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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August 16, 2008

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Got Elk?

    The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently and proudly announced that new research is indicating, "More women per capita are attracted to elk hunting than most other kinds of hunting."
     According to the Foundation, 6.7 percent of all elk hunters are women -- that means there are over 60,000 female elk hunters out there. Proportionately, that beats turkey, goose, duck, rabbit, pheasant, and squirrel.
     "It seems a bit counterintuitive," Foundation president and CEO David Allen said in a press release, "because elk hunting can be the quintessential 'roughing it' hunt. But obviously, women are not intimidated by rugged country, large rifles, unpredictable weather and pursuing animals several times larger than they are."
     I'm frankly not crazy about calling the trend "counterintuitive," but it's true that elk hunting is not for the faint of male or female heart.
     I've never hunted for elk, but I very much want to, and have great respect for anyone who has. A woman I met in Idaho comes to mind, who got her first elk with a muzzleloader when she was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her first child. Talk about tough.
     I know a number of us have elk plans in the not too distant future (I can't believe, by the way, how fast August is going -- I feel like it was just July). What do you have coming up, and how many elk hunts will that make for you? -K.H.


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Laura Benjamin

Hi Kim,
I have an elk tag for November and this will be the third trip where I get to hunt and hopefully will bring home my 4th elk! (fingers crossed)I prefer elk meat to venison. Also, I feel it's a more demanding test of skill. (So she says from her 'vast' years of experience, haha!) Out-maneuvering the herd and sneaking up on them, even if you have to trek miles back in on snowshoes, is exciting. Kudos to the pregnant lady! Many of the female elk hunters I know are petite little "girly girls", but don't mess with 'em! Great post!

NorCal Cazadora

Good call on the "counterintuitive" remark - gee, thanks for the backhanded compliment, bud!

I wonder how elk hunting compares with deer hunting among women. I've always understood that was the most popular. Me, I'm still waiting for mine, and if my summer gets any busier, I won't get one this year. Wah!

Jim in Mo.

Doesn't surprise me at all. Never had a woman that didn't go for the high dollar stuff. LOL


Didn't draw a tag this year, but I've been twice...to New Mexico's Lincoln Nat'l Forrest. It was a blast! I had a cow tag, and my husband had a bull tag the first time. He missed his...I got mine! (That was unusual for him...he's an avid hunter, and an awesome shot.) No, I didn't "rub it in"...that would be totally unsportsman like! And he, bless his heart, is so proud of my interest and participation in the sport he loves most, that he will tell his buddies, (and anyone else who'll listen) that "HIS wife would rather hunt than shop!" And I would!

Judy Black

When I got my first bow in 2003, I made a list of the animals that I would like to harvest with my bow. A black bear (color phase preferably), an elk and a caribou.
In 2005 I harvested my first black bear. In 2007 I harvested a beautiful chocolate colored black bear that made the record books.
I applied for a preference point for elk in 2007 and next month I head to Wyoming to hopefully fulfil my dream of harvesting an elk.
I am so excited yet so apprehensive about this hunt. I know I can shoot my bow as well as most but the stories I have heard about the bugeling, rutting, in your face action has me very anxious. Being told that elk hunting is not for the faint of heart...I pray daily that I will be able to hold it together come "crunch time".
My husband, who has "no desire to shoot and elk" is going with me on this hunt. He tells everyone that he is "going along to carry my bow and be the photographer". He is my inspiration and my driving force. Scott encourages me and celebrates my sucess on every hunt we go on.
Kim, I will keep you posted when we get back. Hopefully I will have lots of pictures and the story of a sucessful hunt.
Ladies...get out there and hunt. There is not a spa in the world that compares to the peace and tranquility of the woods. It's free....take advantage of it and enjoy.

Tom Sorenson

As someone who has grown up hunting elk, this comes as no surprise to me. If someone goes on an elk hunt, male or female, I don't care - they will understand the addictive nature of chasing these most royal creatures. I would imagine that elk hunting is growing among people in general - it's just that thrilling.

Laura Bell

I would love to go Elk Hunting! I've read stories about it and have seen pictures, beautiful animals. Anyone want a tag along on their hunt? J/K
How about this, I'll trade an Ohio Whitetail Hunt for an Elk Hunt? :D Lol I can dream I guess, but hopefully one day it will be a reality.

Laura Bell

Almost Forgot...


Okay, now I'm excited! It sounds like we'll have to set up an elk watch on the blog - I can't wait to see pictures and hear some great stories. Congratulations on all our great elk successes so far, and here's to many more this season!

By the way, NorCal Cazadora, that Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation press release did mention deer hunting as well. According to their numbers, deer is the only game more popular among women than elk. -K.H.

Dana @ The Wild WoodsWoman

Good luck to everyone! I'm going along on my first elk hunt in a few weeks in Colorado. I'm dipping my toe in by not actually hunting this year, but learning what it's like to live in an outfitters tent for a week and learning to call. (Similar to how I got started deer hunting) I was going to hunt, but with the (time consuming) wedding planning, I didn't feel like I had enough time to practice with my bow and get the draw weight up. It'd be a shame to inflict shoddy shooting on an elk! But in other "elk" plans, soon after we get back we have our wedding reception in an "Elks Lodge" with elk head mounts which is great!

Dr. Ralph

Looking upon the differences in males an females it should be a foregone conclusion that the fairer sex would prefer an Elk hunt. So would I. The most beautiful scenery in the world while riding in on horseback, making a gorgeous camp, the psychological aspect that a bull elk is a huge, mean animal that could hurt you makes it much easier to shoot. Popping Bambi from twenty yards after sitting in a tree stand all day is not so attractive as hunting the wondrous wapiti... I know my wife could easily be talked into a trip out west, roaming the Rockies but she's not sitting in a tree in Hickman County, Tennessee.

Judy Black

Hey Kim. Well, I am back from my elk hunt and sad to report that I did not harvest...that is hunting. I had the most awesome trip and am looking forward to my next archery elk hunt...there is nothing like it.
I practiced and practiced for this hunt. When I left Michigan I was confident with my shooting at 50 yards, standing and kneeling. I had finally maxed out my bow to 50#.
The third morning of my hunt we had a response as soon as we hit the call. Here come this big bull on a dead run like we were pulling him in on a string.
Scott was next to me with the range finder. 500 yards was his first reading, 180, 160, 140.. We were set up behind two very small pine trees with the sun in our face. Not the best set up but he came so fast, it was all we had.
130, 120, 100. At 80 I tried to pull my bow back and with the close quarters, I couldn't. I told Scott "I can't pull my bow back" and his response was "oh yest you can"!.
At 60 I came to full draw and at 38 he said "kill him". Problem was I couldn't see him as the small pine that was to my right, hid the bull.
I stepped back and pegged my 40 yard pin on his vitals. That bull was mine...I released the arrow.
I watched my green fletches fly over his back. It was text book, a shot I had practiced over and over and over again.
"Your string hit your sleeve" Scott said. I cried.
You can practice every shot, every way but you can't practice Murphy's Law.
Had one more encounter and it too was close, but close does not count. I will go back, I have too.
I am hooked.