Women In the Outdoors Program Teaches Life Skills
MUNCY VALLEY – Forty local women from this region were excited to be part of the annual Women In the Outdoors Event held last weekend at the North Sportsmen Association in Muncy Valley. Women in the Outdoors events are held across the United States using experts and trained professionals to teach outdoor skills in a noncompetitive environment. With 44,000 members across the United States and Canada, the Women in the Outdoors program helps members develop outdoor skills and emphasizes the importance of wildlife management and the role of hunters in conservation. This Muncy Creek Chapter Association event is sponsored by NWTF, the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The event started Friday evening with a paraplaning demonstration. Jackie Sheets from Hughesville who is a staff and committee coordinator said that the program is in its sixth year and paraplaning was one of the new programs we added. “We also added bird watching and wildflowers this year,” added Nancy Craft from Shrewsbury Township. Craft likes to come every year and she brings her entire family. Her husband, Gary instructed the novice shotgun round and her grandchildren, Dylan and Morgan assisted with the activities. Morgan Craft, 16, was the youngest member of the women’s outdoor group and recently she won a bronze medal for Ladies International Skeet in Junior Olympics at Colorado Springs.
Another favorite sport held each year at the event is kayaking on Hunter’s Lake. Canoes and kayaks were available for participants from Country Ski and Sports in Montoursville. Jane Swift a naturalist with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources introduced a new program on wildflowers describing edible wildflowers and their uses for food and medicine.
Other organizers besides Sheets and Craft for the event were Deb Rosbach from Forksville, Nancy Trought from Muncy and Clare McWilliams from Williamsport. They added a winemaking event this year featuring Eagle Rock Winery. For lunch bear meat, venison stroganoff, venison hot dogs and meatballs and wild game dishes were prepared and served.
The morning activities started with a sunrise hike followed by archery, bird watching and turkey calling. Sessions on target shooting, Native American culture, jewelry making and wildflowers were held in the afternoon. Outdoor wilderness cooking was offered the night before.
The Cowboy Action was a popular choice by many of the women. It provided them the opportunity to learn gun safety and how to shoot different guns in different situations in a timely manner. Experienced marksman, Lance Dunham from Dushore, was the instructor and helped each of women learn how to handle a gun, load a gun, and knock over silhouette metal targets accurately. Each participant got to try a single action rifle, a single action hand revolver and a double barrel gauge shot gun. It taught them good hand and eye coordination as well as accuracy to knock down the most targets in the best amount of time. Everything is based on moving from spot to spot shooting at defined targets in different situations. Dunham is a member of SASS, Single Action Shooting Society and regional chapter members were available throughout the day to instruct the women. They learned the proper techniques and etiquette of shooting.
A major highlight of the day included a program presented by Susan Sprout from Picture Rocks who did a historical re-enactment of Native American women during the colonial and Civil War era. She demonstrated how the Indian women stretched and tanned deer hides by using the brains from deer to break down the fibers in the skin to make the hides soft by wetting them over and over and rubbing the hides against a wooden pole. They also used turkey feathers as fans and the Native Americans taught early colonial women how to dry and re-hydrate their food. They also made looms from porcupine quills and they introduced medicinal qualities of wild native plants to the colonists to treat coughs and the common cold. Willow bark was used for headaches and plantain roots for toothaches. The women were resourceful and would dry and store plants during the winter months. Slippery elm was made into a tea and used to soothe sore throats and calm the digestive tract. Seeds were traded and berries dried for cooking. Dyes were made from plants such as blood root, colored clay from the soil and charcoal from the fires. Spanish moss was used to make four ply cords and hot rocks were used to cook food.
Ann Mullen from Loyalsock Township said she appreciated learning more about Native women. Nancy Trought also enjoyed working with the staff and helped to organize the event. Overall, the day was a great learning experience and ended with a silent auction. The committee started organizing the event in February by getting donations for the auction from local businesses. Some of the items in the auction were blankets, gun cleaning kits, a hunting knife, a gun case, door mat, silver bracelet and an antler wine holder. The committee hopes to get more participants for next year.