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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October 15, 2008

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Conflict Resolution

    The third and final presidential debate is tonight, and I'll be tuned in and keyed up. Keeping in the spirit of the debate (but without actually discussing politics, because frankly, my nerves could use a break), I thought we'd talk about the art of debate in the field, ie., conflict resolution.
    Hopefully you've never had occasion to stand your ground in the woods, but I know it comes up. One of the most frustrating stories I ever heard was from a woman who'd shot an elk while hunting with her husband, then was approached by a conservation officer who could not be convinced that her husband hadn't shot the animal for her. Wow.
    And we've all seen too many headlines (hell, one is too many) of territory disputes ending in injury, or worse.
    Thankfully, I haven't experienced anything nearly that frustrating or serious. But I was on a duck hunt a number of years ago with a landowner/guide, who certainly made life a little less pleasant.
    I was still new to shotguns, and this particular morning I was using a borrowed one that I'd been given a half-hour earlier. I have a long neck, so I'd fit a Velcro pad on the stock so my cheek would be better positioned. I happened to be sitting next to this landowner in a floating blind when I had to take a minute to readjust it.
    But he quickly decided he'd had enough of me. He turned, said, "That thing's just a gimmick," ripped the pad off, and threw it across the blind, where it skidded into the water.
    Well, it didn't turn into much of a debate, because even though I was mad as hell, I was still very unsure of myself in the field, and besides, this guy seemed to have a temper, and my little gadget was gone for good. I backed down, I'm afraid to say, and just made the best of it.
    What conflicts have you encountered in the field? Or rifle range, sporting goods store, wherever. And how have you resolved them? (Hopefully, more effectively than I did back then!). -K.H.


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Wow, I would have been fuming too! I probably would have reacted the same way though Kim. I tend to avoid conflict as much as possible. Including times when I probably should speak up.

I've actually been very fortunate so far and haven't had any problems like that while hunting. Until recently, I had always hunted on family property. And when I am on public land I'm either rabbit hunting or waterfowling, so I'm always with friends or family members.

On occasion, I've had a male sporting goods store employee talk down to me a bit, but as soon as I throw out a few technical terms, or mention a previous hunting experience I usually get taken more seriously. It also helps that I'm on a first name basis with half of the staff at the nearest sporting goods store. :)

Laura Bell

I'd be mad as [email protected] also. No one messes with my stuff. That's about the only thing that can really get me mad too, otherwise I'm fairly easy going and shy.
Last year I had a kinda scary encounter with another hunter. It was shotgun season for deer and I set up all the standers on this particular drive and so I went to take the farthest spot that was left. As I almost reached my spot I notice another hunter in full Camouflage. I approached him to inform him that we were driving this particular strip of property. He was Bowhunting, and he was NONE too happy to see me walk his way. He pointed his bow and arrow at me the entire time that I walked up and spoke to him. He also had a pistol strapped to himself. To start the conversation I asked if he had seen anything yet today, he said NO. I told him I was with a group and they were driving this way so to keep his eyes open. He tried to tell me that I didn't have permission to be on this property. I told him the land owners name and he still insisted that I was wrong and trespassing. I never tried to correct him or argue, I just told him that I would back the way I came from until the drive was over. If I wanted to be a jerk I could have stood about 10 yards from him until the drive was over, but he seemed pretty darn mad and I didn't want to push it, especially when he's armed with 2 weapons.
I really should have called the Game Warden though. That guy broke two laws. #1 - Not wearing Blaze Orange, heck that's not just the law its for your own safety! #2 - Having a Pistol with you. He would have known who called and that's one reason why I didn't.
I really don't want to have an encounter like that again, that just made me very uneasy about seeing other hunters in the woods that season.


I'm fortunate, I guess, that I don't hunt public lands, just our owned and leased properties, so I've never had a run-in with anyone in the field.

I can certainly relate to Shannon's example of being "talked down to" by male sporting goods employees. That has happened on more than one occasion. The first couple of times, it ticked me off but I kept quiet. Now I actually welcome those opportunities to "show off" a little and watch the transformation in his attitude unfold! One clerk was so impressed that when another male employee walked up, my little clerk said to him, "She loads her own bullets!"

Walt Smith

I would have accidently discharged his kneecap off!!


I have been pretty lucky with my hunting partners - all friends and my husband. They know I am still getting my footing and help me when I need it. I also went to BOW last year and had great instructors who started on a beginning level and weren't condescending.
However, I have met a lot of folks who do treat me differently as a woman, even at check stations and in the field. For the most part, I just do my thing but I will certainly say something if they are rude, etc. I would have been mad if someone threw my gear out!! (P.S. I had help at a shotgun clinic- got a "cheekpad" and it really helped to see over the comb, so there!)
I have friend who had a terrible expereince, the kind that really gets me going. She shot an elk, was tracking it with my husband, and when she got to it, another hunter had "shot" it and tagged it. There was some heated discussion about whose elk it really was, and she felt that since she couldn't prove it she had no rights. It was two people vs. a camp of 5-6 armed guys, and she ended up letting them have it. She was heartbroken over the whole mess...I am not sure I would have been so nice. Maybe a call to the game warden would have helped, but I would have at least reported him to his superior officer (the camp was filled with airmen). Of course, you could make the argument that these folks were bad sportsmen and it had nothing to do with being female...