Two women teachers at Erie Elementary School in southeast Kansas are part of deer hunting’s changing face.

Women hunting deer is nothing new. Over the years, they have always been part of the hunting scene. But national statistics indicate that they are taking to the deer woods as never before.  In fact, women are the fastest-growing demographic group among deer hunters, according to national studies.

More than 1.5 million women now participate in the deer season, and researchers expect that number to swell in coming years.

Erin Kyser (shown here), who teaches fourth grade, is one of the women fueling that growth.

She hunted deer for the first time during the Kansas firearms season that ended Dec. 11. And she had a memorable experience.

As she and her husband walked to their ground blind, they spotted antlers in the woods. When a good shot presented itself, Kyser fired from a standing position and hit her target.

Minutes, later, she learned she had taken an 11-point buck.

“Adrenaline was definitely pumping,” she said. “I remember hurrying to find him, eagerly anticipating how big he would be.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found him.  I gained a sense of pride and appreciation for actually hunting food that my family will eat.”

Kyser had tagged along with her husband, an avid deer hunter, on past hunts, but this was the first year she actually tried it.

Bobbi Riggs, a third-grade teacher at Erie Elementary, also is relatively new to deer hunting.

“I was not a hunter until five years ago, so my hunting didn’t start until I was 46,” she said. “When I remarried, my husband was a hunter and I became interested at that time.”

Riggs shot does the first two years, then took a break when hunting access became difficult to find. But she found a place this year, went out on her own and shot a big buck.

“He is now at the (meat) locker and his rack is at the taxidermist,” she said.

Both women are using their experiences as teaching points at their school.

“As a class, we discuss why hunting is a good thing,” Riggs said. “We have talked about what would happen if people did not hunt.

“The deer would become overpopulated, more people would hit them on the highways, and there would not be enough food in the winter time for them all, which would lead to them starving to death.”

Kyser also teaches about the benefits about being outdoors.

“I share my stories of hunting and fishing with my students because most can relate, with the area we live in,” she said. “It helps me promote being active outside.

“I never knew the true beauty of nature until I started going out hunting and fishing frequently with my husband.

“When sitting, you can hear the mice move in the grass or the birds flying. It’s a tranquil feeling, that’s for sure.”