- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006

I have no idea how accurate the National Wild Turkey Federation’s numbers are, but the Edgefield, S.C.-based hunter/conservation group says 95 percent of women in the United States approve of female hunters.

I’ve hunted with a woman only once in my many decades of being in shooting sports. She was a newspaper photographer and wanted to shoot some pictures but also some ducks if possible. She spent a long, cold, miserable, rainy day in a leaky Patuxent River blind with two other fellows and me but never complained while all of us tough guys did nothing but gripe.

In fact, she seemed to enjoy her waterfowling day, including the long walk back to civilization through a soft-bottom swamp that grabbed her hip boots a half-dozen times and didn’t relinquish them until we pulled her free. What a trooper that woman was!

The turkey federation says it received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to test women’s interests, motivations and participation in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. It discovered that camping garnered the most interest from women in the general population, but those who belonged to an organization called Women in the Outdoors preferred fishing.

Through the turkey federation’s Women in the Outdoors program, some 40,000 females across the country are learning outdoor skills and hobbies, such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, kayaking and birdwatching.

The NWTF says it hopes to reach women from all walks of life through 18 full-time Women in the Outdoors regional coordinators and a quarterly magazine that is strictly geared to their interests.

So why not get moms, sisters, wives, daughters and girlfriends into activities that for far too long were the exclusive dominion of men? Shame on us for being so selfish.

Get on the Web for more information, www.womenintheoutdoors.com.

Hunting tract acquired — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has announced the acquisition of a 3,800-acre tract of land roughly two miles east of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The state purchased the land from International Paper for approximately $3.9 million, using money from the Game Protection Fund. The City of Chesapeake and the Nature Conservancy played key roles in the purchase agreement. The City of Chesapeake also purchased a parcel of land in conjunction with this sale.

The property will conserve important habitat for a variety of resident wildlife and migratory birds. The property has coastal forested habitat that supports black bears, migratory songbirds, canebrake rattlesnakes, deer and wild turkeys. The site has been hunted by a club but soon will be open to the public.

Surveys to count deer — Pennsylvania’s game commission wants to know just how many deer live in the state, and even the governor is in on the act.

“We are working together to build a better understanding of how to both improve the health of the deer herd and regenerate our forests,” Gov. Edward G. Rendell said as he introduced flights by an infrared camera-equipped plane over more than 500,000 acres of Pennsylvania woodlands.

Sections of six state forest districts, seven Pennsylvania game lands and two wildlife management units will be surveyed by plane into early spring. Results will be compared to the numbers of deer and population density estimates gleaned by ground crew.

In a survey in 2005, the highest concentrations of deer were found in the Promised Land area of the Delaware State Forest in Pike County, where 23.69 deer were found per square mile. The second highest whitetail concentration was 20.29 deer per square mile in the Denton Hill area of the Susquehannock State Forest in Potter County. Lowest concentrations were in the Cedar Run section of Tioga State Forest in Tioga County at 9.64, followed by the southern section of Sproul State Forest in Clinton County at 10.69.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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