HUNTING GUIDE 2020: Women hunters on the rise in Michigan
ALPENA — Amy Szatkowski gets giddy when she starts talking about hunting.
The 47-year-old Rogers City resident has been hunting since she was 14, and couldn’t wait for bow season to begin. Szatkowski said she plans to hunt whitetail deer from the season start on Oct. 1 until either it ends on Dec. 1 or until she “tags out,” getting the maximum allowed harvest.
Szatkowski is one of many women who have taken up hunting. Women make up about 10% of deer hunters in Michigan, according to Ashley Autenreith, deer program biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
“This number has been growing and we estimate that within 10 years women will likely make up about 20% of our hunting population,” Autenreith said in an email to The News.
Autenreith added that, although the number of women who hunt is expected to increase, the number of hunters overall continues to decline.
Szatkowski said she has noticed more women who participate in the sport.
“Now, look at our generation — the time, age, era has changed — and more women are doing it more,” she said. “Nothing stays the same.”
Szatkowski said her love for hunting began on the family farm, where she grew up eating beef and venison. Many members of her family hunted, including her dad, her uncles, and her cousins — all of whom encouraged her to participate in the sport and helped shape her hunting philosophy.
“My cousins and family, when I first started hunting, would say, ‘Let ’em go and let ’em grow,’ so I started letting little bucks go,” she said, noting it would pay off in the long run.
Szatkowski said her husband and all three of their kids hunt, although she has the biggest whitetail mount in the house. She said there are other mounts in their house from hunts in other states which are bigger, but they are not whitetail deer.
Satkowski said she only hunts bucks and only shoots the ones she can hang on her wall. She looks for a buck whose antlers are spread at least 16 inches wide, although she said sometimes the smaller bucks will tempt her, when they show up at her hunting location multiple times.
In addition to hunting for her own deer to harvest, Szatkowski said her three children also hunt, including her daughter, Abby, 19.
She said she has had the privilege to sit alongside each of her three children during the youth hunt. She said she was there with each of her children when they shot their first deer.
Szatkowski said she enjoys watching them harvest their buck or a doe.
“I just enjoy that even more than myself getting a deer,” she said.