Wyoming antelope hunt brings women together

Cheyenne – This October, 45 women from across the nation will head into the field for their first-ever hunt with the Women’s Antelope Hunt in northeast Wyoming. For the fourth year in a row, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, with support from Wyoming Game and Fish Department, will host the hunt on October 6-9, 2016 at the Ranch at Ucross.

“Hunting is a long-standing Wyoming tradition and a skill that honors our state’s cultural roots,” said Rebekah Smith, program associate at the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. “The goal of the hunt is to help cultivate passion for new sport and friendships as well as to invest in economic self-sufficiency of women by teaching skills to harvest nutritious meat for their families.”

Women’s participation in hunting and fishing in Wyoming is on an upward trend. Game and Fish license data shows that over the past 5 years, Wyoming resident women who hold a hunting license increased nearly 19%. The increase in resident women anglers follows suit, increasing 18% since 2011.

“One of the greatest things about hunting is that its activity for everyone, and it’s exciting to see the demographics of hunting in Wyoming expand,”said Rebekah Fitzgerald, communications and outreach supervisor with Game and Fish. Game and Fish works on recruitment of new hunters and anglers each year and retaining them thereafter. “As we work to recruit new hunters, we are pleased to have strong partners like the Wyoming Women’s Foundation where we can introduce new skills and key-in on the multitude of benefits hunting provides.”

The annual event helps develop new hunters by providing women with the opportunity to hunt in a guided and supported environment. New and inexperienced hunters are paired with an experienced hunter and both women go out together with a guide. The hunters form a mentoring relationship and also get instruction from their guide, which maximizes learning opportunities and helps develop a shared passion of the outdoors. The weekend also provides hunters the chance to shoot trap; learn about field dressing, meat cutting, and game recipes; furbearer trapping; and even fly fishing.

“Women have the chance to learn it all-from field to fork,” said Smith.

Game and Fish partners with the Wyoming Women’s Foundation to support the Women’s Antelope Hunt by hosting hunter safety course, helping sight in rifles, presenting on rules and regulations, and field support the day of the hunt.

“Game and Fish is really important to the Women’s Antelope Hunt. We were not experts with hunting when we started in 2013, but Game and Fish has helped us since the beginning to host a credible and safe event oriented toward ethical hunting practices,” said Smith.

The annual hunt is a fundraising event for the Women’s Foundation. The money raised is reinvested into the program for scholarships as well as other events that support economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for women and girls in Wyoming.

The women-only hunt is considered the first of its kind in the nation. To support this initiative and learn more, tickets are available online for a benefit auction on Friday, October 7 at the Ranch at UCross. The Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt was founded in 2013 by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation as an opportunity for mentoring and developing camaraderie between women.