The number of women who are hunting and fishing is growing and in some years is outpacing the number of men who receive hunting licenses. This trend hasn’t been missed by Colorado’s Division of Parks and Wildlife which relies heavily on license sales to fund its management of wild lands. Earlier this week, Parks and Wildlife hosted a free hunting and fishing clinic for women in Basalt. Dorothy Atkins went along and filed this report.
Most people probably don't associate hunting and fishing with women. That's because the largest demographic of people who hunt and fish in Colorado are older men, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.
“We want to rejuvenate women and youth getting into these activities.”
That's Matt Yamashita. He's the district manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, or CPW. In an effort to get more women into hunting and fishing, CPW offers a free day-long clinic. It's called a cast and blast; the first part of the day is spent fishing — or casting — and in the afternoon its shooting — or blasting. Yamashita recently lead a cast and blast in Basalt.
On a recent morning, about a dozen women practiced fly fishing around small ponds at a ranch nine miles up Frying Pan Road. One Colorado Parks and Wildlife official gives Lynn Waldorf from Snowmass pointers on her technique.
“The hardest part right now is that you’re directly in the wind, so as much as you want to load it up and throw it out that wind is wanting to buckle it back on itself, you almost have to go forward with twice as much force and without a weighted fly like that it's just compounded. You're doing fantastic.”
“It's one thing to go out with the guide and they do everything for you. you come home and you had a fun day but you don't feel like you've become a fisherwoman. But here when they teach you all about the knots and the technique of casting and what to look for on the water, you do feel like a fisherman — or a fisherwoman in this case (LAUGHS)”
Nearby, is Lynn's friend Megan Humphreys.
“Have you guys caught anything?”
“Yes, you wanna smell? It's a good sign when your hands smell like fish. I caught a brook trout, there are three species we studied this morning: the brook trout, the tiger, rainbow and brown trout. It's been a good day, cuz you know what they say about fishing? The fishing's always good, it's the catching that's not always good. (LAUGHS)”
Around noon, the rangers call the women to a picnic area where seats are set up in some shade.
“Alright bring it in!”
“You finally start getting it and you don't want to stop. I think I at least got the basics.”
The owners of the ranch thank the women as they walk back from the water. This was the first time the ranch had allowed Colorado Parks and Wildlife to hold the clinic on their property.
“We have a long relationship with the division of wildlife because they've been doing different studies about trout and whirling disease and so they've used the pond as a kind of study site for years. This is just an opportunity to give back to them.”
Lunch is over and it is time for the shotguns. The women meet at the public shooting range in Basalt where they get a tutorial on safety when handling guns and they get ready to shoot.
“Shooting is mental. The moment you over think it is when you need to step back off the line and take a break — kind of like the casting.”
The ranger holds up an orange clay disc known by shooters as skeet — or a bird.
“This is your target today. This is what you’re shooting. I guarantee each one of you will break one bird today.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I didn't say you would shoot a moving bird (LAUGH).”
The women are fitted with guns and five make their way to the shooting range. Each has their own wildlife officer to help them with their shooting technique.
“Line's hot, we are hot! One shot and send them back”
“It's never a bad day when we get to take people out and shoots some guns or take them fishing for a morning.”
Matt Yamashita, manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says it's important that more women get involved in hunting and fishing. Colorado Parks and Wildlife relies on revenue from state hunting and fishing licenses and the numbers of hunters especially are declining.
“If we don't do something about it in the future there's the potential that wildlife management may be less effective. That's why we're spending our time our money to actively to recruit more people into these sports.”
The clinics are popular, and typically fill to the 20-person capacity. Colorado Parks and Wildlife doesn't keep track of how many women end up getting licenses after attending a clinic. Still, Yamashita thinks it's substantial.
“I don't know if we've ever done any follow up to see how many of these people go out and pursue hunting and fishing, but even in this class here there are a couple of faces that I recognize.”
To find out more about the Colorado Parks and Wildlife upcoming hunting and fishing clinics: http://cpw.state.co.us
Attached is the photo to go with the cast 'n' blast story. Megan Humphrey and Matt Yamashita are featured in it and it was taken by Lynn Waldorf.