Outdoorswomen hunting for their own kind
WHSA promotes women's interest in outdoor sports
Women are taking over the outdoors and are proving that outdoor sports aren't just men's terrain. Several female outdoor enthusiasts have come together to share the experience and their knowledge.
Women's Hunting and Sporting Association (WHSA) was formed 16 years ago by Mukwonago resident Sarah Ingle and a couple other enthusiasts. They founded the organization based on the mission: "Supporting and encouraging women in outdoor activities: fishing, hunting, archery and shooting sports, sharing knowledge and experience of outdoor skills and wildlife conservation and promoting women's interest in outdoor sports now and in the future."
Inspiration also came in part from Ingle's past. Growing up she loved fishing with her dad, and during her late teens became interested in other outdoor sports.
"I liked fishing, but I wanted to hunt. I didn't have many people in my life to draw from."
She began looking for other women who could teach her and provide camaraderie.
Learn and grow
"We are a club who's really, truly dedicated to the education and camaraderie part of it without taking a political stance in anything," Ingle said.
Founding members wanted the group to be a social opportunity, as well as a place for women to learn and grow in a nonintimidating atmosphere. In the sporting world, females tend to do things differently than men, explained Ingle, so often it's easier to learn from a woman.
The group has about 20 active members from around the state, but most are in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. Seven members of WHSA are from Mukwonago, Wales, Eagle, Vernon and Big Bend.
Each month the women partake in at least one activity, including snowshoeing, sporting clays, fishing, canoeing, hiking, ATVing and more.
"Our membership drives what we do," said Ingle.
She added that women have always been interested in outdoor sports and activities, but didn't always have the venue or social acceptance to do so.
"I have encountered women in the area that enjoy fishing, canoeing, and kayaking as well as hiking the trails in the state forest," said Ingle.
"With the WHSA, I've had the opportunity not only to pass on to others what I know but to receive knowledge and experience as well in return. If I were to sum up the WHSA, it would be, 'With friends, it's easy to step outside of your box to try and learn new things,' " said WHSA Vice President Jean Tackes.
WHSA attempts to make events affordable and easy so everyone can participate.
Friendships have formed between members, and many of the ladies socialize outside of club activities.
Two types of memberships are available: active and supportive. Active membersattend monthly board meetings plus the majority of outings, and volunteer at club events. Supportive members typically attend just a couple of events per year.
Members are recognized for their accomplishments over the year at the club's annual holiday party. They name a sportswoman of the year, and acknowledge what the women have learned and how they've grown in their sports through the year.
"We always try to acknowledge that," Ingle said.
Annual membership dues are $25, which helps pay for their meeting space at Wern Valley Sportsman's Club, S36 W29657 Wern Way in Genesee.
For more information on WHSA, visit www.wiwhsa.org.
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