La chasse: Women account for just 2.5% of 1million hunters in France
Hunting is one of France's most popular sports but 97.5% of the practitioners are men. A women’s hunting association and a popular influencer are trying to change that
Hunting is one of France's most popular sports, but only around 25,000 women are registered hunters in the country Pic: EBASCOL / Shutterstock
Hunting season is set to reopen in some departments around France on September 12 and, despite efforts by hunting associations and individual women, it will be mainly men who set out in pursuit of game.
It is France’s third most popular sport, with over 1 million official practitioners, but of those only 25,700 are women, equal to around 2.5%, according to figures by national hunting federation the Fédération nationale des chasseurs.
"The fact that women are in the minority in what for years has been a man's hobby does not mean that they do not have a place in it, quite the contrary," the Fédération nationale des chasseurs states on its website.
It gives the example that 20% of those who practise hunting with hounds are women. This form of hunting is rare in France, with only 5% of hunters using the method, statistics from the Fédération nationale des chasseurs show.
The most popular method of hunting is shooting with a rifle, with 84% of hunters preferring this method.
The best-known women’s hunting association was founded in 1999 in the Somme (Hauts-de-France) by Martine Pion. It now has 800 members and has just been rebranded as Chasseresses de France (women hunters of France) to attract more visibility.
"The aim is to bring together other associations in order to increase our numbers and make ourselves heard," Ms Pion, 64, told Le Parisien.
She got her hunting licence at the age of 33. At the time, women represented only 1% of hunters in France.
Hunting, in general, has been declining in popularity since the mid-1970s when there were over two million officially registered hunters. In the early 1990s, when Ms Pion got her hunting licence, there were some 500,000 more registered hunters in France than today.
That would mean there were around 16,000 registered women hunters in 1990, compared to just over 25,000 today, equaling an increase of around 9,000 in 30 years.
The sport is also mainly practised by older people, with 53% of hunters over the age of 55, figures by Fédération nationale des chasseurs show.
However, some young women are taking up an interest in the sport.
This is the case of Jessica Héraud, who, at 22 years old, founded a hunting federation in Charente-Maritime last year. The federation is called Les Dianes, in reference to Apollo's sister and the Roman goddess of hunting.
Around two-thirds of the women members are under 35 years old.
Another notable female hunting figure in France is the online influencer Johanna Clermont, a 23-year-old resident of Perpignan who has shot to fame for her social media posts about hunting.
She now has over 150,000 on social media site Instagram.
The law student earns a living through advertising contracts with gun shops around the world.
“I’m like any other influencer, except that instead of selling lipstick and shampoo, I sell guns and ammunition. And it’s more stylish,” she said in an interview with LCI.
A 2018 survey estimated that more than 80% of French people disapprove of hunting.