If you live, work and play in the countryside you will probably have a selection of your favourite clothing and footwear. We hunt through the seasons for different species: a camo outfit needed for lowland Roe Deer stalking differs from the clothing requirement for Red Deer (stag and hind) stalking on the open hill. Retailers offer a range of hunting, shooting, and fishing clothing to fit all sizes, and suitable for all occasions. Unless you are female.
It is a challenge to find a choice of fit-for-purpose, ladies outdoor clothing and footwear for deer stalking, fishing and shooting. Humans are unique in many ways and one aspect is our body frame; we are different sizes and height. Long ago, high street retailers grasped this and catered for all the diverse shapes. If you are petite, 5ft tall, slim and slender, large hips, big breasts, or a curvy 6 footer, you can walk into most high street/retail park stores, and buy an entire outfit – underwear, outerwear, suit, dress, tops, shirts, trousers with leg-lengths options, footwear, hats and gloves. Fabrics have been modernised with Lycra for improved fit and comfort, there are natural fibre, fur and faux choices, recycled cloth, breathable and ‘intelligent’ textiles with digital components embedded in them, a plethora of patterns, shades and textures, all available in a rainbow of colours. There are clothing choices aplenty.
Interest in country sports continues to grow, with participation open to all ages, abilities, and sizes. Through the last decade, we saw a rise in lady gamekeepers, ghillies, shooting and casting instructors, ladies shooting clubs, and ladies fishing events. On some shoots, lady gun-dog handlers outnumbered men. There are no barriers to taking part, and there never have been. Womenfolk have probably hunted as long as the menfolk. Go way back in time to 1st century BC when Diana was the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, and over the centuries ladies featured in antique hunting art and historical literature. Ladies always fished, and some, like Georgina Ballantine, made the record books, when, in 1922, she caught 64lb salmon on the River Tay. Annie Oakley (different continent but a name most of us know) was only 15 in 1875, when she won her first shooting match. Wealthy ladies travelled the world to hunt big game, and they often brought up their children to shoot and hunt on their country estates.
We know functional clothing makes a difference to our hunting, shooting and fishing activities, it keeps us dry, protected, warm, supported, comfortable and confident. Visit a tailor, and for a fee, you can have a made-to-measure tweed suit but not everyone needs or can afford that option, or find a tailor. If you are male, you have a wide choice of clothing for hunting, deerstalking, fishing and shooting, in various sizes, made by different brands and priced for all budgets.
Other countries take the female hunting market seriously, so why is the UK different?
A high street retailer could address the demand, and give women a choice of country sports clothing. How about an affordable range of fit-for-purpose hunting, shooting and fishing clothing, in all sizes? Imagine parking up by your local shopping area, and taking a stroll along to the shops and picking out your next hunting outfit, grabbing a coffee, or lunch with friends to plan your next game shoot, deer stalking outing or fishing trip. High street/retail park visibility could make hunting, shooting and fishing more mainstream, and that is a positive thing.