|Have you ever wished for an adult summer camp (if only for a long weekend), where you could try a variety of outdoor activities under the supervision of experienced teachers and guides? If you have, read on, because Maine's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (B.O.W.) Introductory Skills Weekend is just that opportunity!
The workshop will be held Friday morning through Sunday noon, September 16-18, 2005, at Camp Caribou in Winslow on beautiful Pattee Pond. The $200 program fee covers food, lodging, equipment and educational handouts. Some scholarships are available.
BOW programs, which are sponsored by DIF&W, are designed primarily for women ages 18 and over. This is the time to give that potential outdoor woman a gift that truly matters - make it an early birthday or Christmas gift that includes long-lasting benefits far beyond what you'd get for the usual flowers, box of chocolates or dinner in town.
A complete Hunter Safety Certification Course will be held during the weekend. Participants attend four required classes with additional evening instruction and a Sunday afternoon final test. This year's event also features several new course options including self-defense, women's wellness workshop, identifying wild edibles, small motorboat handling and a ropes course.
A brochure and registration form are posted at www.mefishwildlife.com (Education, BOW); they are also available from BOW Coordinator Emily Jones , or at (207)-287-8069.
Registration is first come, first served and the deadline is August 29, so don't wait!
I strongly recommend introducing young women to the outdoor sports for a number of reasons. Not only are they great company in camp or in a boat, but also they bring an element of enthusiasm and interest that many a crusty old sportsman (including me!) may have forgotten. For example, I recently fished with a lady in her 40s who knows her stuff when it comes to fly-fishing but was having a devil of a time catching her first big smallmouth bass. I'd been told she knew how to fish and didn't need babysitting, so I left her to have her fun in the middle of the river while I waded the shoreline and caught bass after bass from under rocks, logs and other assorted structure. I'd become so absorbed in finding and catching fish that I forgot about the girl in the river and didn't notice her coming up behind me with tears in her eyes.
Well, I told her about bass, shorelines and cover, how to drop a lure close to an obstruction and how to drift a fly (weighted, of course) back under the obstruction to lure reluctant fish into striking. Not that I'm the greatest teacher who ever lived, but this girl went to the next logjam, did what I said and caught a nice bass on the first cast. What got me was not the size of the fish she'd caught (it wasn't even a big one), but that she was so happy about it. She reminded me that fishing was supposed to be fun, not a chore and not serious business, as it's often portrayed in the outdoor press these days. I think another bass fisherman was made that day, and it was the girl's own desire and interest that made it happen.
Also this year, I have been taking some women to the shooting range to learn the fine art of handgun and rifle shooting. Having spent most of my life in the company of men who always seem to know everything about what they're doing, it was a pleasure to see these ladies pay attention to (and practice) the safety point I made, practice safe gun handling at all times and actually listen to the tips I gave them about how to shoot accurately. These are women ranging in age from 17 to 65, and every one of them improved their shooting and gun-handling skills 100 percent by the end of each training session. They are serious, attentive, willing to learn and very capable shots. I would not want any of them shooting at me, I can tell you that!
Probably the most satisfying trip of the year was on a squirrel hunt with a 24-year-old who had never hunted before. Her boyfriend slipped away by himself for some “serious” hunting while I showed Lauren some gun safety basics, how to move through the woods with a shotgun in hand and how to find and creep up on feeding bushytails. This was an early-season hunt and the squirrels were high in the treetops, tough shots for anyone because the animals were moving fast through thick leaf cover.
I told her she'd have to wait till she saw the squirrel before she shot, and it took some time before she finally had her chance. This woman is about 5 feet tall and can't weigh more than 100 pounds, but she stood under that squirrel for 30 minutes before she finally touched off the 12-gauge pump that, I hesitate to add, was filled with 3-inch magnum turkey loads (perfect for treetop squirrels but not so hot for slight female hunters!). Lauren shot, the squirrel dropped and just like that another hunter was made.
What got me was that Lauren wasn't initially invited to go hunting with us, had never mentioned hunting before and wasn't even sure she wanted to shoot a squirrel. Now that's all she talks about and can't wait for this year's season to open.
All this to say that if you know a girl or woman with the slightest interest in the outdoors, suggest a trip to the range, an easy hunt or a BOW course and see what happens. Recruiting new members is the key to the future of any pursuit, and who knows how many great women hunter/anglers are out there waiting to be discovered? If you live in Maine you know at least one, so find her and get her started. There's no better time to introduce a new member of the outdoor club than right now!