More girls taking up deer hunting

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 3:06 PM CDT
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GLENMORE, Wis. (WBAY) - As the overall number of deer hunters in Wisconsin has slowly declined over the past decade, one demographic has seen a continuous increase; female hunters.

And they’re starting early.

According to DNR licensing data, of the 70,000 deer hunters last year age 17 and under, nearly 14,000 were girls.

That includes 12-year-old Desray Nooyen from Pulaski, who credits her older siblings for getting her into hunting.

“I’ve seen my brothers getting a lot of deer and all that, so I thought it would be cool to try it out. I’ve been hanging out with my brothers a lot, so I thought it would be cool to try it and I got hooked on it pretty good,” says Desray.

Desray is one of six hunters to take part in the annual two-day, statewide youth deer hunt with the assistance and mentorship of Wings Over Wisconsin’s Northeast Chapter.

Chapter president Don Corrigan says the hunters are selected through an essay contest, and more and more girls are donning the blaze orange.

“The last couple years we’ve been having about even, three girls to three guys. Last year I think we had three girls and they all got deer. That’s why we do this; we’re trying to get the youth into hunting,” says Corrigan.

More girls in the woods is welcome news to Desray.

“I think they should because it’s something that guys shouldn’t just be able to do. Like, girls should be able to do more things, same things guys can do,” says Desray.

“Actually know some girls that shoot better than guys do,” adds Desray’s dad, Mel Nooyen, with a smile.

And he isn’t alone.

“Yeah, the young girls today, they’ll show the boys up sometimes,” says Corrigan, who has helped organize the youth hunts for the past 15 years.

By mid-afternoon, it’s time to hunt.

Desray has a good feeling.

“I feel something, like yeah, we’re going to get something,” says Desray.

Thanks to a generous landowner, Desray and her dad are hunting on a farm in southern Brown County.

The weather is beautiful and as the hours pass, Desray waits patiently in the stand.

In the distance, she sees a lone deer, but it’s too far away.

About an hour later, a flock of turkeys stroll through the hay field.

And then, finally, just minutes before shooting hours close, Desray takes aim and fires.

“Sitting here praying to God, I’m like please bring deer in please. Oh, I’m so glad,” says Desray in the stand with her heart pounding.

Desray’s shot is true, and just into the woods she finds her deer.

“Good job,” says her dad as the two exchange high fives.

Back at camp, Desray’s doe is hung up with the others from another successful Wings Over Wisconsin youth hunt experience.

And on this night, a lifelong passion is firmly cemented.

“I was so pumped. I was like, I can’t believe I just got a deer, I was happy. I watch YouTube videos of people hunting and they get these big deer, it amazes me, and I kind of want to be like that,” says Desray with a proud smile.

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