Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Women in the Outdoors workshop encourages ladies to explore their adventurous side

OCALA NATIONAL FOREST — The ferocity of the shotgun volleys ringing out over Lake Eaton never hinted at their source — a half dozen diminutive teenage girls blasting at flying clays on the shooting range. The girls and their mothers were part of a group of 75 women from across the state who gathered last weekend at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Hunter Education Training Center for the sixth annual Women in the Outdoors workshop.

The women, ranging from teenagers to grandmothers, spent the weekend learning or refining skills in archery, handgun and shotgun use, geocaching, canoeing, kayaking, outdoor cooking, fly-fishing and more. The half dozen or so men at the event variously helped teach classes, cooked and cleaned. In short, it was the outdoor woman's dream weekend.

Forging inroads to going out

An outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Women in the Outdoors is dedicated to providing interactive outdoor opportunities for women to help them form a better understanding of shooting sports, ethical hunting and scientific wildlife management in conservation efforts.

Pattie Boon is the WITO state volunteer coordinator responsible for events like the one in the Ocala National Forest. In her day job, she is a senior telecommunications specialist for Liberty Mutual insurance in Orlando. Her idea of a wild weekend is a weekend in the wild.

Boys and men are always encouraged to enjoy traditional outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing, Boon said. "But women aren't," she added. "The more women are exposed (to outdoor sports) the more they're inclined to teach their children and to inform them about conservation efforts."

It's fun to see women becoming empowered in the outdoors, to learn that they can handle a gun or shoot a bow, she said.

"Like they say at Remington Shotgun," said Boon, whose two teenage daughters were among the skeet shooters, "shoot like a girl if you can."

Weekend in the woods

The event cost $100 and included registration for four classes, all meals and accommodations. In addition to the workshops, event participants enjoyed crafts, raffles, games, demonstrations and silent auctions. The registration fee also covered a one-year membership in the organization.

The shooting sports were a big draw, and included both introductory and advanced classes. It was an opportunity to try a broad range of weapons, from .22-caliber handguns to high-powered shotguns.

Lake Eaton lent itself to watersports, including beginning and advanced kayaking and canoeing classes, and fly-fishing. Many classes included background materials for further study or exploration. Other women enjoyed more low-key activities, such as geocaching, photography and outdoor cooking classes.

Women bunked in "Night Owl" and "Early Bird" cabins, and kept a wide range of hours, prowling the shoreline with flashlights at night for a glimpse of alligators (there were none), and sharing hunting stories by the fire.

Mild-mannered by day

Sophia Horsman lives in St. Petersburg, where she works for MetLife as a "mild-mannered claims manager by day." She has been a WITO member for six years.

"My husband hunts," she said. "I have no interest in hunting, but I like being outside and I enjoy learning new things. "

At WITO events, she said she has learned to drive an all-terrain vehicle and rock climb, among other things. "I'm trying stuff I'd never tried before."

She attended the Ocala event with her three teenage daughters. "It's a lot of fun to get away with just the girls."

Competing for gear

The most coveted items during the raffle and silent auction were a handgun and a shotgun. Other treasures included a canoe, hunting knives, binoculars, sleeping bags, and outdoor cooking equipment, great goods for future outdoor activities — such as the WITO Broom Sage Quail Hunt in Callahan on Jan. 23.

"Watch out," Boon said. " 'Cause the girls are going to take over the woods."

Learn more about Women in the Outdoors workshops and other upcoming events at, or contact Pattie Foster at

Women in the Outdoors workshop encourages ladies to explore their adventurous side 12/11/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 5:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots


    BOSTON — Tests conducted on the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and his attorney said Thursday that the player's daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for leading Hernandez to believe the sport …

    Aaron Hernandez's lawyer says the former New England Patriots tight end's brain showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. [AP photo]
  2. Bucs' Josh Robinson excited for return to Vikings


    For much of Josh Robinson's four seasons with the Vikings, there was excitement leading up to the arrival of the $1.1-billion U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened last season, just as Robinson signed with the …

    Josh Robinson (26) tackles Chicago punt returner Eddie Royal (19) during a game between the Bucs and Bears in 2016. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Orioles, meeting up with ex-mate Tim Beckham


    UPDATE, 6:05: Cash gave both CF Kevin Kiermaier and SS Adeiny Hechavarria a day off, noting they have been playing pretty much everyday. ... That also gave them a chance to look more at two of their younger position players, OF Mallex Smith and INF Daniel Robertson. ... Cash said he was happy for Beckham that he …

    Tim Beckham made a smashing debut with the Orioles, hitting .394 with six homers and 19 RBIs in August.
  4. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue


    With the Sept. 29 opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  5. It's not a game, but the names are all the same in this football family


    TAMPA — A coach yells across the field into a scrum of blue-and-white clad football bodies at Jefferson High: "Kim Mitchell! Kim Mitchell, come here!"

    These twins are not only identical, but they have almost identical names. Kim Mitchell III, left, and Kim Mitchell IV are  talented football players at Jefferson High with Division I-A college offers. Kim  III wears No. 22 and plays cornerback while Kim IV wears No. 11 and plays safety. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)