• By Ken Perrotte

The 20th Century Outdoors was Tough Club for Women to Crack - Change has Come


Brenda Valentine

“We’ve come a long way baby.”

Brenda Valentine, often called “the first lady of hunting,” slightly modified the kitschy 1968 marketing slogan of Virginia Slims cigarettes, as she described the strides women have made in cracking the good ol’ boys club that is the great outdoors.

The slogan encouraged women smokers to try a new, slender cigarette “designed just for them.” Featuring a modern, liberated woman in a cigarette commercial was racy stuff. Sexism held seemingly easy sway across much of America for centuries. The hunting fraternity was just that—a fraternity, no girls allowed. But, it wasn’t a total “He Man Women Haters Club” ; the fairer sex had a place in camp, but it sure wasn’t in the field toting a gun.

Women like Valentine and Tess Randle Jolly began cracking the wall decades ago.

Tes Randle Jolly and her camera

Women make up the fast-growing segment of the hunting and shooting world. Valentine and Jolly had some great anecdotes about what it was like gaining acceptance in the 'ol boys club.

This article appeared in my outdoors column in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. To see it there, click here.

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