The Next Generation of Hunters
As many know, the number of females in the outdoor industry has been rising quite rapidly. In an article from NRA Family, approximately 1.8 million women hunters in 2001 skyrocketed to 3.3 million in 2013, an 85% increase!! Companies have started created products specifically geared towards sportswomen, such as compound bows designed for smaller statures, clothing lines, etc. DSG Outerwear (coming to a Cabela’s near you this Fall!!!) is a line of outdoor gear designed for women by women who have dealt with the minimal amount of women’s outdoor gear in the past. No more cutting or tying previous hunting clothes to help them stay in place (like I did with this ghillie suit during turkey season several years ago)! The once lacking resources for women are lacking no more.
After talking to many female hunters, many mentioned how their only regret was that they hadn’t started sooner. When it comes to hunting, all you need is one experience. Some females don’t come from families who hunt, or they do come from hunting families, but just don’t have much interest at the time to pick up a firearm or bow (I loved the outside, but I also was in love with my $0.01 flip phone that I could instant message all of my friends constantly). Often for many women, it isn’t until later in their life that they have the opportunity to experience a hunt. I was fortunate enough to have grown up with a father who was an avid outdoorsman, but the majority of my friends at the time couldn’t fathom the idea of watching an animal field dressed after a hunt. Although this is not always the case, many young teenage girls are not too interested in the idea of spending their days sitting patiently in a tree stand with no cell phone reception.
Hearing women talk about their wish to start sooner, I reflected back to when I was twelve years old and what helped me develop a love for the outdoors, Outdoor Journey for Girls! This is a three-day, two-night camp that introduces young girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen into the outdoors with many “hands-on” activities. Not only are the girls given outdoor experiences, but they also are put into various groups to ensure they make new friends with other girls across the state.
The first day of camp consisted of the girls signing up for their cabin beds and learning which ‘day group’ they were apart of. It was necessary to split into day groups because of the wide range of activities planned. The smaller groups allowed the girls to have more time actually completing activities, rather than waiting for the large amount of other girls to do it first. The itinerary for the first day consisted of:
Orienteering & Compassing
How to get to specific locations using only a compass and minimal directions
Essential items for camping, how to start fires with various items, survival tips (hypothermia, position ivy, etc.)
Parts of a canoe, safely entering/exiting a canoe, proper rowing
What is done with the fur, various traps and attractants
The second day of camp was a very fun-filled day involving everything hunting! There was a morning session that consisted mostly of lecturing and important information. Although it might not have been entirely exciting for the girls, they were topics that needed to be discussed. Each presenter found ways to make it more interesting as well, whether that meant bringing in fur harvested from wild game for the girls to examine or creating a scavenger hunt that forced the girls to read specific hunting laws. The various stations were:
Firearm Safety, Guns and Ammunition
Various types of firearms, different ammunitions used
Wildlife Identification and Game Care
How to tell differences between common wildlife species in Iowa, how to properly field dress a pheasant
Conservation/Management, Hunter Responsibility and Ethics
How hunters help with conservation, what hunters should do in various situations
Tagging, retrieving an animal, blaze orange, public and private property, daily/bag limits, etc.
After lunch, the girls finally got to practice the hands-on portion of hunting. With an hour and a half per station, the girls rotated between:
Shotguns vs. Rifles
Safe handling of firearms in various situations (getting under/over fences, carrying firearms around others, etc.)