What does Rochester resident Alison Streiff enjoy most about hunting? “Self-reflecting in the woods…gaining friends who share a passion for the outdoors…but the thrill of spotting and stalking gets my heart racing the most!” Streiff has transformed that thrill into a local business called Rack Em’ Guide Service.
STORY OF A HUNTER
Growing up in a single-parent household, Streiff was not exposed to hunting at a young age. In fact, she went on her first guided hunt in 2009. “Terry Mittelsteadt, owner of Grounded Gander Guide Service, asked if I wanted to go goose hunting,” she said. “The morning we went, it was sleeting and the temperatures were frigid. As the geese started cupping1, I was instantly hooked!”
Streiff immersed herself in researching hunting practices, watching television shows and reading specialty magazines. She gleaned tips from friends and colleagues and through social media discovered and connected with a vast network of skilled enthusiasts from around the U.S. As a single mother to daughters, she was motivated not just to learn the sport, but to acquire knowledge and set an example of empowerment.
Six years later, Streiff is an avid and expert hunter. “I enjoy the entire hunting process,” she says, “starting with planting food plots, checking trail cameras, setting up stands, scouting, connecting the shot, cleaning my game, processing my animal and sharing the food with my family. I use trail cameras, but I also love to go out to a property and hunt without knowing what may or may not be out there!”
For now Streiff hunts mainly in southeastern Minnesota but notes she has access to land all over the United States. While her primary focus is geese, whitetail deer and turkey, she has also hunted duck, pheasant, chuckers and squirrel. She recently traveled to Tennessee for a sponsored boar hunt and this fall will try her hand at hunting bear in northern Minnesota and alligator in Georgia.
RIDING THE GENDER REVOLUTION
Streiff’s passion is both inspiring and timely. Over the past couple decades, something of a “gender revolution” has taken place in the sport of hunting. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, today’s 3.35 million female hunters comprise 11 percent of the total hunting population, with a 43.5 percent increase recorded from 2003 to 2013.
“Across the board, women are more independent than they’ve ever been, and they realize they are capable of hunting,” says Brenda Valentine, spokesperson for the National Wild Turkey Federation and self-proclaimed “First Lady of Hunting.”
Sporting goods manufacturers have also caught on to the revolution. Approximately 30 percent of hunting gear is now made for women. There are undershirt recoil pads that clip onto a bra strap, pink arrows for breast cancer awareness and a huge selection of camouflage clothing designed to fit and flatter the female form. In 2011 a Census Bureau survey indicated female hunters annually spent $4.2 billion on clothing, equipment and personal products.
“The majority of women want to look good in the woods, and so they still use personal products,” shares Streiff, “but eliminating scent is necessary when hunting certain game.” As a representative for scent-free cosmetics line Deaux Girls Products, Streiff has assimilated into a major aspect of the industry tailored specifically to the female hunter.
Despite these encouraging statistics, Streiff says, there are still misconceptions about women and hunting. “I recently read an article called ‘Why Women Shouldn’t Hunt.’ It talked about how women shouldn’t try to compete in a ‘manly sport.’ Opinions like these only inspire me to encourage women to join the female hunting population.”
To learn more about booking your first all-female hunting expedition, visit Streiff’s Facebook page: “Alison Marie-Rack Em’ Guide Service” or contact her directly at 507-201-0039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurie Simon, a freelance writer living in Rochester, Minnesota.
1According to Tennessee blogsite “Duck Speak 101,” cupping occurs when ducks want to lose altitude to land, so they quit flapping their wings and instead simply lock them in place like a parachute.