For many people, leaves changing colors signals the start of Oregon’s fall hunting seasons.
This week, I discovered that women who have always wanted to try their hands at hunting have a new way to learn about one of Oregon’s premier recreational pursuits.
When you go hunting for pheasant, be ready to put in your time and lots of energy – often you are pushing through thick, waist high grass. On the EE Wilson Wildlife Area near Corvallis, newcomer Kelly Ruboin is on her toes because the pheasant can launch themselves skyward in a heartbeat.
Kelly joined accomplished hunter Mark Steele, and his hunting dog, “Neela,” for an afternoon in the field. Mark is a volunteer guide who gave his hunting services over for a special day designed for women only. In fact, two-dozen women gathered on the wildlife area to learn what upland bird hunting’s all about.
Ruboin, like many of the other women, has never done anything like this before. But that’s okay because she’s taking a class to learn how it’s done. The EE Wilson Wildlife Area Pheasant Hunt is part of the unique Outdoor Skills workshops sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Many of the workshops are specifically for women, youth or families.
The class was too good a deal for Kelly to pass up. For $25 each woman learned hands-on gun safety and hunting techniques, plus how to shoot and hit targets.
Experienced instructors from ODFW offered lectures on firearms and led the students through a number of exercises in proper gun handling and safety. They helped to build confidence in the newcomers with an atmosphere of trust that paid off with relaxation and fun.
Tthe agency sells approximately 300,000 hunting licenses and tags each year and women make up just 16 percent of the total.
Rick Hargrave, ODFW spokesperson, said they hope to change that percentage with specific classes that encourage women to participate, “What our outdoor skills program does is plant that seed of interest – if it leads to hunting or fishing, that’s great – but if it leads to getting their families outdoors more often that’s even better too.”
EE Wilson offers nearly 1800 acres for hunters, fishers, hikers and cyclists to explore throughout the year. The area offers wetlands for wildlife, a stocked fishing pond to cast lures and a wildlife exhibit area where you can see many of Oregon’s upland birds on display.