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It’s a different world: More women enjoy hunting than ever before

By Ryan Hynick

The Associated Press

The first day of rifled deer season each year will always find Kathy Scavone on her favorite deer stand.

The Sweet Valley woman loves the anticipation of those first few moments when darkness gives way to daylight on opening morning. She loves preseason scouting, sighting in her rifle, getting her gear ready, packing a lunch and the camaraderie of being with family and friends throughout the season.

In addition to her primary profession as a nurse, Scavone along with husband, Paul, run their family business, JS Sporting Goods in Wilkes-Barre, that has a focus on hunting, fishing, and archery equipment and supplies.

“We have seen a definite increase in the number of women who are becoming involved in the outdoors and in sports such as hunting, fishing, hiking, boating and much more,” Scavone said.

It just takes a quick glance at the National Rifle Association, Trout Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, or multiple other websites to see program after program and event after event have been taking place during the last decade that has a focus on women in the outdoors.

Statistics from retailers, licensing authorities and qualitative research completely backs this. And it is not just the recent impact from the coronavirus causing more people to turn to the outdoors, this has been an ongoing trend for years.

Nearly one third of all adults who are involved with fishing or hunting are female, according to the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The NRA website also indicates the number of women who own guns is one of the fastest growing demographics. In 2003, approximately 13 percent of American women were gun owners. However, in 2020, nearly 23 percent of women own at least one firearm.

“The great thing about being involved in outdoor sports is that there is something for everyone,” Scavone said. “For people who might want to be involved with shooting, but might not want to hunt, archery with 3D targets, clay birds with shotguns, and also getting to a range to practice with a rifle or a pistol have all become very popular.”

It is not just shooting sports that have increased in popularity. Fly fishing is has drawn the interest of many women across Pennsylvania and the United States.

“Women are the fastest growing segment of the fly fishing population in the United States and the number of women involved in the sport has quadrupled during the last 10 years,” said Charles Charlesworth, at-large boating commissioner for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and former president of Trout Unlimited’s Lackawanna Valley Chapter.

Charlesworth’s wife, Rosangela, is a director for the Northeast Pennsylvania Fly Girls, a grassroots organization for women interested in fly fishing. The organization was formed as part of Pennsylvania’s Women and Diversity Initiative and includes female anglers from Trout Unlimited chapters in Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Pike/Wayne counties and has a focus on education and conservation.

Charlesworth said another reason why fly fishing is becoming more popular among women is because of Trout Unlimited’s support of college fishing clubs. There are more than 120 collegiate fly-fishing clubs across the country with 11 in Pennsylvania, the closest being at Keystone College.

Charlesworth said anyone at a young age who becomes strongly connected to an outdoor sport such as fly fishing is likely to continue it throughout their life and also involve others along the way.

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