Women and the outdoors – a combination that works.
A combination that hopefully will grow – and traditions of the past can live on through a new generation who see things differently than men.
Becoming an Outdoor Woman, California began in 1994 as a program hooked onto the Department of Fish and Game. Sadly, in 2003, the DFG pulled its funding.
However, Susan Herrgesell, the DFG’s coordinator of advanced hunter education, knew the power of the program. The Cottonwood resident continues to work with the DFG – but she’s also the coordinator of the nonprofit BOW, California.
(The program is based on the national BOW program, begun in 1991 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; now more than 20,000 women across the U.S. each year participate to become more competent, more confident, and more aware of outdoor skills.)
BOW, California has two programs open to women in September: a soapstone carving and birding weekend at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge near Willows, and a a fly fishing weekend at Bidwell Ranch near Burney.
First up is an informative and entertaining program taught by wildlife artist Bill Peters, who will demonstrate carving. The program, which costs $200 each, is Sept. 12-14.
“No two will be alike,” Herrgesell said. “We will be using soapstone, which is available in many different colors and textures. The women will carve a loon and a seal, and you will have your choice of carving some smaller sculptures for jewelry.
“After we’ve spent the day chiseling, carving, sanding and polishing, we will take a walk and relax our hands and arms, and do some bird watching,” Herrgesell said. “Bill is also an experienced ornithologist. Binoculars will be provided.”
The program begins at noon Sept. 12 and ends after lunch Sept. 14. Saturday lunch, snacks and water are provided. Participants will be responsible for other meals and lodging.
Next up is the very popular fly fishing program at Bidwell Sept. 19-21; deadline to sign up for the program, which costs $250 each, is Sept. 12.
“The clinic is world-renowned and led by a team of experts,” Herrgesell said. “This comprehensive workshop will cover all the basics of fly-fishing: casting, reading the water, entomology, conservation, fly tying, knots, landing and releasing, and plenty of hands-on practice.”
The ranch is a Wilderness Unlimited-managed property that has hosted fly fishing seminars for 25 years. The rainbow trout that swim in the ponds as well as the 1.5 miles of Lost Creek, are wild, wily and tough to catch. I’ve been to Bidwell several times and can count the number of fish I’ve caught on one hand.
But women who come to Bidwell will catch fish. Trust me. These instructors are world-class anglers.
This year, there will be sessions for beginners and intermediates. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 19. Arrival on Thursday evening is preferable. Departure is Sunday afternoon. All equipment will be provided – rods, reels, leader, tippet, vests, waders and four flies. If you need more flies, you can bring your own or buy them at a reduced price at the workshop.
“We will be camping at the ranch so you will need to bring your tent or RV, sleeping bag/bedroll and food for as long as you stay.” Herrgesell said.
For more information on programs or to sign up for either September workshop, visit bowca.orgor call Herrgesell at 347-0227.
Former north state resident Thom Gabrukiewicz now lives in the Great Plains of South Dakota, but he still remembers a thing or two about the outdoors in Northern California. He’s the author of “Best Hikes With Dogs, Bay Area and Beyond” (Mountaineers Books, mountaineersbooks.org) and has tasted bugs while fishing just to get a sense of what fish may or may not find delicious. He blogs about life (his) at thomg.blogspot.com.