Creating Moments of Belonging with Beretta

The ladies with the Limits!

Creating Moments of Belonging with Beretta 

By Amy Ray                                                      

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  We are so glad a few of our guest took the first steps to learn to duck hunt on our annual women’s waterfowl event at Bust-A-Duck Guide Service in Arkansas.  Sometimes taking that first step can lead to feelings of fear and not belonging.  To help us with our goal of creating moments of belonging we partnered with Beretta USA to provide our guest with top-of-the-line shotguns.  Our event featured the Beretta A300 Ultima and the Beretta A400 Xtreme plus shotguns in 12 gauge.  Having Beretta support our new women waterfowlers means the world to us.  Our programs grow stronger with partners who believe in women hunters. 

We were so excited the first day to open the boxes and get the guns ready to shoot.  We start all our events with a safety brief and question session.  These ladies were eager to get their hands on the guns, so we immediately went to shoot some clays.  We had a mix of some experience to zero experience.   It’s great to see the light in their eyes and smiles on their faces when they bust that first clay.  We took this opportunity to answer questions and to prepare them for what to expect in the duck blinds.  We take seriously the safety of our guest, guides, and dogs while hunting.  And what a great opportunity to start these new hunters off right with duck blind etiquette and gun safety in the field.

The evening of learning didn’t stop with shooting lessons.  We had the pleasure of learning to duck call with three times world champion Lana Van Winkle.  We were gifted calls from Echo calls, one of the best in the industry.  Thank goodness we had a fully guided hunt because not many of us sounded much like a real duck.  We were, however, intrigued, and excited to wake up to our first day afield. 

Bust-A-Duck has been our waterfowl partner for 9 years.  The guides are so willing to slow down, answer questions and make anyone feel comfortable for their first-time hunting.  Having no expectations makes it fun to share what it’s like to go afield in the dark and set up a spread and get hunkered down for the hunt.  Each guest had a Beretta to take afield.  We were able to separate into smaller groups of three and four to make the learning experience more personal.  We believe that personal interaction is what creates the best learning experience. 

The first day was tough, there were no new ducks around for late December.  But this also became a blessing in disguise.  We were able to share more tips and tricks during the slower duck movement.  Each group managed to bring in a few ducks.  We would be the first to admit we would have more if we could shoot better.  The only way to get better is to keep shooting.  The Beretta shotguns worked flawlessly and after one day in the blind most of the girls were hooked and asking how to get one for themselves. 

Day two became an action-packed goose hunt.  As a group the entire lodge set out on a huge spread set by the guides for a goose hunt.  More guns, more geese right! Heck yeah, we were all about it.  We limited out on specklebelly and snows.  The guides were so awesome, when one shot was left for the last limit, they let the youngest shooter take it.  We tagged our game and headed in for some afternoon fun exploring the area.  Of course, we took our obligatory trip to Mack’s Prairie Wings.  You can’t go to Arkansas to duck hunt and not stop in at Mack’s. 

For our last morning hunt the fog rolled in so thick that we could hardly see where the guides were taking us.  It was a moment of pure dependance on the experts.  The sound of snow geese all around and not one we could see.  The sounds of geese everywhere had our heads on swivel and our eyes working overtime to try and see them through the fog.  The thick fog helped us to be extra sneaky in our efforts to get inside our blinds and set out some decoys.  But what it also did was make it hard to spot birds flying into our hole until they breeched the fog and were suddenly on top of us.  Limits were reached on both ducks and geese on day three.  The pack and ride out was still in low visibility but much less concerning or noticeable in the daylight.  As we raced back to the lodge in our side by side, we were high fiving the end of a great experience shared together in the outdoors. 

I have been waterfowl hunting with Bust-A-Duck for nine years now.  Sisterhood Outdoors has a standing date for an after Christmas holiday hunt.  Over the years we have hunted with women from all over the USA.   These moments of belonging are not possible without partners like Beretta, who help build our program and help us deliver a great experience.  We strive to have partners that believe in progress for women hunters, believe in teaching and safety and have the commitment we share to improve outdoor experiences for women.   Everyone belongs in the outdoors, and we thank Beretta USA for help us create this amazing moment of belonging.  If you want more information on Beretta Shotguns, we would love to help you choose your next gun.  Contact us at


Sisterhood Outdoors: A Place for Everyone

For ten years we have been staying true to our mission: to create opportunities for women to hunt, shoot and fish.  Many of our guests ask the question, “If I have no experience, should I go on one of your trips?”  The answer is always a resounding YES! We have a field staff member that hosts each of our events and we are committed to sharing our experience with everyone.  We pride ourselves on being open to all women no matter your age or level of experience.

In a time in our country where we seem to be more divided than together it is so important to build on what we have in common.  Regardless of your race, sexual orientation, age, or level of experience you are welcome to hunt with Sisterhood Outdoors.  It is my goal to strive to make everyone feel welcome.  Our team is one of the most diverse teams in the industry.  We come from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences – that is what makes us stronger together.  I love the fact that we can pull up to a lodge or event and know that we are about to share the experience of the outdoors.  The people we meet are the reason we do what we do.  Having friends from around the country that share their lives with me only enriches mine.  It may look like we are just hunting but there is so much more to it than that.  We do not care how you take your game or what size you harvest.  We only care that we got to experience it along with you.

My favorite part of hosting events is meeting others who love the outdoors or want to learn. It takes courage to head out on your own to meet new friends and try something new.  Courage always comes easier when you are part of a group.  Many times, even I have felt the butterflies and anxiety when I head out to host a new group.  The best part about meeting others is learning their perspective and life experiences.  You never know what someone is going through or when someone needs encouragement.  I am always happy to share my experience with others and I keep in mind that we have one thing in common to build on: the love of the outdoors.

No LimitsMy life is richer for having met each person and shared personal experiences of joy, hardship, and disappointment along the way.  At Sisterhood Outdoors we believe you must give it away to keep it.  I have shared hunting camps with some amazing women over the years.  I must believe I made an impact on the recruitment, retention, and reintroduction of many hunters along this journey.  I know for sure my list of hunting friends is a long one and they are from all walks of life.  There is something so special about sitting around the campfire at the end of long hard day hunting or sharing a duck blind or even stalking game all day on a mountain with likeminded women.

I want to encourage you to invite someone different than you, or someone less experienced than you to hunting, fishing, or shooting.  We cannot afford to miss an opportunity to unite doing what we love.  The one thing we have in common is time, and there is not enough of it.  If fear is what is keeping you from joining a group of women in the outdoors do not let it!  FEAR is just “False Events Appearing Real”.  Do not be afraid of failure, or of the unknown, or of rejection.   We promise at Sisterhood Outdoors everyone is welcome, and we will support you all the way.  My years of meeting total strangers in the outdoors has boosted my own confidence.  My circle of friends is always growing, and it is very enriching.  The standards we uphold to create fun safe events are high and number one on the list is “everyone is welcome”.  There are no dumb questions, we will answer anything you need.  I encourage you to reach out to us if you are hesitant to learn a new skill or want to book an event and are unsure what to expect.   Let us take time to get to know each other and share our love of the outdoors.


Ready for Duty – Weatherby Accuguard 6.5-300

My Weatherby Vanguard Accuguard 6.5-300 Magnum rifle is ready for duty.  I love opening a box with a brand-new rifle in it!  It is a beautiful sight full of hunting expectations.  The 6.5-300 Accuguard has a 26-inch, fluted, #3-contour barrel and weighs 8 pounds.  I prefer a rifle with a little bit of weight on it and I normally shoot from shooting sticks or a rest of some kind. This is a high-quality rifle with a smooth bolt and durable stock.

Getting the new rifle is just the beginning; what comes next is the work.  The work of outfitting your rifle with a scope and choosing the perfect ammunition.  For my Weatherby 6.5-300, the ammunition part came easy.  Introduced in 2016, the 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum is the fastest production 6.5mm there is.  It shoots faster, flatter, and harder than other 6.5 mm loads.  These amazing attributes get me excited about the long-range capabilities of this load.  I choose the 140 grain VLD hunting round from Weatherby, as I plan to elk hunt with this rifle.

Choosing a scope was next in the set-up process.  This was a no brainer, I chose a Leupold VX5 HD 3- 15 x 44 mm CDS -ZL2.  This scope has the versatility I need for all kinds of hunting scenarios.  My goal for this gun is to be able to shoot within 100 yards and out to 500+ yards.  Once I had the scope on and the ammunition ready, I began the break in process and dialed in the scope.  These things take time.  I recommend purchasing a rifle at least a month or even two months before you plan to use it to hunt.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to know it and dial it in.  I cannot stress enough the importance of putting in the practice time at the range before you take a rifle hunting.

The range I use (Dead Zero Shooting Park) has an electronic feedback target at 100 yards, steel plates at 200 and 300 yards and another electronic feedback target at 600 yards.  No one is allowed down range to check a target.   For this reason, I started on the 100 yards target.  Using a ballistic chart, I calculated the placement on the 100 yards target for a 200 yard zero.  Once I was center on the 100 and the correct inches high for my shot, I let the barrel cool before my next shot at 200 yards.  Cooled and ready I fired at the 200 yards steel.  The ping sound on the target really builds confidence.  Once at 200 and center I gave the barrel another few minutes to cool down and set my scope for 300 yards.  That second Ping really got my heart going, I could do that all day.  At this point I reset the dial to zero stop at 300 yards.  From there I used my chart to dial MOA to 600 yards.  And bam, just like that I was hitting targets at 600 yards in a kill zone.  Three times for good groups.  I was impressed with my grouping and the ability to accurately move from one range to another without issues.  I had one bad shot the entire time and I knew I pulled and raised my head quick.  I called that one operator error and took a break.  The reason I chose the 300 yard zero is the shear speed of the 6.5-300 magnum.  The muzzle velocity is 3315 fps and ballistic coefficient is 0.600 for my 140 grain VLD hunting bullet.   With that fast a shot I need a longer zero for accuracy.

At this point I have two choices: make a chart for my gun, and use it hunting or order the custom dial. I have my dial set for zero at 300 yards and my next range visit I will be adding the CDS (custom dial system) from Leupold. I have been using the Leupold custom dials on my rifles for a few years now and I find it very convenient.  The zero stop will be 300 and the dial can be set for accurate temperature and elevation in yards.  I am also in the habit of dialing back to zero stop after every hunt to ensure If I move quickly on a spot and stalk I always know I am starting from zero and don’t forget to dial my yardage.  It has become second nature for me to range, dial and shoot in that order.  I will say that I feel spoiled by the custom dial, and I must work harder to study the ballistics of my loads.  The ease of use of the Leupold dial system is a game changer for anyone wanting to learn to shoot farther and be accurate.  It just takes the work done at the range to make it perfect.

I am looking forward to this season hunting trips and taking my Weatherby Accuguard 6.5-300 afield.  In the meantime, you will find me at the range practicing and enjoying the sound of PING on steel.  Now that the work is done, I have a reliable, accurate total hunting system.


Guns of The Sisterhood of the Outdoors

The Weatherby Element® 12-gauge synthetic shotgun went on tour with us this season as we showcased the gun on our annual waterfowl hunts. It did not disappoint! The first things I noticed out of the box were the grip and feel of the gun; they were flawless.

The Weatherby Element® is an inertia operated, semi-automatic shotgun that has the signature fit and finish one would expect from the high standards of Weatherby. The performance was impeccable. I immediately noticed the smooth action and cycling of shells; the gun was tough, and able to handle countless shells cycling in harsh conditions. It came with a selection of chokes for all types of hunting and shooting and I especially liked the natural fit of the Griptonite stock.

If you have ever shared a blind with a group of hunters, you know it’s hard to tell who took the game. I was amazed at a few of the clean-up, far away shots that rang true in the goose blind. The gun was impressive when shooting so many rounds and it packed a hard punch as we had very few cripples. I cycled many different brands of shells through the season and never had a single issue.

The guests on our waterfowl hunts got to test it out and each one loved the swing of the barrel and accuracy of the shots. I used the extended modified long-range steel choke for our annual goose hunt, and it proved to be spot on. I made shots on game that would have seemed out of range on previous hunts with great success. The Weatherby Element® Synthetic comes in 12 and 20 gauge with either a 26- or a 28-inch barrel. The gun has amazing balance and shoots smooth.  We are certain it will become a favorite in our collection!


Turkey Hunt Ends with Turkey Sandwich

The turkeys are winning! I mean “winning” like the way President Trump says “winning.” They are the smartest bird that I’ve ever called “stupid bird.” Here’s why:

We arrived at our mountain property Friday and set up camp on the very top right at the corner boundary line. We had an amazing tent, campfire and sunset view – best turkey camp I’ve ever had. Completely unplugged and off the grid, which was much needed. I am sure you can relate.

We were setting up the campfire for grilling about half hour before sunset and we heard him! A tom was gobbling his way to the roost. I don’t mean a couple gobbles; I’m talking “let the world know I’m here,” gobbles. The worst part was that he was across the boundary. The best part was we knew where he was come sunup! Hearing that tom go to roost got my hopes up and I could barely sleep, waiting on sunrise.

Prior to this trip, we had been investigating the area of the property where turkeys tend to hang out. When I say investigated, I mean full-blown, FBI, all-over-it investigated. We had turkey tracks, turkey poop, turkey scratching and feather dusting all identified and placed in the hunting file. We knew where we wanted to set up a blind and a couple decoys and we had that done ahead of time.

The Hunt

With all that excitement for opening morning, you would think I could have managed to get up in time. Nope, I was sleeping hard when the alarm went off and (of course) hit snooze. What was 10 more minutes? Heck, it wasn’t sunrise for 1 more hour. I slowly got dressed. Hubby helped get the stove ready for some amazing percolated coffee. I got the coffee on the stove and we waited patiently for the perk to start. While waiting, I laced up my snake boots and realized the sun was about to offer up some light 30 minutes earlier than we planned. I panicked. Do I stay and get coffee or turn it off and get to the blind? Yep, we shut off the stove, left the amazing brew on the tailgate of the truck and hurried off to beat sunrise. We really didn’t beat it; we messed up big time. I’m not sure I will trust the timing on my weather app for local sunrise again!

All settled in the blind, we began to call … nothing. About an hour into our sit, we heard 1, but he was off in the holler. If you don’t know the hills of Tennessee, a holler is a valley between all the Rocky Tops of Tennessee. This bird gobbled once, and we got our hopes up. A few minutes later we heard it, boom! No more gobbles, but we were not deterred. We stayed a while longer and called some more to no avail.

At this point, I’m in full blown caffeine withdrawal and I knew there was coffee waiting for me. By mid-morning I had enough and needed to convince my husband we should hunt our way back to camp. Once I offered up hot coffee and some eggs, he was game. We walked back slowly calling and checking for the sounds of a bird. Still nothing.

We made it back to camp and I started up the stove. Never watch a coffee pot in hopes it will perk! It never happens a quick enough so just don’t look at it. Finally, we had scrambled eggs and hot coffee. Coffee cooked on a camp stove is my favorite; I call it cowboy coffee. I knew I could survive a few more hours hunting. We went back out with a different strategy. I took the blind and he walked the woods.

A few hours later, it was hot, there weren’t any birds and I was over it. We met back at camp to regroup. What’s plan B? We decided to ride to town for lunch because it was too hot to nap in our tent. We wanted to scout the area roads out anyways, so why not. Country rides in a pickup are always a good idea. We found our way to a drive-thru restaurant where I ordered the turkey sandwich. It made me feel like I was “winning.” I still ate turkey, just not one from the mountain.

Turkey hunting is hard work. Stay after them. That’s all we can do. And if you hunt and love it then you know the reward is in the experience. I call that “winning,” too.

Add to cart