I used to collect baseball cards but sold most of them nine years ago when Tracy and I had to make room for cribs and baby strollers. Today, I’m a novice collector of deer hunting memorabilia, and this photo is as valuable as Honus Wagner’s Pittsburgh Pirates card from 1911. Well, it’s more valuable to me, anyway.
Interestingly, this deer camp photo might be older than those rare Wagner baseball cards. The photo, I’m told, was taken sometime between 1904 and 1918 in northern Wisconsin. It appears that at least two of the hunters were shooting flintlocks.
What I find even more interesting is the fact that one of the hunters (third from the right) is a woman. Of the thousands of old-time deer hunting photos that I’ve seen over the years, this is only the second one in which a woman hunter is pictured. The fact that she participated — and apparently was successful — makes her one of our sport’s true pioneers. She and her campmates certainly knew how to hunt deer.
Fast forward to today. According to a survey by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the female demographic is the fastest growing segment of the hunting population. True, only 9 percent of America’s 10.6 million deer hunters are females, but that only tells part of the story. Of those 954,000 hunters, 300,000+ are ages 6 to 15.
If that isn’t a sign of hope for our future, I don’t know what is. And, just to think, that future was paved generations before most of us even knew it.