About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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January 23, 2008

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Tough Guys


A few weeks ago, Field & Stream deputy editor David E. Petzal did a guest post for us on the difference (or lack thereof) between men and women hunters. I know we got a kick out of commenting on the topic, so Mr. Petzal -- endlessly accommodating gentleman that he is -- agreed to do another. (Note, the photo below is actor Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie "Jarhead," not editor David E. Petzal, but honestly, they could be brothers!) -K.H.

Can You Take It?
     Thank you for all your kind comments. I was especially intrigued by the comments on women getting colder than men, and men picking on each other. I don't think women get any colder than men do (unless their clothing is inferior, which I doubt nowadays) but men simply don't admit they get cold.
     When I was a kid, back in the middle of the last century, one of the prime factors in how much respect you got from your peers was how well you could "Take it." Take what? Take anything. Cold, heat,Jarhead teasing, pain, you name it. We would punch each other on the upper arm to see who could endure the pounding longer, and God help him who quit first, or cried, or said, "This is stupid." He was done. Finished. If you would like a perfect illustration, see the movie "Jarhead" (which also contains some scenes with Jake Gyllenhaal's naked butt, in case you're interested. Personally, I prefer his sister's.)
     Eventually, we became conditioned to this way of thinking. A couple of years ago I was hunting Cape buffalo with a friend, and we were walking maybe 10 or 15 miles a day. After a couple of days of this he allowed how his toe was annoying him, and took off his boot. He had a gouty toe that was the size of a ping-pong ball and colored purple, red, and black. How he even walked on it was beyond me, much less what we were doing, and never a word.
     But then he is of my generation. I have no idea what one of today's kids would do in the same situation. -D.E.P. 


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I can take it, Dave! I suppose I shouldn't brag, though, given that said ability stems only from an absurdly competitve nature, a vain desire to impress, and the hopeful belief that "taking it" is a sure road to respect.

When I was 6, the boy around the block used to beat me up routinely on my walk home from school. My dad's reaction: "don't come home crying until you can defend yourself," (I was smarter than that - I'd just hide in the yard crying!); My mom's reaction: charging over to the kid's house and challenging his mother to a dirty street brawl. Now that I'm "in charge," (theoretically, anyway), I really try not to coddle my kids, but I have high hopes that they'll learn to keep on truckin' in the face of adversity (whether it be a blister, or a compound fracture). I've seen their tolerance run the gamut, and a lot of times it appears to be directly related and/or based on the reactions of OTHERS to the kids' particular plight of the moment.

Laura Bell

Finally able to reply!! My computer was down (still a little shakey) and it seems like I've missed so much!

The first year I carried a gun while Deer Hunting, I was in tears or near tears almost the whole time. Being 10yrs old at the time I just couldn't handle all the walking, falling, heavy gun, etc. And I was dropped off at my house and watched everyone drive off to go back out.
Then Turkey Season rolled around and I remember my dad waking me up to go. I would be too tired some days and then wouldn't you know the one day I didn't go I walked out and saw my dad all dressed in Camo, having just gotten back from the morning hunt, but what made it worse yet he bagged one, a nice big one. I was happy he got one, but disappointed in myself for not wanting to venture out to get it with him.
From then on I got a fire going in me to just "tough" it out. If I was going to be a hunter that's what I needed to do and my dad used to tell me, and still does, "You can't get them if you don't go."
I've since gone through quite a bit of stuff and only stayed home on days where I'm too very sick to go or mother nature lets me know I should stay/go home.
I guess I do kind of pride myself on being "tough" or stupid, however you want to put it, but I'll never put someone down for not being able to let's say hunt in that downpour, etc. We all have are own limitations to what we can take.

BTW, You could have fooled me with that Jarhead photo! Good Thing you told us different! LOL

NorCal Cazadora

It seems I've heard that women's extremities really do get colder than men's - something about funneling warmth to our core to protect developing fetuses.

But you're totally right about men never admitting to pain or discomfort.

Just yesterday, I was on an all-girl hunt, and while there was some toughness going on, we tended to admit it if we were exhausted or freezing. None of us was prepared to call it quits, mind you. We just didn't mind talking about it, because for women, talking about afflictions (from bad boyfriends to cold weather) is comforting.


I had a girlfriend marry into a long-standing local guiding family (lucky girl!!) And she would tell all these great hunting and fishing stories while we, "The Bend Over Girls," weeded and deadheaded the gardens of Snowmass Village.

Now she comes from true, East Coast stock. It was a significant lifestyle change to go from pearls to camo.

My favorite story of hers: She and her husband hunting- for days by now. It's cold, it's wet & snowy; she's whipped and trying to be tough about it, this keeping up thing.

They get to crossing a stream, and 6' 1" hubby bounds right across. NY Pearls isn't so tall. She winds up horizontal and soaked in the creek. Well of course she just loses it: "I don't WANNA be GI Jane anymore! I wanna be BARBIE!!"

Vinnie Biondo

I feel fortunate enough to have been raised the right (excuse me, "tough") way. I almost didnt make it. I am a youngster by my own admission. The United States may say that at 21 I am considered an adult, but relatively speaking, I havent been around for too long. But when i look around and see and hear certain things, it makes me feel like a crabby old man. Even at 21 years of age, i find myself starting a conversation with something like "Why when I was your age...". For example, it was only recently that elementary schools banned dodgeball, and -dare i say it- TAG. Yes my friends the world is coming to an end when they ban tag. Forget about global warming, this is the problem. I cant imagine a childhood where i was banned from: 1. Chasing other kids around or 2. Beaning them with a soft ball. Parents are coddling their children too much. They dont let them go out and play, they dont let them play on jungle gyms for fear that they will get hurt, and when thier child dosnt do well in school, they berate the teacher and administration because they obviously failed to teach their child. These are the same children that they feed video games to. Yes video games were around when I was growing up, but my parents made it a point to kick me out of the house to go fishing and hunting, and im glad they did. I am more afraid of these children growing up without social skills and never having known adversity, hardship, or an injury, than I am of the polar icecaps melting.

So, D.E.P. I am proud that I can take it, but will the future leaders be able to?- V.B.


Growing up on a farm never allowed too much "indoor time". We were always out fixing fence or splitting firewood, there was always something to do. I think I can take it, even now hunting. This past season I sat through a thunderstorm in a tree because I couldn't bring myself to walk away. I didn't want to think about what may have walked by after I left, so I got soaked and wouldn't go home. Of course, there were NO deer moving and I didn't see anything, but I stayed anyway.

I am also young and don't have any kids, but if and when I decide I want them, they aren't going to be babied if I can help it. What's life without a few scars and some fun? They'll have to learn to take it!!