About three weekends ago I had the opportunity to attend Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman spring program. It was a three-day weekend at Rock Springs 4-H Center with about 50 other women interested in outdoor activities.
Going into the weekend, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I knew the courses I was going to attend while I was there, and I had been to Rock Springs camp a few times when I was younger. What I hadn’t really expected, was the friendships I formed and the confidence I gained while at BOW. I got to really get to know a few co-workers that also attended the program a bit better, and met several new gals that share my love for being outside, being active, and in some cases, shooting a bow. I never had considered how a weekend of uninterrupted time with other outdoors ladies would help me get a better idea of who I was, what I enjoyed and what I was good at.
My weekend started off with intro to canoeing on Friday afternoon. I selected this class because Tony purchased a canoe over the winter that I have big plans for. I wouldn’t say this course was challenging, but I enjoyed being out on the water and getting in some physical activity. I still think I prefer solo adventures in a kayak, but the canoe was still pretty fun.
On Saturday I had Intro to Archery and Spring Turkey Hunting class. Going into the weekend, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with either course. I have a lot of interest and some experience with each topic and didn’t know if I’d really get much out of the classes. I was pleasantly surprised by both. I had brought the bow I’ve been using along with me for intro to archery. After the first 20 minutes hearing about various types of bows and the different parts, I got to spend the morning shooting at various targets. While I’ve shot at targets in the past, they’ve always been the standard bullseye variety. The BOW archery setup had lots of options – deer, turkey and bullseyes. I was able to spend a lot of time shooting my bow and really had an opportunity to work on my accuracy. After several rounds I had dialed my arrow placement into a pretty tight diameter on the targets I was shooting at (primarily the turkey and deer), and I was happy with my improved accuracy.
Spring turkey hunting was great. Even though I’ve been out hutning several times this spring trying to get a turkey, I learned a lot in this session. The instructors talked through the entire hunting process – scouting, turkey habits, appropriate camo, how to call and the actual hunt. I knew some of what they were saying, but they helped fill in a few gaps and gave me the opportunity to ask a few questions without fear of feeling stupid. At the end of the course, we each had the opportunity to take a shot at a turkey head target with a shotgun at 20 yards. While I’m not interested in ever hunting with a gun, I had pretty good aim and would’ve killed that turkey if it had been real. : )
The final course I attended was probably the most informative of the weekend – wilderness survival. I’d have to say that before that class I had never really given much thought to what I’d need to survive if I got stuck somewhere. I mean, I’ve seen a few of those Survivorman TV shows, and have heard about that Bear guy, but I’d never really pictured myself in that situation. With my upcoming trip to backpack/camp in Utah, I felt like my need to have a solid survival pack was pretty pertinent. Here’s what I walked away with:
- I need to get a solid knife. Something with a thick blade that extends all the way down through the bottom of the handle. It will be good for hiking, but also good for hunting.
- I need to be able to make fire. Simple cottonballs with vasaline on them, a striker and a ferrocium rod. It’s super easy to start a fire with these items. They’re light and compact to pack and the cottonball burns a heck of a lot longer than I had ever thought possible.
- Always carry a whistle. It doesn’t take as much energy to blow a whistle as it does to yell, and you can blow it longer than you can yell. Also, you can use it to annoy undesirable travel companions… just joking.
- Basic first aid kit with bandages, antibotic cream and pain killers are important even in the wilderness. I carry something like this in my car, so it really only makes sense that I’d take one with me when camping.
- Make a small investment in a basic snake bite kit. I mean, I am going to Utah and I hear they have snakes. Apparently Wal-Mart sells a pretty good kit called the Sawyer Extractor for like $15. It could save your life if you can’t get to an anti-venom treatment fast enough.
Looking back at my weekend, I really hope I get to attend BOW again. And this time, I’d like to go with my mom and her sisters. While they might not be interested in the same hunting-oriented classes that I was, I think they’d enjoy some of the other offerings – bird watching, dutch oven cooking, stream ecology, intro to almost any kind of gun you can think, etc. I’m certain it would be a great bonding time for all of us!