Dangers and Worries For Women Outdoors

Women at Pioneer Outfitters~I was recently reminded that there are still many dangers and worries, fears, holding women back and away from fulfilling their own wonderful hopes and dreams.

Real concerns, that cannot be ignored or thought of as unimportant or silly.

I would hope that the women who read this, the women who may search, simply to dream, would come across this article and be curious to read more, see more. There is nothing to be gained, and so much for us all to miss out on, if we miss coming together because of fear.

My friend, Carrie, brought this back, front and center to me in her post awhile back on Maximum Outdoors (dot) Net.

Please, allow me to share a piece of her post here:

A guide will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.  Whether it’s making you feel comfortable in shelling out $5,000 or comfortable that while you’re 2,000+ miles from home, if anything should happen they will be able to handle it or comfortable that if you shoot that trophy animal, the meat and cape will be taken care of in a proficient manner.

Women at Pioneer OutfittersAs women become more and more active in the sport of hunting and fishing, different gender based issues can arise.  Safety and general well-being can be a significant concern (I hunt alone a lot so safety is a mild obsession for me).  Take into consideration the physical ability to handle the more rugged hunts; let’s face it, women are not built like men, that doesn’t mean we can’t do it; it just means we simply have to be more clever when we do.  I would be more apt to hire a guide used to dealing with women (and their very non-male needs) or an outfitter that actually has a woman guide.

Still referencing my buddy in Alaska, the fact that I’m a woman and she’s a woman really helps when it comes to reaching a comfort level.  The thought of spending ten in the wilderness with a guy (or 3) I’ve never even met before is very scary.  A skilled guide will help alleviate any anxiety, they won’t speak to you like “one of the guys” they won’t be generally offensive or speak to you like a 4-year-old because you’re a woman.  They won’t call you “hon” or “my dear” or “darlin’”, they’ll speak to you matter of factly and in a professional manner because you are a paying client.  Getting to know them a bit will help alleviate any personal safety concerns as well.  If you’re more worried about getting gang raped than finding your prey, or dealing with someone who speaks to you in a generally consistent condescending way for ten days, chances are your hunt will be less than enjoyable.”

Women at Pioneer OutfittersThis really bothered me. (As I am sure it does you, as well.) That she should even HAVE to think about these things (as an intelligent, capable, adult woman), let alone admit, even to myself and you… these are real worries. These are REAL dangers, real insults, demeaning and dangerous situations that we women HAVE to be aware of and prepared for, to deal with. Simply. Because. we. are. Women.

Dangers and Worries for Women

When I first came to Pioneer Outfitters, 20 years ago, I was told that there would be no welcome for me in some camps, even as a cook. Some gentlemen would go on their yearly hunts or whatever precisely to get away from “their women.”

Not in a bad way, but so that they could have their “time with the boys,” scratching, farting, cussing, telling dirty jokes, things that these men, these gentlemen of that time, would not, really could not be, in front of a girl or woman. They just wouldn’t want any female there.

This changed as the years went by, as things do. However, I was taught well. I am rarely completely alone with a male client or guest. I never go to camp alone with a client. One of our crew is always with me. There are no big hairy eyeballs involved. It is just the right thing to do. It is appropriate. I live and work in a man’s world, it doesn’t make me any less a woman.

Girls of Pioneer OutfittersIf I choose to wear make up (no camo face paint!), my make up is on before my client or guest is even awake. Any “girl stuff” I may do (yeah, like bathe!), I do with the utmost privacy and respect. I do not flirt, I’m friendly but I do not flirt. These are the smart things.

Shit Happens (we have discussed this here before)

Over 20 years of hangin’ with the boys and I have been threatened, offered bribes and only once did a man put his uninvited hands on me. His name is Pig. (No, not really, but that’s what we’ll call him here.)

Dangers and Worries for Women

During the course of one of my very first sheep hunts, as a trainee myself, I found myself dealing with a situation, for the first (and last) time.

Chisana GirlsI, being so very me, having never really been known for diplomacy or tact, thinking nothing (“I didn’t think…”) of repercussions or professional connections, quite simply, reacted.

As I grabbed the offensive hand as it approached my chest (seriously!) for the 4th time that day, I used his weight as a counter balance, stood up fast and slightly uphill, so that he had to look up at me.

With a well known tv personality (on a promotional hunt) and very serious big game hunter as well as a true sportsman along with his two other camera men, as well as Pioneer Outfitters’ guide and my trainer, I had had enough.

(In a very clear voice, delivered about ten inches from his face.) “If you touch me again, for any reason at all, I will cut your hand off at the elbow, grind it and season your dinner with it. Do you understand me, you pig?”

Total silence on the side of the mountain, deep in sheep country.

Women at Pioneer OutfittersHis face was candy apple red and so was the face of our guest, the long time tv hunting sensation. The guide, and one of the other camera men stood there, agape, as I hadn’t bothered to speak in hushed tones. The remaining camera dude was laughing so hard that he sat down right on his own camera bag.

The guide was still staring at me as if I had lost my mind, right up until I had gotten to the word, “pig” and he snapped it shut and turning away, continued up the glacier merrain that we were climbing to hunt Dall Sheep.

The next morning, as we sat down to breakfast after the horses had been wrangled into camp, the familiar sound of the Super Cub approaching had Brian and myself back on our feet and out of the cook tent to meet the landing plane.

Together, Brian and I walked out to the bush strip Master Guide Terry Overly used at this camp. A quick run-through of the previous day’s events and hunt, leading into the by-play of what had been taking place between the “pig” and I on the mountain, we all turned and walked back to camp for breakfast.

Pioneer Outfitters' GirlsAbout half way back to the camp-site, Terry stopped and so did we. “Does he need to be removed?” The Boss asked Brian, directly. Looking at me, Brian answered with a lop-sided grin, “No, I don’t think he’ll take any chances.”

Looking back at me, Terry asked me if I was alright and was I too uncomfortable to stay in the same camp as the offending pig. I told him I was fine and warned him (Boss) that if there was a next time, I was probably liable to “pop him one.”

(“Bla, bla, bla…. don’t beat up the clients, or their cameramen…”  I suppose, it was a sad state of my own affairs that I knew the lecture I received upon sharing that thought, by heart.)

Moving on…

The bottom line is this, this was the only time in 20 years with Pioneer Outfitters I ever felt in the least bit harassed, because I am a woman. I know things happen, everywhere, sadly enough. I also know that the Assistant Guides, Registered Guides and Master Guides that I have met and known would be on any “offender” like white on rice! They are a very proud group of individuals and would be the first to put an immediate stop to any inappropriate behavior, in the field or back at the Lodge.

Women at Pioneer OutfittersOr in town, for that matter. One of the “things” I have noticed over the years is that these men are gentlemen. Old fashioned gentlemen. No matter what age they happen to be, there is a pride and honor in each of them that would not only make any of them step in, but that would have them stepping forward.

Women are no strangers to the dangers the world nor are we uninformed. I believe in women. The strongest, most intelligent, gifted and caring humans I have been honored to meet, guide and or learn from in my lifetime, have been women. I believe in the women who do look, who would look into an Adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure so far off the beaten path.

I look forward to meeting you.

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