An Artemis Ambassador Reflects on the Need for the Hunting Community to Be More Inclusive

Dr. Missy Howse-Kurtz

June 25, 2024

I came out as a lesbian during my junior year abroad in India and I’ve spent much of my adult life interacting with groups of people that at first might seem like they aren’t open to the LGBTQ community. I’m a member of a Protestant church. I was a Boy Scout mom for my son’s troop. I’ve served for many years as a ski patroller. And late in life, I became a hunter. Each of those groups are on a different journey when it comes to diversity and inclusion. While change isn’t happening perhaps as quickly as I would like, I do think that many of these communities are becoming more accepting of gay people.

I think the hunting community perhaps has the furthest to travel but I see glimmers of hope. I will confess, the first turkey hunt workshop I went on, I felt like a complete outsider. There were all of these older, white men standing around in camo – only talking with each other. (As a reminder, camo has some scary connotations for the queer community). Before dinner, one man delivered a fairly conservative prayer that felt very exclusionary. But by the end of the weekend, I had a great time. That’s because when we were out on the hunt, we concentrated on the hunting. This may sound like a cliché, but when people focus on the things they have in common – instead of their differences – a lot of the fear and apprehension goes away.

As everyone knows, the number of people who identify as hunters is in serious decline. That’s one reason the hunting community should encourage more women to become hunters. They should also encourage more people from the LGBTQ community. I know there’s a resistance to being that open – but recruiting hunters from non-traditional populations is one way to help ensure that sporting traditions endure. I like to think that it would also make those traditions more meaningful.

One of the reasons that I love Artemis is that it is a very inclusive and affirming community. Artemis represents a very diverse group of women who want to learn from each other and support each other. Artemis ambassadors come from all backgrounds and varying levels of hunting experience. But each person is equally valued – whether White, Black, Latino, gay, or straight.

People often ask me, what are some ways that straight people can be true allies to the LGBTQ community? The first thing I would say is accept and include us. “Tolerance” is not enough. Accept us. Include us. Invite us along on your hunts. Invite us out for a beer. Invite us over when you’re cooking some big game on the grill. I think you’ll find we have lots in common. You can also do small things like put a rainbow sticker on your water bottle or wear a Pride hat. Those may seem like trivial things, but they telegraph that you’re offering a safe place for me and others in the LGBTQ community. As Pride month comes to an end, I’m already looking forward to hunting season starting back in the fall. And hoping that this year’s season will foster new opportunities for friendships and community building.