More women are staring down the rifle scope than ever before, according to the latest research. Women are currently the fastest growing hunting population in the United States, said Stacy Keog, PhD at the annual Backcountry Hunters & Anglers National Rendezvous held in Spokane, Washington earlier this year.

Keog teaches in the Department of Sociology at Whitworth University in Washington and has been looking at the participation of women in the hunting world.

Between 1991 and 2011, the number of participating hunters in the U.S. has declined from 7 percnet of the population to 5 percent. Yet women’s participation has grown almost 2 percent from 11 percent to close to 14 percent of overall hunters.

In an informal survey, Keog found that women hunters thought of the sport as a family bonding activity. They mostly hunted with a partner and they predominantly learned to hunt from a father without sons, reports the Spokesman-Review. As a sign of the times, Keog pointed a photo contest this year held by Washington wildlife officials of female hunters. The winning contestant is now featured on a state hunting guide.

This month too the reality television series Extreme Huntress has been drawing attention to women hunters all vying for top honors in the annual contest. 

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by Renee V