Dear Mr. Outdoors Etiquette,
I am an average, single male, height and weight proportionate, age ... well, age doesn't matter - let's just say I'm young at heart. I'm an outdoorsman, love to hunt and fish. I belong to DU, Trout Unlimited, and Pheasants Forever. I recently joined a small hunt club in my area, a small group of hunters renting three farms for waterfowl, deer, and upland game. There are a couple of ponds stocked with blue gills and large mouth - perfect for the summer months while I'm waiting for the early teal season.
I just got back from the summer meeting for new members. They seem like a great group of guys - that is, guys and a gal! You see, I think there's a woman in the club! I've never hunted with a woman before, and I'm not sure how to handle it. Can you give me some advice so I don't make a fool of myself this winter?
Only a Little Threatened?
P.S. The other guys in the club were laughing and joking with her, just like one of the guys. It was pretty cool, actually.
Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be OK. You're not the first guy that this has happened to, and you won't be the last. In fact, it's happening more and more these days as women pursue their passion in the field.
First off, let's figure out why she was there. Was she with someone else - her boyfriend, her husband, or her father? If she stayed in proximity to one particular member, chances are she was there to watch or "try it out." First thing to look for in this case is her clothing - was she wearing oversized or mixed clothing? If the answer is yes, then she is wearing her father's (or boyfriend's, or husband's) clothes. Second thing to look for is her accessories. I'm not talking about her purse and jewelry, I'm talking about hunting accessories - especially calls. If you did not see a lanyard around her neck, that's another indicator she was there as a spectator.
On the other hand, if her clothes fit her, the camoflauge of her coat and bibs match, and she was wearing a set of calls, I'd say there's a good chance you have an outdoors woman in your club. Here are some things to look for, if that's the case.
Her rig. Is she towing a trailer behind her truck? (She has a truck, trust me on this one.) Is it a decoy trailer or a dog trailer? There are a lot of women who end up hunting after getting involved in retriever trials and hunt tests first. Yeah, its ackbasswards, but after the Dad taking her out as a youngster introduction, the Labs to goose pit is the most likely path that women take to becoming a full fledged huntress. So, if it's a dog trailer, you're in luck. One, it means you don't have to chase cripples during the peak of the morning flight and two, you've got a training resource if, when you get a dog of your own. Women are natural trainers of man's best friend, working with intuition and empathy to anticipate the dog's next move before the dog even knows what it is gonna do! The pro who taught me how to train bird dogs always made sure the client's wife or girlfriend was there for training sessions. He claimed women are more in tune with the animal, will work with the dog instead of trying to force it. I can think of several clients who proved him right.
If it's a decoy trailer, you're still in luck. The decoys are going to be in top notch condition coming out of that trailer. Putting them back in will require an adjustment for you, because there will be a right way ( I.e., her way) to store them, requiring some effort on your part but that's why they went out so easily at 0 dark thirty this morning so don't bitch about it.
Calls. Look for calls. They will be on a lanyard hanging around her neck or from the rear view mirror of that truck I promise you she is driving. Don't expect to see bands on the lanyard. If she has killed a banded duck or goose, chances are she offered it to someone else who was hunting with her as a memento. Also, expect them to be good calls,from one of the top makers, and don't be surprised if she knows how to use them.
That goes for the rest of her equipment, too. If she is in there at the meeting, mixing it up with the guys, she is going to have the best equipment and she is going to know how to use it. Do NOT patronize her with advice on how to blow a comeback call; or, how much to lead a crossing bird in a 30 MPH wind. I'm guessing she already knows how to do both, and there's a good chance she can do them better than you.
Bottom line here is, leave your ego at home, watch and learn from the other club members, and listen. Next time you see her, ask her about her dogs, her favorite load for Canadas, or what decoy spread she favors for late season birds. There's a good chance you'll learn something and you will make a new hunting buddy.
P.S. Do not go looking for romance here. She's not looking to fall in love, she's looking to shoot something. Make sure you're not that something.
P.P.S. Keep the early morning greetings simple. I once observed a club member hug my buddy l for an awkwardly long time at the opening day morning meet up. He did not realize he was one second away from getting thrown on his ass. In addition to being a helluvagood huntress, she is trained in several of the martial arts.