I was cooking for a group of bear hunters in Maine, working for a guide to earn my own bear hunt, and a couple from Ohio arrived the first week. I couldn’t help it. I gravitated towards the man’s wife, who was starry-eyed in anticipation of taking a bear.
Michele Eichler (center) is a lady archer who has introduced hundreds of women to the sport. Hunting is also a family affair for the Eichler’s.
I learned that if she did, it would be her first big-game animal. At first I thought their plan was a little foolish, that it was a bit much to expect this novice hunter, and an archery hunter to boot, to sit on a bear bait in the wilds of Maine.
I knew from experience that everything changed once the dense woods got dark, that stumps could morph into large bears, that every sound could be unnerving. I also knew that after dark, a hunter could end up sitting on stand for a long time, waiting to be picked up by the guide.
Soon my worries for the woman were put to rest. The couple had a plan they had agreed upon ahead of time. They would sit on a bait together, with the husband in a climbing stand, within view. They had also agreed that he wouldn’t take a shot until she had harvested a bear.
I was impressed. I was even more impressed when, just two days later, they let the guide know that the wife now desired to hunt on her own.
A number of outfitters offer "Ladies Hunts," which offer the female hunter great opportunities to connect with others of like mind.
I remember thinking that many guys, who would love to involve their girlfriends, wives, sisters, mothers, aunts in hunting could take lessons from the Ohio couple.
Instead of trying to adapt an old bow, the couple had purchased a bow already set up in the correct draw length and poundage for her to shoot. A compound bow performs best near its peak weight; that’s why turning down a used, 70-pound bow doesn’t work. Also, anyone shooting a bow which has too long of a draw length for their size doesn’t have a chance of being consistent, because of problems with form.
They had also purchased camouflage clothing to fit her. The proper hand-me-downs can be a nice touch, such as, a gift of “grandpa’s lucky hat” or “the knife you’ve carried in every Western hunt.” But the clothes have to fit or the common actions of hunting — climbing into a stand, trailing, shooting — become uncomfortable.
And trust me, the way to a woman’s heart is still through the shoes. The woman from Ohio had a great pair of insulated, scent-free boots. She was wearing “grandpa’s lucky hat,” but other than that, all her gear was new.
Words of advice: the early winter months are fantastic times to score on camouflage outerwear bargains, and the lady hunter on your list will be thrilled with your support of her endeavor. And there are those of us who will find that type of gift to be the height of romance. However, if you really want her to have the best Valentine’s Day ever, don’t forget the chocolate or flowers!
For a fine selection of Big Game Hunting gear, click here.