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Women Learn Skills At Outdoor Clinic

DEARY - Forty seven women from the Lewiston-Moscow area attended the recent Women's Outdoor Clinic held at the Troy-Deary Gun Club on June 21-23. Ranging in age from 14 to 66 and coming from professional positions as diverse as homemaker, teacher and video-photographer, all the women shared a common interest - to learn about the outdoors. Sponsored by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Troy-Deary Gun Club, the weekend event provided an interactive, non-competitive, educational outdoor experience for women. The overall goals were to increase women participation in outdoor-related activities and to teach of the importance of responsible resource management. More importantly, the clinic provided the foundation for women to become outdoor leaders and to develop a network of women with similar interests. Jill Green, an IDFG Wildlife Reservist, volunteered to coordinate the event, including identifying activities and women instructors, arranging facilities, meal preparation and soliciting donations for equipment and door prizes. Planning began in early January with assistance provided by many of the women instructors. "It was well worth the effort," said Green. "It really gives women a chance to learn and develop skills in something they have always wanted to do, but have never had the opportunity," she said. "Plus it's women teaching women, which makes for a great learning environment." The participants gained hands-on experience and received information by rotating from various one-hour training sessions. Topics included archery, map and compass reading, firearm safety, outdoor first-aid, hunting/fishing laws and ethics, muzzleloading, shotgunning, dutch oven cooking, rifle marksmanship, fly fishing, backpacking, wildlife identification and tracking. For many women, it was the first time they shot a rifle, shotgun or compound bow. For others, it was the first time they cast a fly or read a compass. But for most, the clinic provided an ideal way to receive training free from pressure and competition. Valaria Yost and Emma Kestner, both of Orofino, instructed the muzzleloader session and encouraged their female students to get involved in the outdoors. "Hopefully you'll realize that these activities just aren't guy things." Yost said. "You'll have a ball, but you just need to get out there and do it." Women currently make up about 13 percent of the hunters in North America and a little over twice these number are anglers. While these numbers may seem small, women accounted for less than 2 percent of the total number of hunters only 20 years ago.