KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hunters heading out into the Missouri wilderness in 2019 might see something they may not have seen a couple decades ago.
"There’s much more of an interest now than there was 10 years ago of women getting interested in hunting, being able to harvest their own food and providing good quality meat for their families," Stacey Davis, manager of the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, said.
Female hunters have been increasing over the past 15 years at least, according to various data sets from conservation organizations. That's about when Davis started at the center, which is part of the Missouri Department of Conservation in Kansas City. She said she's seeing women in hunting grow younger and more prevalent.
"So many of us are in our 20s or 30s," Davis said.
While 78,000 Missouri women have firearm hunting permits, most of the increases appear to be in bow hunting.
Female bow hunters increased by nearly 40 percent between 2005-2014, according to a report on the state's recruitment, retention and reactivation plan by the Archery Trade Association. The same report indicated a 5 percent decrease in this demographic's age.
While more recent data on the state's female hunting population was not available, data shows that the number of total people who applied for managed hunt permits nearly doubled over the last five years alone.
Kathy Kottmann just went on her first hunt this year. She bagged a deer her second day.
"I was nervous the first day because it was the first time I went out hunting," Kottmann said. "I’ve shot a couple times before...but this was pretty much my very first live experience."
Although Kottmann used a shotgun, she said she's aware of the trend of increasing female hunters, and she's happy to see it happen.
"It’s a good time to go ahead and get the ladies out there, just to kind of get a new generation and a new gender out there," she said.
Kottmann went on a mentored hunt, where an expert went with her to give her advice and show her the ropes. This is just one of several programs that the MDC utilizes to attract more people to hunting.
The department also specifically targets women, which may be helping with the increase in interest. Davis said she has seen these programs stimulating growth on the local level.
"[Kansas City Missouri] Parks and Rec hunt that is just for female bow hunters started three years ago with just 6 hunters. Last year it had 16, and this year, 22," Davis said in an email.
And she said all the reactions to her involvement have been positive.
"I have never run across anyone in the field who isn’t supportive of having a female hunter out there," She said. "Everyone has been really supportive. For a female, don’t be afraid to try it."
The new demographics only adding to Missouri's rich and wild environment.