Fish & Game Workshop Teaches Women Outdoor Winter Skills

Jan 9, 2015

The "Becoming and Outdoors Woman" workshop from 2014.
Credit N.H. Fish & Game

Winter is most certainly upon us, so it’s an ideal time to brush up on some popular cold-weather outdoor activities.

New Hampshire Fish & Game, in cooperation with the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, is offering a workshop next month for just that purpose. There’s training on everything from ice fishing to tracking wildlife on snowshoes to basic winter outdoor survival skills.

But here’s the twist: The program is for women only.

The “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” workshop will be held February 14.

Tina Davenport helps to run the program, and joined Morning Edition to talk about it.

So why the focus on women?

In 1991, it was found by the University of Wisconsin at Stephen’s Point that women are generally interested in doing all of this, but they don’t really have the opportunity to do it, or they’re fearful or they don’t have the equipment or they don’t have somebody to teach them about it. So in 1991, the University of Wisconsin decided to invite other states to learn about this “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” program and how to put on programs for women.

And so for women who sign up for the workshop, what can they expect to learn? What’s the day like?

It depends on what topic they’re taking. We are offering ice fishing, winter survival, snowshoeing and shooting, snowshoeing and tracking, and snowmobiling. So if they choose ice fishing, in the morning time, they go out to our facility. They’re inside for the morning and they learn all about what to expect, different types of fish and fish habitat. Then at 10:30 they board a bus and go to Lake Pemigiwassit and they’ll be greeted by more instructors who will help them be successful in catching fish for the day.

The state has actually been offering these types of women-specific outdoor programs for some time. How much interest is there? What kinds of numbers are we talking about?

They’ve been offering the program for the past 20 years as a fall program, and the last 12 years as a winter program. The interest is phenomenal. Our course is usually filled up within the first couple of days. We have 140 women come to our fall workshop, which is a three-day weekend on Squam Lake. They are offered 38 different classes over that weekend having to do with hunting and fishing and a few other classes. In the winter, we offer it to 72 women and that’s always full.

Typically, I would imagine you see beginners come out to this. Do you see some that are coming to brush up on skills, as well?

We have a wide range of women that sign up. Some are coming for the very first time. We try to get them out there and be successful in the skills that they’re learning that weekend. Other than that, there are others coming to brush up on their skills to hone them so they feel confident when they’re going out.

The other thing that’s nice about our workshop is that it’s a real networking opportunity for women to find other women with similar interests. We’ve found that women actually learn better in the company of other women.