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- Created on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 16:26
Dawn Davey practiced shooting a handgun at the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation during the “Women Going Wild” seminar on Jan. 14, 2012. Photo by Trelle Burdeniuk.
by Trelle Burdeniuk
Dawn Davey is bubbling over with excitement as she enters the shooting range at the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation clubhouse. She walks to a gray table covered in large, black gun cases and shiny, gold bullets. She picks up a handgun remarking on its surprising weight, despite the small size. With her blond ponytail, brown ball-cap and a bright smile, Davey doesn't look like the average hunter some Saskatchewan people might picture.
"It's kind of cool to shoot a gun, but I'm not at the point yet that I want to shoot an animal. But, that may come," said Davey who lives just southwest of Saskatoon near Pike Lake.
For more women on the prairies, taking an interest in traditionally male-dominated hunting and outdoor activities is becoming the new norm.
"It got stereotyped for a while where men were the only ones that came out and participated. That's changed. The action shooting sports and the firearms industry in North America has completely changed,” said Robert Freberg, second vice-president of the Saskatoon Rifle and Revolver Club.
“The gun cases are coming out in different colours - they've got pinks, they've got purples, they've got blues," noted Freberg.
For some of the two dozen women at the "Women Going Wild" seminar hosted by the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation on Jan. 14, it was the first time they've picked up a gun. But for others, hunting is an activity they've always loved.
"I grew up hunting and fishing when I was a kid. I went hunting with my dad and my grandfather and my uncle," said Emily Schultz.
This eight-hour day planned exclusively for women, was jam-packed with lectures and practical sessions on archery, hunting dogs, guns and cooking wild game.
"I think this is awesome because it's a lot of fun when you get a group of women together, but it's also far less intimidating because you can ask your questions and there are no men around to judge you," laughed Davey.
Robyn Phipps, who moved with her family from Ontario to Martensville three years ago, loves the new outdoor opportunities this province offers.
“I’ve always been an outdoors person with horseback riding and fishing and stuff. But, hunting is new to us,” said Phipps, who has just started helping her husband hunt and dress the meat.
Phipps said she doesn’t feel there are any physical barriers holding women back from hunting in Saskatchewan.
“Women are so free to take on anything in life now. It’s wonderful.”
Women make up only 15 per cent of hunters in Canada. However, events like this help bring women together from across the province for both skill building and creating a network.
JeanAnne Prysliak, the federation’s education program coordinator, pointed out that it’s not only the perception of hunting as a male sport that prevents some women from getting into the activity.
“A lot of women are interested in the outdoors, but they just don’t have a partner or family member to take them out. So these (seminars) open up doors or teach them skills that they can get out and use.”
Prysliak is an avid hunter of large game including deer, elk and moose and has recently gotten into archery. She said the feeling you get when you’re hunting is hard to put into words.
“I still get the jitters or the adrenaline rush,” she said. “It’s really hard to describe unless you are a hunter yourself.”
This is the first one-day seminar of its kind, but the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation has hosted other outdoor events geared for women. Those included a weekend hunting and fishing getaway this past summer in Lumsden.
For more information on hunting or future seminars, including an upcoming winter camp for kids, visit the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s website at www.swf.sk.ca.