Women Who Hunt the taste for meat and thirst for adventure

"Women Who Hunt" airs May 13th at 7pm on Idaho Public Television

By Lauren Melink, Idaho Public Television

I hunted my first animal last year. Then, I followed six hunters on their journey to hunt their own animal. And although my experience with hunting is still limited, if I were asked to explain why a person might choose to hunt an animal, my answer would most certainly not contain the word, “kill.” The words sprinkled through my explanation would vary from “spiritual” to “solitude,” and from “wild” to “raw.”

Photo of Katie Watts by Jay Krajic

Every person has a reason for doing what they do and why they do it and from what I’ve learned, hunters don’t hunt to kill, but they hunt for just about every other reason. There’s just something special about starting a Saturday morning at 4:30 a.m. with a thermos of coffee and hot oatmeal, followed by a drive in the dark, a hike under the moon to crouch behind sagebrush and belly crawl through the dirt with your eyes open and your ears alert, listening to wind whisper through the aspens that saturate the valley below. Then, to turn to your best friend and murmur, “I think I see something,” pull out your binoculars and look for the treasure that brought you all the way out there in the first place.

Photo by Kori Price

From what I've gathered, it’s not the necessarily the harvest that keep hunters coming back, it’s the journey to the harvest. The time spent outside and the sense of freeness generated by participating in an activity in which one is purposefully pursuing wild animals. In our mainstream lives, we come across deer and squirrels, crows and skunks, usually by accident and often as roadkill. But there’s something different about spotting a buck’s antler peeking behind a bush when you’re 22 miles down a dirt road and 4 miles up a steep hill.

And that is what this show, “Women Who Hunt,” explores. Not the technical aspects of hunting (and there are plenty) or the moral debate surrounding hunting (not enough time) or the history of human hunters (too dry) but the story of the hunter herself. And as I learned in the making of this show, hunters love a good story.

Photo by Tate Ellis

In Idaho, men outnumber women in the fields of hunting and fishing, with just 20% of women holding hunting or fishing licenses. That’s better than national numbers but it’s still a far cry from even. That means, men are mostly what comes to mind when one thinks, “hunter.” But that wouldn’t be accurate, because “hunter” is not a masculine noun. Just like “runner” or “biker” or “writer.” A hunter is a person who hunts and this is a show about hunting wherein the hunters happen to be female. And I think highlighting half a dozen of the less than 20% of women who participate in hunting is a worthy endeavor.

Photo by Jeanne McFall

In my own hunt, I was taken aback by the mixed emotions that come with a successful hunt. This show tackles those feelings head-on. From life to death, tears to laughter, "Women Who Hunt" takes a deep dive into the human behind the rifle, who she is and what makes her tick.

Photo of Andrea Mahorney by Lauren Melink

Women Who Hunt airs on May 13th at 7 p.m. on Idaho Public Television