Author: Lee Ann McQuillin
Now is the perfect time for a woman to join the outdoors and begin preparing for their new adventure. Before I get started I'd like to share a little bit about myself. My name is Lee Ann McQuillin. I am 29 years old from West Monroe, Louisiana. (The Sportsman's Paradise). I began my outdoor journey at the age of 12. I remember waiting on my dad to come home from his hunting trips with his "big" buck and listening to his stories. I wanted to be just like him. I told my dad I wanted to go hunting with him and he said "son, when you turn twelve years old and you still want to go hunting, then I will take you." As soon as I turned twelve I quickly reminded my dad about his twelve year old rule. He took me to my pawpaw's to teach me how to shoot a gun (scared my mom to death) and then signed me up for hunter's education. I was so proud when I passed the course and couldn't wait to go hunting. After my first harvest I fell in love and the rest is history. I was lucky enough to have a father who hunted, fished, and most importantly was willing to show up to deer camp with “the girl." I was always the only female at the hunting camp and none of my girlfriends hunted. I never cared because I was just so excited to be with my dad outdoors.
I may have had a bit of a head start, but you don't have to. With the amount of technology we have these days you have everything you need right at your fingertips. If you are reading this, then you must have some interest in getting started in the outdoors. So let’s begin with some very basic how to's. A Great starting point for someone beginning their outdoor journey is to contact your local Game and Fish department. These departments manage our natural resources and are often times much more helpful than given credit for. Find out first about the next hunting education program and sign yourself up. This is required in most states to be able to obtain a hunting license and is a great starting point for building a foundation of safety and basic hunting information. This course will teach you how to safely handle and shoot a firearm. Step number one in every hunter’s priorities should be safety.
When deciding to try something new it is always a great idea to seek out people who are already accomplished at the things you intend on doing. In this case you should seek out a mentor. If your spouse or a family member hunts, then you're already ahead. If not, then go to a local outdoors store and spend some time speaking to the staff. Get a general idea of the people you're talking to. If the person seems to be informed and has a good moral conduct, then explain to them that you're trying to get started in the outdoors. With some pretty basic conversation these people should be able to point you in the direction of where to start in your area. It's a great way to learn about potential gear, locations, information on season dates, and answer a lot of beginner questions.
Gear, Gadgets etc. This can be a touchy subject. Every hunter has their own opinion on what’s the best gun, scope, clothing line, bow, trail camera, etc. Most hunting will take place during early fall and through the winter. That means for the majority of the time it is going to be cold and possibly wet. Figure out what all types of hunting you want to do and what time of year the season dates are. For example, our dove season is during warmer weather while whitetail is during fall and winter. Do some research before you buy gear. Try your best to seek products out at a local retailer where you can try products on for comfort and fit. Speak to the staff about their experience and don't be afraid to ask for help. Clothes are very important. A cold and uncomfortable hunter will find themselves back at home or camp very shortly.
Fishing goes along the same lines. Fishing season mainly starts during Turkey season and last through the summer. Don’t have a boat? No problem! There are endless bank fishing opportunities and small paddle kayaks that are light enough for one person to carry. You might even know someone with a pond in their yard. These are normally great places for beginners with easy access and tons of fish. Local tackle shops are going to be eager to help you with affordable gear, clothing, and locations. Don't forget to protect yourself from the elements. Long Sleeve fishing shirts, sunscreen, and a heavy dose of tick and mosquito spay are all necessities.
Now we can't forget what the most important part is. Wild game and fish are some of the best tasting meat and completely organic. A lot of people are starting to get into the outdoors for this very reason. There is something special about knowing where your food comes from and you won’t be disappointed with how it taste. You do have to be careful when dealing with wild game. Please spend time researching the proper ways to handle, cook, and consume wild game. It is just like any meat you buy at the grocery store. An ill prepared meal that was improperly handled from the time it was harvested to the time you consume it could negatively impact your experience and discourage your mindset before ever getting started.
From the time I started hunting until now I have seen a huge increase in women in the outdoors. Women's line of gear has exploded over the past few years. There is really no better time to get started than today. Don't let the unknown you face today keep you from trying something new. The woods and water could be your new place to go to relax, wind down, and get away from the fast paced world we live in. The time I have spent and memories made in the outdoors have truly been the best. The friendships that are made are life long, personal, and hard to even describe. Even better when the whole family is involved and you get to share these special moments with your children and/or significant other. There is something extra special about spending time in the outdoors and watching the world awaken at daybreak. The sights, sounds, and experiences can only be understood by others who share the passion.
Remember the key to success is to practice and always be kind, respectful, passionate and encouraging.