Slugs and Stinging Nettle- What do they have in common?

Tonight I will be working with my Boy Scout troop on identification of poisonous plants in the Pacific Northwest.  One such plant is my nemesis- the stinging nettle (urtica dioica).

Three years ago, I had a terrible run-in with this obnoxious weed while walking a 3D archery course in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range.  The encounter left me in pain, but provided the perfect opportunity to teach my son the benefits of slimy slugs in our ecosystem.

Whoa, say what? Slugs, slime and stinging nettle have something in common? Yes, they do!  Read here for the full story.

The banana slug- Ariolimax columbianus

The banana slug- Ariolimax columbianus

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Oregon Youth Outdoor Day

Fishing at Oregon Youth Outdoor Day

Fishing at Oregon Youth Outdoor Day

Nothing warms my heart more than when I have the opportunity to watch a child’s smile grow as they discover the great outdoors. This past weekend, I had that opportunity when I attended the 11th Annual Oregon Youth Outdoor Day at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area with my family, together with the families of 750 other children.

For $5.00 a person, participants were allowed to wander from station to station and learn about a variety of outdoor activities, including:  shooting sporting clays, archery, rock wall climbing, predator calling, waterfowl calling, wood duck box construction, birdhouse and bird feeder construction, fishing, casting, GPS use, duck decoy paining, elk calling, laser BB shooting, wilderness survival, dog training, fly tying and fly casting, amongst many other outdoor activities.

The event is a great place to meet new friends with common interests.

The event is a great place to meet new friends with common interests.

Although the event is geared toward first-timers, it was a the perfect refresher for the experienced outdoors kid, as well.

Registration provides a day full of fun for each youth, a backpack to carry all their gear, a t-shirt, and lunch. In all my years of outdoors education, I have yet to find another event that offers so much bang for the buck.  ($5.00 also bought lunch for mom and dad, too).

I want to send a special thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, and contributors who made this event possible, including:

"Weet Weet" and "Quack Quack".  Participants learn the different types of duck calls.

“Weet Weet” and “Quack Quack”. Participants learn the different types of duck calls.

Without the collaborative efforts of these organizations, the future of our hunting and fishing sports would be in jeopardy.  It is imperative that we continue to work together to expose children to the great outdoors.

Our family has already set the goal of bringing someone new to the event next year, someone who has never experienced what it is like to catch a fish, shoot a gun, or launch an arrow at a target.

Who do you have in your life who should be introduced to the outdoors?  Have you taken the time to do so?  Next time you head out to your favorite lake to cast a line, or up to the mountain to scout, take a first-timer with you and open their eyes to a whole new world!

Each child went home with a custom painted duck decoy, compliments of Ducks Unlimited.

Each child went home with a custom painted duck decoy, compliments of Ducks Unlimited.

Participants receive hands on fly casting instruction.

Participants receive hands on fly casting instruction.

A day at the range…

I do not share this post with the intent of patting myself on the back, but rather to start a discussion that is long overdue. 

A spot on shot from a recent 3D archery shoot.

This afternoon I took a break and headed down to the archery range. It was packed and, of course, I was the only lady in the house. I shot my first group (which was pretty darn impressive, if I do say so myself).  The guys on either side of me both commented on how “lucky” I was.  I just smiled and thanked them for their kind words.  They proceeded to comment on my bow set-up and how I really needed to upgrade my site and rest.  I responded simply, “Well, it works for me and if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” “Fair enough,” they said, but cautioned I would shoot better with better equipment.

I made my way back to the line and shot my second group, which was even tighter than my first.  I heard comments echo throughout the room, “Dang, she’s lucky.”  Of course, I am thinking to myself that it is more than luck.  I account my successful shooting to skill, practice and determination.

I continued to shoot, and shoot well.  After the fifth round, one of the guys loudly belts out, “Holy $h!t the girl can shoot!”  To this I simply responded with a smirk, “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”  The room was silent.  Not one of them could respond.

Why is it that women are so easily discounted, especially in the hunting and shooting world?