For six local women, a recent bear hunt was about more then having a target in their sights and pulling the trigger.
Kelly Countway, Teresa Elliott, Tricia Nelson, Sharleen Martell, Kim McBurnie and Lisa Godin wanted the hunt to be done right.
“This bear hunt was not just thrown together in a rush,” said Countway, of Brookfield. “It all started when a few of us were sitting in my house one night talking about hunting. I said ‘look ladies we can be the WTH’ (Women that hunt). The next day Teresa started the face book group.”
An exciting venture was underway.
“A lot of research, planning and preparation followed,” Countway said. “We took the bear hunt very serious.”
The group learned of the over-population of bear in northern New Brunswick, about the importance of conservation of bear and that non-resident bear hunting licenses were available.
“Teresa invited me to join with WTH,” said Godin, a seasoned hunter and guide who has recently lived between Forest Glenn and Bedford. “I was in the process of opening my own business, a guiding service for hunting and fishing, in my hometown of Jacquet River, N.B. I said I’d just love to do an all-woman hunt.”
The process of acquiring non-resident bear hunting licenses for the April 21 to June 28 spring hunting season in New Brunswick was handled by Godin. Licenses had to be purchased by April 7 and both Elliott and Countway were awarded bear hunting licenses. Elliot would hunt with a rifle and Countway with a crossbow. The other ladies would take part.
A one-day seminar, also set up by Godin, took place in the curling club at the sportsplex in Brookfield May 17.
“The seminar lasted two hours and was extremely informative,” said Martell, of Hilden. “It opened our eyes to a lot of things about bears and being responsible hunters and how hunting impacts conservation in a positive way. It was similar to herd management.”
Weeks before the June 5 to June 7 hunt, the women viewed trail-cam photos to gain knowledge of the bears frequenting the Jacquet River area.
“These photos brought reality to the fact there were a lot of bears where we were going,” said Nelson, of Brookfield. “It was really becoming exciting. It was hard to believe we were actually going on this hunt. I was nervous just thinking about it.”
Others were also excited.
“I was very excited especially with six women going on this bear hunt without any men,” said Elliott, of Brookfield. “I never ever thought such an opportunity would come along to hunt with just women and without my husband. I thought if it works out this is a story to get out there to encourage other women to experience the outdoors in this very way. If we can do this, other women can do it too.”
The women, traveling in two vehicles, arrived in Jacquet River June 5.
The first evening the women went into the woods to look around. The next morning, they set up two separate ground blinds. Elliott, McBurnie, Martell and Godin were in one while Countway and Nelson were in the other several kilometres away. The dress was camouflage, long johns, light pants, heavy pants, caps, masks and waterproof boots.
“I had never hunted before,” McBurnie said. “I was along as the entertainment. We were really in the boonies. What a life experience. Everyone was really excited.”
Nelson said it was cold during the hunt.
“It was pouring down rain but we didn’t feel anything from the bad weather because the adrenalin was running. It was so exciting.”
Countway and Elliot were both successful and following the shoot the bears had to be tagged and registered with the Department of Natural Resources.
“How can you walk away from something like this and not be bonded,” Countway said. “It was a group effort and every woman took part.”
Godin pointed out that the women all have children.
“We have 17 kids between us. When our husbands go out they have little to worry about, but for us there is quite a bit to plan for,” said Godin.
The women (WTH) have joined with the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation with plans to form a local all-women’s chapter. The focus will be on introducing women and children to the great outdoors.
Lyle Carter’s column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News.
If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.