‘Sure, I’ll go duck hunting!’ This was the excited response to my husband’s first invitation to go hunting. After a few days of constant questioning of the five W’s … who, what, where, when and why, I began to feel unprepared.
I discovered that the hunting party would consist of myself and two very experienced hunters, of which I’m not. It would take place after a day of work and would involve walking through water, tall grass and reeds, plus the weather would most likely be quite cool. We would be standing or sitting for long periods of time.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized I had nothing to wear for these conditions. My husband’s response was “It’s no problem, we’ll find something around here for you to wear”. Famous last words. Yes, I did own a pair of ancient Goodyear hip waders that I’d purchased for $5 from an equally ancient gentleman at a garage sale. And yes, I did own long underwear, sweaters, gloves and other paraphernalia. But little did I realize that on the day of the big event I’d look and feel like the female version of the Michelin man, loaded down with gun, chair, cartridge belt, duck call and camo net over a borrowed jacket.
Within minutes of arriving at the slough we were immersed hip deep in water and suddenly, without notice, the guys were shooting. I was startled as I struggled to balance and not drop my gun. I quickly decided that even though I looked really ‘hot’ in my new outfit, it wasn’t going to work for me.
So began the journey of discovery into the wonderful world of women’s hunt wear. At first, I thought it didn’t exist, but eventually I found a few brave manufacturers venturing into uncharted territory. My criteria for acceptable outdoor clothing were comfort, fit and function. The balloon-shaped bomber jacket that I chose for my first hunt offered broad shoulders and did not cover my hips for warmth. The long underwear and heavy pants provided warmth but were too restricting and uncomfortable. Happily, I found Prois Huntwear which has the Xtreme jacket and pants which are windproof, waterproof and lightweight with 150 Thinsulate.
Years later, the list of manufacturers has grown and changed, with only two companies specifically targeting women. Both of these lines offer good quality, design and sizes, while several other sites offer some pieces of women’s hunt wear. (See below).
There were also several comic attempts to find men’s waders that offered my foot size, fit over my hips and allowed me to bend at the waist before we realized I would never fit into these weirdly shaped items. A dedicated search resulted in the joyous purchase of women’s Redington chest waders that curve in all the right places.
So you ask what happened to the stylish Goodyear waders. They hang proudly in our mud room and are used to this day for visiting hunters.
Whether you hunt with a gun or a camera or simply tag along for the experience, remember that proper clothing can remove discomfort and allow you to focus on your time in the outdoors. If you are an avid outdoors woman, or just thinking about going out, take advantage of the women’s outdoor products available. You can enjoy beautiful scenery, sunrises or sunsets, animals and great companionship that would otherwise not be experienced. Happy Hunting, Donna.