First off, I’m wondering what images that title conjured up in your collective imaginations. A hen kicking around a Foghorn Leghorn maybe? No matter, because the images conjured up by your mind’s eye will soon be replaced by quite a few that will clarify just what that title is all about.
You remember back in the day when your neighbors would invite you over for a little gathering just to bore you with a slide show of their most recent vacation? Well, I’m about to do the same thing to you, except with photos, and I’m sure you won’t be bored! Of course, you will thank me for sorting though several hundred in order to narrow it down to just a choice few that would help illustrate the weekend’s events. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy them!
The National Wild Turkey Federation sponsors Women in the Outdoors events through smaller local chapters. This past weekend the LA Bossy Hens chapter of the NWTF held an WITO event, and the young woman in the photo below is the reason I ended up there.
Her name is Jessica H., and I found her while working for a casting firm looking for female gator hunters back in July. (A Facebook friend of a friend referred her to me, so see? There is something to be said about that social networking stuff. ) She hunts alligators with her husband and young son near the Mansura area. While Jessica hunts gators, her mother owns a business called “Big Mama’s Gators” and buys the animals during the annual season in September. Even though Jessica and her family weren’t chosen as finalists for the TV show, she was kind enough to invite me to the first ever LA Bossy Hens Women in the Outdoors weekend event.
The event was held Friday through Sunday morning at the Cecil J. Picard Educational Center located in a beautiful wooded area near Bunkie, LA.
After I checked in, I drove around back to find Cabin No. 4, I experienced an overwhelming feeling that I had been there before.
As I entered one of the four bunk rooms and turned slowly in a circle, the memories came flooding in all at once. I walked back to the front door, wondering if it could be so. Pushing open the door, I gazed out over a huge field of freshly-cut grass and was certain of it, then. During a hot, dry summer 45 years ago, I had marched long hours on that field as part of the junior high marching band. That was the most miserably hot and sweaty week of my life (before and since), and I swore I would never go to “Camp Hessmer” again.
Well, Fate must have been laughing at me 45 years ago when I swore I’d never go back there and again as I stood there experiencing a real case of deja vu last Friday afternoon. I could be wrong, but I’m almost certain I was in the exact same cabin as before, except this time I wouldn’t be marching around the field.
Want to see what I would be doing instead?
First off, I joined a large group of ladies to watch the skinning of a seven-foot, two-inch-long alligator. Ronnie Guy, a nuisance gator hunter from Lecompte, skinned this alligator while explaining how the unfortunate animal had bitten a resident’s dog, warranting its demise. He also shared with us information about the hides, their uses, what his job involves, as well as answering our copious questions.
Friday afternoon, we bought our chances to be the Queen of the event and get carted around in this fabulous ride. After supper, the drawing took place to see just who would win the honor of being chauffeured around all weekend plus a table full of pink prizes.
My new friend Joni won, and didn’t she make a fantastic queen? I sucked up to her really fast, because this place was huge, and a ride might come in handy! (Remember, I was determined NOT to march anywhere around this place again!)
Wood carving turned out to be a very popular class. A local craftsman brought in all kinds of wood and sharp tools and taught the ladies how to carve a thimble and/or a wooden spoon. These ladies enjoyed his class so much that they continued at his table at every spare moment they had.
Between classes, there were games set up around the room which we could play and in turn receive raffle tickets for chances to win a couple of guns. I really had my eye on the Remington 1100 .20 gauge, which was a straight raffle ticket purchase, so I went large and bought three chances!
But dog-gone-it! Somebody was on a winning streak. Guess who?
Of course, there was a huge table of silent auction items, and another line of raffle items equally as long. In addition, there were also lots of surprises throughout the weekend including things like diamond necklaces and spa days being awarded. But let’s get back to the classes and demos.
A very cool lady named Esther brought her wine-making supplies and schooled us on the basics. She taught us how to sanitize old wine bottles for re-use, how to fill them from the storage jug with a siphon hose, and finally . . .
how to cork a bottle using her new handy-dandy corker. I wasn’t sure what wine making had to do with women in the outdoors, unless picking the fruit counts, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying a taste of her pear, muscadine, blackberry, and red grape wines.
The outdoor classes included archery, dutch-oven cooking, tee-pee building, kayaking, bird watching, tree-stand safety, turkey hunting basics, duck calling 101, shot gun 101, and advanced shot gun. We could only sign up for five classes, but there were way more that interested me. Additionally, some of the women learned hands-on crafts like tote-making and tile stenciling, pictured above, which I really enjoyed.
Throughout the weekend, activities like a photo scavenger hunts and competitions like the most cabin spirit, best spirit stick, and best cabin mascot awards encouraged friendships and camaraderie among cabin mates.
Cabin 3, pictured above, swept the board by winning all of the competitions, hands down! But watch out next year, because those of us who were naive this year about how all this goes down will be ready to compete next year!
Cajun fiddler, Gerard Dupuy, serenaded us while the raffle and silent auction winners were announced Saturday night. After he told me that he had been on the TV show Cajun Pawn Stars, I recognized him! What a character!
This past weekend was nothing like marching band camp so many years ago, mainly because
I didn’t have to walk anywhere there was no cabin chaperon threatening to call my parents to come get me for sneaking out of the cabin late at night. Even though being there at first seemed like something out of the Twilight Zone, making me wonder if there was some deeper meaning to my being here after all these years, one thing I know for certain is that I met some outstanding women and had a rewarding time.
Meeting Gator Hunter Jessica face to face was a highlight for me, as well as connecting with Mrs. B., one of the event organizers, who invited me to opening weekend of turkey season this spring. In addition, I met dozens of outdoor women who are mothers, grandmothers, full-time career women or keepers at home, and each one impressed me in her own way. And I connected with a few women who I hope will come fishing with me soon.
If you’re an outdoor woman and live anywhere in this great state of ours, stay tuned this time next year for the announcement of the second annual LA Bossy Hens Women in the Outdoors event and a challenge to meet me there. I guarantee that you will walk away with new skills, new friends, and a new appreciation for the outdoors.
Now, if you dare, share a short outdoor women’s event story with us in the comment section to be entered for a chance to win a candle from Amy’s Country Candles. This company is locally owned and operated in Thibodaux, and Amy is the sponsor of this blog post. Drawing to take place next weekend.
Your Woman in the Outdoors,
Stay tuned for Part 2 having to do with the photo above.