The Lady Hunter: Women Have Plenty Of Options For Gear

9 percent of hunters are women, which, according to my trusty calculator, translates to 1.25 million hunters who have guns that may or may not fit them properly. Some women get by quite nicely with about any shotgun, and my wife, Phyllis, is one of them. Well, almost, anyhow. She can handle the dimensions of most factory stocks, but like most women, her upper-body strength is not as great as a typical man’s, so some guns are too heavy.

HUNTING LADIES

Phyllis is strong enough to carry an overweight gun in the field and usually shoots it okay at the beginning of the day, but as the hours and miles take a toll on her stamina, she sometimes has a problem shouldering the gun quickly and swinging fast enough to catch up with a flushing bird. The ideal weight of a shotgun to be used for

The ideal weight of a shotgun to be used for wing shooting will vary from hunter to hunter, but through trial and error, Phyllis has settled on a maximum of about six pounds. Her two favorite upland guns are an AyA side-by-side double and a Franchi 48Mm, both in 28 gauge and both weighing 5 1/2 pounds.

Other lightweight shotguns are also available

The Benelli Ultra Light autoloader in 12 gauge weighs six pounds, and the 20 gauge is even lighter. In over/unders, the Beretta Ultralight and Browning Superlight Feather, with their steel-reinforced aluminum receivers, weigh around 6 1/4 pounds in 12 gauge, about six pounds in 20 and 28 gauge. A number of side-by-side doubles in those two gauges tip the scale at six pounds or less. The Remington 870 pump gun weighs about the same. For the fun of

A number of side-by-side doubles in those two gauges tip the scale at six pounds or less. The Remington 870 pump gun weighs about the same. For the fun of it, we sometimes hunt with a pair of Harrington & Richardson single-shots in 20 and 28 gauge, and they weigh 6 1/4 pounds.

Some women can use a heavier gun on the dove field and for shooting clay targets because guns are not carried over hill and dale. A heavier gun reduces recoil, not a bad thing when lots of shells are to be fired in a day. My wife’s favorite dove gun is a Remington Model 1100 in 28 gauge that weighs 794 pounds. Its weight, along with its gas operation and the light recoil of the 28-gauge shell.

Its weight, along with its gas operation and the light recoil of the 28-gauge shell, add up to an extremely comfortable shotgun to shoot all day long. A friend of ours shoots a version of the 12-gauge Browning Gold called the Ladies Sporting on everything from doves to ducks to clay targets. Her gun weighs 7 3/4 pounds, and she absolutely loves it.

The stock of our friend’s Browning Gold is about an inch shorter than today’s standard for shotgun stocks, or about the same length as the stocks of so-called “youth” guns offered by Remington, Browning, H&R, Beretta, TriStar and others. Those guns are good choices for women with arms too short to comfortably handle a stock of standard length.

Another option is to have a gunsmith who specializes in stock work shorten the stock and add a top-quality recoil pad if it does not already have one. Changing the amount of drop in the stock at its comb and heel are other options, as are modifying its pitch and introducing just the right amount of castoff If you really want to make that favorite lady happy, have a custom stock built to her dimensions.

There was a time when some women had no choice but to shop for hunting clothing in the boy’s department or have alterations made to clothing made for men. There is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to do so, but other options are available in this department as well. Browning recently discontinued its line of women’s upland hunting clothing, but I still occasionally see it on gun shop racks.

Last time I looked, Beretta still offered upland clothing for women, and Phyllis has enjoyed an upland coat, vest and hunting pants from that company for several years.

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Ladyhawk Boots From Irish Setter

Men’s boots in a smaller size just don’t fit women. For about as long as Phyllis has been hunting with me, she has had problems finding hunting boots that fit to her comfort and satisfaction. Even though some companies offer boots that are supposedly built for ladies, quite often they are nothing more than men’s hunting boots in various smaller sizes wrapped in a pretty box.

Irish Setter has come to the rescue by developing a shoe mold shaped and detailed specifically for women, with three of its important differences being a heel cup of smaller volume, a more flexible collar and special positioning of the arch support.

Called the Ladyhawk, the seven-inch boot has anUItraDry waterproof membrane sandwiched between a leather/nylon combo shell on the outside and a soft, low-friction lining on the inside. The medium-aggressive tread of its cushioned sole is a good compromise for deer hunting and upland bird hunting.

Three versions are available: non-insulated, 600 grams of Thinsulate Ultra insulation and 1,000 grams of Thinsulate Ultra. Available sizes are 5 through 11 in a medium width. and weight is 2 3/4 pounds. Standard color is Realtree HD Brown camo. A limited-edition version in pink camo is also available, and $5 from the sale of each pair is donated to breast cancer research.

Like Eva Peron, Phyllis thinks a woman can never have too many shoes (or boots), so she just had to have a pair of Ladyhawks in both brown and pink camo. She says they are the most comfortable hunting/hiking boots she has ever tried, and they required almost no break-in before being worn all day long in the field.

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