In 1952 my grandmother stood next to a deer that hung from a tree in preparation for being dressed by my great-great uncle Earl and had her picture taken. Soon after the snap of the camera, the men dressed the deer and then processed the meat for freezing and drying, as one does.
But my grandmother didn’t just stand by in a pretty dress. She was well on her way to becoming a Maine outdoors woman as many of the women in my family did. Going back more than nine generations in Maine, the women in my family could chop wood and gut fish, survive harsh winters and track and hunt, they kept chickens for eggs and slaughtered birds for meat. And they did all of this, for the most part, without much modern convenience.
These women had survival skills that would eventually be replaced by shopping in bulk, ordering from Amazon, or hiring someone else to fix something. I swing by the grocery store on my way to dropping my son off at soccer practice and then spend the afternoon Googling things for work. Not much in the way of survival skill happening for me. And so I was quite excited when I found (thanks to Google) a program called Becoming a Maine Outdoors Woman that is put on by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Women who want to learn useful outdoors skills can sign up for a variety of workshops where instructors teach everything from winter survival skills, map and compass reading, cutting wood with a chainsaw, hunting, fishing, and outdoor safety.
Check out what some of the women who took the workshops had to say:
While my grandmother never had to pay a fee to spend a weekend asking questions to a professional to learn how to gut a fish, I will happily sign up and try to imagine what it must have been like to be raised with these kinds of skills.