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MAKENZIE’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Promoting women in the outdoors

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 11:36 AM CDT
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CHEROKEE, Okla. (KSWO) -The number of women participating in target shooting and hunting is on the rise.

In Makenzie’s latest outdoor adventure, she went dove hunting with a group who works to promote women in the outdoors.

Women make up only a small percentage of hunters in the U.S.

However, a program called Women in the Outdoors, is working to change that.

“WITO is a program for the National Wild Turkey Federation designed to get women involved in hunting sports, being outside, and just getting involved in any way we can without the intimidation of having to learn from a man if you don’t want to,” said Sierra Michels, WITO Coordinator.

Michels is the program’s coordinator.

Like many women, Michels didn’t grow up hunting, but picked up the hobby later in life.

“Men grow up hunting more so than women do, and unfortunately there’s a learning curve to that type of thing,” said Michels.

As coordinator, Michels works to give women a safe space to learn about the outdoors from other women.

“It’s a scary thing to learn if you’re not comfortable,” said Michels. “A lot of people are scared around firearms and sometimes taking a life when it comes to hunting can be something that some people aren’t comfortable with.”

Bethany Beathard comes from a long line of hunters.

“For me it’s a heritage thing, and it was passed down to me from my mom and her dad and I mean four or five generations up,” said Beathard. “So for me it’s carrying a legacy, for me and my mom and to my kids and making sure that this lifestyle, these skills don’t die out with this generation, that they are passed on.”

In a male dominated sport, Beathard says it’s important to encourage and empower women to get out there and try something new.

“Don’t be afraid to get out there,” said Beathard. “Just because you got skunked one day don’t mean you’re not going to get the big one the next day.”

This program brings hunters together from all over the state, and Beathard says she loves the camaraderie.

“A lot of people don’t want to go by themselves or they’re married or maybe they just don’t feel comfortable being the only woman there. So programs like this promote learning, continued learning, and just friendships, lifelong friendships,” said Beathard.

Hunting is a hobby Beathard is happy to pass on to her children, and encourages other women to do the same.

“I feel so empowered knowing that I can go out there and do just what my husband’s doing, what the other guys are doing, what my grandpa did,” said Beathard. “And if you’re out in the outdoors doing it yourself, you know that’s something you can pass on to your best friend, you can pass on to your kids. And it’s a really fun hobby, it’s just like anything else that you would get out there and do. And women can do it too.”

The next Women in the Outdoors event will be in November at Tenkiller State Park.

There will be fly fishing, kayaking, muzzle loader shooting, archery, and so much more.

For more information on how to register for that event, you can find the Women in the Outdoors program on Facebook or instagram.

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