Hunting is for women, too

MANCHESTER - Traditionally, hunting has been viewed as a man's sport, but over the course of time that trend has begun to change as more and more young girls and women have begun venturing out into the woods.

For Kathi Bierwirth and her family, the trend first began around 1940 when Bierwirth's grandmother first began hunting - something she said had a distinct impact on her.

"I used to see her go out with my dad and my uncles and everything and [I] got a little bit interested in it and everything and then my dad started taking me out just more so to be in the woods with him just to experience it, which was pretty cool," said Bierwirth.

After taking a brief sabbatical from the sport, Bierwirth got back into it when she was in college with her now husband Don Bierwirth. It was at that time that she also started going out more with her father and grandmother.

"That was probably some of the biggest thrills I had was being in the woods with my grandmother," Bierwirth said of the experiences.

The tradition was one that was carried on by the Bierwirths daughter Linday who began going out into the woods with her parents at an early age. While Lindsay said that she went out hunting with her dad more frequently while she was growing up, the fact that her mother also hunted made an impression on her.

"I thought it was cool that my mom did it too. So it was like 'I want to do it. Mom can do it. I can do it,'" said Lindsay Bierwirth. "I just thought that she was just really cool. Some people think 'Oh, it's a guys sport' you know and I really honor women that are out there doing those sort of outdoor activities."

For nine-year-old Ciara Wright - who has been going out into the woods with her father Jamie Wright since she was three - this year has been special. Although Ciara Wright hunted all of last season, she got her first deer - a four pointer - on youth weekend, which was held on Nov. 9-10.

"She had a little tear come out of her eye. She was so excited that this happened. She had just gotten a new rifle earlier for her birthday, a pink rifle. It's just hers and none of the boys can use it," said Jamie Wright. "She hunted all of last year without seeing a deer so she put in a lot of time and I think it just kind of all [hit her]. I know that she really wanted a buck badly, so I think all those emotions came out at once and she was overly excited."

The following weekend - the opening of rifle season - she got her second; a 137 pound 8 pointer.

Even though Ciara has reached her limit for the rifle season, Jamie Wright said in an interview last Thursday that his daughter still wanted to go hunting with him and her siblings over the weekend.

Manchester Town Clerk Linda Spence first began hunting 15 years ago. Although she has only been participating in the sport for the last 15 years, Spence has been around it her entire life. Her father and brothers all hunted and her husband does as well and eventually she decided to give it a try.

"It's tradition. It's what I was raised on and I think it's a dying tradition and I'm so pleased that they have youth hunting now because I think it's critical that our youth that were raised here understand that it's part of being a Vermonter," said Spence. "I really wish that my dad had encouraged me as a child, but back then women stayed home. That's just the way it was."

For many of the hunters, the sport is not solely about trying to get a deer, turkey or some other game; its about something greater. It's about heritage, spending time and bonding with friends and family, peace and relaxation, and the connection with nature.

Turkey hunting season, which takes place during the spring, is the favorite of Kathi and Lindsay Bierwirth in large part they said because of the connection they feel with nature when they are out in the woods at first light.

"I love being out there. I think I alluded to it a little bit with spring time and turkey hunting," said Kathi Bierwirth. "Like I tell people, even if you don't like to hunt you should go out in the woods When you go in it's pretty dead calm and then all of a sudden it's just this certain point you start hearing everything come alive, waking up from the night."

Jamie Wright said that he believed the connection to nature was something about the sport that really appealed to his daughter Ciara as well.

"She loves her animals. She's really observant out there. She loves every aspect of being out there," Jamie Wright said. "[When] she shot her first deer she said she was shaking like an acorn on an oak tree in the wind, or something along those lines. She's very much into all the animals and the outdoors."

While the aforementioned hunters have various reasons for why they are drawn to hunting, Lindsay Bierwirth said one thing above all stood out as being her favorite aspect of the sport.

"I think memories is my favorite part because memories you have forever," Lindsay Bierwirth said. "I've experienced shooting my first deer and my first turkey with just me and my dad and that's a memory that you'll have forever. So, I think that's definitely one of my favorites."


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