Unless you’ve been living in a cave (without wifi) for the past few years, you are aware of the growing trend of outdoor gear and shooting sports manufacturers offering everything from rifle stocks and crossbows to outwear and footwear adorned in various shade of pink.
The idea, of course, is to appeal to female outdoor and shooting enthusiasts, a demographic that’s exhibiting substantial growth trends compared to its male counterpart.
A bipartisan group of legislators in Wisconsin, one of the most popular states for deer hunting in the country, announced a measure permitting blaze pink to be worn by hunters, in addition to the blaze orange already required in states across the country. If approved, Wisconsin would be the first state to adopt blaze pink as accepted hunter-safety attire.
In a Capitol press conference announcing the introduction of the bill, State Reps. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) and Nick Milroy (D-South Range), both members of the new Wisconsin Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus, said they hoped the effort would encourage more Wisconsinites to hunt and appeal to women and new hunters.
Also appearing at the press event was University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and textile expert Majid Sarmadi, who said his lab analysis of fluorescent pink found it had equal or better visibility to humans compared blaze orange, and it would be just as safe for hunters in the field.
“For me the most important thing is having something that is safe for the hunters,” Sarmadi said. “Contrast between green and red and pink is much more than any color, such as shades of green or shades of yellow or shades of browns or blues.”
Under current Wisconsin statue, clothing worn by all hunters in the field during the state’s firearms deer season must be at least half blaze orange above the waist, such as outerwear and caps. The only exception is for waterfowl hunters.
Milroy and Kleefisch said they plan to spend the next 2 weeks soliciting co-sponsors for the measure. It would then head to the appropriate committee for debate.
According to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) data, female hunters comprised about 10 percent of the state’s gun deer hunters in for the past three seasons. Further, they made up about a quarter of hunters between ages 10 and 12 in 2014, and comprised 35 percent of new gun-deer license buyers last fall.
Whatever the outcome, the measure has already stirred up substantial discussion among deer hunters and sportsman’s groups, as one would expect in a state where deer hunting is such an important “fabric” of family and social life.