Ask the average person what her or his passion is, and you will most likely get a scratch of the head, a big pause, a few hem-haws, and, well, often a desperate search for the answer. Ask David Fishley, owner, outfitter, and guide at Alberta Parkland Waterfowl Professionals, and he never hesitates, saying, “It’s everything outdoors. I grew up an avid hunter, especially ducks and geese, which the Alberta Parkland is rich in.”
After 20-plus years in the business, David has emerged as one of the premier outfitter and guide services in Canada’s Alberta Parkland, an area rich in agriculture and scenery, which not only Canadians frequent, but also hunters from as far away as Texas, California, and Tennessee—spouting rave reviews about David’s hunts, his guides, and his accommodations. There’s about to be a change, though, which all started with a comment from David’s wife, Tammy.
Marrying a hunter probably means that if you’re not a hunter, too, that will change. And it did for Tammy. She took up waterfowling alongside her hubby, and, as the expression goes, “Everyone lived happily ever after.” Well, mostly.
It was the invitation to go hunting one day that sparked an idea for David. Tammy asked who was going. “The usual suspects—the guys,” David replied. His spouse paused and then replied, “No thank you. Too much testosterone.” Too much testosterone meant the obvious: let’s get the guys out of the picture.
David’s thinking became more solidified when talking with another female hunter later on in the season who had been part of a guy-girl hunt. Her frustrated look after coming in from the fields forced David to inquire, “You look annoyed!” “Oh, I am,” the girl replied. “I missed a couple of shots today, and one of the guys got real uppity. ‘How did you miss that?’ he quipped.”
“And your reply?”
“I didn’t. It just reminded me that I don’t get that from another girl. You remember Susie?” David nodded. “Well, last season, I missed some shots, and she didn’t berate me. In fact, she said those where tough shots. She doubted she would have made them, too.” That set the stage for David.
As he began the process of putting together a women-only hunt for the 2019 season, David also recognized some other benefits that he felt were part of the female make-up. Most women really enjoy the social interaction with other women. For example, on a deer or elk hunt, it’s mum’s the word—prolonged patience. But it’s not like that in a duck or goose blind, where you can converse and interact between the flights of birds. Harvested fields are their landing pad, and you have a front row seat.
There was another thing that David knew would be appreciated by the women. It was the gratification angle. Unlike that elk hunt where you have a tag and one kill (and maybe just one shot), a waterfowling trip with David means high bag limits. On morning and evening hunts, you get that hunting “rush” over and over again.
Another important aspect of the hunting experience for women is the need for privacy, security, safety, and convenience. Although Canada is an international destination, it’s a mere hop, skip, and jump by airplane from the United States. Upon arrival, it won’t be long before you realize that hunting with Alberta Parkland Waterfowl Professionals is a first-world event that you will hold near and dear to you heart.
Midway through 2019’s inaugural women-only hunt, David could already see the fruits of his undertaking. Every woman had a sparkle in her eyes and a smile on her face. “I told you,” his wife said. “Just look and listen. It’s hanging out time. The chatting, the fun, the camaraderie… it’s like a pajama party. And what stories they will tell when they get back home!”
The 2019 hunting season has come and gone. David’s decision to host his first women-only hunt was quite the success. This inaugural event also laid the groundwork for the 2020 season. What he gleaned from the first hunt has become fodder for a new plan, much of which, he knows, will be a great experience for the girls.
Accommodations are usually not very high on a guy’s priority list when it comes to a hunt. As long as the creek’s not rising, and there’s no ice on the pond, he can do just fine in a tent. Not the case with most of the ladies. They’ll mix it up in the fields, but when the day’s over, they want to be pampered. That being the case, a nearby bed-n-breakfast is available for the 2020 season, with single and double occupancy, as well as maid service, a cook, internet access, and hairdryers.
Two separate weeks have been reserved for women-only hunts for 2020 in September and October. The two time frames being offered are “3 days/5 hunts”—one arriving on Sunday and out on Wednesday, and the other option arriving on Wednesday and out on Saturday. If you’re a really passionate waterfowler, book the entire week and enjoy 11 hunts.
Two different styles of hunts are offered. The “premium” package is all-inclusive—transportation, accommodations, meals, and a variety of shotguns and ammunition at no extra charge. You just show up in your hunting clothes, and David provides the rest. The “premium platinum” package is also all-inclusive, plus David is your personal guide, and you receive a video of your experience.
Dogs are essential for waterfowling. Expect to see black labs and, you guessed it, a female guide. As David often says, “Dogs are a big thing, and they really add to the hunt. We encourage people to bring their own ‘trained’ dogs, and if that’s not the case, ours are national-level, field-trial dogs.”
One challenge that David knows waits in the wings is finding the female audience. Unlike the guys’ demographics, whose average age is 65 and disposable income is ample, female hunters are typically younger with not near the disposable income. To that end, David is fielding speaking opportunities at various hunting and waterfowling association banquets where women have a spot on the dais and at several outdoor-oriented national trade shows where speaking spots are available. Of course, we at Wildlife Enthusiast Magazine will spread the gospel whenever the opportunity arises.
~ By Bill Newton
Bill Newton serves as the Business Development Director for Wildlife Enthusiast Magazine. Bill has a keen interest in wildlife and habitat conservation and also is an accomplished writer and acknowledged wine aficionado. In addition to his role at Wildlife Enthusiast, he is the Managing Partner for Rutting Ridge Cellars, where he oversees all of the company’s activities, including the promotion and sales of the Rutting Ridge proprietary brand of wine to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 220,000+ members. Rutting Ridge is proud to be a founding supporter of this digital magazine. Bill really enjoys pairing fine wines with fine dining, and you’ll often find him in the kitchen, masterminding the evening meal.