The Sisterhood of the Outdoors (SOTO), a woman-owned company offering guided hunting and fishing trips to women all over the United States, has joined with freelance marketing partner, Lindsey Bodamer, of Leavenworth, Kansas. Lindsey will be offering social media, press, marketing, and administrative strategy to SOTO. SOTO looks forward to utilizing Lindsey to further their marketing efforts, partner with new companies and organizations, expand their outreach, and promote women’s hunting and fishing on a growing scale.
Lindsey has an extensive career in business operations, including project management, marketing, social media management, and business administration. She and her husband, Scott, reside in the Kansas City area where they own and operate Bradley Retrievers, LLC. Both are heavily involved in the outdoor industry and strive to support hunting, wildlife, and conservation traditions for all.
If you would like more details on The Sisterhood of the Outdoors trips, memberships or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Amy Ray, President at 706-847-6338 or email her at email@example.com.
Chatsworth, GA (June 11, 2019) – The Sisterhood of the Outdoors (SOTO), a woman-owned company offering guided hunting and fishing trips to women all over the United States, partnered with Cheyenne Ridge Outfitters in February to host a Nebraska goose hunt benefitting Shooting Sports for Cancer, Inc. and breast cancer research. The hunt, guided by Cheyenne Ridge’s professional guides and retrievers along the famous North Platte River, was 100% donated by Cheyenne Ridge as a fundraiser for the cause. Writer, Jodi Stemler, and photographer, Tess Rousey, documented the hunt in an outstanding article released in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Sporting Classics magazine.
Women from all over the United States flew in to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime hunt, which included the opportunity to handle and shoot the XLR5 Women’s Waterfowl shotgun, exclusive to Syren USA. SITKA Gear also provided select pieces from their new women’s waterfowl line to test in the elements. First-class hospitality and lodging were provided, all courtesy of Cheyenne Ridge and their General Manager, Sean Finley, of High Adventure Company.
President of SOTO, Amy Ray, reflected on the hunt, “Our Sisterhood hunts are never about the kill. When we tag out or fill a limit, we all celebrate, but that’s not the point. Our goal is to provide a safe and fun environment for women to get out hunting with other women – We can all try something new, or simply realize what it’s like to share our passion for the outdoors with other women.”
About Cheyenne Ridge Outfitters
Cheyenne Ridge Outfitters owns and operates two, world-class hunting lodges – the Signature Lodge in Pierre, South Dakota; and the North Platte Outpost in Minatare, Nebraska. Both lodges are part of the elite Beretta Trident program, with the North Platte Outpost being the only Beretta Trident waterfowl lodge in the world. Sean Finley, of the High Adventure Company, serves as the General Manager and Executive Chef for both lodges, where exquisite cuisine and exceptional hunting are offered to guests from around the world.
About Shooting Sports for Cancer, Inc.
Shooting Sports for Cancer, Inc. is a 501(c) non-profit started by Carmen Neil who is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Carmen is best known, perhaps, for the Ta Ta Bang! Bang! Sporting clay event held in Georgia each year. Funds for the goose hunt were raised by women who “paid to play” on the North Platte river for two beautiful winter mornings. The funds were then given from Shooting Sports for Cancer, Inc. to the Regional West Breast Health Center in nearby Scottsbluff, Nebraska, which services predominantly rural communities within a 100-mile radius. Those funds went specifically towards 3D Tomography technology that the Health Center was able to begin offering in March.
About Sporting Classics
Sporting Classics magazine was established in 1981 and is considered one of the leading industry magazines for world class hunting and fishing. Each of the eight (8) yearly issues is written for active sportsmen who love to read about all things outdoors: guns, knives, adventures, art, dogs, collectibles, along with biographies of talented writers, craftsmen, painters and sculptors, who make these great things possible. For more information about Sporting Classics magazine or to subscribe, visit www.sportingclassics.com.
If you would like more details on The Sisterhood of the Outdoors hunting trips, memberships or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Amy Ray, President at 706-847-6338 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happened on an Arkansas goose hunt – a conservation light goose hunt, to be exact – does not stay in Arkansas. We had way too much fun for that, with The Sisterhood of the Outdoors earlier in March.
Sponsored by Fiocchi
What is a conservation light goose hunt, you might ask? Here’s how the Sisterhood described it: “Join us for an open bag light goose hunt during the annual conservation season in famed Arkansas. Why the unlimited harvest? Light (snow, blue & Ross) geese are in such h
igh numbers that they are actually destroying their own breeding grounds in the Arctic Tundra.”
As it turns out, you don’t even need a “duck stamp,” or a waterfowl permit for Arkansas to hunt here for these birds. You just need to prove that you have a hunting permit from any state, and file that with Arkansas Game & Fish. With the cost of waterfowl hunts with outfitters in the duck capital of the world, that eases the cost somewhat.
What Happened on an Arkansas Goose Hunt
The tale of my first-ever conservation order Arkansas goose hunt started when I picked up TeamWON member Jen Barcklay at the airport. She had decided that she, too, wanted to discover what lie ahead in the world of wild geese.
We packed out my Subaru with three shotguns (along with our own two concealed carry guns and we added a truck gun for good measure), our case of Fiocchi ammunition, camo, boots, suitcases, pillows (we’re getting old and we like our own pillows), snacks and other accoutrements.
We headed east then south, out of the Missouri Ozarks, through the Arkansas Ozarks and down to the rice fields of Arkansas near Moro.
After arrival at On the Deck Outfitters, and having met our roommates, we enjoyed a taco bar dinner and then, heard the news. The morning alarm needed to be set for … 3 a.m. Yikes. The geese had been spotted flying about an hour away. It would be cold. It would be damp. It could be wonderful.
According to the women who have hunted with the Sisterhood of the Outdoors before this trip, DOTS (you know, those gooey gummy candies in a box and found at most convenience stores) are the go-to good luck charm for success while hunting. After situating ourselves into lay-out blinds, we each took a few DOTS for good luck. Then, we waited as hundreds of goose decoys, along with electronic goose calls honking away, lured some geese down toward us. We waited until we heard the command, “Shoot ‘em!” Then, up we popped, out of our boxes and 20 of us fired into the flock above us and in front of us.
All in all, we picked up six geese on that first day. Does that mean we all shot at the same ones? Some of us thought maybe so. Does it mean our shooting left something to be desired? Quite possibly. Someone muttered, “Tomorrow, we’ll do better.”
The temperature never rose above freezing. There’s nothing quite like lying in the ground in freezing weather, hoping for a goose to fly overhead. Surreal, and if anyone had ever told me I’d actually enjoy doing this stuff when I was younger, I would have told them otherwise.
Day #2 and #LittleDebbie
The night before, the women from Texas revealed that they didn’t believe in the luck of the DOTS. They, in fact, preferred Little Debbies – and not just any Little Debbies (from the vast assortment of cakes and cookies), but the Christmas cake version of this popular foodstuff. We all decided (even the DOTS’ girls, I think) to try them out and see. The Texans had brought some Christmas trees (in fact, they’d been hoarding them), maybe even enough for everyone to have one before the geese arrived. According to the ladies, they often use the hashtag #littledebbie on Instagram when they go hunting, and lo and behold, the Little Debbie people of the social media world noticed.
On the second day, we arose again at 3 a.m. and headed out in a caravan to another spot, also at least an hour away. Today, however, as the sun rose, temperatures thankfully did, too. We had our Little Debbies in our bellies, and our shotguns loaded. So far, my Remington V3 Waterfowl Pro had run nice and smooth, and with its loads of Fiocchi Golden Waterfowl BBs, hadn’t malfunctioned once. As our guides told us, shooting after popping up in a layout blind is a whole ‘nother animal, and it is … It requires core support and a six-pack of abs (if possible).
So, once again, what seemed like thousands of specklebellies mixed in with the designated conservation order geese, flew over and around and down – making it impossible to shoot. If it had been no holds barred, and specklebellies had been legal, we would have been covered in goose feathers. However, the story doesn’t go like this – at the end of the day, we actually did a bit better. We got seven geese down.
After the hunt, Jen and I decided to eat cheeseburgers in Weiner, Arkansas (which is pronounced just like the hotdog). We drove around, noted several things named after Weiner (Our favorite one was the sign that read “Wiener Security Storage”), chuckled like schoolgirls playing hooky, and then, went to Harrisburg and went junking. We found an antiques shop off the square downtown and across from the old courthouse (where the Confederate Army in this area surrendered). I bought a stuffed pillow Canadian goose (legal), along with a few spindles and Jen found a vintage Army helmet with a shrapnel ding in it.
That night, we regrouped and just knew that tomorrow had to be better.
On the third day, the pattern of early rising had set in and we also packed the car so we could leave from the hunt. On this day, it would be a long morning drive of 90 minutes to get to our designated hunting spot. But, we felt optimistic that it could be our best day yet – because that what gets you through hunting!
We helped set out decoys, slogging through muck that wanted to suck a boot off your foot faster than a fish will slip out of your hands for that trophy pic. When you do this chore, you pray that you will not wind up on your backside in the muck, because … there’s no going back. You’re going to be cold and wet if this happens.
We lay there for hours. Seriously, hours. Some ladies had to leave by mid-morning to start driving home or head to the airport. We stayed till 11 and near that last hour, a tiny, straggler flock came from the east and circled us a few times. We lay so still that we could hear their wings flapping, since the guide had turned off the calls. And then, as if by magic, one snow goose dropped down, turned and came right toward the middle of our layout. Our “hunting hostess with the mostest,” Nikki, dropped him at about 25 yards in front of her. And, that was all. Just one.
More to Hunting than the Feathers Down
You may think that’s the end of the tale of the wild goose chase – which really was a wild goose chase in some ways, but in other ways, a wonderful adventure. The lodge offered a spacious back patio area, with a firepit, and on the last evening, I talked to some of the hunters about their feelings surrounding hunting and this opportunity. We had 20 hunters show up – representing Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Texas, Wisconsin, California, Louisiana, Arizona, Virginia and Kansas. Here are some of their thoughts.
A retired judge, hailing from California, this new-to-hunting woman accepted an invitation from a friend to join her in Arkansas to goose hunt. She’d never hunted goose, but had hunted for pheasant and ducks. She said, “This morning, in many ways, it was amazing and frustrating … it was like those specklebellies knew it was not the season for them. They were low and slow and right at us!” In our conversation, Deby revealed her new interests – archery and long-range precision shooting. Fortunately, Fiocchi ambassador Kay Miculek attended the hunt, and so Deby had been picking her brains about shooting. She added, “There are several of us in our 60s here, and I never owned a firearm until 2009. I was an active skydiver for a long time. … My friend would find interesting things for us to do, and she sent a me link to the NRA Women’s Wilderness Escape at the Whittington Center in New Mexico. It was amazing. I came home from that, and bought a shotgun and pursued my interest in firearms.”
From Pennsylvania, Katie Keyser is an emergency vet tech and works in EMS. She has been hunting since she was 15. Her dad was a weapons specialist in the military, so she grew up around firearms and now teaches firearms safety courses and helps her dad out at a gun shop. Katie felt that the guides made this hunt more likeable. “I like the fact that our guides are out there scouting. They don’t belittle you, as a woman … obviously, the cooking here is really good, too. And, the guides – they’re very respectful.” Katie appreciated the itinerary we received before the trip, along with what to expect, and the safety briefings.
Tara Stoddard is part-owner of Reel Camo Girl, has been an editor at “Woman Shooter” magazine, and is an avid outdoorsman. Tara is presently working on a grant with the National Wild Turkey Federation to teach women how to hunt. We are looking forward to learning more about this program as COVID restrictions lift. Reel Camo Girl boasts a pro-staff team of 30 and brand champion of 40 women. She described her mission as, “It’s not ‘Hey, look at me!’ It’s ‘Hey, what can we do to get this going for women outdoors?’”
On her first hunt ever, Kelsi Beam drove from north of Wichita, Kansas, to join us on this hunt. She is a math teacher, and now teaches GED courses and works on a farm. “I wanted to start with birds, and this hunt came up, so I took the chance,” said Kelsi. She wasn’t disappointed, and headed back to Kansas with fresh thoughts of how to hunt a turkey next. Then, she wants to pick up bow skills and go fall turkey hunting.
Sarah Morton is an experienced hunter for deer and fox, and saw the announcement for this hunt on the Internet. She works as an ER nurse in Richmond, Virginia. She said although the birds didn’t fly for us, she understands that it can happen. As a traveling nurse, she plans her next work gig around seasons for hunting and fishing. She said, “Was it a great hunt? Well, I think they [the outfitters] tried, but birds are birds.” Sarah hopes to get out in the gobbler woods in Virginia next, and has a planned fishing trip in Florida in July. Sarah also mentioned that she started traveling solo last year, and said, “If you’re scared to travel by yourself, it’s just mind over matter. If I never started traveling by myself last year, I would have had the courage to come out and then, you see what I would have missed!”
To book a future hunt with The Sisterhood of the Outdoors, check this website.
To find the right Fiocchi ammunition for your future hunts, look no further than this resource.
As we all know, hunting takes time, effort, skill, practice, patience and so many more things. Hunting as a mom takes all of these things times 10,000. Maybe not that much, but when you are living through it, it sure does feel that way.
I am a hunting mom. I have two young children and I started hunting before children (a time I like to refer to as B.C.). B.C., I hunted whenever I had time. I scouted hunting spots, I practiced, competed, and did indoor leagues in the off season. I went on hunting trips and I was well on my way to becoming an awesome hunter (at least to me). I then committed to starting a family and once that became a reality, everything changed. Please don’t misinterpret that statement; I am still the hunter that I always was and that I was striving to be, but life does change. It can be hard to see people on grand adventures, “living the life” on social media but please remember, even as a mom, you are still a hunter if you want to be. I want to touch on some points to remember.
You are Still a Hunter
You are still a hunter, but your hunting will not necessarily be what it used to be. Accept this – it is ok as long as you are happy. Do not look at what other people are doing and compare your life to theirs; you do not have the same life. Do not be offended if other people do not include you. Things have changed and you have changed. You are still a hunter but someone else may not see it that way or see you as the same way. I lost some hunting connections when I started a family and I made some new ones. All things happen for a reason.
You Need a Tribe
You must have support, “a tribe”. This takes many forms – your need friends to support you, to be happy for you, to encourage you and to go hunting with you. It helps if they also have a family, but it is not required. You also need support to help take care of your family while you continue to hunt and be the person you are. I hunt to provide for my family so my family helps support me. I have been in the woods pregnant; I have pumped for my babies while hunting. My husband (who does not hunt, by the way) rigged that pump up with battery packs and car charger so I could do what I needed to do while hunting. And I did it because I wanted to make it work.
Do What You Can
Do what you can. You have a family now and obviously that is important. For me to go hunting it takes a lot of pre-arrangement, a lot of planning. I have to make sure everyone is taken care of. If I am not able to make arrangements and make sure everyone is taken care of then I will change plans. Don’t let this make you unhappy, my family makes me happy. I will get a chance to hunt and that is all I need.
The saying “you do you” is the best way to sum this up. If you are a hunter, stay a hunter and do it the best way you can in a way that makes you happy. Accept change, accept happiness and do it with pride for who you are. One of my favorite things now is to go hunting and come home and have my children excited for me. To see them come running to me and say, “mom what did you get.” is fun. I remember I called home when I was on a hunting trip to check on things, because that’s what moms do, and my child got on the phone and said to me, “Did you get a deer yet mom?” I almost wanted to tear up. I hope one day that my kids will hunt with me, but I won’t push it. Until then, I shall carry on being a hunting mom.
Peering through the RV’s door, I notice the rain has subsided for the moment. With the temperature on my phone showing 36 degrees Fahrenheit, I layer with a relatively tight-armed hoodie over a wicking shirt and choose my fleece-lined jeans for my outdoor adventure. The ground is soggy wet, so my red Lacrosse rubber boots are perfect to keep my feet dry and bring my thoughts back to other pleasant experiences of slogging through the rain. I grab my archery chair, Jeffery longbow and walk out the door to my outdoor archery range. Following the NTS (National Training System) shot process, I commence to shoot arrows down range. Nothing clears the mind like experiencing the flight of well loosed arrows.
My business is JoCamps Archery Boot Camps and I travel to communities all over the United States to teach kids and adults methods that will help them shoot a bow better for recreation, competition or hunting. Since travel plans have changed and income opportunities have been cancelled due to emergency efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, I’ve had time on my hands. Many folks would turn on the TV, but I prefer a good book, a walk or hike, a hard workout, fishing or shooting my bow.
Initially my focus is on 2 new books, “Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name,” by Max Lucado and “Coaching Better Every Season,” by Wade Gilbert. Just last week, I devoured “Fueling Young Athletes,” by H. Mangieri, and “The Outside Life: Finding God in the Heart of Nature,” by Laurie Kehler captivated me a few weeks ago.
I take my archery coaching profession very seriously. Having already won 12 3D World Championships and represented the USA in the World Archery 3D Championships, you might think that I would be satisfied, but that’s not me. I continually strive to become a better competitor, bowhunter, speaker and coach. I feel very blessed that I can use my God-given talents to help others and strive to share God’s love with others through the sport of archery.
I have been contacted by several archers since the COVID-19 pandemic began disrupting life in the US. For some archers, their NASP or S3DA state championship was their last opportunity to claim a state title in archery; the opportunity to compete in front of their family, team, competitors and huge crowd of gathers was postponed and ultimately cancelled. For others, it was their first chance to compete at the state level. After all the hard work and time that these kids and adults had put into their sport, their dreams were curtailed. At first their thoughts were on how unfairly it was taken away, but I chose to enlighten them to the bigger picture. This is hampering normal life for everyone. No doubt, COVID-19 is impacting our plans. Events with large gatherings of people have been cancelled or postponed: schools are out; sporting events and concerts and even entire seasons have been postponed or cancelled. Even churches are not holding services at their sanctuaries. For some of the events, a virtual opportunity is available; for others, it just won’t happen. These cancellations and postponements can be excuses to sit around getting fat, lazy, depressed and worried or you can look for the opportunities that this unexpected at-home time can present.
I choose to look for the opportunities. Being an avid outdoors gal, I know that I need to soak up some sunshine. Yes, I want to catch up on honey-dos like spring cleaning inside our RV and storage building. But really, please let me outside. Our RV travel trailer that we call home and the utility trailer need cleaning and protecting. There is yard work to be done: limbs to be moved; briars and bushes to be cut; trash thrown by passers-by to be picked up and disposed of and lanes to be cut for my 3D targets.
And hunters know that turkey season is open in some states or just around the corner in others. In preparation for turkey hunting with my bow, I need to sight-in the arrows and broadheads. Maybe I will hunt with my trusty shotgun and turkey loads, but again, patterning the shotgun with the best load is a must to ensure success once you the tom called into range. It is time. I sure have missed spring turkey hunting.
Attention! Moms, dads, boys and girls, instead of making excuses look for the opportunities that you now have the time to do. Go outside and enjoy the spring air and sunshine. Take your kids for walking in the woods. Go scouting for turkeys. Fishing in a lake, creek, river or pond with the family will create memories that you will cherish.
If you are an archer, use this time to practice your sport. Both you and I need to get ready to shoot our best which means getting in good physical and mental condition. Time to practice, so when the day comes that things normalize, we are ready. I choose to use this time to make myself better. Work on your shot; I recommend that you commit to consistently executing the NTS (National Training System) shot process. If you are like me and have been shooting for many years, it will take a considerable amount of time and effort to replace the old subconscious program with a new one. If you are a new archer, you have the advantage of learning a more efficient method from the beginning. NTS will reduce the chance of injury and allow you to shoot the bow easier and more accurately for longer periods of time. When properly implemented, NTS uses your bone structure in addition to your muscles to give you a steadier, more consistent shot. If you don’t know what NTS is, feel free to message me and I will gladly share more information.
I am available to do virtual coaching and when our country gets back to normal, I will resume my mobile JoCamps, Women’s Archery for Bowhunters Retreats with Sisterhood of the Outdoors and Shoot Like a Girl, Archery Instructor Training and Seminars. In the mean-time, look for more blog posts, articles, videos and social media posts on Facebook at Joella Bates or @joellasjourney or @JoCamps, YouTube, Instagram and my websites www.jocamps.com or www.joellabatesusa.com. If you want to schedule a virtual coaching session. Email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine the excitement that filled my heart when my 13-year-old daughter, Lilli, hears that I am going goose hunting and says, “I want to go!”
Yes! Finally, a child who is interested in hunting! One out of three isn’t too bad…right??
My expectations were high early that morning as we traveled the 45 minutes to meet our guide, Jared. I met Jared this summer at a banquet on the opposite side of Wyoming. We have kept in touch on social media and when he suggested we hit the goose blinds – my response was simple, “What time do I need to be there?!”
As we drove down the interstate, Lilli and I talked about hunting and she asked questions that I surprisingly was able to answer. Although I consider myself a newbie to hunting, it felt good to be able to share what I have already learned with my daughter.
This is one reason why I became so involved in hunting and fishing so quickly over the last few years…because I knew it was something I wanted to share with my kids. And to do that I needed experience. In order to share what I learn…. I had to do.
We arrived ahead of our 5:45 am meet up time, so we ran into the gas station for snacks and to use the restroom. When kids tag along, making sure their needs are met will go a long way in ensuring an enjoyable day for them and a successful day for yourself. We grabbed snacks and hot chocolate, then headed out to the blinds.
As we unloaded the trailer in the dark, I was surprised how Lilli jumped in and started helping as if she knew exactly what she was doing. Under direction from Jared, we got the decoys set up and the lay down blinds positioned and camouflaged.
Climbing into the blinds as the sun began to peek over the horizon, anticipation of the day’s hunt mounted. Lilli was soaking it all up. As geese approached Jared began calling, and you could see how much he loved doing this. His enthusiasm in calling, the knowledge he shared, his patience with his pup, Bella…we were witnessing someone doing what he was born to do.
It was perfect. It was a beautiful morning and we were learning from an amazing guide. I peeked over at Lilli, expecting to see an excited smile and anticipation in her eyes.
She was asleep.
Dead to the world asleep.
I just laughed to myself and thought, “So this is what it’s like to hunt with kids…” I adjusted my position and readied my shotgun. She wouldn’t sleep for long…the geese were starting to circle overhead.
It was a great day, as any day hunting usually is. We knocked some geese down and let some fly to see another day. I learned a lot; the biggest lesson being that I need more experience and practice with a shotgun. But mostly, I was grateful I was able to hunt and learn from a friend and share the experience with my daughter.
Shredded Goose Street Tacos
Showing my kids where their food comes from is important to me. So, involving them in preparing the harvest in the kitchen is equally important. Lilli prepped all the ingredients going into this recipe, and then we cooked it low and slow to ensure tender, shredded goose.
4 lbs. goose breast
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 chipotle chilis with sauce (added heat)
1 small white onion, quartered
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c fresh squeezed lime juice
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground clove
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 c beef stock
Small “street taco” shells
Serve with avocado slices, diced white onion, lime wedges, Cotija cheese, and cilantro
In a food processor add garlic, chilis, onion, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, bay leaves, paprika, clove, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and beef stock.
Mix on high until the ingredients are combined.
Lay goose breasts in a slow cooker and cover with mixture.
Cook on high for 6-8 hours. If you are using a pressure cooker, 1-2 hours.
Pull meat out of sauce and shred. Once shredded, spoon sauce over meat to maintain moisture. More sauce can be added to prepared tacos.
To each street taco, add shredded meat, avocado, onion, Cotija cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
Hunting season is over. Winter is in full swing. Cabin fever has set in. Ever wonder how you’ll survive the rest of a long, cold, gloomy winter? Do you and your four legged friend crave some crisp Winter air? If you can relate to any of these statements, shed hunting might just be for you!
I started shed training and hunting with my Labs about 2 years ago. We were all feeling cooped up and needed to burn off some energy. What better way to do that, than a walk in the woods!
Shed hunting, in my opinion, is pretty simple. I believe you can train any breed of dog to find sheds for you. From Retrievers, to Poodles, and Border Collies, and everything in between, it can be done!
Here are some easy tips for you to get started:
• Make it fun for your pooch! I reccomend using a shed you already have, or you can purchase one online, or at most outdoor retail stores. Start by introducing the antler shed to your dog. Let him sniff it out, and hold it in his mouth. Praise your dog and get them amped up as if they just did the best thing imaginable.
• Start in your yard and play some good old fashioned fetch with Fido. I always associate a word or phrase with the antler. Some people use, “hunt it up”, “find it”, “shed”, or “bone”. You can use any phrase or word you want. This just helps the dog associate the phrase with what task you want him to go out and do for you.
• Once your dog gets the hang of it, start hiding, or planting a shed when hes not looking. Use your word or phrase and put Fido to the test! I wouldnt recommend planting a shed in a crazy spot. Think of where a big whitetail goes. Sometimes antlers drop in the middle of a field, bottom of a tree, along a fence line, even on the edge of a trail, just for some ideas. Don’t make it complicated, and most importantly, don’t forget to praise your pooch for every time they find a shed.
• Lastly, hit the woods, stay consistent, and have fun! It’s as simple as that. Oh, and dress warm! You wont always go out and find sheds, but you’ll never know what you’ll find or see by sitting on the couch. I usually take a shed out with me and plant it for my dogs as a reward for them. This will keep them interested and motivated to keep hunting for more.
I have really enjoyed introducing this sport to my furry friends, and they love it too. Since I started 2 years ago, we have been actively competing in both N.A.S.H.D.A. and UKC Elite Shed Dog Trials. It’s fun for the whole family, and what better way to take in the great outdoors, and stay conditioned during the off season.
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, I ended 2018 with a real bang!
This year I had the opportunity of becoming part of an awesome women’s outdoor group called The Sisterhood Of The Outdoors. It has really opened a lot of opportunities for me to get outdoors and enjoy more hunts that I would probably never have had the confidence to experience without these ladies. I’ve been able to meet several other members of the group with various backgrounds and experiences in hunting. These ladies inspire me and help educate me daily.
In the last couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed dove hunting with my friends, so I knew that this year I wanted to try some other types of bird hunting. As I looked through the Sisterhood’s schedule of hunts, I decided to book my first-ever duck hunt. It was being hosted by Amy Ray, our president, and would take place the last weekend of the year in Arkansas at Bust-A-Duck Guide Service. We would also be joined by Lana Van Winkle, the Sisterhood’s hunt coordinator and world-champion duck caller, and Barbara Baird, publisher of Women’s Outdoor News.
As I prepared for my weekend in Arkansas, I was filled with emotions of excitement, but also a little bit of anxiety not knowing what to expect. All of my worries would shortly subside as we arrived at the lodge and began to meet the guides and other hunters staying for the weekend. Luckily, Amy and I arrived a little early, so we were able to enjoy the evening sunset that cascaded over the far tree line. The lodge sits on a river bank – with a fire pit going and food ready to grill. We had heard the rumors that the ducks were scarce, but I still had high hopes that I would get my first duck before the weekend would end.
Our first morning in the blinds, our guide Matt and our girl Lana, started calling out hoping to get the ducks’ attention. My eyes were peeled to the sky, just hoping for some of the ducks to take our bait, but unfortunately, we just wouldn’t have any luck. The ducks were flying high or not flying at all.
The second day was by far my favorite day there. We started our morning in Arkansas, in the flooded timbers, where I was praying for an opportunity at a beautiful wood duck. After a while with no ducks, we quickly changed plans and decided to pack up and head to Mississippi. Buster Cooper, the owner of Bust-A-Duck, was our guide for the day, and he had heard that some of the farms he hunts in Mississippi were loaded with ducks. He wanted to give us the best opportunity not to leave skunked, so we headed out to try our luck. We purchased our Mississippi hunting licenses online, as we motored toward the state line.
As we arrived at the pond in Mississippi, thousands of ducks took off and landed in the pond at the farm just beside us. I wish one of us had videoed that moment, because it was breathtaking and had me dancing with excitement!
The trip to Mississippi was all worth it as we had our first group of ducks land in our decoys! I stood up out of the blind, had my eyes locked on one, and began to shoot. When I saw it fall into the water, I threw my hands in air like I had just scored! I just knew I was the one that hit it and thankfully, Buster saw it as well and could confirm it was my shot. Sometimes, when bird hunting, it can be difficult to know just who hit a bird when so many others are shooting. Knowing that I had finally got my first duck was the best feeling! I waited for Lady, our retriever, to bring back the duck so I could see and hold it. It was a beautiful green-wing teal and I was so grateful for that moment. As I held my duck, I had the biggest smile on my face. We may not have stacked up ducks, but the fact that I was able to leave with my first duck ever, would make the trip a success in my eyes. I am hooked and ready for my next duck hunt, whenever that may be.
After we got back home from our trip, I immediately contacted Shane Smith, World Champion bird taxidermist, so I could take him my teal. I know there will be several months before I get it back, but I can’t wait to display it on my “wall of adventures,” as I like to refer to it.
I have a motto I picked up along my journey in life and it’s to stick with winners. If you surround yourself with people who enspire you and make life joyful you can accomplish anything. A little over a year ago, I found myself trying to create a business plan that would help me share my love of the outdoors with others. I was invited to my friend Karen’s rustic cabin on her new hunting land just to hang out and toss around some ideas for my business. I jumped at the chance to pick her brain. The front porch of a rustic cabin in the woods is the best place to be for inspiration. We spent time checking game cameras and scouting the new property. When we took a break, we got out our notebooks and brain stormed.
I am forever grateful for her words of wisdom and enthusiasm for my vision. Within a few hours I was so stoked about the business ideas we generated just by talking and scribbling on paper. This is how The Sisterhood of The Outdoors came to be what it is today. I still have those scribbles on paper and when I get lost or go off on the wrong path, I come back to the original vision. I wrote a mission statement that day to create something that would empower other women to get outdoors and learn to hunt, shoot and fish. The plan included how I would present the brand to the world, logos, colors, the look and feel of what the brand means to me. I was so energized after that day on the porch I couldn’t wait to get home and get busy. Nothing happens if you don’t put your words in to action. I immediately began the search for the perfect logo, colors and branding ideas. I developed a media kit and devised a strategy to grow the company. I look back on one year and I am amazed at how far we have come. I can’t say I did it alone. As I look back on the entire year I can name so many women who helped create this business. From the marketing press releases, the web design, the media kit and even the logo wear, all were done by women. So many times, today you see other women playing out drama against one another on social media and the news. I think this story is one that needs to be told. Not all women are engaged in tearing others down, many are there to support and empower one another. It truly is amazing what can be accomplished when we support one another. There was always a supportive atmosphere around all the hunts I have taken over the years with women. It’s something I can’t explain with words, it must be experienced. The memories I have created with my staff and my guest are blessings. My entire life has been enriched by other women. We need strong women; may we be them and may we raise them…. Raise them in The Sisterhood of The Outdoors.