Wisconsin Trails Feb 2010 : Page 46
Some BOW participants have been long at ease in camouflage; others, like Monica Goze of Kenosha (above), are of the pink parka set. Here Goze gets acquainted with the dog team that Steve and Corky Severson of Mindoro brought to Treehaven natural resources center for the dogsledding workshop. father was willing to teach me,” says Christine Thomas, BOW founder, who was the oldest child in her family and had no brothers. Thomas says that women who don’t have that influence from a father, brother or husband are less likely to feel comfortable about outdoor pursuits. “From day one, BOW has offered a broad range of activities that ap- peal to women, without the intimidation of having to live up to a family member’s expectation when getting started,” says Thomas, dean of the College of Natural Resources since 2005. So the mix of “non-harvest activities” – like building a quilt rack or learning to snowshoe – with shooting and fishing instruction has been deliberate. Thatmeans BOW attracts a wide mix of women: Some have long been at ease in camouflage attire; others prefer pink parkas. Sensibilities vary in other ways, too, but potentially volatile differences are kept in check. “Be safe, have fun – and no politics,” an instructor advises. “That’s a BOW rule.” Thomas says most of the first BOW participants were middle-aged, white and had an income that could support a hobby like hunting or fish- ing. Today, BOW activities attract a wider demographic, including more young women and scholarships help the low-income participate. The number of women who hunt has increased 75 percent in five years, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, which attri- butes the spike to programs such as BOW and expanded lines of hunting 46 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010 WISCONSIN TRAILS clothes and gear for women. More than 20,000 women attend at least one of 80 BOW events per year, and for some the experience will be a life-changer. Asserts Peggy Farrell, BOW director: “There is something very special about connecting people with nature through nurturing programs like BOW” and subsequent spin-off programs, such as Learn to Hunt and Beyond BOW (intensive instruction and exposure to one topic – deer hunting to fly fishing to sea kayaking).Notes Thomas: “We can teach someone how to paddle a canoe, read a compass, shoot a bow or cook their own meal outdoors – but those things are minor compared to the value of having women come together in a supportive community.We see an increase in self-esteem and confidence as they discover new things about themselves.” Yvonne Esparza, an accountant inWinthrop Harbor, Ill., discov- ered she had a knack for marksmanship. She shot her first .22-caliber rifle at a BOW event and now is a certified instructor. “Before BOW, I had only shot a pellet or BB gun,” she says. For some, BOW becomes a rite of passage.Hunting instructor Tammy Koenig of Fall Creek has harvested more than 70 deer, six wild hogs, five black bears, an alligator and an elk. She wanted to share her passion with her daughter Brittany, who attended her first BOW event with her mom when she turned 18 (the minimumage requirement for registrants).