By Mary Grace Eppes
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Many Mississippi bow hunters eagerly await the first hunt of the season and each year, more of those hunters are women.
Katie Pepper of Canton, a former Mississippi State University student and an ardent hunter, is proof that bow hunting is no longer just a male sport.
“I started shooting bows last summer. My dad bought me my bow, and I started practicing a lot,” Pepper said. “Last October was my first time to hunt with a bow. I have always been a hunter, but I was ready for a new challenge.”
Pepper said her success depends on proper bow and arrow selection, location, distance and strength.
“Women should work on their upper body strength to more effectively use their bows,” Pepper said. “The more pounds you can draw back with your bow, the faster it will shoot.”
Pepper enjoys both the feeling of accomplishment that bow hunting brings and being able to spend time with her family in the process.
John Long, 4-H youth development specialist and shooting sports state coordinator with the MSU Extension Service, said nothing is more important to anyone selecting archery equipment than bow fit. This is true of males and females.
“You can have the best equipment in the world, but if the bow does not fit your draw length and draw weight, capability does no good,” Long said. “Find a bow that fits you physically, as well as one within your given budget.”
Long’s advice for women interested in bow hunting is to get out there and do it.
“At first concentrate on learning the fundamentals of anchor point, proper sight picture and release. Work from there towards fine-tuning your goal of hitting the target,” Long said.
Anchor point is a specific spot on the archer’s body, usually the face, on which the string and index finger, or release aid, come to rest. The sight is the aiming device on a compound bow.
Aside from the physical requirements of the sport, one of the biggest challenges female bow hunters face is being respected.
“Many current movies such as ‘Brave’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ have lead female roles who are active archers,” Long said.
“Archery is no longer reserved for males. Many television hunting shows have female hosts and co-hosts who are very accomplished bow hunters.”
Bow hunting equipment is being feminized to capitalize on women’s increased interest in the sport. Many brands are selling pink bows, arrows and wrist straps.
“I love my bow,” Pepper said. “It’s camouflage and has all sorts of pink accessories on it. There are all sorts of colors. You can definitely make bow hunting girly.”
Pepper says her most rewarding experience from bow hunting was harvesting her first doe with a bow last year.
“I love bow hunting because it’s always exciting to accomplish something new,” Pepper said. “Be patient. It takes a lot of patience and practice. It’s also a lot of fun to find someone who can bow hunt with you and help you practice.”
Bow hunting season in Mississippi opens on October 1.