Where Skills Are Learned in the Field
Women are the fastest growing group of outdoor enthusiasts, and the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program is a great contributor to this trend. In Nebraska, this program has taken hundreds of women into the field during its 30-year run, and, personally provided some of my most memorable hunting experiences.
Many occurred during BOW’s annual training event the first full weekend in October. This event is packed with three days of learning about outdoor-related topics including kayaking; shotgun, rifle and muzzleloader shooting; archery; big game and turkey hunting; camping; birding; photography and more.
Women can attend more than one year to learn more about several topics, thus gaining the knowledge, skills and confidence to pursue outdoor activities.
The Beyond BOW program takes women one step further by pairing them with experienced hunters, anglers and other outdoor adventurers, with the hopes they’ll later do these same activities on their own. Participants learn how to hunt, where to hunt, what to wear, and tips and tricks from mentors.
Scheduled seasonally, these trips focus on deer, goose, turkey and upland hunts.
Almost every year, a goose hunt is offered as part of the Beyond BOW program. During this hunt, women learn how to set up decoy spreads according to the time of year, study wind direction and the area that is being hunted and how to call. They also learn about public hunting locations, blinds and camouflage, guns and loads, and how valuable a good dog is when hunting.
And there is plenty of fun to be had, such as breakfast in the pit, playing in the decoys and the times when birds decoy perfectly and come in range for the shot.
The very first Beyond BOW offered was a white-tailed deer hunt in eastern Nebraska. Since then, many deer hunts across the state have been made available for women to attend.
In deer camp, the women learn how to approach landowners to ask for permission, where to look for deer trails, and which ones to put a stand or blind on. They also are instructed in firearms, ammunition, and sighting in a rifle or archery equipment. Lastly, participants learn about field dressing and preparing meat for processing and the table.
Turkey hunting is a popular pastime for many new hunters as it’s easy to find public hunting areas across the state. During these hunts, women learn how to find turkey sign, locate turkeys and where to look for them at different times of the day and season. Instructors discuss archery equipment and shot placement, as well as shotguns, ammunition, and patterning their weapon.
Pheasant, quail and grouse hunting require fast, accurate shots, and, in some cases, a lot of walking. These upland hunts are designed to teach women all the basics and more about upland birds and how to down birds in corn fields and Conservation Reserve Program acres, as well as in the Sandhills.
Attendees learn about their quarry and its behavior, how to take safe shots while hunting with a group of people and dogs, and how to clean and prepare their birds for the table once harvested.
Regardless of the type of hunt, BOW and Beyond BOW participants develop a community of open-minded and helpful people who can be called upon for advice and tips long after their time together.
Nothing compares to seeing the look on a woman’s face the first time she downs a Canada goose or shoots her first deer. The thrill and excitement, the high-fives and fist bumps, along with all the other emotions that come through, are so rewarding to those who squeeze the trigger, release the bowstring or teach these skills to a new legion of outdoor enthusiasts. ■