Unveiling the History of Women Hunters

Bridget Blake // January 24

Let’s clear the air here ladies and own what has been ours all along: women have always been hunters. Period. End of story. This division in hunting between men and women is a new age thing, not an always thing. From personal experience as a young girl to see pictures of women as “gatherers” and men as “hunters” – the narrative that women belong in the kitchen, not the woods – runs deep. However, history says something different.

Let’s explore the facts of the history of women hunters.

Unveiling the History of Women Hunters

Before we begin, let us give a shoutout to all the incredible male allies who support women in hunting today. Also, let us assume positive intent that men have the best intentions of protecting their favorite ladies by taking on the hunting. Great, back to the main programming.

How do we know that women have always been hunting?

There’s evidence! That’s how we know anything and everything. Scientists actually found the remains of a young woman who was a big-game hunter that dated to over 9 thousand years ago. She was buried with stone projectile points as well as animal processing tools. The thing is that historically speaking this woman wasn’t the exception, she was the rule. It’s estimated that hunting duties from that time were split evenly between men and women – 50/50. So rad! Even cooler is that studies done today reflect this sentiment. In a survey asking individuals in a college who have never hunted if they would be interested, about 50% of those who said yes were women.

That’s right ladies, you feel the huntress inside you because it is in your blood. 

Need more evidence, allow me. Women not only hunted, they also taught others to hunt and used a wider variety of different hunting weapons. This makes sense. Times are tough and you need to eat to survive. In other words, it is an all-hands-on-deck situation. What’s cool about this is when looking at past cultures the tools that women hunted with vs. men were very different. Men were more likely to prefer bows whereas women's preferences appear more individualized consistently; some with bows, some knives, and some a combo pack of different tactics. To uplevel a bit further, women used more hunting strategies. Maybe they hunted with dogs, in groups, with their main squeeze, or alone whereas men hunted alone or with their dog(s). No surprise here that ladies are extremely dynamic at whatever they do.

Hunting or gathering – we do it all!

Despite the longstanding paradigms that women gathered because they matched the slower pace needed for child rearing, women did both. Women didn’t stop hunting just because they had children, they just brought them with along. Early day mommy-tasking, amiright?! Women, who are natural caregivers, would be the ones to start the little ones in hunting and it would be for the good of all to have the kiddos start early with mom (or aunt, or grandma…). Modern-day hunter-gatherer cultures continue on their heritage.

In over 60 instances of these cultures, women accounted for close to 80 percent of hunters. 

Need even more evidence? Ok, since you asked so nicely. Women as hunters (and warriors) weren’t just in one area of the world. Nor was it limited to lower-class individuals. Across the globe, this can be validated. In high-ranking Viking communities, women were buried with hunting and warfare paraphernalia. Although first thought to be male, it was later confirmed that the remains were female. On another burial site, four females were found with weapons. The facts are the facts and they conclusively say that women were, and still are, integral contributors to hunting within their societies. Yet, in our culture, today it is only about 10 percent. What a travesty!

‘Tis the season for giving (in fact, every season is the season for giving) and in fact, we need to spread the word and the love to get more boss hens out there doing what they were made to do.

Next time you doubt whether you belong in the hunting circle, read this: women have always been, and continue to be, key meat providers for their families.

Commonly Asked Questions About the History of Women Hunters:

Were women hunters in ancient times?

In various ancient societies, women did engage in hunting activities. Their roles varied, but evidence suggests that women contributed to hunting and gathering for the community's survival.

Were Native American women hunters?

Yes, among certain Native American tribes, women actively participated in hunting, gathering, and other essential tasks vital for the community's well-being.

Did the new study suggest that prehistoric women were hunters too?

Recent studies indicate that prehistoric women likely participated in hunting. Archaeological findings, such as female skeletons buried with hunting tools, challenge traditional assumptions about gender roles in ancient societies.

Did caveman women hunt?

While the popular image often depicts men as primary hunters, evidence suggests that both cavemen and cavewomen likely contributed to hunting and gathering for their communities' sustenance during prehistoric times.

Find the history of women hunters interesting? Try reading our article on the term “huntress,” and what you're supposed to call a female hunter!

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About the Author

Bridget Blake

Bridget Blake is a Nurse Practitioner and business consultant based out of Florida. With a life goal of a wasteLESS wilderness, she is a proponent of sustainability, natural living, and making sure her two kiddos grow up as free-range as possible. Although new to hunting, she is passionate about learning new skills and sharing them with those who also want to learn. Bridget is dedicated to becoming a wilderness expert and teaching others how to coexist with the world around them.