I am approaching this piece in my typical tongue-in-cheek method. Creating a story that goes no where, that is filled with laughs and self-deprecating insights as well as lessons learned. Lord knows there is always a lesson or two to be learned.
As it goes.
I often work to pull together ladies-only hunts through Próis. I have found this to be one of the very best perks of my job, because Lord knows I don’t get paid. When I was approached by Dave Olsen (an old friend) from Pheasant Phun Ranches in South Dakota, I knew it would be perfection for a ladies hunt. Could have been the amazing cuisine that spurred this decision. Could have been the fantastic saloon style bar. Could have been the excellent bird hunting in this region.
Who am I fooling. He was brave enough to take on 13 women. Próis women at that. Not too many people step up to bat for that.
That said, the saloon-style bar was pretty cool.
I am often asked, “What sets women’s hunts apart from other hunts.” My answer, “Everything”. I have to laugh at a story from one of our outfitting friends, Greg Badgett from Double B Ranch in Texas. When he was arranging our first ladies-only hunt, his guides were a bit nervous as to what to expect with a crew full of women. Greg told the guides, “Awww… it’s probably all the same except we will be stepping over curling irons and feminine hygiene products when we come in to pick them up in the morning.” We all found this riotous. Then of course had to have a pile of curling irons and feminine hygiene products in the doorway of the lodge when they came to pick us up. No harm, no foul.
On a serious-ish side, there are indeed specific differences between male and female hunting camps. Here is what I know:
Plain and simple.
Women who have never met before bond immediately over their shared passion for hunting. Most of us have connected on social media or via email so meeting in person is such a fun experience. I have found it most fun to sit back and watch. Within minutes the ladies are sharing photos, telling jokes, cracking a beer and cleaning the table to play a feisty game of Cards Against Humanity. All I can say is there are some ladies (and I use that term loosely) that almost scare me after playing Cards Against Humanity. The quiet ones are the worst. Just saying.
A natural lack of competition.
When we were hunting in South Dakota, we were broken into 2 different lines in 2 different fields. I couldn’t help but laugh when I could hear the following from the adjacent field. “Rooster!” Followed by a few shotgun blasts. Followed by seven women cheering wildly. You see, women tend to support each other and truly feel happy when others are successful. Even more interesting is the fact that our guides consistently tell us that guiding women is far more fun because they don’t pout like men. I don’t intend that to be sexist toward men in any way. I just find it quite telling.
Women listen to their guides.
For me, I know if I am paying a professional guide for a hunt, that guide is the expert on the wildlife patterning and geographical impacts. My guide knows the skinny. I’m along for the ride. I have also had resounding input from the guides and outfitters we have used for our hunts. I have had guides tell stories of men who refused to listen to the advice of their guides as they felt they had more knowledge. The result was usually failure and bad juju all around. Women will let their guide decide where to go, where to set up and when to make the shot. They are, in fact, the hunting Sinsei and we would be pretty remiss in NOT listening to them. And believe me, the guide wants a successful hunt just as much as the hunter.
We are there to hunt.
No matter what, the ladies will be up before the guides show up and they will be 100% ready to roll out the door. I have had numerous outfitters tell me that our male counter parts may evade an early morning hunt for any variety of reasons. In 6 years of doing ladies only hunts, I have yet to see any woman miss ANY opportunity to get out there. Come sinus infection, hangover or migraine…the ladies will be ready to roll!
The ladies love to learn.
I am constantly amazed by the ladies with whom I hunt. They look forward to learning what they know. Finding out what gear they like. Figuring out what optics work best. The ladies don’t stop there. They want to know about recipes the cooks use and different ways to prepare wild game.
They don’t take themselves too seriously
I suppose this could fall into any of the above line items, but I felt it could stand alone.
Our trip to South Dakota encompassed all of this and more. We all converged on Pheasant Phun, cackling like hens. We enjoyed gourmet food and fabulous wines. We enjoyed fantastic hunting for two days, many birds, talented dogs and guides and way too many “your mom” jokes. Puppies may have played on the bar. Sharpie mustaches may have been drawn on those going to bed too early.
We laughed, we learned, we brought home tons of birds and we left knowing we all wanted to come back again.
Miraculously, they invited us back. Stay tuned!