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Hunting and Fishing Gains Popularity With Women In Colorado, Nationwide

Laura Palmisano

Hunting and fishing are male dominated sports, but the number of women participating in these activities is on the rise. 

Sixteen women recently attended a Cast and Blast two-day clinic put on by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The clinic was held in the Jim Olterman/Lone Cone State Wildlife Area, 25 miles outside of Norwood. 

At the clinic instructors taught the women about spin casting, archery, rifle shooting and orienteering.

Jolie Daugherty, 37, drove from Fountain to attend the event. She took a hunter’s education course through parks and wildlife. 

Credit Laura Palmisano
Jolie Daugherty, 37, practices spin casting.

There she learned about the agency’s Women Afield program that teaches females about the basics of shooting, hunting and angling.

Daugherty said she didn’t participate in these activities as a kid.  

"It was one of those things that always intimidated me growing up and my family didn’t go out camping or any of that," she said. "And so to be able to learn how to become an outdoor woman...has been amazing."

This is Daugherty’s second time attending a Cast and Blast. Her first one was in 2008.

After the event she became an avid fly fisher and shooter. She is now trying to get her husband into shooting.

"He gets intimidated by my shooting skills so he doesn’t go as often as I would like, but he is getting more into just because I am," she said. 

Daugherty is part of a growing number of women entering the realm of shooting, hunting and fishing.

Nationally, the number of women who have fished has increased by more than a million from 2006 to 2011 according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2011, 8.9 million women fished.

There are also about 1.5 million women who hunt in the U.S. That number grew by 20 percent from 2006 to 2011.

Since 2009 CPW has seen the number of females taking hunter education courses nearly double. 

Credit Laura Palmisano
Mandy Hopkins, 33, tried archery for the first time.

  At the clinic 33-year-old Mandy Hopkins of Grand Junction tried archery for the first time. 

"I never shot a bow and arrow and I don’t think my husband has either so I’m kind of excited to tell him I shot one before he did," Hopkins said. 

Hopkins also went hunting for the first time last year. She did a guided hunt near Steamboat Springs.

"I was able to go in with a guide and be trained and feel comfortable and safe," she said.  "My biggest fear was making sure I didn’t injure the animal and the guide had the same concern so we were on the same page."

Hopkins said she took down an elk and is still enjoying meat from the animal. 

CPW officials like Tony Bonacquista are glad to see more females participating in hunting and fishing.

Bonacquista said national statistics show hunter numbers are decreasing every year and the average age of the hunter is getting older.

He said the agency is trying to recruit different populations to hunt and fish. 

lures, fishing
Credit Laura Palmisano
Colorado Parks and Wildlife provided all the materials such as poles and lures for the clinic.

"Instead of the traditional middle-aged male who is are typical hunter we are trying to...encourage use by different types of people than we have in the past," Bonacquista said.

The agency also has youth outreach programs, he said.  

Daugherty said she thinks events like Cast and Blast are a great way for women to be introduced to hunting and fishing.

"I think women should always try something new," she said. "It would be a great opportunity for them to just get out of their comfort zone and I think it’s actually enjoyable when you have the right people teaching you."

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