New Minnesota group connects women who want to hunt and fishBecca Kent considers herself lucky. She grew up in a hunting and fishing family. She began learning about the outdoors when she was just a kid. But she knows a lot of women aren’t as fortunate, and she wants to share the joy of the outdoors with them.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Becca Kent considers herself lucky. She grew up in a hunting and fishing family. She began learning about the outdoors when she was just a kid.
But she knows a lot of women aren’t as fortunate, and she wants to share the joy of the outdoors with them.
Kent, 22, works for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association in Grand Rapids. And she’s pitching in to help a new Minnesota group, Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons, The fledgling group wants to serve as a contact point and a networking place for women getting into the outdoors.
“I want other women to catch the same spark and passion I feel,” Kent said.
The group germinated at the 2012 Department of Natural Resources Roundtable in St. Paul, said Jean Bergerson of Grand Rapids, a longtime instructor in the state’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman program. That program, still going strong, is a how-to group that teaches women the nuts and bolts of hunting and fishing.
Bergerson and others realized that, through BOW, women were learning specific skills for hunting and fishing — but weren’t continuing to pursue those activities.
“We wanted to develop a better networking system among women who hunt and fish,” Bergerson said.
So, they conceived Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons, which works with BOW but is a separate entity.
At the heart of the new organization is its website, www.womenhfs.org, which offers women a way to connect, to exchange ideas, to learn about outdoor opportunities and to seek mentors.
“It’s a sounding-board and mentoring system for women who aren’t ready to step out the back door with their equipment and do it on their own,” Bergerson said.
Many women simply don’t know others who hunt and fish, and they may not feel comfortable asking a male acquaintance for help, organizers say.
“It may be intimidating for a woman to go up to a man colleague or friend and say, ‘I’d like to try this,’ ” said Erika Rivers, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota DNR.
Rivers, a longtime firearms deer hunter with her family, decided last year to participate in a four-part instructional series on bow hunting with Becoming an Outdoors Woman.
“It was very non-threatening, very collegial,” Rivers said. “It was a group of people who were entering into the conversation as peers, so it was very comfortable.”
Women say they tend to learn differently about the outdoors when they learn from other women.
“It’s a totally different experience,” Kent said. “You don’t feel as if you have to prove yourself.”
She recalls a friend telling her about trying to learn about hunting from her boyfriend.
“She said he was too competitive. She was saying how over-the-top he was and that it was hard to learn from him,” Kent said.
Another thing that Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons organizers realized is that not many women are depicted in hunting or fishing images, Bergerson said. So, the group’s website will include a photo gallery of women taking part in outdoor activities, and they’ve encouraged the DNR to use more photos of women in its hunting and fishing booklets.
Rivers said she found her experience learning to bow hunt with other women very rewarding. It culminated with a chance to go turkey hunting last spring.
“It was just a blast to call in a turkey,” Rivers said. “I wasn’t able to get a shot, but I was absolutely hooked. It’s crazy fun.”
That’s the kind of passion the group hopes to share with other women.