Duck Hunting Workshop – Part 1

This past spring, I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s “Duck Hunting 101” workshop.  It was a day long workshop consisting of four separate stations: clay shooting, setting decoys, using a hunting dog, and duck hunting and gun safety.  I took their shorter version of the Duck Hunting workshop at their fall retreat and loved it, so I was really excited to go to this.

duck hunting 101

Our view for the day

The workshop was being held at a private hunting club—a men’s only hunting club to be exact.  But, for this one weekend out of the year, ladies took over!  The hunting lodge itself was beautiful.  I wish I could’ve gotten pictures inside of the big vaulted ceilings, wood and stone work throughout, a huge fireplace, and big leather couches to relax in.  I’d love a hunting lodge like that one day!

About 30 women attended, plus all the instructors.  The day began with breakfast.   Washington Outdoor Women sure know how to feed you well at all their workshops!  Breakfast was a huge spread of options, several home cooked.  One dish was a delicious salmon egg bake that I’d love to try and make myself.  After everyone was fed, we had a quick intro then broke off into our groups.

Clay Shooting

duck hunting 101

Clay shooting station

The ladies were separated, groups A-D, and would rotate through all the stations.  My first station was clay shooting.  I ended up in the group with women who had previous gun experience, so we shot first.  Everyone else took the gun safety workshop before getting to shoot the shotguns.

duck hunting 101

A father and son taught this workshop.  They quickly went over the basics and it was time to get shooting!  Each woman had 6 chances for their turn.  I’ve only shot clay pigeons one other time and it was during my Hunter Education field test where I hit it on my first try.  Definite beginners luck!

The shotgun range I shot my first clay pigeon at

The shotgun range I shot my first clay pigeon at

The first couple women who went missed all their shots.  To be fair, we were having some problems with the machine shooting the clay pigeons.  It wasn’t shooting when it was supposed to.  It was my turn to get up and the instructor said he thought I’d shoot one since I shot a deer last year.

I yelled pull and sure enough, he was right!  First clay pigeon shot of the day!  I’d really love to get more into trap shooting.  It’s a lot of fun and I feel like it’s something I could become pretty good at with practice.  It’s also so satisfying to see your clay target break into pieces!

duck hunting 101

The beautiful view while shooting

We had an hour at each station and boy did that hour fly by quick!  Each woman went through the station once.  A couple women were pretty new to using shotguns and they went another time so they could hopefully shoot their first target.

duck hunting 101

One of the reasons I love learning with a group of women is they’re incredibly encouraging.  Everyone cheered and was genuinely happy when a woman did finally hit her first target.  It’s an incredibly supportive environment to learn in.

Our next station in the Duck Hunting workshop was setting decoys and we were getting out on the water to learn!

To be continued…

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Washington Outdoor Women Fall Retreat Registration

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I just got my schedule in the mail for this year’s Washington Outdoor Women fall retreat!  I went last year and had the best time learning about duck hunting and archery.

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I’m really excited for the workshops I’ll be taking this year: Fly Fishing 101, Wilderness First Aid, Survival Skills, and First Aid for Dogs.

I can’t wait for Fly Fishing, the instructor seems amazing.  I remember last year a woman told me she took that workshop and now teaches other people how to fly fish from everything she learned.

I was happy when I saw they offered a Wilderness First Aid course this year.  I’ve been wanting to take something on first aid basics since you can be miles away from help when you’re out hunting.  I can’t wait to see what I learn in there.  Survival Skills is another workshop that’ll teach me skills I’ve been wanting to learn.  The chance of getting stuck or lost in the outdoors is always there, so knowing how to make shelter and fire will be great to make me more confident when I’m out hunting.

I can’t wait, I’m so excited!  September needs to hurry up and get here!  Definitely expect posts on everything I learn!

Registration is open until September 7th if any ladies are in Washington and would like to go!  You can find more information on the workshops and the registration here.

Getting Into Hunting

country huntress

So, you want to learn to hunt and don’t know where to start?  That was me a couple of years ago.  It can be hard as a female to break into the men’s world of hunting if you don’t have a man helping you along.

I started my hunting journey with a boyfriend, but when that ended, I decided to continue to learn more on my own.  It meant a lot to me to be able to do it on my own, so I found myself seeking other women to learn from.  Read below for my tips to meet other female hunters and get more involved with hunting!

I’ve tried to meet as many women as possible to help me, but I’ve also gotten help from men along the way too.  Through researching and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve learned a lot and met some really great people in the process!

First things first, take a hunter education course if you haven’t already.  You can’t start hunting without getting your hunting license.  The class is easy and incredibly informative.  At the end you should know if hunting is really something you want to learn more about or if it’s not really for you.

There will also likely be other women in the class you can meet.  Just be sure to look into classes early!  I was on a waiting list to get into mine.

If you know you like hunting and want to learn how to get more involved, click below to read my 5 ways to connect with other women to learn more about hunting.

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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!

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!