.”

For Krysten, hunting means more time with her grandpa.

“He teaches me, and I like doing it because it’s something to get us outdoors,” she said. “It bonds our relationship.”

The meat from her African animals went to local villagers, though she was able to try each species. A deer she shot recently is at the processor.

“People say that men usually only hunt, but clearly that’s not true,” she said. “I was 12 when I shot my first antelope and I know a lot of other girls who shot their first antelope when they were 12, and it should start evolving.”

Lily, the hunter from Jackson, isn’t sure after this year how much more she’ll hunt. She doesn’t have the same passion for the sport as her mom does. But she also believes in it as a way for women to stay self-sufficient.

Her mom, Gloria Courser, knows that whatever path her daughter chooses, she will be able to take care of herself in the woods.

When Courser started dating her husband in 2006, she didn’t have those skills.

“We were on a game trail and about 20 minutes in he looked back at me and said ‘Where’s the truck?’” she said. “I looked like the scarecrow on the Wizard of Oz. It was a truly teachable moment. I was out of my element.”

The next time they went, she knew where the truck was. And this fall, she was a guide for the Women’s Antelope Hunt.

Not every woman will have a passion for hunting, she said.

“It’s like when I moved away from home, I learned to change my oil. I did it one time, and decided I wouldn’t do it ever again if I didn’t have to,” she said. “But trying, learning to do it, learning how to use a firearm, understanding where meat comes from, is important.”

South Dakota Officials: More Pronghorns Mean More Hunting


PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Wildlife officials in South Dakota have decided that a slowly growing pronghorn population justifies a slight increase in the number of hunting licenses available for the next two years.

The state’s Game, Fish and Parks Commission decided Thursday that it will issue resident hunters over 900 more buck-antelope hunting licenses and 1,400 more doe-antelope licenses in 2017 and 2018 than it did last year, when hunter success reached 70 percent. The hunting unit in Stanley County will allocate 40 licenses and the unit in Hughes County will have 50 licenses for each of the next two years.

The pronghorn is a land mammal known for its speed. They’re unique to North America but are commonly called antelope because of their resemblance to the African animal, the Pierre Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/2taKWqT ) reported.

Population surveys by the commission said there will be about 48,000 pronghorns in the state, still about 10,000 short of the statewide-population objective called for in the department’s antelope-management plan.

In the last five years, the state’s pronghorn-antelope herd has been recovering from a decline. Harvest and hunter success has steadily increased since bottoming out in 2013.


Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press

Armed Agriculture

by   http://foranimals.org/armed-agriculture/

The current issue of New Mexico Stockman, the official publication of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, shows the close connection between hunting and public lands ranching. In an article titled “Hunting – Another Arm of Agriculture,” the executive director of the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides describes the New Mexico Game and Fish Department’s E-plus and A-plus programs allowing ranchers to profit from elk and pronghorn (“antelope”) hunting, respectively. “While it’s not widely spoken of,” the article says, “for many in production agriculture, hunting revenues can mean the difference between staying on the land or moving to town.” The article cautions ranchers that this state giveaway technically only applies to the privately owned portion of a ranch, but, they acknowledge, “sometimes landowners agree to hunting arrangements that violate state and federal regulations.”

While hunting and ranching organizations are well aware of need to support each other, conservation organizations remain blissfully ignorant of the connection between the two. Some conservationists hope to “reform” game department by seeking out areas where there are minor disagreements between the livestock industry and their hunting comrades in arms. Others appeal to “ethical hunters” to oppose “unsportsmanlike” coyote hunting contests.

What sort of ethic promotes killing wild animals for pleasure? This is not a rhetorical question, as it has a clear answer. Conservationists who look to Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” for guidance should be aware that Leopold literally wrote the book on Game Management. As a long-time hunter and government bureaucrat, Leopold defined wildlife as a resource to be managed for human use. Like his bosses at the U.S. Forest Service who managed forests for the benefit of the logging industry, Leopold sought to make hunting sustainable, i.e. to assure that future generations would be able to enjoy killing animals.

We should heed the final words of advice in the New Mexico Stockman article: “It’s time we realize hunting is really just an extension of the agricultural industry and vice versa.”

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Did the Hunters Get your Wolves’ Elk?

In one of Edward Abbey’s many epic books he mentions seeing a bumper sticker on the back of a gas hog, redneck rig that went something like, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” It was an unabashed show of narcissistic entitlement which spelled out just how the driver felt about nature and the need for a diverse ecosystem.

Although his type doubtless have no qualms about supporting factory farming by buying a nightly meal of meat from the local “Western Family” grocery store, when hunting season rolls around they are right there to lay claim to the wildlife as well, in the form of deer, elk, moose or pronghorn.

It don’t mean shit that apex predators such as wolves, cougars, bobcats and coyotes have nothing else to eat and have evolved over eons to live in harmony with their wild prey. Hunters think of themselves as apex predators, decked out in their best Cabella’s camouflage outfit, tearing up the land on their trusty 4-bys or 4-wheelers, hoping a deer steps out in front of them.

But as a faithful reader pointed out this morning, human hunters aren’t apex predators, they’re apex parasites (Homo parasiticus).

Personally, I’d rather “my” deer went to the coyotes and “my” elk went to the wolves, as nature intended.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

No Hunting! Because Fuck You That’s Why!


This blog site is a haven for wildlife and animal advocates, a wildlife refuge of sorts, that’s posted “No Hunting,” as any true sanctuary should be. Just as a refuge is patrolled to keep hunters and poachers from harassing the wildlife, this blog site is monitored to keep hunters from disturbing other people’s quiet enjoyment of the natural world.

It is not a message board or a chat room for those wanting to argue the supposed merits of animal exploitation or to defend the act of hunting or trapping in any way, shape or form. There are plenty of other sites available for that sort of thing.

Hunters and trappers: For your sake, I urge you not to bother wasting your time posting your opinions in the comments section. This blog is moderated, and pro-hunting statements will not be tolerated or approved. Consider this fair warning—if you’re a hunter, sorry but your comments are going straight to the trash can. This is not a public forum for animal exploiters to discuss the pros and cons of hunting.

We’ve heard all the rationalizations for killing wildlife so many times before; there’s no point in wasting everyone’s time with more of that old, tired hunter PR drivel. Any attempt to justify the murder of our fellow animals will hereby be jettisoned into cyberspace…

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson


That statement appears on the “About” page of this blog for all to see. Yet every so often I still get comments from hunters desperately wanting to rationalize their murderous deeds. I received two over the past two days, including one from a Danish hunter who stated, “I take pride in my education and my gear, in which I have invested a lot of money, and I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. But that does not make me a serial killer! I am a friendly young man, with so many other hobbies…”

Sorry to say, but a lot of serial killers would come across as “friendly young” men. Though he may not technically be a serial killer by standard definition, anyone who lumps the “thrill” of the hunt in with his other “hobbies” certainly shares some of the characteristics, like rationalization, justification, depersonalization, compartmentalization, as well as a sense of entitlement, lack of remorse, guilt or empathy, with the average serial killer.

The other pro-hunting comment came from none other than Laramie’s city councilman Erik Molvar, the Wild Earth Guardians’ new in-house hunter-on-staff, described on their website as “an avid fan of the outdoors, and enjoys hiking, flyfishing, skiing, antelope hunting, and renovating historic homes.” He doesn’t sound like someone who needs to feed his family on pronghorn flesh any more than any other suburban Wyomingite (who number in the 100s of thousands). Erik wrote at great length in defense of himself and about the relative morality of killing and eating a pronghorn vs. a loaf of bread. Yet he didn’t tell us anything we haven’t heard before time and again from other hunters. Once again, this is an anti-hunting blog site, with a longstanding policy of not approving comments from hunters and I see no reason to start now. We’ve heard them all before—ad nauseam.

Mr. Molvar, as your comment is directed to Marc, the author of the article “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing,” please send it to him at his website: http://foranimals.org/ (If you no longer have the text, I can retrieve it for you from my trash can.)

I appreciate your concern for wolves and Wild Earth Guardian’s hard work to stop wolf hunting. I love wolves the same as any advocate. But I also care about pronghorn, elk and prairie dogs just as much. If we wait until wolf hunting is ended before acknowledging the rights of any other species, hunting will only become more embedded, like a festering thorn in need of surgical removal.

Numbers down for antelope, pheasant hunting near Havre


Oct. 23, 2013

Overall hunting numbers were down, but hunters took more of some upland birds and waterfowl in the Havre area during the weekends of Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 19-20, according to numbers gathered from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 6 game check station outside Havre.

“Over the first two weekends of the season, harvest for most species has been down,” said FWP Havre-area wildlife biologist Scott Hemmer. “Antelope numbers and licenses have remained low since the winter of 2010-11, and this fact is reflected in the check station harvest being down 92 percent from the long-term average. Most antelope hunters reported having to hunt harder to find animals, but most have reported good horn growth in the bucks they did find and harvest this year.”

The general antelope season opened Oct. 12, as did pheasant season.

Pheasant harvest has been down slightly from last year, and hunters have reported pheasant hunting as spotty.

Sharp-tailed grouse harvest is down from last year, but Hungarian partridge harvest is up. Duck harvest has remained strong again this year.

Montana’s special two-day youth deer hunt was a week earlier this year, and that resulted in additional mule deer and white-tailed deer being harvested during this reporting period. In previous years, only archery deer hunting was open during this time of the year, Hemmer said.

However, white-tailed deer numbers are still down overall this year in FWP Region 6. That’s due to a long recovery period from a series of especially hard winters and significant outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, also known as EHD, in 2011 and again this year.

Elk harvest reported at the check station thus far may have been limited by the temporary closure of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, but Hemmer said not enough elk have been harvested yet for a meaningful comparison to past years’ harvest.

Overall, hunter numbers continue to be low so far this year, Hemmer said.

Total hunter numbers are down 6 percent from last year and are still well below those seen prior to the winter of 2010-11.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Enthusiasts Encourage More Women To Give Hunting A Shot


by   October 18, 2013 fromWPRN                

Tara Heaton (left) and Crystal Mayfield with guide Fred Williams at a women's antelope hunt in Wyoming. Before the event, both women had hunted almost exclusively with male relatives, not other women.

Tara Heaton (left) and Crystal Mayfield with guide Fred Williams at a women’s antelope hunt in Wyoming. Before the event, both women had hunted almost exclusively with male relatives, not other women.         Irina Zhorov/Wyoming Public Media


The departure time for Wyoming’s inaugural Women’s Antelope Hunt was set for 5:30 a.m. — but that was before a snowstorm hit. By 6 a.m., the electricity is still out, wind and snow are howling and antsy women in camouflage are eating eggs by candlelight.

Marilyn Kite, Wyoming’s first female state Supreme Court justice and one of the people who dreamed up the hunt, is among them.

“We’ve found it to be just great recreation, lots of fun, and the camaraderie of it is why you do it, really,” Kite says. “But we also really like the meat.”

Women still make up only a small percentage of all hunters, but that number has increased significantly in recent years. Now, organizations like the Wyoming Women’s Foundation want to encourage more growth through mentorship.

The group says hunting is an important way to teach self-sufficiency and economic independence — and taking meat home is a part of that, Kite says. “There’s a lot of young women who are single mothers, who are trying to provide for their families,” she says. “And [hunting is] certainly one way to do it.”           

 Just to show how outnumbered women currently are in hunting, most of the guides on this women’s hunt are men. One of them, Fred Williams, says women who try hunting usually do really well with the sport.

“I think women tend to be actually better hunters because they tend to be a bit more patient, and oftentimes are a much better shot, because they tend to be a bit more focused,” Williams says.

By 10 a.m., conditions outside have improved and the hunt is on. Williams and his team of two set off for a private ranch to look for antelopes.

Tara Heaton, a Navy veteran, already has some experience hunting, but she says this is different. It gives her an opportunity to meet “different women from around Wyoming, and more hunters, because a lot of my friends growing up weren’t hunters,” she says.

Heaton is partnered with Crystal Mayfield, a single mother. Before today, both women hunted almost exclusively with their fathers and brothers.

As the three drive through the snow, they spot some antelopes in the distance. They park and start stalking them on foot.

Williams has Mayfield load a bullet in the chamber and they proceed quietly through a snow-covered field strewn with cottonwoods and cows. When they reach a rise overlooking the grazing antelopes, Williams preps Mayfield for her shot. She takes aim, shoots — and misses.

In fact, both women miss their shots today. The 35 mph winds don’t help. But on the drive back to the ranch, Mayfield says she’s not upset. Even missing is easier in the company of women, she says.

“When I missed that shot, I didn’t feel like a loser when I went and told [Heaton] that, ‘Oh, I missed it,’ ” she says. “I didn’t feel like she was going to be like, ‘Oh, you’re a huge loser.’ … My brother easily would have been like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you missed that. You’re stupid.’ “

As is typical in Wyoming, the next day is sunny, wind-free and beautiful. Both Heaton and Mayfield get their antelopes, and all but two of the 34 participating women come away with a kill.

One first-time hunter says she can’t wait to teach her son how to hunt

Former Vice President Dick Cheney in another hunting accident

Cheney’s gun malfunctioned during an antelope hunting contest in Wyoming. But, unlike the former No. 2’s 2006 hunting accident, nobody was hurt this time.


Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 .
Former Vice President Dick Cheney suffered another hunting accident over the weekend, but this time nobody was injured.

Cheney’s gun malfunctioned during an antelope hunting contest Sunday in his native Wyoming, preventing the former lawmaker from getting his shot off.

Cheney said the gun failed due to a “problem with the manufacturer.”

“I don’t take it personally,” he told Wyoming’s K2TV. “I’m sure there was a small problem with the manufacturer. But I will be back next year.”

Cheney, an avid hunter, nearly killed his hunting partner in 2006 in a another shooting accident.

Cheney seriously injured Harry Whittington, his quail hunting partner after he accidentally shot him in the face, neck and chest.

Whittington, a Texas lawyer and contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign, suffered a heart attack during the incident but ultimately survived.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/vice-president-dick-cheney-hunting-mishap-article-1.1466115#ixzz2fvElTDVd

Humans show their thirst for blood

Roger, one of our regular readers, posted the following letter he wrote which was printed yesterday in the Missoulian, under the heading “Hunting and fishing.”

: Humans show their thirst for blood

The sports killing season of 2013 is upon us. In Montana alone, “sportsmen” will kill around 19,000 antelope, 40,000 deer, 300 wolves, 1,300 black bear, 200 bighorn sheep, 200 moose, 20,000 elk – then there are turkeys and an assortment of other birds to kill.

It is sporting tradition. Wyoming will kill even more elk, having had record years the past 10. The states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Wisconsin will push wolf-killing as far as they think they can get away with and not risk re-listing. Montana sells $19 wolf tags to kill five wolves.

Then there is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, which kills around 72,000 coyotes each year and around 28,000 other animals, a million animals a decade.

Then there are the poachers of Africa, and the sportsmen who go there to kill dwindling populations of elephants and rhinos and lions.

We, human animals, are overfishing the oceans and threatening sharks, whales, bluefin tuna and other marine life.

Then there are the slaughterhouses, which will kill a billion chickens worldwide and millions of cattle, pigs and sheep each year. Now conservative state legislatures are pushing every year, despite what the American people have opposed over and over, the opening of horse slaughterhouses.

Animal shelters “put down” (kill) thousands of dogs and cats each year because there are too many and too few homes for them.

You would think that humans are primarily bloodthirsty carnivores, something as scary as the worse aliens you can imagine, which we are.

Roger Hewitt
Great Falls, MT

Recreational Shooting Might Just Be Relaxing

Sometimes I get the urge to go out shooting things for sport. You know, recreational shooting, like hunters do, except instead of shooting quail or coyotes or pronghorn or prairie dogs, the targets would be quail or coyote or pronghorn or prairie dog hunters.

There’s probably nothing more relaxing than pecking off quail hunters as they take flight, lying in wait or setting out traps for wolf or coyote hunters, or blasting at prairie dog or pronghorn hunters from a distance of 200 yards or more. Shooting can sure be soothing and killing is the ultimate sport.

Sound like crazy talk? Maybe, but the thing is, while I’m just being facetious about taking lives in the name of a hobby, sport hunters are dead serious.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved