It makes a pleasant change to see mainstream media outlets publishing positive stories about shooting. The ABC has done just that by profiling three women who have joined an ever-increasing band of females enjoying the adventure and skills of hunting. The April 26 feature by Kate Webber, titled ‘Girls with guns: Meet three women who love hunting’, hears about their fervour and motivations while showing what SSAA members already know – that shooters and hunters come from all walks of life and embrace the aura of the great outdoors. Also embracing the theme was Daily Mail Australia, which has run a piece written by Louise Cheer describing ‘gun-toting women who love hunting in the bush’.
First to recount her story is Emma Sears, a 24-year-old nurse, who tells the ABC that that she grew up as part of a farming family in Stratford, in Victoria’s East Gippsland. It was amid this background that she learned how to shoot ducks, rabbits and foxes at a tender age. From there, she progressed to pursuing deer and other game. When she is out in the wild, Emma prefers to do her hunting solo. “Obviously it’s fun hunting with companions, but you get a really good sense of achievement and satisfaction in a successful hunt on your own,” she said in the article.
Emma usually tends to hunt when she needs meat for the freezer and also takes trophy animals. But she also finds satisfaction in other forms. “I saw 11 deer the other day, so I watched them feed out, but I didn’t need to shoot anything for meat, and there was nothing there that was of trophy size, so I just watched them and they didn’t know I was there,” she said. “And that’s really exciting. I sometimes find that even more exciting than taking an animal – to watch and try to try to get a photo.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Sharna Johnson is also a nurse and like Emma, from a rural background. Sharna was able to outline her views in both the ABC feature and to the Daily Mail Australia. Growing up in the high country town of Omeo in Victoria, she remembers shooting rabbits from the age of five with her dad. “I absolutely love the high country and the mountains and getting out exploring them,” she told the ABC. “I think hunting just became an extension of that.”
Nowadays, Sharna runs her own small business, HCG Like a Girl, which sells hunting clothing for women. She also looks after a Facebook page, which acts as an area for female hunters to exchange stories and photographs. “When I started doing that it was about getting some images out there and some stories out there, because there was lots and lots of girls doing it, but it wasn’t really considered normal.”
Making up the trio of female hunters in the ABC write-up is Rebecca Brammer, a 25-year-old pet nutritionist, who was raised on a farm near Geelong among a family steeped in shooting. “I’m a sixth-generation shooter. Dad was a sporting clay shooter and we also hunted rabbits and foxes and things like that around the place,” she said.
Rebecca reckons that social media and marketing specifically catering for women was helping to fuel the numbers of females taking up hunting. “There are all these companies releasing women’s camo and pink guns and tailoring it to the women’s market a little bit more,” said Rebecca. “And I think the chicks who before would have gone, ‘Hunting’s not for me’, are now going ‘Oh there’s a pink rifle, it must be for me’.”
Rebecca is another woman who has forged a business from her attachment to hunting by fashioning jewellery like rings and earrings from spent bullet casings.
The Daily Mail Australia highlighted Buffie Harris, a 42-year-old mother of two from Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, as well as meeting up with Sharna Johnson. Buffie, who is a taxidermist, decided to take up hunting to overcome one of her daughter’s fussy eating habits. Now they go out to hunt sambar deer and fill the fridge at home with venison. “Someone gave us some venison (which is a lean meat) and my daughter said it was really great and she just devoured it, ” she said. Prior to that, Buffie’s daughter had struggled to eat any meat that contained even the tiniest hint of fat.
Buffie said the whole carcass of a deer was used when it was taken and the family was able to harvest about $1000 worth of meat each time. “We turn it into sausages, kranskies and kabanas,” said Buffie. “Compared to deli-bought, the homemade have more flavour and are more intense and we know what’s in it.”