The Sisterhood 2

Change is contrary to our nature.  We humans mostly like our status quo.  We enjoy some adventure injected now and then, but for the most part we thrive on the familiar and our routines give us a decided level of comfort.  Too many new places and things can be disconcerting.

I have several of those familiar constants.  The most important one for me is my Christian faith.   No matter where I go and no matter what life presents, God is always God.   Another is hunting.   For women, finding other kindred spirit women hunters is a challenge in the male dominated hunting and outdoor sports.   We are a minority, especially if you happen to live in a city.   I just moved back to a city in January this year.  However, there is a Sisterhood among us lady hunters no matter where we go.  I had not realized the full extent of this until I remarried and moved from my native Minnesota to Ohio to live for a couple years.   Back home, I was settled with my hunting, my routines and work, my hunting buddies and my life.  I have hunting land and a cabin with many places to hunt many critters.  My new life here in Ohio is wonderful, but the absence of fellow lady hunters had left a decided void in my heart.

Then, through a Facebook announcement, I discovered that Michele Leqve was to be a seminar presenter and also speak at a women’s luncheon at the Cleveland Hunting and Outdoors Show the second weekend of February 2010.  Michele is a native Minnesotan like me and I had not seen her a long time.  I was elated!  I had known Michele for years through the hunting industry and thru  The Cleveland show was only an hour from me.

When I arrived, I was introduced to two other women with whom I felt an immediate connection:  Hollie Fluharty, a newly appointed County Wildlife Conservation Officer with the Ohio Division of Wildlife in the Cuyahoga Falls area,  and another fellow lady hunter, Mara Manke from the west Cleveland area.  Michele introduced me as the current President of WomenHunters.  I was able to talk about the WomenHunters organization and about hunting with many of the ladies there, some of whom were not even hunters (yet!).
Linda K Burch and Michele Leqve Hollie Fluharty and Linda K Burch

The Cleveland show boasted a huge 3D shooting area and I was encouraged to see a great many women, young and old, shooting their bows both alone and with family members.  To be surrounded by camo and archery gear and guns and taxidermy was balm to my soul.   Michele gave an extraordinary presentation in her usual unassuming and dynamic manner.   She outlined her introduction to archery, her world record polar bear kill taken with her Mathews bow and talked candidly and honestly about how women can get into both archery and the hunting sports.  What I find so endearing and honorable about Michele, is that while she has harvested countless trophy animals and even has a very professional DVD out, she is humble and honest about her hunting foibles as well as her triumphs.   That takes a lot of the mystery out of hunting and helps her female audiences relate to her and really feel they can get out there and hunt successfully.

Our Sisterhood of lady hunters is growing every year.  More women hunt in Isle,  Minnesota where I used to live, than in suburban Stow, Ohio where I now live, but in time I hope to make more connections in Ohio.   I will be back in Minnesota to hunt archery deer opener and firearms opener this year of course.   Meanwhile, I had already found a hunting buddy name Mara who shoots a crossbow and wanted to turkey hunt.

So let me tell you about Mara Manke who is not quite 40 years old.   She shot her first whitetail doe with a Remington 870 twelve gauge from a climbing tree stand in December 2008 from her own setup and all by herself.   She had hunted for several years before that but had not put meat in the freezer.  Her second whitetail was a six point buck in December 2009 from a tree stand as well.  Crossbow is very popular in Ohio, so she added that to her hunting repertoire.   She decided she wanted to turkey hunt this year and went to seminars, took classes, bought all the gear and attire and just went for it.   Unable to round up a turkey hunting buddy for season opener, she just went out solo with decoys and a 1958 Savage 775 with no choke tubes, loaded with upland game shot.  On Ohio turkey opener, she used an owl call because she was unsure how to use turkey calls.  Amazingly, she had a big gobbler come in to her decoy and got a shot off.   The tom rolled and fluttered, but stood back up and ran.  She ran after the bird but he won the foot race so there was no turkey in the freezer that day.  What an experience for a first turkey hunt !  The next weekend she and I primitive camped at the edge of a farmer’s field and turkey hunted the next morning.  She had now bought herself a Mossberg 500 twelve gauge with the right choke and ammo, and bought a tent for her pickup truck box too.  It was a comedy for us to put up that tent!   The next morning, while hunting she got a great case of poison ivy. We saw one hen milling around all morning, but we had no shots.   Mara is an inspiration and proof that anyone, male or female, can find the resources and take advantage of them to get out and enjoy the hunting sports.  You just have to make up your mind to do it, and just DO IT as Nike says.

Mara went out two more times, never to have another shot at a bird this season.  But we have our eyes on some wild pig archery hunting in southern Ohio in the near future and she is coming to Minnesota for archery opener at my land.

The Sisterhood of lady hunters is amazing, and organizations like WomenHunters along with people like Michele and Mara, can provide inspiration to us all.