Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Fearless Outdoors creates outdoor experiences for women, by women
WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin's gun deer hunting season just started this past weekend. Men still dominate the sport, but the Wisconsin DNR says more women are hunting every year. It can be intimidating to start, though. There is a group that is working to change that, creating outdoor experiences for women, by women.
"Walk with me in line, and we're going to start working these dogs," Kara Michaud instructed her small group of hunters.
Marley and Breckin are two of Michaud's hunting dogs.
"They're ready to rock," she said, calling to one dog. "Marley, ah, ah, ah, ah!"
It's a love affair that started 11 years ago when she met a woman named Mary Jane.
"She showed me like this whole new world of a working dog, a hunting dog," Michaud said, her passion clear. "I was like, yep, sign me up for that. I was entirely hooked."
Now Michaud is a professional trainer and hunting guide.
"Today we're at Milford Hills, and this is my home for where I guide," she explained.
"You can yell at me, I'm a mother," she told the hunters as they started walking through the brush.
Getting a start in this male dominated field wasn't easy.
"I come from a family that doesn't hunt," she said.
So, she had to forge her own path.
"Friends, dads, or uncles, or anyone I could. Oh, that guy? He hunts, so I'm going to talk to him," she said.
Now, other women can walk in her footsteps.
"To have some new people out here is so cool to me, because I want to be like, yep, come on! Let's go," she said.
Michaud advised the women in her group on when to take that first shot, and after the third pheasant took flight, one of the hunters had success.
"First bird today, and hopefully we'll have some more," she said.
This pheasant hunt at Milford Hills in Johnson Creek is put on by Fearless Outdoors, a nonprofit dedicated to getting more women outside. The group gathered for instructions and lunch beforehand.
"People might be a little nervous. I can tell you that, specifically pheasant hunting, the first time I went, I had no idea what to expect," said Sarah Szydel.
Sarah and Jessie Szydel are both board members.
"I've got to say probably 12 years," Sarah said. "I think I'm right around 10," Jessie said about how long they've been hunting.
Both are experienced hunters, and sisters-in-law.
"A lot of times when it comes to trying something new around the outdoors, hunting, what have you, it's pretty intimidating," Sarah said.
Fearless Outdoors works to create an environment for women to get that experience.
"I think it's really awesome to give women that - I know there's a few in there that haven't done this before - the opportunity to try something new and to take a shot at it," Jessie said.
Fearless Outdoors offers all kinds of activities- ice fishing, hunter's safety, bow hunting, hiking. So, there's something for everyone.
"Kind of a big spectrum of things, so not all of it is going to be hunting," Michaud said. "But just to get people in our community together and to meet like-minded people."
People like Mandie Drews, an Army veteran invited on the hunt by Fearless Outdoors.
"I mean, the only way I've hunted in the past is, since I grew up, is if I date somebody that hunted," Drews said. "To be able to get back in is nice."
Michaud is aiming to show a new generation ways to appreciate the great outdoors.
"I never had a woman take me, so I just feel like that's so cool that we're able to provide this experience for them," she said.
For more information on Fearless Outdoors, you can visit their Facebook page, here.
If you'd like to nominate an Everyday Hero in your life, send Natalie a message at [email protected].