Women learn about outdoors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Last Saturday, the hills and dales of southeastern Butler County rang with bursts of gunfire, the twang of arrows and what sounded like a rafter of turkeys gobbling away indoors.

Clant and Yvonne Johnson's farm was &#8220the place to be” last weekend for two dozen ladies from both Crenshaw and Butler County.

They participated in the County Line Women in the Outdoors event (WITO), the first of its kind in the county.

Each woman got to choose four classes to attend, covering a range of outdoor activities.

Classes in rifle and pistol, taught by Philip Blake and Susan Foster, shotgun, taught by Pam Morgan, archery, taught by &#8220Jinks” and Wanda Altiere, and self-defense, taught by Ron Terry of the Butler County Sheriff's Department, were all part of the day.

In addition, classes in turkey talking, presented by local call maker Roness Fail, deer hunting, taught by Bryant Jenks, fishing, taught by Loraine Jenks and outdoor crafts and painting, with Yvonne Johnson, Karen Blake and Deloris Mount, were offered.

Participants were also treated to a dog demo featuring Maggie, a three-year-old black Labrador retriever owned by Michael and Wendy Smith. Maggie showed off her duck retrieval skills at Johnson's pond after lunch.

Breakfast and lunch were served, and participants also got to be part of a big raffle and silent auction held on the back porch of the Johnson's rustic farmhouse.

A five-star day

The reviews on the event are in, and the attendees give it five stars.

&#8220I loved it! I took classes in pistol, shotgun, self-defense and archery. I enjoyed every single one of them,” Kathy Smyth, who hails from Luverne, said.

Smyth said each of her instructors was knowledgeable and patient, and she feels she learned a lot from the day.

&#8220I went from not being able to hit the target at all, to hitting it pretty well in the course of one archery class, so I felt really good about that,” Smyth said.

Pratha Harrison of Greenville shared the weekend with her daughter, Amy and granddaughter, Lauren.

Hands-on experience

&#8220This was my first time attending the event and it certainly won't be my last. It was truly a fantastic weekend,” Harrison said.

Harrison, who attended the pistol, self-defense, deer hunting and archery classes, said she &#8220got some good tips and thought the time spent was worthwhile.”

A former competitive archer, who admits her skills had gotten a bit rusty in recent years, Harrison said it was great to get &#8220a refresher course” in shooting the bow again, courtesy of the Altieres.

&#8220We got a lot of hands-on experience in the different classes. Susan Foster gave us the chance to shoot several different kinds of pistols and Deputy Terry gave us all a chance to try the different self-defense techniques he showed us,” Harrison said.

In the deer hunting class, Harrison said several of the ladies got a chance to navigate up the tree in a climber.

Next time around, she said she hopes to take the outdoor crafts and painting class.

&#8220They made some really neat things, like a wooden picture frame covered with shotgun shells, cotton, trigs, nuts and moss…they said they had a wonderful time making them, too,” Harrison said.

WITO coordinator April Smith, whose mother and stepfather hosted the event, said her parents &#8220loved it all.”

&#8220Those two worked so hard getting the place ready, and it all paid off,” Smith said.

Smyth and Harrison agreed.

&#8220The farmhouse had plenty of room for the luncheon and was so neatly decorated for the fall season,” Harrison.

&#8220I loved that house! All the pumpkins, fall leaf garlands and seasonal arrangements really made it feel like fall – and the weather was just beautiful,” Smyth said.

On Saturday, Brenda Moody of Greenville seemed pretty pleased with her technique on one of Fails' turkey calls. &#8220I think I'm

getting the hang of it,” she said with a smile.

‘Something for everyone'

Having a chance to be &#8220hands on” and learn about the outdoors in a fun and non-threatening environment is what the event was all about, Smith said.

&#8220They can learn to hunt, fish, shoot, and how to shoot a bow, without intimidation and fear of doing it wrong,” she explained.

&#8220The ladies got a lot of valuable instruction, such as how to hold a weapon and what size will best fit them,” Smith said.

&#8220They learned the proper stance for shooting a shotgun, how to call a turkey, how to use a climber stand and even how to paint and make nature crafts…there was something for everyone.”

Barbara Philpot of Greenville, who helped Smith coordinate the WITO event, said she hopes it will become a much-anticipated annual event in the area.

&#8220The girls really seemed to enjoy everything and we couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. The girls learned about safety, proper use of equipment, rules and regulations – and there was lots of fun and laughter,” Philpot said.

Smith, who extends her thanks &#8220to all the businesses and individuals who supported this year's event,” is aiming high for 2006.

&#8220Next year, we want to have it at the same time, same place, but with twice as many women participating as this year. It was truly a blast.”

The Women in the Outdoors event, an offshoot of the National Wild Turkey Federation, was sponsored by the Butler County Bank, with Peoples Bank and Trust a major donor.