Learning wilderness skills

BRUSHY CREEK – Melanie Richards, of Otho, fitted the shotgun to her shoulder and fired, breaking the clay pigeon into dust. She smiled then did it again.

“This is fun,” she said.

Richards was one of the among 22 women from the region who participated in the No Woman Left Indoors event at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area Saturday. She and the other ladies interested in being active in the outdoors were able to take part in a variety of wilderness-themed courses that included beginning bow hunting, clay pigeon shooting, canoeing, basic survival skills, composting, green cleaning methods, natural soap making, Dutch oven cooking, wildlife photography and even self-defense.

“This is an opportunity to try new things and not feel any pressure,” said Erin Ford, the shared naturalist with Webster County Conservation and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “They can pursue an interest they may not normally have a chance to learn.”

The women select which courses they want to try when they enroll, she said. Two of the more popular choices this year were basic survival and composting. Six women were at the shotgun range, learning to track and fire on a moving target from members of the Webster County Pheasants Forever chapter.

Richards had shot before, but this was her first time attending the event.

“It’s a great experience,” she said.

This year was also the first time Tami Davis, of Goldfield, had signed up for the event. She had seen the advertisement for the program online and talked her mother into attending.

“I thought it would be fun for us to do together,” she said. “We could have a girls’ day and just be outside doing things. I’m going to try to recruit a couple more friends next time.”

Jenanette March, of Cedar Falls, said she also shares the event with friends. In fact, this was the second year they camped together at Brushy over the weekend in order to take part.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “You get to learn things a lot of women enjoy doing, and if you already have the skills you can take the time to get better at them.”