By Lisa Metheny, of www.womenhunters.com
Start with a heaping bowl of southern hospitality, add a sprinkle of warm gulf breezes, and throw in a handful of enthusiastic women who love to hunt. Add a dash of mouth watering southern cooking, garnish with products and prizes from industry manufacturers, and you have a very successful and appetizing weekend of hunting, Alabama style.
Twenty-eight other women from all walks of life and from fifteen states were represented on this hunt, proving that the desire for exclusive all ladies hunts are important and sought after by women who enjoy hunting. Leading manufactures from the hunting industry such as Nikon, Mossy Oak, Plano, Bowtec, and Astco participated in this weekend of hunting and were on hand to pass out some goodies and have a question and answer time presentation to the ladies. "This is a vital aspect of the Does and Bows hunt, making this all ladies hunt different from others," says Mr. Pitman owner of White Oaks Plantation.
The Pitmans and their friend, award-winning outdoor writer John Sloan, recognized over a decade ago that women were one of the fastest growing segments of the hunting population and important factor in the hunting world. By blending together women hunters and manufactures in the same intimate setting, manufactures can discuss and understand some concerns and issues that us women hunters have. Mossy Oak, for example realized that there was a need for hunting clothing that fit women properly and therefore started manufacturing clothing to fit a woman's body. Most of the women hunters there had their own story to tell of the difficulty in finding women hunting clothes. "The very best thing was spending time with women who are truly motivated by hunting and being a part of the outdoors. Their passion for it is exactly what we here at Mossy Oak Apparel want to capture and reflect in our apparel offerings-truly effective gear for the obsessed hunter." Sandy Phillips-Mossy Oak Apparel.
Into every successful recipe some time has been put into it. The recipe for success at White Oaks reflects the owner's attention to detail. As guests we were graciously greeted at the door and showed to our spacious and comfortable rooms that were tastefully decorated with charming southern country aspects. Each day the hunters were feed some of the best home cooking on the planet by White Oak's staff. From mouth watering pecan pie, to prime rib and squash casserole by the end of the hunt our clothing was fitting a little snugger, thanks to the amazing food. Each morning our guides would drop us off near our stands. I personally was very happy to see that each of the trails to my stands were clearly marked and found them easy to locate even in the wee hours of the morning. Being picked up around 10:30 each morning and back to the lodge for a delicious afternoon meal, some mingling and then back to different stands for our evening hunt. Each evening closed with a presentation from one of the corporate sponsors of the hunt as the ladies sat in the great room sharing hunting stories and laughs. Cooperate sponsors gave away prizes and goodies each night and all of the participants walked away with more than they came with.
White Oak Plantation is sprawled over 16,000 acres of woodlands, swamps, and fields. Many deer were spotted, as well as other animals, such as turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, and armadillos. Linda Owen accomplished archer and outdoor writer and photographer harvested what we all considered the most interesting trophy, a huge timber rattlesnake. Linda shot the snake that was nearly four feet long with her bow and what a trophy she has to show. Linda also harvested the first deer on this hunt. A total of four deer were harvested with the bow and one with a crossbow.
The Does and Bows hunt has a long history of many firsts. Like any good recipe, an idea had to start somewhere and some trial and error and experimenting along the way were important. White Oaks were one of the first lodges to realize the importance of women in hunting. The first to gather up writers and industry professionals to promote women in the world of hunting, and the first to organize and host an All Ladies Hunt. After ten years of successful hunts, it is no doubt that White Oaks Plantation knows the ingredients for a successful women's hunt. By catering to women on this hunt White Oaks has given many beginner hunters the tools they needed to succeed in hunting. Realizing that every hunter had to start somewhere, White Oaks staff takes all the worries out of hunting. A Pro Shop in on the grounds for those last minute items you may have forgotten to bring along with you. A 3D shooting course helps beginners and veteran's site in their bows before the hunt begins. Skilled guides offer their help in a variety of ways. Even as a veteran hunter, I still struggle with getting lost in the woods in a strange place, and the swamps and woodlands of Alabama were a concern for this Indiana farm girl. In fact, the fear of getting lost is a major reason that keeps a lot of women out of the woods. By acknowledging this concern and properly marking trails White Oaks helps the hunters enjoy a less stress-free hunt.
Chatting with many of the ladies that participated in this event it was evident that we were all walking away with the same feeling. Sisterhood! A strange kind of sisterhood that many of us have not truly experienced before. "This was my first deer hunt and I can't imagine a better environment than White Oak's Does and Bows to get started hunting. Again, the ladies, writers, and staff are so eager to share their experiences and helpful suggestions for ways to make you a successful hunter. And everyone is in it together, there was such fellowship here." Sandy Phillips. Surrounding yourself with other women that shared a passion for the outdoors was truly wonderful. Staying and lodging at a place that one desire to help women become more comfortable in the outdoors was truly special. Harvesting deer was not important for the ladies, several did, and that is always a bonus but being able to gather together in a fun inviting, non threatening environment is what keeps the waiting list for this hunt full for years to come.
One look at White Oaks and it is easy to discover why this is a well thought out plantation that caters to the family. Besides the Does and Bows Annual Hunt, White Oaks offers special "family hunts" at special times of the year, normally at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, which is a time that most children are off of school for breaks. They firmly believe that developing a strong love of the outdoors in our youth and in women will keep the hunting industry growing for years to come. White Oaks realized this and have developed into the one of the premier family lodges in the south. Rustic southern charm surrounds you at every corner at White Oaks. From the lazy lake filled with trophy bass and catfish, to the sporting clays course designed to be enjoyed by beginners as well as veteran shooters. Along with whitetail hunting, they offer spring turkey hunting, and are one of the premier designations for quail hunting in the south. Spacious well decorated rooms filled with antiques and quilts open up to a huge southern style porch complete with plenty of rocking chairs to set and soak up the warm southern breezes that blow through the live oak trees. A great room filled with trophies taken from the plantation aid in the charm of this place, but no need to worry about missing the big game while your there. The huge widescreen TV normally has their beloved Auburn Tigers on for those diehard football fans. White Oaks itself is a gem tucked away into the swamplands and pine plantations of Alabama making it a full service lodge in every sense of the word.
Like all good recipes good things are meant to be shared, other outfitters can take a look at this successful decade long ladies hunt that packs them in year after year and create more wonderful treats for women hunters to partake in around the country White Oaks has set the standard in all ladies hunts and continues to strive to be make hunting a family sport.