Shooting My First Deer – Part 1

A week ago, I shot my first deer!  My life has been a bit hectic lately.  But when I had the chance to get out to the San Juan Islands for a late season hunt, I jumped on it.  I headed up on a Saturday to meet them at the marina and they took me over to Decatur Island–a small island in the San Juans not accessible by ferry.  The couple helping me hunt is the same couple that helped me catch my first salmon.

country huntress deer hunting

Decatur Island to the right

We ate lunch and made a game plan for the rest of the day.  Kelli and I would head out to an area that they’d seen several deer before.  I changed into my hunting gear and off we went.  We made our way back through trees until it opened up a little bit.  We found a large tree trunk that had a log in front of it that was a good spot to sit and have some cover.

country huntress deer hunting

Kelli and I waiting for deer!

One of my goals getting into hunting has been to find other women to hunt with.  It’s a lot easier said than done.  So it was an awesome feeling to be out there with another woman!  We sat quietly and the craziness of everyday life faded away.  One of my favorite things about hunting is feeling connected to the outdoors.

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First Deer!

 
Here are a few more pictures of my first deer that I got on Decatur Island!

More pictures and story to come after Thanksgiving!

I can’t wait to eat the back strap on Thanksgiving! 

Washington Outdoors Women – Archery

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

My second workshop of the weekend was Archery.  I’ve had an interest in bow hunting for a couple of years now and was really looking forward to being able to shoot a bow.  The only time I’ve shot a bow before was way back in middle school when they had archery during P.E. one week.  We used recurve bows and I remember loving it/being decent.  So I was hoping I’d still be a pretty good shot!

A local news station came and did a great video on the weekend.  Check it our here and watch the part on our archery workshop!

At first our instructor had us tie a piece of rope that we could use to practice our draw and release.  We stood in a line and practiced releasing the rope a few times, focusing on “painting our faces” with our fingers as we let go.

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Next, we went over the kind of bows we’d be shooting.  They were compound bows that had a universal draw anyone could learn on, regardless of their arm length.  She said it shot similar to a recurve bow.  Everyone was getting antsy to get out and start shooting but first she went over course safety.  It was helpful knowing the same rules and whistle sounds apply at most archery ranges.

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Finally, it was time to start shooting!  She handed us three arrows we were to keep using the rest of the day, they matched our draw length so we couldn’t switch with anyone else.  We had three main targets and two animal targets.  At first everyone shot at the big main targets.

Hitting the center of the target!

Hitting the center of the target!

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My arrows have the black and red fletchings, and the one arrow missing a fletching.  I immediately fell in love with shooting the bow!  There’s something very relaxing about focusing on the target and hearing a nice “thud” when it hits where you want it to go.

After 20 minutes of everyone getting comfortable with the bows, our instructor decided to add some bullseye targets.  I liked the added challenge of really seeing where the arrow was landing.

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Then, our instructor added balloons to the targets and the fun really started!  There were several of us shooting at one target, so we’d call out which balloons we were trying to hit.  It definitely brought all the women closer, cheering each other on when they made a great shot.

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

My arrow, right above the pink balloon. It became my mission to hit that pink balloon!

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Took out the yellow balloon, but the pink balloon still escaped me. We wondered if my first arrow skimmed it because the balloon began shrinking, making it that much harder to hit!

Maybe if I focus harder I can hit the balloon haha

Maybe if I focus harder I can hit the balloon haha

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Finally got it!

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

A nice 10, 9, and 8 hit!

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

By this point, we had been shooting the bows for a couple of hours and I was absolutely in love.  The instructor walked up to me and said, you’ve been bitten by the archery bug!  She was so right!

They added a bear target and smaller bullseye targets.  We then took turns going down the line and shooting at each of the targets.  It was another activity that had all the women cheering for each other.  Some of the targets were harder to hit, especially that turkey!  So women made it their goal to hit it at least once and everyone was beyond excited for them when they did make the shot.

IMG_7991Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Lung shot!

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This dang turkey was a lot of people’s enemy, not easy to hit! I’m not sure my shot would kill it haha.

Washington Outdoor Women Archery

Hitting the bear target!

The workshop was four hours and we probably shot for 3.5 of those.  Toward the end, some of the women asked to take a break.  Four of us kept shooting.  I really couldn’t get enough of it.  I was loving every minute of it and really didn’t want this workshop to end.  I think my face shows how happy I was doing this, I had a permanent smile.

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I’m glad I took the workshop because I now know that investing in a bow is definitely worth it.  I hope to be able to get a bow soon and begin practicing.  I want to get out next season with it!

I can’t choose which workshop was my favorite, but this was definitely up there!  This is when I knew I’d be coming back to the workshop next fall.

Stay tuned for my next post on an impromptu fly fishing course!

Hunting is Conservation

Sorry for the lack of posts! When it rains, it pours… life has been a little hectic! Hopefully this weekend I catch up on a couple of posts!

Learning about conservation was one of the main reasons I really wanted to get involved in hunting. There are several great conservation groups out there to get involved with. One of the groups I’ve had an interest in since I started learning about hunting was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

After seeing how much RMEF supported the Washington Outdoor Women’s annual retreat, I knew I wanted to become a member.  I can’t wait to get more involved in volunteering and going to events!

There are some other conservation groups I’d also like to get involved with. As someone who loves the outdoors and hunting, it’s important to me to be apart of conservation efforts too.

Goodluck to all the Washington hunters on opening day of modern fire for general deer season tomorrow!

Washington Outdoors Women – Duck Hunting 101

The second day of the Washington Outdoors Women workshop had us all up bright and early!  Breakfast was at 7am sharp so my alarm was set for 6:15am.

Everyone woke up groggy.  Our area of the cabin was next to the bathroom which meant we fell asleep to a symphony of flushing toilets, creaking doors, and muffled voices.  Needless to say, it took a couple hours to fall asleep.  Luckily, the excitement of the day ahead had everyone in a good mood!

Duck Hunting 101

I walked over to the Duck Hunting 101 workshop after breakfast and met our instructor.  The class was set up in a “blind” with our decoys out in front.  She told us to grab a bag and take a seat.

Washington Outdoor Women Duck Hunting 101

Our makeshift blind for class

The bag was full of the first round of goodies I got that weekend.  Inside was a Ducks Unlimited baseball hat, a waterfowl identification guide, a couple decals, an issue of Ducks Unlimited, and information about duck hunting.  It was unexpected but really awesome to receive.

We started the class by first going over a handout that covered everything in the workshop.  Since I went duck hunting with my brother last Christmas, I knew a few things already.

We covered safety with firearms, staying warm, knowing the weather and area, and letting someone know your hunting plan.  I’m a person who’s always cold, so it’s going to be really important for me to figure out the proper layers to stay warm.

Our instructor had a great tip in case we did get really cold while sitting out there waiting for ducks.  Take two hand warmers and then place them in your pants, directly on your kidneys.  It’s a point that will warm your body faster.  I’m definitely trying it out!

Next, we went over shotguns.  She covered proper fit which was great to learn as a woman.  Since most guns are made for men, they don’t always fit the best.  She recommended cutting stocks down so the gun fits perfectly to your arm length.

An incredibly useful exercise she went over was “shoot the moon.”

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Washington Outdoor Women’s Retreat – Day 1

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Driving up to camp, I had no idea what to expect.  They gave us a list of what to pack and a rough outline of the weekend, but nothing about what would happen once we were actually there.  I was greeted by women on the WOW team and directed to park in a field with all the other cars.

As I began gathering my stuff, I noticed a couple girls walking toward camp with only a backpack that had their sleeping bag attached at the bottom.  Now I don’t think that I’m someone who needs a lot of stuff for a weekend, but the list they gave us included a lot of items I wouldn’t normally bring.  I had about three bags for clothes, sleeping stuff, and my day pack with hunting boots in there.

As I was closing my trunk, another girl walked by with several bags and said, “Oh thank god someone else actually brought a lot of stuff with them!”  We walked over to the main barn to pick up our welcome packets.  It was both our first times at the retreat, so it was nice having someone else to be somewhat clueless with.

We picked up our packets and were told to go find a cabin with an open bed.  After talking to the girl more, we realized we went to the same college and both loved Bob Seger which meant we became fast friends, or as we affectionately called each other—buddy.

It was interesting, even though I’m in my late-20s at a camp with women of all ages, it felt like being a kid again going back to camp.  The same thoughts went through your head… will people like me, where will I sleep, I hope there are cool people in my cabin, who will I eat with in the dining hall?

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WOW Weekend Success!

Clockwise: Washington Outdoor Women, my two arrows in the yellow, my shot at the bear target, skinning a duck to get the breast meat.

Before I make several big, long posts about the amazing weekend I had at the Washington Outdoor Women fall retreat, I just wanted to quickly post about how great of a time I had. 

I highly encourage every woman to look for something similar in their state. I know when I googled it before, several of these groups came up in different states.

Not only did I learn some great skills during the three workshops, I met wonderful women with shared interests in hunting and fishing. It was refreshing to be able to talk about it with a group of women who all understand the same love of the outdoors. 

I’m not sure exactly what my expectations were for this weekend, but I do know this far exceeded any expectations I had. It was a weekend I didn’t want to end and won’t soon forget. I’m already planning the workshops I’ll sign up for next year. 

I’ll be making my first long post full of pictures on Wednesday. I’m excited to share some of what I learned on here. 

P.S. I fell in love with shooting a bow, I can’t wait to get my own bow and head out for archery season next year!

Gearing Up for WOW’s fall workshop!

I’m starting to pack and get ready to head out this Friday for the Washington Outdoor Women’s 17th annual fall workshop! I can’t wait.   The workshops I’m taking are: Duck Hunting 101, Archery, and Big Game Hunting Basics. I’m really excited for all of those and know I’m really going to benefit from this. I wish I could’ve gotten into a fly fishing class but there’s always next year!

I’m glad I’ll be taking the duck hunting workshop since I’ll hopefully be out doing that soon with my family. 

Outside of going to learn these skills, I’m really looking forward to meeting other women with similar interests. It’s harder than I thought finding women who share a love of the outdoors.  Hopefully I can come back from this on Sunday with a couple hunting and fishing female friends. 

Expect many posts about everything I’ve learned when I get back! 

Women’s Outdoor Retreats

Women’s outdoor retreats, a weekend geared toward women learning new skills in the great outdoors. This year, I’m attending the Washington Outdoor Women’s weekend workshop to learn new hunting and fishing skills. I’m really excited!

Here is a snapshot of some of the workshops offered this year.

Through the course of the weekend, you take three workshops. I’m hoping to take archery, duck hunting, and fly fishing. Regardless of what I’m able to take (workshops can fill up and you get your second or third choice), I’m really looking forward to learning new things in the world of hunting and fishing! 

I’m also really looking forward to meeting other female hunters. Part of the reason I started this blog was to connect with women hunters and hear their stories. It’s great that there’s an event in my area that allows me to meet several other women also interested in the outdoors.

Check to see if your state has a similar weekend. My quick google search showed similar retreats in several other states.

I can’t wait for September! A great event to kick off hunting season.

Have you ever attended a women’s outdoor retreat? Did you like it? Share your experience below!