In late February I was blessed with the opportunity to hunt with 16 amazing women. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife(ODFW) Outdoor Skills program held it’s annual pheasant hunting workshop at Luckiamute Valley Pheasant in Pedee, OR. As an ODFW volunteer, I attended the workshop as a shotgunning coach, guide, and dog handler. (My beautiful German Shorthair Pointer, Stormy, joined me in the field).
The women who attended the event were from every walk of life. They were computer programmers, stay at home moms, vice presidents of major corporations, nurses, grandmothers, sales workers, and everything in between. Some of the women had hunted before, while others had never even handled a firearm. Despite their differences, each of the woman shared a love of the outdoors.
After a productive morning in the field, I had the opportunity to visit with the women over lunch. I started the discussion by asking each woman why they hunted (or wanted to learn to hunt). I was surprised by the variety of answers I received.
Beth, a computer programmer, was introduced to shotgunning by her co-workers at a recent team building event. The group (of mostly men) had spent a day at the trap range. Beth became and instant addict. After her shooting experience she felt the next natural progression was to learn to bird hunt and put her newly found shooting skills to work.
Latisha was celebrating her 26th birthday. A boisterous, fun young woman, Latisha said she had been surfing the web looking for some new and different way to celebrate the day. She stumbled upon the ODFW event and though she would give it a go. Latisha was a city girl who had never hunted before and was looking to broaden her horizon. I think she was successful.
Melissa was also a newbie to the shooting sports. She had never hunted. When I asked her why she was participating in the hunting workshop that day, I received the most unexpected answer. Melissa explained she had recently purchased a bird dog and wanted to learn to hunt with the dog. I assumed her husband was a bird hunter (hence the reason for the new dog purchase) and she was learning to hunt so she could join them in the field. My fatal error was ever making that assumption. Melissa explained that, yes, she had gotten the bird dog so she and her husband could hunt together, but her husband did not hunt… yet. Melissa and her friend Jennifer were taking the course together so they could teach their husbands how to hunt. My smile grew as Melissa continued to explain her motivation. Her words were music to my ears.
As I listened to all the women, I paused and reflected back on my own hunting career. Why do I hunt? What motivates me to take up the bow and stalk a deer, or hunt pheasant and quail behind my pointer?
I initially learned to hunt so I could spend time in the field with my husband. Although I still cherish the time my family spends together hunting, my motivation to hunt has evolved over the years. Hunting use to be something I did in my spare time. Today, hunting is an innate part of who I am. I hunt as an excuse to get out into God’s country and enjoy the outdoors. I hunt so that I can feel raw earth around me. Hunting makes me feel human; it is in my soul.
I hope and pray that the women I met at the ODFW workshop maintain their interest in hunting and continue to pursue the sport. I hope for each of them they can discover a new part of themselves they did not know existed.
I challenge you to give pause, and ask yourself… Why do you hunt?