Pink it: Why female hunters are advocating for less pink

(Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Kristin Alberts sports Walls Company hunting attire with blaze pink accents. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Amid measures green lighting its use as a safety color in three states, blaze pink is faltering in stores and among female hunters.

In late 2017, retailers in Wisconsin reported that its stock of blaze pink apparel moved off shelves at a much slower pace than blaze orange.

“We haven’t had a huge response to it,” Nate Scherper, Vice President of Sherper’s told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’ve really had very few people looking to buy it.” He added, “Most of our female customers prefer the orange over the pink.”

Sherper’s says roughly 95-percent of its hunting apparel comes in blaze orange with only 5 percent offered in blaze pink.

Mills Fleet Farm, also located in Wisconsin, reported less than 10 percent of its goods colored pink, but said that sales had been moderate. “The vast majority of our sales are still blaze orange, however,” said Tim Geschke, the store’s assistant manager.

The most recent data regarding female hunters collected in 2016 by the National Sporting Goods Association showed the number of women downing deers and ducks made up about 13 percent of American hunters, totaling 3.3 million at that time.

The industry as a whole has worked to incorporate and encourage women to take up the shooting sports, but some say the focus on frilly colors might actually have the opposite effect.

“I think it’s really misguided,” Sarah Ingle, president of the Women’s Hunting and Sporting Association, told the publication. “Among the group of women I hunt with, we find it insulting and demeaning.”

While Ingle adamantly contends the color conjures negative connotations, hunter and creator of the Hunt, Fish, Travel podcast, Carrie Zylka, offers a more indifferent approach.

“I really applaud them for trying to do something to promote women in the outdoors and elicit new hunters,” Zylka told National Geographic. “I think that the money invested would have been better placed in some of the outdoor programs like Being an Outdoors Woman, because, realistically, blaze pink or blaze orange, it really doesn’t matter.”

Though some feel the color pink deters female hunters, there are those that prefer the bright femininity that pink flaunts.

“I think the pink is awesome; even the young girls like that,” Liz Menninger, of New York, told The New York Times. Menninger, an avid hunter, whole-heartedly endorsed the introduction of pink in the state’s approved safety color options.

Colorado Sen. Kerry Donovan, who pushed for her state to allow pink in the field, said the inclusion of pink sends a resounding message to girls that they too belong in the hunting arena.

“When I was growing up hunting, I very literally wore the hand-me-downs of my brothers,” Donovan told The InDenver Times. “There was this clear message that as a young girl, I didn’t belong in hunting.”

Regardless of whether pink empowers or detracts from female hunters, one thing seems to remain certain — retailers aren’t feeling a big push to carry more in store.

“I think it was played up in (Wisconsin) and some excitement was generated about it,” Scherper said. “But from our standpoint, it wasn’t going to be revolutionary and so far it hasn’t been.”

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