As a hunting enthusiast, Scott Brosier wants to see hunting, a tradition that has helped shape his life, continue for many years. To do this, he’s going to educate and introduce newcomers into the sport, but in a different way: He wants to focus on women.
“There were so many youth hunts out there, but nobody was paying attention to the matriarchs,” said Brosier. “If the mothers, the wives or the girlfriends are on board with it, then [hunting] can be a family event.” So, Brosier, along with his wife, hosted a ladies’ hunt at their club, the Pine Hill Kennel and Sportsmen’s Club near Belding, Michigan. The first hunt, held in 2012, was a success! Yet, Brosier believed it would be a one-time event, thankfully that was not the case.
Donna Jones, a wildlife technician for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), was an attendee at the 2012 ladies’ hunt. She was impressed by the program’s structure and how intrigued the attending women were. Not wanting to let such an impactful event die off, Jones approached Brosier with a proposition—to make the hunt an annual event supplemented by funds she’d acquire. Brosier agreed.
“I wanted to do something for ladies who might not have the opportunity to go hunting—or even shoot a gun,” said Jones, and she contacted an organization who parallels that aspiration. She presented the annual ladies’ bird hunt to the local Pheasants Forever chapter, and the group went all in. With their support, along with additional assistance from the Michigan DNR, the annual hunt ensued.
“We get people from the Detroit area, from Grand Rapids, from all over. We announce that it’s for beginners, but we’re not really restrictive,” said Jones. “Hopefully, we’re making new hunters.”
The women who have snatched a spot on the popular hunt, range in age, skill and knowledge of hunting and firearms. The one-day hunting event includes instruction on safety and proper handling of guns, clay target shooting and a chance to work the fields with an eager hunting dog. The cost per woman is $45 with the remainder of the fee paid for by the Pheasants Forever chapter, and they don’t mind picking up the tab one bit.
“Donna approached us a couple of years ago, and this falls within out charter—to introduce newcomers to hunting,” said Mike Weiden, president of the Grand Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever. “As long as our budget can support it, we will stay involved with the event.”
This year’s ladies’ hunt just passed, and the participants were glad they attended. Anne vandenGoor and her friend—the younger of the participants with no hunters in their families—came to the hunt without a clue. “Neither of us knows what we’re doing,” vandenGoor laughed. Yet within an hour after the morning meeting, both vandenGoor and her comrade were breaking clays and ready to go afield.
Lori Rogers, who teaches writing at Central Michigan University, was one of the more well-versed participants in hunting, but the event still proved engaging and a challenge. “[Hunting] is always a good time, but now that I’m more experienced, I’m more comfortable shooting, more relaxed,” said Rogers. She was the first participant to connect by shooting a long-tailed rooster.
Yet this annual ladies’ hunt at Pine Hill Kennel and Sportsman’s Club, may have farther reaching effects than the creators had originally envisioned. “The concept of introducing women to the shooting sports and hunting will pay dividends for natural resources managers in the future,” said Richelle Winkler. Winkler is an Associate Professor at Michigan Technological University and has been analyzing license sales data for the DNR Wildlife’s Division.
In 2013 there were 60,000 female hunters in Michigan, said Winkler. This is a wonderful number to hear considering the data shows a decline in the number of hunting licenses sold.
“By 2035, we would project that number to be around 100,000,” Winkler declared.
As far as Brosier is concerned, “Everybody had fun. A lot of ladies got to break their first clays, and some got to shoot their first birds. It was a successful event.”
For more information on this hunt and to find out how to sign up for next year’s, please visit www.michigan.gov/hunting.
Photos courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.