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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bye, bye comfort zone. Hello black bears.

Copyright Darrold Door.  Picture found at: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/bear.htm

Bear hunting. Just those two words can bring out some very strong emotion amongst hunters and non-hunters.  I would tell you to vote NO on1 and I could give you a long list of reasons why but if you are reading this, chances are I am preaching to the choir when it comes to understanding why hunting is necessary to keep animal populations healthy.

I have never gone bear hunting. I have really never had an interest. My friend Robin is an incredible outdoor woman who has been bear hunting for the past three years.  I have been OK living vicariously through her with the hopes of trading my unwavering support for bear meat, however, this year I am heading into the blinds myself to get a bear.

In an effort to truly understand what goes on 'behind the scenes' of bear hunting, I have gotten myself connected with folks who are going to take me out to the bait sites, show me how they run their hounds, and come the end of August, take me with them out into a blind with my rifle.  My first adventure is to see the bait sites next week.

To say I am nervous is a complete understatement. I am a proud (decent) deer hunter. As such, I compare everything new that I learn to hunt back to a deer.  One big different compared to bear: deer do not growl or charge at you. And when it comes to the deer that I have shot, they have not been hundred pounds heavier than I am.   But I am going to try it! The only way to grow as a hunter, a writer, and an outdoors woman is to try something new.  I am so far out of my comfort zone that I cannot even see it. 

I plan to write more posts and keep all of you caught up on my adventures as I try out bear hunting.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Of Place

My Sky Condo
A recent piece in "Trout" by Tom Reed talked about place and what it means to have that one place where you can retreat to and forget all of your worries. It got me thinking about my place. Tom writes, "it is your place. We all have them. Places of heart home, places where we feel centered and right in the world... At that moment when you were there, you were all there."

When I was little, I would sit by the stream heading out from the pond behind our house. I could sit and just listen to the birds, the stream gurgle over the rocks and watch the clouds bounce across the blue sky. It was peaceful and calming.

When I hunt now, I can zen out pretty well. It may take me a week to get comfortable but after that, my 5-6 hour long sits are usually calming and relaxing although I am observant as I watch and wait for a deer. You have time to process everything in your mind (sometimes more than once) and sometimes you are surprised by what your subconscious wants you to work through.

And maybe it's different if you are fishing instead of hunting. Hopefully I can get some time in soon to get back out on the waterways and catch something, but for now it is deer hunting and relaxing.   Each of my hunting spots are unique and hold different memories and last thoughts. In my Treeseat, I relive that 10 pointer walking out in front of me and giving me the opportunity to shoot my first deer without dad sitting besides me. It helped me gain confidence that I can calm myself down enough to make one good, clean shot. In the Sky Condo, I remember watching yearlings play in the field one morning and a set of triplets exploring the bushes and small trees just under us. Quietly watching nature.

I am sure that as I hunt more, start fishing and getting my son outside more, there will be new places that relax me and carry great memories. There will be new places that are the perfect spot to relax and share memories.  There will be the place where my son shoots his first deer.  Where I catch my first first (real one, without a guide) and where any future kids find their passion for the outdoors. I can't wait to find them!




Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ready or not, we are taking over the industry.



The following is an article that will be published in the Northwoods Sporting Journal in the August issue. 
 

Women are on the move!  We are taking over the woods, fields and waterways to hunt, hike and fish.  And we are doing it more often than men.

An article posted in June on Ammoland’sShooting Sporting News, states that “the most recent U.S Census found that there are 13.7 million hunters in the Nation – 11 percent of them are women.”  Slowing but consistently, women are picking up guns and rods and heading outside.  We are getting into hunting and fishing and taking it seriously; it is becoming more than just a seasonal hobby for most women. 

According to a 2013 Nation Shooting Sports Foundation report, “females now represent 22 percent of shooters, accounting for $220 million in firearm and gear sales” per year and that number is growing. It doesn’t stop there; women are spending lot and lots of money as they get into hunting and fishing.  A U.S Fish & Wildlife study found “that women hunters spent more than $71 million on hunting clothes in 2011 – spending $4.2 billion on all hunting gear that same year.” If you are involved in the outdoor industry, pay attention because women who are between the ages of 25-40 are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S and we are tech savvy.  Can we look up your website on our IPhones?  Are there photos of women who have hired you as a guide? And what is your reputation among other outdoor enthusiasts? Outdoor women have money to spend to ensure that we learn how to hunt and fish properly with the correct equipment but we also make sure we have done our research before we start spending.

In Maine, the number of hunting licenses has dropped steadily over the past ten years from 208,231 to 172,190, according to Bill Swan at Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. However, the number of women who are getting hunting licenses has grown from 16,501 up to 18,400.  A small gain, sure, but it’s a gain and it’s proof of where the growth in the outdoor industry is coming from. 

As women take over the outdoor industry, there are programs like Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) that help them learn the skills and about the equipment that they will need to be successful.  In Maine, the annual event for BOW is the Introductory Skills Weekend, taking place in September.  Held in Winslow, only 100 women can attend the inclusive weekend that offers up to 40 different sessions that range from campfire cuisine, foraging and Hunter’s Safety to archery, fly tying and big game hunting.  There is something for every woman with every interest and skill level.  To learn more or register for this year’s weekend, check out www.mainebow.com.  Even the smaller workshops held in February at Bryant Pond 4H camp,  fill fast with women who are interested in learning how to ice fish, track animals in the snow and go snowshoeing.  No matter the season, the desired hunt or type of fishing preferred, there is a session and an instructor ready to teach women how to be successful.

Companies like Maine Outdoors, EpicAdventures, Chet’s Camps and Cabela’s have stepped up to support women’s organizations like BOW and have donated their time, talent and/or treasure, to helping women learn about anything outdoors related.  As more businesses and individuals follow in their footsteps, no one loses.  Women are able to learn from some of the best guides in Maine, using some of the best equipment and create lifelong passions that could pass from generation to generation.

As a member of that fast moving group of outdoor women, I am thrilled to see how far we have come.  We are able to hold our own in conversations about great hunts or epic fishing trips.  We can try new things, be encouraged by so many and share our stories of successes or the one that got away.   Slowly, we are being taken seriously and gaining credibility in the often male-dominated realm of the outdoors.  If you have a woman in your family who is interested in learning how hunt or fish -encourage it.  Enjoy sharing a love of the outdoors and see what happens.  You won’t regret it.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reading and Learning

I have been gathering and reading quite a few hunting books and outdoorsy books, but I am wondering if there are any that you folks would recommend that I read?  I am thinking that I will add a section just for my book reviews.

What are you reading? or what should I be reading?