I often find myself getting jealous of lifelong New Mexicans. It seems like everyone I meet who grew up in New Mexico has spent their entire life outdoors. Hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, all of that just seems to be a natural part of growing up in the Land of Enchantment. It’s clear to see the outdoor knowledge being passed down from generation to generation.
That’s not how I grew up. Growing up on the East Coast with few public lands and a family who by no stretch of the imagination could be labeled “outdoorsy” I can count on one hand the amount of outdoor experiences I had in my first two decades. In elementary school I was lucky to have access to an environmental center where our science classes often went on field trips for walks in the forest, bug identification, and leaf collecting. Our entire 6th grade class was even brought on a week long camping getaway which included an overnight hike one day. Maybe it was these experiences that instilled a love of the outdoors in me.
As I got older I made outdoor recreation more of a priority. In college I joined a hiking and camping club, and after moving to New York City would head upstate as often as I could to go camping and hiking in the Catskills or Adirondacks. Now that I’m in New Mexico, hiking has never been easier. It’s so easy my husband and I go to the Sandias almost every weekend for a morning hike.
But without that lifelong experience I often feel like I’m playing catch up when it comes to outdoor recreation. While I’ve met plenty of people who have patiently taught me first aid basics, rudimentary fly fishing tips, and taken me on my first hunts, it can still be pretty intimidating to try and take on any of these activities on my own. I still feel like I have a lot to learn, and the more I meet people the more I realized a lot of other women felt the same way.
For years the New Mexico Wildlife Federation has been having regular sportsmans meetings. These are informal gatherings usually held at a brewery where hunting and fishing stories are shared and NMWF staff will give updates on relevant policy issues. When I first started at NMWF I simply renamed the meetings Sportsmen and Women’s Meetings and we instantly had women in attendance – for the first time! This gave me an idea to have a women only meeting, which finally came to fruition in May of this year.
For our first “sportswomens” event we partnered with Artemis Sportswomen. The event was held at Bow and Arrow brewery, a female and locally owned brewery in Albuquerque. Christine Gonzales, one of the founders of Artemis, did a fishing gear demonstration. About 16 passionate women showed up for this first event, excited to get to know other women interested in learning more about the outdoors and connecting to go fishing or hunting together.
In attendance at this first meeting was Katie DeLorenzo an avid hunter who works at the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) New Mexico chapter. She said that she had also been interested in doing more events focused around getting women involved in hunting and other outdoor activities, so we decided to team up!
NMWF’s next event and first teaming up with BHA was a backcountry survival intro, Leave No Trace overview, and DeLorenzo went over “what you need in your pack.” It was great to see another passionate group of ladies exchange numbers at the end of the night and vow to keep in touch!
Finally, we decided it was time for a little practice. At the end of August NMWF and BHA hosted a ladies only archery night at Hit or Miss in Albuquerque. Hit or Miss kindly gave us a discount and even kept their doors open late to let everyone shoot more! About 18 women attended of all skill levels, which was great to see! One attendee said at the end that it was a great environment to practice in and really appreciated the opportunity.
We’re looking to host more sportswomen only events to create a community of outdoor women in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. If you have any ideas for topics, want to help out, or want to offer space email firstname.lastname@example.org.