Each year, our volunteers gather to plan events and banquets. One such volunteer, Helen Butt in New Mexico, not only plans events for the chapter, she also takes new hunters afield.
As president of the Mesilla Valley Longbeards, Women in the Outdoors coordinator for the state and the state board secretary, Butt is a busy volunteer, but she finds time to put on awesome events for the surrounding community and ways to grow those events.
She has been organizing events and banquets for the chapter since 2012 when she became a member.
In February, Butt said her chapter hosts its annual Hunting Heritage Banquet, which has many repeat attendees who understand how important it is to fund our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. mission.
In March, she helps host a "Pattern Your Shotgun for Turkey Season" day at Butterfield Shooting Range to get WITO members, and anyone else who wants to go, get sighted in for turkey season.
“We partner with the Wild Turkey Sportsman Association and they help with instruction, equipment and set up,” she said.
As spring really sets in, Butt turns to what she has a passion for — taking new hunters afield.
“In April, I mentor a youth or lady who has never turkey hunted before,” she said. “In August, I host our annual three-day Women in the Outdoors event in the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico.”
Learning opportunities abound, as this event has almost everything someone could possibly want to learn. Classes include conservation, turkey hunting, turkey calling, elk hunting, elk calling and waterfowl hunting. But, the fun is only beginning. Women can also learn about building emergency shelters, trapping and fur handling, fishing, wilderness survival, leather works, trap shotgun shooting, beginner muzzle loading, Dutch oven cooking, hiking and backpacking that includes a guided hike.
Women can also learn archery, including practice on a 3D archery course to simulate bow hunting situations, as well as how to compete in 3D archery competitions.
“We also have a turkey calling contest and the winner is crowned ‘Queen Gobbler’ each year during this event,” Butt said. “It is hard to believe that I started this six years ago with only four ladies in attendance, and on my sixth year it has grown to 72,” she said. “I am so excited each and every year to host this special event!
“My goal is to give youth and ladies an introduction to outdoor skills and training opportunities as well as educate them all on the importance of conservation. Whether they are there to learn how to hunt or fish, or perhaps they just want to learn how to set up camp and take their children camping or fishing, we hope to preserve our hunting heritage in all walks of life. Hunting can no longer survive on man alone. We need to focus on our youth and ladies in the sport. If I've reached at least one and they are hooked, then I've done my job.”
Butt said many women drive in from Arizona, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Alabama to attend events.
“Not only do these ladies leave with outdoor skills, they leave with friendships and a bond with each other that will last a lifetime,” she said. “It is probably the most rewarding feeling ever!”
In addition to the chapter’s above events, attendees also participate in several local events with their JAKES Take Aim trailer to encourage youth to get involved in the shooting sports, learn about conservation and experience a “talking turkey” class on how to properly use turkey calls.
At the end of all the events, Butt is not ready to slow down.
“I would like to get a Wheelin’ Sportsmen Day set up at Sportsman's Warehouse to offer turkey calling/hunting skills seminars and maybe even give away a turkey hunt to a disabled hunter,” she said.
“I could NOT do any of these events without our amazing, hard-working committee members, volunteers and instructors. I thank them so much for giving up their time to help with our organization. They truly are my heroes.”