‘It’s a rush’: Women joining in with the deer hunt
JANESVILLE Morgan Dibble bagged a buck with her bow on Monday. Today, she’s hunting up north with a rifle.
Dibble, 17, of Janesville is part of a growing number of women who are getting in on the thrill of Wisconsin’s deer hunt.
The traditional 10-day gun deer season opened Saturday with more than 600,000 hunters expected.
The number of deer hunters has declined recently, but the state Department of Natural Resources reports female hunters are bucking the trend, their numbers growing steadily from 46,000 in 2003 to about 53,000 in 2010.
Several local women interviewed were like Dibble: They started hunting with their fathers.
Dibble has been accompanying her father since she could walk. She began carrying a gun at 12.
Dibble said the attraction is the adrenalin rush.
“When you see a deer or get a deer, it’s a rush. It’s like a drug you can’t buy. Your heart races,” she said.
Dibble was still glowing Friday from the excitement of the first buck she bagged with a bow. She was in a tree stand on land her family owns near Janesville. As is typical for her, her legs were shaking as she let her arrow fly at the nine-pointer.
“I hit it perfect, right in the kill zone” behind the front shoulder, she said, her voice warm with the recollection.
The deer was the first she has gutted without help.
“I was pretty proud of myself,” she said.
Dibble said she has noticed more hunters recently among girls at Janesville Parker High School.
Hunting begins early
Hunting with dad is a common story, Dibble said, but she thinks girls also are influenced by cable TV reality shows that show women hunting, “because they have all those pretty deer hunters, and they want to be just like them.”
Caryn Oleston of Janesville said her late mother hunted as early as the 1970s, and now Oleston hunts with her adult daughter.
Dibble said she’s welcome in deer camp and feels like one of the guys, but Oleston said the men she hunts with prefer she find alternative lodging.
“It’s just a bunch of guys getting together, having fun playing cards and talking. It’s a male camaraderie thing, I think,” she said.
But the guys welcome her and her daughter on the hunt, Oleston said.
Katie Rich of Janesville is not allowed at her dad’s deer camp.
“It’s just a rule he has, and we have to respect it,” Rich said.
One woman reacting to a Gazette Facebook post said women have a harder time than men getting rural landowners to let them hunt on their land. Others said everyone has that difficulty.
Rich said it’s all about how you present yourself and respect the landowner.
Some hunters will call late the night before the season opens, or they’ll leave gut piles in the woods. Behavior like that makes landowners leery, Rich said.
“Dad taught me to respect the property owner,” Rich said.
As might be expected, this year’s hunters were choosing bucks over does by a wide margin in southern Wisconsin.
At least, that’s the result of an informal poll of area deer-registration stations around noon Saturday.
“I have never seen so many big bucks,” said Peggy Jenson of the Footville Meat Market, where 11 of the 15 deer registered by noon were bucks.
One 10-year-old downed an eight-pointer. “It was a beauty,” Jenson said.
The reason for the increase in bucks is a change in hunting rules.
The earn-a-buck program, which in past years required hunters to take an antlerless deer before being allowed to take a buck, is gone.
“They’re shooting the big ones. They don’t have to pass ’em up,” Jenson said.
Most other deer-registration stations reported a higher proportion of bucks and steady traffic.