Several years ago, I was at an incredibly boring computer seminar when I struck up a lunchtime conversation with a woman who was as attractive as she was fascinating. Not only did she own as much camouflage clothing as I did, but she knew all about turkey hunting, could identify all kinds of wildflowers, loved hiking, and could speak my language about the outdoors.
She was a city girl who didn’t come from a family that hunted or fished. However, she took it upon herself to learn more about the great outdoors by attending several Becoming an Outdoors-Woman programs sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She was not only competent in her outdoors abilities, but she was confident in them. I was so impressed that I asked her for a date—a canoe trip on Elkhorn Creek.
Kentucky started its own Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program, also known as BOW, in 1995. Since then, hundreds of women have experienced the outdoors through a variety of programs that may include backpacking, survival skills, canoeing, bird watching, campfire cooking, fly tying, and even rappelling. Programs also feature basic hunting and fishing skills.
Beth Spivey-Minch, the volunteer coordinator for Kentucky’s program, says women love BOW sessions because of their supportive learning environment. There are no “dumb” questions. And instructors have the patience that a competitive husband or boyfriend may lack.
BOW also builds confidence. “A lot of times, women are intimidated about going into the outdoors alone,” Spivey-Minch says. “Through our programs, they learn that it’s not so scary to be in the outdoors.”
Some women taking the courses learn to shoot a gun for the first time, which helps them overcome their fear of firearms. For women who are not interested in shooting or hunting, there’s still plenty to do.
“We also offer opportunities to learn about camping, mountain biking, outdoor photography, and the basics of being in the outdoors,” Spivey-Minch says.
Program offerings vary throughout the year. For example, the Jan. 19-21 program at Kenlake State Resort Park will offer an eagle-watching trip.
BOW programs are a great way to introduce women to the outdoors and impress the men. As for the BOW graduate that I met so many years ago, she’s now my turkey hunting buddy—and my wife.
Register now for this month’s BOW program in western Kentucky. The $175 registration fee includes programs, meals, and lodging. Call (800) 858-1549 or visit www.fw.ky.gov on the Internet for more information.