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A-Hunting We Shall Go

Insight on the News, March 4, 2002, by John Elvin

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has released its 2002 ladies-only hunt schedule, a series "to foster women's safe and responsible participation in hunting and shooting sports." The hunts range from wild boar in Tennessee to spring gobbler in Oklahoma to antelope in Wyoming. "These hunts are great for building confidence and having a fabulous time," according to a four-time participant in the NRA's "Women On Target" series, Shirley McVicker of Alexandria, Va.

The hunts, beginning in April in Tennessee and running through December in Texas, are open to women hunters both novice and experienced. The events are conducted by experienced outfitters and guides and range from one, to four days in duration. This year's calendar does not include a popular feature of times past, the women's feral-pig hunt, which was held in 1999 in Texas. Unlike their mean little cousins, the javelina or peccary, feral pigs generally are hefty domestic porkers gone wild, descended from those left in the woods and river bottoms when stock laws required farmers to corral their pigs on their own property.

The NRA program is one of several responding to what are described as barriers keeping women from participating in recreational activities in the wilderness. Steve Hall, education director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, said at the time of the feral-pig hunt that those barriers included "some men's attitude toward outdoor women, time away from the family, clothing and equipment that fits, intensity and attitudes displayed by males giving instruction to women and a lacking social atmosphere."

Sounds like someone's setting the stage for a chauvinist-pig hunt here, never mind the feral porkers! Men, it would seem, are in need of a bit of educating regarding the hunting heritage of Western culture. Otherwise they might know that Artemis, or Diana, was goddess of the hunt.

A glance at the classical depictions of Artemis, best taken when Attorney General John Ashcroft isn't peering over your shoulder (see The Last Word, Feb. 25), will reveal that she was very much female. And Artemis was quite the huntress -- according to the Homeric Hymns, when she set out to bring home the bacon, "the thick-shaded forest resounds dreadfully with the cries of beasts, while the earth and the fishy deep shudder."

COPYRIGHT 2002 News World Communications, Inc. in association with The Gale Group and LookSmart.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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