Becoming an Outdoors Woman: From horse-packing in Montana to a big summer to-do in North Dakota

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is sponsoring a horse-packing workshop Saturday, May 6 near Whitefish. (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)

Now, more than a quarter-century later, it’s difficult to imagine a time when women were, at least to a certain degree, outdoors outsiders.

Sure, women were in the outdoors mix long before Becoming an Outdoors Woman came along in 1991. But, thanks at least in part to BOW, women are embracing the outdoors like never before, and it’s showing in continually-soaring participation numbers in hunting, fishing and beyond.

And with numerous BOW events planned for the coming months, as well as BOW-spinoff programs, expect women’s participation numbers in the outdoors to continue to surge.

To that end, consider the following unique BOW and related offerings, scheduled in and around the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region this summer and yet this spring:

20th anniversary of BOW in the U.P.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that registration is open for the agency’s 20th annual Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, set for June 2-4 in Marquette County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Becoming an Outdoors Woman is a program where each individual is encouraged to learn at her own pace,” said Sharon Pitz, BOW program coordinator in Marquette. “The emphasis is on the enjoyment, fun and camaraderie of outdoor activities and sharing in the success of one another.”

The summer BOW program, for women 18 and older, is sponsored by the DNR and offers instruction in more than two dozen  types of activities, including kayaking, wilderness first-aid and survival, lake and fly fishing, field birding, paddleboarding, geocaching, shooting sports, boating and mountain biking.

“Volunteer BOW instructors provide basic and advanced teaching that is tailored to each participant’s individual ability, helping participants learn the basics in a short amount of time,” Pitz said.

Class information and registration materials are available online at For more information on the event, contact Pitz at 906-228-6561 or by e-mail at

Large summer BOW gathering in North Dakota

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is accepting registrations for the annual summer workshop June 23-25 at the North Dakota 4-H Camp inWashburn.

Enrollment is limited to participants age 18 or older. With a cap of 72 participants, it’s one of the larger BOW camps in the country. Workshop fees of $150 cover instruction, program materials, use of equipment, all meals and lodging. Registration deadline is May 17.

Participants can choose from a number of different activities, including archery, firearms, fishing, hunting, paddling sports, wildlife and plants, cooking and outdoor knowledge.

BOW workshops are designed primarily for women with an interest in learning skills associated with hunting, fishing and outdoor endeavors. Although open to anyone age 18 or older, the workshops are tailored primarily to women who have never tried these activities or who are beginners hoping to improve their skills.

Women interested in attending the summer workshop may view an information brochure at the Game and Fish website, More information is available by contacting Brian Schaffer at 701-328-6312 or email at

BOW horse-packing workshop in Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks‘ Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is sponsoring a horse-packing workshop Saturday, May 6 near Whitefish.

Participants will learn about the variety of packing equipment available; defensive horse handling; how to pack a decker, sawbuck and riding saddles; and leave-no-trace camping.

This class is for beginners who want to learn the basic skills needed to pack with their own stock. The workshop will be held at an indoor arena and lunch will be provided. The $35 fee includes lunch and the use of all equipment and packing stock — participants don’t need to bring their own horse or mule.

The workshop is co-hosted by the Backcountry Horsemen of Northwest Montana and Trailhead Supply. To register or for more information, contact FWP’s BOW coordinator at 406-444-9940, email Liz Lodman at, or call instructor Andy Breland at406-752-4437.

Registration forms are available at the Region 1 FWP office or on the FWP website at — click “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” under the Education tab.

Iowa Outdoor Journey for Girls workshops

Iowa’s popular Outdoor Journey for Girls workshops are scheduled at two new locations this year: June 14-16 at Dolliver State Park, south of Fort Dodge and Aug. 2-4 at Clover Woods Camp and Retreat, northwest of Madrid. It will also be held July 11-13 at Hickory Hills, southwest of La Porte City.

Outdoor Journey for Girls is a three-day, two-night workshop aimed at introducing outdoor skills to girls ages 12-15 in a supportive, learning environment in which they have opportunities to try things hands-on.

Outdoor skills offered include canoeing and water safety, fish and wildlife identification, archery, firearm safety, basic shooting, furbearers, furharvesting, fishing, preparing the catch, conservation and management, outdoor gear adn survival, orienteering and compass reading and game care. Participants also can earn their hunter education certification.

Space is limited and early registration is encouraged. Registration fee is $150 and full or partial scholarships are available from Iowa Pheasants Forever chapters and other conservation organizations. Registration forms and chaperone and sponsorship opportunities are available at

Outdoor Journey is sponsored by Iowa Women in Natural Resources and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. For more information, contact Jennifer Lancaster at 319-231-4471 or

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