I sit about 15 feet off the ground in a tree stand as dawn approaches. The sky is clear, the stars shine brightly and the air is crisp and cold. I hear coyotes in the distance howling to each other. Just over the ridge, down by the river, a barred owl calls, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” As the sky begins to lighten, the sounds of night fade away and the sounds of the day begin. First, I hear a cardinal call to locate others of like kind. Crows communicate as they gather in search of food. Nearby, I hear wild turkeys fly down from their roost. They begin their chatter and head for water, stopping to peck available seeds and grasses along the way.
The sun peeks over the mountain and activity abounds. Squirrels chase each other up and down a tree while another scampers along the ground, digging, trying to locate a hickory nut it buried many days before as part of its winter store. As the sun gets brighter, I see a small flock of juncos feeding on the ground below my stand and a tufted titmouse in the tree next to me fusses because it can’t decide if I am friend or foe.
You see, I am up in the tree to try to harvest a deer for the freezer—the promise of some delicious meals. Yes, I am a hunter. I am an Outdoors Woman.
Becoming an outdoors woman is not a destination, but a journey leading you down many roads. We all choose our own way. Many enjoy the simple pleasure of a stroll in a park, listening to the birds sing, the frogs croak and hoping to see other wildlife. Others enjoy the excitement of canoeing a whitewater stream, camping on a gravel bar, and bringing in a smallmouth bass for dinner.
The excitement of seeing a painted bunting for the first time, taking a wild turkey on a spring hunt, or traveling halfway around the world to pursue game animals with a bow and arrow are all pursuits of an outdoors woman. Whatever you fancy, you are a part of a sisterhood that distinguishes you from all others.
Once the outdoors is a part of your life, you will be forever changed. It will empower you to know you can experience adventures beyond your comfort zone and build your confidence to know you can accomplish things you never dreamed possible. You will have a newfound respect for all things wild and free as they become part of your world.
Some of us are fortunate to begin our outdoor experiences at a very early age. Adventures abound as you go wading in a creek looking for tadpoles, picking a wildflower bouquet for Mom, or seeing a bald eagle soar overhead for the first time. Whenever or wherever your encounters begin, learning about the natural world in which we live will become a lifelong experience.
My wish for you is to make the opportunity to step outside, look around at the world in which you live, and say, “Yes, this is the way it was intended and I am a part of it all.”
By the way, I saw no deer this day, but have etched in my mind the memories of a glorious day afield. M! February/March 2014