DENVER – Kirstie Pike has hunted since her mid-20s, aiming at such things as mule deer and alligators. Her love for hunting led her to open a Gunnison-based business that specializes in field apparel for women.
“The number of women in the hunting industry is the fastest growing demographic in all of hunting right now, and it has been since 2009,” said Pike, president and chief executive of Próis Hunting and Field Apparel. “It’s just going to continue to gain support. We’re seeing more and more women hunting that really like the idea of providing food for themselves and their families. They like to get out in the outdoors. They like the sport.”
A state lawmaker from Vail, however, believes the sport can attract even more women. In an effort to drive that growth, she has proposed legislation that would add pink to a list of acceptable colors to wear when hunting.
“I went with pink because women and hunting is the only growth that we’re seeing in the industry, and if pink gets a few more women hunting, it gives a couple small businesses in Colorado a leg up on having another product to offer,” said Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan, the sponsor of bipartisan Senate Bill 68.
A hunter is required to wear fluorescent orange to hunt elk, deer, pronghorn, moose or black bear. The bill would add the option to wear fluorescent pink.
“This is fun, but it’s hunting, so we don’t want to disregard safety,” Donovan said.
Donovan modeled the bill after a piece of legislation that is gaining traction in the Wisconsin Legislature.
She plans to underscore testimony that came out during discussions in Wisconsin, where a hunting expert testified that bright pink, or “blaze” pink, would be just as visible as bright orange.
The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee is expected to hear the Colorado measure in committee on Thursday.
But some women in the hunting apparel business say the move is patronizing. They underscore that growth in female hunting has spiked without pink being an allowed color.
“I’m lost on the idea that pink has to be the color that identifies an outdoors woman anymore than blaze orange,” Pike said. “Personally, I think it’s kind of ridiculous.”
Pike’s business would stand to gain new apparel lines as a result of Donovan’s legislation, which could translate to additional profits. But Pike said she doubts she would even head in that direction.
“There’s a lot of women who really dislike the whole pink thing. They think the look is kind of condescending,” Pike added. “Why does this have to be the mindset? Men don’t have to wear blue to be identified as men.”
Jane Gustafson, the owner of Durango-based Goods for the Woods, an outdoor gear store, added: “I don’t think orange is stopping a female from hunting at all. That’s a silly concept.
“It would just make me have more inventory,” Gustafson added of the bill. “It’s not necessary. Orange is just fine. There’s no reason to redo the wheel.”
Donovan responded that her intention is not to oversimplify the subject.
“I would never say that just providing a new color will make someone do any activity or event,” she said. “But providing more options, giving it a little bit more fun, I think is worthwhile.”
She equated the issue to breast cancer research advocates using pink to rally support.
“We’ve moved beyond the oversimplification of gender and colors, but this just gives some options,” Donovan said. “If you want to wear it and it makes it more fun for you, then great. If it’s not your thing, then you still have orange.”