ANNAPOLIS – Old hunting tradition: Guns. Woods. Deer. Men.
New hunting tradition: Guns. Woods. Deer. Women and men.
Jen McGovern hopes to be part of the new tradition. At age 38, the Lexington Park psychologist and self-described city kid is itching to learn the finer points of tracking and shooting deer.
But she admits taking up such a nuanced and hazardous sport would be difficult on her own. So she’s getting help.
McGovern, and 30 other women, will hike into the woods Friday for the first state-sponsored, women-only, deer hunt. The program – an offshoot of the national Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops – is designed to give novice women hunters their first experience in a comfortable learning environment.
Without such a program, McGovern said she probably would not have tried hunting. “I wouldn’t have known how to do it. This lets you be safe, and not a danger to everyone else,” she said. “Brothers and husbands, males, typically do the hunting. Growing up, many women just weren’t given an opportunity,” said Karina Blizzard, who coordinates the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program in Maryland for the Department of Natural Resources. “. . .They don’t know where to go to take that first step.” The organized hunt – which will be held at the Blossom Point Proving Grounds in Charles County – is the latest offering from the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program in the state. It offers general workshops twice a year, where women can take a variety of classes, including outdoor survival and firearm safety. All women must come to the two-day hunt with a hunting license and having completed a hunter safety course. Deer hunting seasons in Maryland are open during different weeks between September and January, depending on region and weapon. On day one, female and male instructors will give a primer in deer biology, tracking techniques, tree stand safety, hunter etiquette, and field dressing, followed by a trip to the shooting range. Early Saturday morning, participants – most who bring their own guns – gear up with equipment designed especially for females. While DNR officials guarantee to help throughout the day, they are not guaranteeing that everyone will bag a buck.
That doesn’t bother novice hunter Amy Beth Curry, who works for the World Bank in Washington.
“I want to go out and hunt a deer to see what it’s like in the wild, to experience the sport,” said the 42-year-old who hails from Chevy Chase but now lives on Capitol Hill. “I’ve been target shooting. But the excitement is being out there.”