A mix of up-and-comers, behind-the-scenes advocates, and influential personas — these five women are changing what it means to be a hunter in the public eye.
As the space for women in hunting continues to grow, more women are coming to the sport. It’s a natural migration.
The gear, the stories, the media presence — there’s greater visibility now than ever before. And there are women in all sorts of hunting pursuits that are hitting hard, defining who they are within the hunting demographic, and telling stories that lift the community as a whole.
This article is sponsored by Leatherman, which encourages more women to get into the field. And these five women are excellent examples of role models within the hunting sphere who are doing just that.
Allie D’Andrea: The Influencer
She climbs treestands for whitetails in Pennsylvania, fishes the Florida salt from her SUP, successfully fills archery tags on pronghorn and mule deer, hunts black bears solo, and more. Allie D’Andrea has been a sportswoman for less than a decade, and she shares her transformative story with over 50,000 people on YouTube and 112,000 people on Instagram daily.
She’s co-founded a nonprofit called Artemis Sportswomen and is a longtime advocate for public lands. She also jumps willingly into the fray of how we talk to the public about hunting, conservation, and wildlife management.
“My responsibility on my platforms is, simply put, to be a responsible hunter,” D’Andrea told GearJunkie.
“There’s a rulebook. If you’re going to voluntarily take the life of an animal, you’re responsible for the meat that animal yields, the overall health of our wildlife populations, the proper management of our land, and the longevity of hunting in our modern world. These responsibilities rest on the shoulders of hunters as a whole.”
Jenny Wheatley: The Chef
Jenny Wheatley took up hunting later in life, then she turned it into a culinary passion. In partnership with her husband, Wheatley runs the wild game blog and Instagram handle Food for Hunters. She’s also an author, professional photographer, and holds down a day job as an Associate Editor for Nebraskaland Magazine.
She hunts and forages in her home state of Nebraska and beyond, and her menu is unlike most food blogs on the web. From fried frog legs with ginger and scallions to panko-fried alligator nuggets and squirrel ravioli, you’re likely to find all sorts of things you’ve never tried.
“Whether I’m eating venison, pheasant, or even an heirloom tomato, I am able to enjoy these ingredients now because there were people before me who protected them, cultivated them, and even perfected them,” Wheatley said.
“For my part, I hunt and support conservation so that I can continue to enjoy these ingredients. And through cooking and sharing wild food, hopefully I can continue to excite both hunters and non-hunters to do the same. Sharing food will always be an equalizer.”
Marcia Brownlee: The Organizer
A Harvard graduate and a lifelong hunter, Marcia Brownlee is the kind of woman we want organizing for women in hunting. And as the project manager for the aforementioned Artemis Sportswomen, she does just that.
Over the past 2 years, Brownlee has worked to bring together sportswomen of all stripes on Artemis’ ambassador team, from entomologists to ecologists and educators. Funded by the National Wildlife Federation, the group works together on conservation projects, public education opportunities, and lobbying in Washington, D.C., on behalf of hunters and anglers.
“We need women at the forefront of conservation because we absolutely must tell a bigger story of why conservation matters, how it matters, and who it matters to,” Brownlee said.
“I’ve seen women’s voices make a difference in Congressional offices both locally and nationally. It always helps to tell a story they haven’t heard before. With women from all walks of life advocating for conservation, legislators see that these issues are important to a breadth of their constituency. There’s power in numbers, and there’s power in diversity.”
Jillian Lukiwski: The Artist
Her life in Idaho encompasses all of these things, and her art spans each one as well. A sense of the poetry accompanies her communication style, and she doesn’t shy away from a deep and genuine sense of honesty in her ongoing storytelling.
“I believe in creating and living a life that fully integrates work, food, and play; there’s elk on the dinner table, and there are elk motifs in my ring designs. I also believe in drawing inspiration from my own life experiences so that my creative work is a true reflection of my life,” Lukiwski explained.
“When people connect with my work, I feel like I’ve fulfilled an important but invisible need in others. My pieces become talismans of connection, reminders of past hunts, good luck charms, armor — objects to press hope, prayers, and sorrows into. That’s special work. What I do isn’t special because of me, it’s special because it allows me to connect with people in such amazing ways. Human to human. Hunter to hunter. Hunter to human.”
Rihana Cary: The Athlete
Rihana Cary is, for lack of a better word, a badass. She runs strategic partnerships for MTN OPS by day, and she’s a professional athlete 24/7. Her hard work pays off in her obvious and continual success filling public land tags in the backcountry.
She hiked 65 miles and hunted for 10 days before taking a perfectly placed shot on her 2019 bull elk, then packed it out in two loads with her partner in life and hunting. Her sense of positivity is contagious and well-received in the hunting community, and she runs in the elite circles of hunting pros with the likes of Cameron Hanes and Eva Shockey.
“I didn’t grow up hunting, I found it in my early 20s, and it’s now shaped me into who I am now in my 30s,” Cary told us. “I have never been so strong, confident, and self-sufficient, and I’m thankful for the values it has instilled into my everyday life.
“The majority of hunting for me while I’m afield is mental, so in my off time, I do all I can to stay in good physical shape. It’s easy to find excuses to stop when your back aches, your feet hurt, and your lungs are on fire. But, at the end of the day, my goal is to never quit. So whether I get an animal or not, I always feel successful.”
This article is sponsored by Leatherman.