Women excel at outdoor sports

WOMEN HUNTERS is one of the fastest growing segments of outdoor sports.  For those who already have had the bug bite them and learned how much fun can be derived from securing additional food for the home, taking wild game birds or big game animals adds to the stock of highly nutritious meats.  Wild game meat is flavorful, easy to digest and healthy. And there are many excellent cookbooks specifically aimed at the proper ways to prepare venison.

Iowa DNR programs are many.  One of them is specifically tailored for women and it goes by the name BOW, Becoming an Outdoor Woman. Workshops are scheduled  periodically at Springbrook State Park’s Conservation Education Center near Guthrie Center.  Classes are over for this year, but they will resume again next year.

BOW is an international program aimed primarily at women, but is open fro anyone 18 years or older to learn outdoor skills usually associated with fishing or hunting, but still useful for many outdoor pursuits.  The initial start for BOW was in 1991 through an offering at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  Their first workshop filled to capacity and proved its worth.  Since then, more than 40 states have adopted the BOW program. Combined, those states offer more than 80 weekend-long workshops across North America that enable 20,000 women an exciting opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of others and have fun learning.

Iowa’s first BOW workshop was in 1994. They have not missed a fall workshop since that time, enrolling ladies in skill learning tasks of many options. Fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, hunting, target shooting, fly tying, motor boating, orienteering, GPS navigation over unfamiliar terrain, map reading, nature photography, birdwatching, archery, muzzle loading rifle shooting, trap shooting, Dutch oven cooking, dog handling, backpacking are on the list. There are more skill set than these. But you get the picture, lots to do and lots to learn and lots of fun in the process. Evening programs at a workshop include special speakers and entertainment.

Participant reviews make for interesting reading. For instance, these quotes: “Knowledgeable instructors, friendly and patient!” –48-year-old student.  “Enjoyable! Nobody makes you feel like a dummy.” — 47-year-old accountant.  “This year I brought two friends and it was great to see them enjoy BOW as much as I do” — 40-year-old occupational therapist. “I learned new skills and had a stress free weekend.” — 30-year-old chemist. “My favorite part was being with a large group of women, meeting new people, close knit feeling.” — 24-year-old genetic researcher.

To learn more about BOW, Iowa DNR contacts are Julie Sparks at Julie.sparks@dnr.iowa.gov or call 515-281-6159. Another person to ask questions of is Rachel Ladd at 515-729-6037 or send an e-mail to her at Rachel.Ladd@dnr.iowa.gov

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Men and women who like to go afield for hunting activities have a huge impact nationally.  The choices they make drive sales of a large array of items from travel, lodging, clothing, supplies, guns, ammo, bows and arrows, fishing tackle and more. Hunters and target shooters have paid more than $7.2 billion in excise taxes through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act since its passage in 1937.  In just one day, men and women contribute $8 million to support wildlife and wildlife agencies.  And this note:  An average hunter spends $2,484 every year on their avocations in the outdoors.

Here are some more facts and figures to contemplate:  Teenage girls are the fastest growing market in sport shooting.  Research has shown that 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago.  And 50 percent more women are now target shooting.  Hunting time summaries show 282 million days per year are dedicated to hunts. Licenses purchased and special tags or stamps are the backbone of financial stability for most conservation programs for wildlife and fisheries agencies.  Thirty eight million Americans hunt and fish. and those pursuits help employ and support more than 680,000 jobs. More than 1 billion shotgun shells are purchased every year.  And finally, the top selling sporting goods items are, in order, exercise equipment, then gold gear and third, hunting gear. Hunting overall brought in more revenue ($38.3 billion) than Google ($37.9 billion) or Goldman Sachs Group ($36.8 billion).

The source for the above data and facts is from the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Hunting and Fishing Day survey.  Impressive stuff indeed.

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IOWA DNR officials want deer hunters to pay closer attention to the legal requirement to register deer and turkey harvests.  At this time, it is about 80 percent or four out of five that comply.  One out of five is not paying attention to this important item. A deer or turkey harvest is not really finished when the animal is down. Paperwork must be completed by mid-night of the next day.  Without this simple and quick item, a possible citation from a game warden is possible. Comply with the law or find out later how expensive it really can become to attempt to cheat the system.

Deer herd management, the entire population of white-tailed deer in Iowa, is a complicated process built on surveys and harvest data.  For trend lines to have value and meaning that is not biased, facts and hard data are needed.  Hunter, most of them, at least 80 percent, do comply and thereby assist biologists and upland wildlife or forest wildlife managers in accurate assessments of populations. Eighty percent is good, but not good enough.  Hunters can do better. Hunters help conservation by complying with all license requirements, following the rules and regulations and finally, contributing citizen science to the equation by completing harvest tag reporting.

Conservation officers are conducting spot checks for harvest reporting compliance. And tickets have been issued for failure to attend to this one-minute-long task.  Chris Ensminger, wildlife research supervisor with the Iowa DNR says “harvest numbers are an important piece of information used in our models for deer populations around the state.  If harvest is higher than is what is being reported, the proposed management strategies reflect what is on the ground. It is the local hunters who get short changed in the end.” In other words, pun intended, those that do not comply with the law are figuratively shooting themselves in the foot. And later if they wonder why all the doe deer tags for a county sold out so quickly, (because there actually could have been more tags allotted), they will have no one to blame except themselves. Let us get it right, comply with the regulation and law to register deer and turkey harvests.  Thanks.

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As of mid week, reported DEER HARVEST numbers statewide are a tad over 23,000. Marshall County hunters lay claim to 136 deer, 44 does and 88 bucks and 4 button bucks.  Only three wild turkeys have been reported for Marshall.  Allamakee County showed 691 deer and 11 turkeys. Clayton County is in the lead with 896 deer and 15 turkeys.  Counties with much less habitat due to their geographical locations report far fewer deer just because the habitat for wildlife is not available.

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THANKSGIVING holiday is fast approaching in just four days time.  With all the busy schedules of this time of year, Christmas related shopping and preparations are underway in a big way.  First off, Christ is the reason for Christmas.  Second, keeping point number one in mind, do enjoy the season in a reasonable way.  My advice, buy a Christmas tree at our local Izaak Walton League. Sales begin on Nov.  25, a Friday, and on the the 26th and 27th.  Weekends only are sales dates from then on, December 3-4, 10-11, and rounding out on Dec 17-18.  Hours for tree sales are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the above noted days.  Cost is $35 per tree.  This is a select and cut your own tree experience.  The Ikes have lots of trees, some tall, and they encourage folks to come early, get a tall tree and use just the top 6 or 7 feet of the tree to fit in your home. If you have a tall ceiling home, just go with a tall tree.  The Ikes ground is located two miles south of Iowa Avenue on Smith Avenue, the southeast side of Marshalltown. Help support Ikes conservation programs by your purchase of a real tree. Just do it.

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“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

— Robert Collier, writer

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Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at P.O. Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.