The title alone made my heart melt. Dads (or very special father figures) and daughters spending time together is an activity that is near and dear to me. This is what it is all about – connecting with the ones you love. It is my very favorite part of shooting and owning guns. Hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

Girls, with dads in tow, bridge gender gap in hunting

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | 3:30 p.m. CST; updated 4:24 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hannah Morse, 14, poses with her rifle as she prepares to begin learning about deer hunting during a young hunt sponsored by the Missouri Conservation Department on Saturday. As part of the program, youth spend the night and hunt with their parents on conservation land outside of Columbia.   ¦  Dak Dillon

COLUMBIA — With everything but her glasses covered in camouflage, 11-year-old Taylor Kemp hopped up and down in anticipation of her first time hunting.

Her dad, Don Kemp, helped her put an orange hunter’s vest over her puffy camouflage coat and positioned her backpack filled with the essentials: Double Stuf Oreos, Cheez-its and Nutter Butters.

A few yards away, 14-year-old Hannah Morse chatted on her cellphone with her mom, who called to wish her good luck before she went hunting with her dad for the first time. Her brown hair was pulled into a ponytail and stuck out of the side of her hunter’s orange stocking cap.

“My mom says that she just doesn’t want to see the deer,” Hannah said.

In a sport traditionally dominated by men, two out of the five participants in a managed youth deer hunt on Saturday and Sunday at the Charles Green Conservation Area near Ashland were girls.

“I think it’s good that we can show boys that we can do it, too,” Hannah said.

“Yeah, that we’re not afraid to get dirty or anything,” Taylor said.

Taylor said her parents were a little skeptical about how she would do field-dressing a deer, but she wasn’t worried, citing “disgusting things” she has done in the past such as sliding down a mound of mud after it rained and dissecting owl pellets in class.

“Most of my friends don’t believe I’m going hunting,” Hannah said. “They tell me I look more like a cheerleader than a hunter.”

Outdoor skills specialist Brian Flowers, who was in charge of the hunt, said in the past 10 years he has been involved in youth managed hunts he has noticed more girls participating.

In 2010, out of the 16.3 million hunters in U.S., 2.3 million were female, according to a National Sporting Goods Association survey. While participation in the sport continues to decline across the nation, in Missouri the total number of people buying hunting permits is “holding,” in part because of the increase of females in the sport. In Missouri, 74,833 women hunted in 2010, 2,755 more than in 2009.

In Missouri, for every hunter who goes out another comes in, Flowers said.

Kelsey Brandkamp, 18, has noticed an increase in women coming into her parents’ store, Powder Horn and Guns & Sporting Goods, where she works.

“Now every lady who comes in has hunted before, is planning on going hunting or at least goes out there and sits,” Brandkamp said.

She also said that a lot of the women she sees are young women who go hunting with their mom or dad.

“It’s a family thing, it really is,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to see what it’s all about. Usually you’ll sit for five or seven hours at a time and not see anything. But when you do, it gets pretty exciting.”


Read more about Hannah’s hut with her dad here: