I gave you a little preview of our main Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop a couple of weeks ago, BO-W. I have caught my breath after that busy weekend, let me give you a little review. Believe me, it ain’t about me, but let me give you a little review of how the weekend went for me.
Once again this year our big BO-W weekend was held at the 4-H camp at Halsey. Each year I like to head out on Thursday so I have plenty of time to get everything ready without feeling that I am rushed. My Equinox (New Wheels) was literally loaded to the ceiling with gear. Yes, I took more stuff than I might need, but I like to have pretty much everything fishing-related with me just in case one of the ladies asks a question about it. Thursday afternoon I got my classroom set up, got most of my gear/teaching props rigged.
Thursday evening I slipped down to the pit near the main entrance to the forest. I caught some small bass and a couple bluegills. Got a pretty good idea of what to expect for Sunday mornings “On Pond” fishing class. I did not catch any of the recently-stocked catchable-size rainbow trout, but definitely saw that they were present and active. A gentleman fishing across the pit from me caught a couple, three while I was there. There are also some big channel cats in that pit and I fished well after dark trying to catch one, but not this trip.
Friday morning the students start to arrive. I tried to get some sleep for one last morning then put the finishing touches on my classroom prep., got my bow-fishing targets hidden along the north shore of the pit, and my casting targets placed in the grass.
Lunch time Friday noon was the first time everyone gathered for introductions and orientation. The 4-H staff rolled out hot roast beef sandwiches right out of the gate for lunch–“OH YEAH!” The first class session started Friday after lunch. I happened to have an open session Friday afternoon, so I headed up into the sandhills to check out some fishing spots. I did not catch anything, it was rainy and windy all afternoon. Saw a herd of pronghorns north of Halsey with a couple of bucks in the bunch. One buck looked to be very nice.
I was back to the camp by supper time, it again was excellent. At meals we always have opportunity to interact with students and get to know some new folks. A program upstairs in the ballroom followed supper and then I hung around the dining hall for awhile before turning in.
Once Saturday morning hit, I was “full go”, 100 mph, until the workshop was over Sunday afternoon. I quickly ate breakfast and then hurried upstairs to get chairs positioned and materials laid out for my basic fishing class. Most of my basic fishing class was spent in the classroom. Yes, I could teach a fishing class by just going fishing, but in my basic fishing class I try to give the ladies a framework, fundamentals, that can be applied to any fishing they might do, anywhere. I try to give them a mental approach that they can use to make sense of any fishing situation and apply to being successful catching fish. I always start by lecturing/rambling, then the ladies start asking questions, and the next thing I know the 3.5 hour class time is gone. I barely had time to teach some fishing knots, and we did not get outside to practice casting, but I do not think the students minded, it was raining all morning.
After a quick lunch and some cough drops to keep me talking, I rushed back upstairs to get the classroom organized for my afternoon class, bowfishing. Again, we started the bowfishing class in the classroom and covered some basics on bowfishing equipment, safety, regulations, etc. After about half of the class time I finally shut up, we got the equipment loaded in my vehicle, the students in a bus, and headed down to the pond to shoot some fish targets. The rain quit just in time for us to go on the water!
I had hidden 8 wooden, yellow “carp” along the edge of the pit. The ladies were free to stalk the shoreline of the pit, find the targets and shoot at them with bowfishing gear. The arrows had blunts on them instead of fish tips. With the wooden targets I tried to simulate a real bowfishing experience as much as possible. I hid the targets, and had some positioned well below the surface. The ladies quickly figured out how to find my “hidden” targets and then spent the rest of the class learning how to compensate for refraction and hit a fake fish with a bow-fishing arrow. When they did, the arrow made a satisfying “thunk” as it hit the side of the submerged target. In the process they learned all about sandburrs and “weeds” along the shoreline catching their bowfishing lines, learned about the little equipment failures that naturally occur while bowfishing, too. I only had to retrieve one arrow from the pit that came loose from the line, we had one reel “shell out”, one nock busted, and one slide stop came off. We had a blast.
By supper time Saturday night I was worn out and had no voice left. It felt good to sit down for supper and just take it easy for awhile before the evening program. I won a door-prize at the program, a green “recycling” T-shirt. Our boating safety administrator, Herb Angell, entertained and taught us during the Saturday evening program. Wear your life jackets!
The 4-H cooks had fresh baked cookies and cold milk for us Saturday night. I downed a couple, three of those and spent some time talking to some students about our fishing plans for Sunday morning. Then I moseyed back to my cabin and crashed.
With rain most of the weekend, I thought we were supposed to get a break in the weather by Sunday morning. It seemed nice enough that morning, but as I was pulling my shoes on I heard rain hitting the roof, again. It poured during breakfast but the students that were scheduled to go “on the pond” to fish Sunday morning all showed up. We needed two van trips to get them all to the pit Sunday morning, but by the time we got there, the rain had quit! It turned out to be a great morning!
When we get to the pond to fish each year, my goal is for the students to be on their own. The goal of the whole weekend is to teach them outdoor skills that they can apply and develop on their own. We carried gear down to the dock, I said a few things, taught some knot-tying and then made them string up the rods, pick their own baits (I do offer advice if asked), and GO FISH! By the time everyone got rigged the first fish were being caught.
Did we have fun fishing on Sunday morning? Look at the smiles, I know I did. While we were on the pond fishing, I tried to walk around and assist any students that might have needed help handling fish, getting un-snagged, etc., but the ladies were very much on their own. I answered a lot of questions, had a great morning and could not believe it when it was 11:30 and class time was over.
Once noon rolled around on Sunday I was back to putting gear away, packing up the vehicle, finally getting my gear out of the cabin and then headed for home. It was about 2:30 p.m. before I pulled onto highway 2 headed east.
As I have said before, it has been a privilege to be a instructor in our BO-W program for several years now. Yes, it is always a busy weekend, and I and all of the instructors put in a lot of work, but it is always so rewarding. It is easy to teach students who are so eager to learn. Cannot wait until next year, maybe I will see you there, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Nebraska.