It’s true — hunting can be a real boys’ club sometimes. But in Maine, a group of women is hoping to change the expectation that women shouldn’t wear camo.
For years, women have increasingly become a larger presence in the hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation community. In fact, from 2010 to 2020, the number of licensed women hunters increased by 39 percent, from 17,078 to 23,723. Of course, this is still only a fraction of the total 15 million hunters in the U.S.
And that’s what Christi Holmes of Gray, Maines wants to change.
Like many outdoorsy women, Holmes struggled to find a female support system that she could lean on to learn new tactics and share experiences. While men and women pull the trigger the same way, there are different challenges that women face in and out of the field.
“I had to struggle through teaching myself and finding mentors,” said Holmes, an outdoors columnist for the Bangor Daily News. The publication first shared the news of the groundbreaking group for Maine women.
Because of this, Holmes decided to take it upon herself to create the community she’d been looking for. So, she started the Maine Women Hunters Facebook group and managed to rake in 5,000 members in the process.
“I started organizing events where we can meet each other and then go on guided hunts,” Holmes said, according to Fox23. “It’s a little more affordable, more approachable, for women who have never hunted.”
“If you’ve never seen a picture of a woman hunting that looks like you, [then] you don’t think you can do it, that it’s not for you,” Holmes added.
Facebook Group Allows Maine’s Women Hunters to Share Grievances and Learn From Experiences
One of the perks of the Facebook group is being able to share the trials as well as the triumphs. For Holmes, this includes when she goes to any outdoor gear outlet. Often, the staff asks her if she’s shopping for her husband – a question that many female hunters have had to bear.
“Now I keep my Maine Guide hat in my car and I put that on when I go into Cabela’s,” said Holmes, who is, indeed, a Registered Maine Guide.
Since the group’s creation, fellow women hunters in Maine have benefitted from the community and its safe and welcoming atmosphere.
“It draws more and more women in to really understand not only hunting or fishing, but just what the outdoors is all about and how we can be a commodity ourselves,” group member Stacey Wheeler of Bowdoin said. Wheeler also added that Holmes’ group is a “judgment-free zone” where women can learn from and empower each other.
“The leading thought is not that women can be experts in this field. It’s a male-dominated sport,” Wheeler said. “Traditionally, the man is the hunter and the woman is the gatherer. It doesn’t have to be, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to change.”