Kansas women are exploring hunting and fishing like never before. Jessica White, founder and CEO of Wander Woman Kansas, has put together programs that have the ladies catfishing, deer hunting, shooting geese and other activities that many have never experienced.
Melissa Mitchell and Laura Hestwood both worked the Wander Woman Kansas booth at two sports shows this winter where women, wanting to try outdoor sports, flocked. Some may have a hunting and fishing background but just want to join the group where friendships are made and adventures are cherished.
“We welcome women from 18 to 80 years old,” Mitchell said. “I love how excited women become while learning about our group. We have a lot of fun — and everyone needs that these days.”
White started the Wander Woman Kansas group in October 2018 and she said the response has been amazing. Over 500 women have subscribed to the Wander Woman website requesting alerts of upcoming events so they can register. These events are open to Wander Woman members and non-members, however, having a membership provides quicker access to the various events.
White came from an outdoor background with both her mom and dad immersing her in outdoor activities. She’s participated in turkey hunting every spring in Kansas since childhood.
“My younger sister and I were raised spending time outdoors,” White said. “My dad is an accomplished hunter that loves to fish and always took Danielle and I out for trips. I’ve been in fields scouting and hunting since we could walk. My mom was always heavily involved with our Girl Scout trips, which got her more involved with volunteering in other outdoor organizations. She took us canoeing, camping, backpacking, rappelling, caving and kayaking. We enjoyed a very large mixture of outdoor experiences.”
White’s dad not only took his daughters hunting but he also listened to Jessica’s ideas.
“We were talking like anyone does while hunting to pass the time,” she said. “I was telling him something more was needed in my life, something different than what I was doing at that time. I really wanted to meet new people that enjoyed outdoor activities like I do.”
She had Googled hunting clubs and outdoor events but didn’t find what she was looking for.
“So, my dad suggested I look up the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF.) At that time, I had never heard of them or any other organization that is similar in programs. I signed up to volunteer with our NWTF chapter, and that is where it all began.”
White’s work with NWTF brought new personal connections and the desire to try new activities. She applied for a part-time job at Powder Creek Shooting Park and passed her test as a National Sporting Clays Association shotgun instructor. She is also a Hunters Education Instructor in Kansas.
White started attending more outdoor-oriented events and was the only consistent female involved. She soon discovered the NWTF’s program for women called “Women in The Outdoors” that held her same goals. She eventually was given the advice to start her own women’s outdoor group to provide events that fit her vision.
She attended an Orvis event in Leawood, Kansas, and told some of the guys about a program she had planned. Someone suggested the “Wander Woman” name and the following day she created a logo, website and Facebook page.
“When I started the group, I didn’t have large expectations,” White said. “I always wanted to provide some educational outdoor activities that women could come to if they wanted to learn a skill and enjoy the outdoor experiences my sister and I did. I learned early that having more experiences was really important but I wanted to do it on my own, and I wanted this for other women, too.”
White has been surprised by the growth of Wander Woman. She knew that women were ready for something like this to become available for new friendships and learning outdoor skills in a comfortable environment — perhaps more importantly to have a space to get away from their busy schedules while learning from someone other than their spouse.
White considers the jugline and goose hunt her favorites and the group just finished a ram hunt. After the jug-fishing experience, the women learned how to fillet their catfish, culminating in a memorable fish fry that evening.
A guided crappie fishing excursion on Missouri’s Truman Lake was held in March and everyone caught big fish. Later this year they have scheduled a hot-air balloon ride, deer antler shed hunt and a morel mushroom hunt. White even created the Wander Woman Bass Tournament with trophies and other prizes.
Wander Woman continuously seeks new adventures, and the possibilities are endless for this extraordinary group.
“We have now traveled to four different states to hunt or fish,” White said. “Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and most recently Texas where new opportunities were provided. I can honestly say we don’t experience any problems at our events. I always make sure the women and those hosting an event are familiar with safety.”
Wander Woman members are welcoming and encouraging to every participant. Many leave with a new group of close friends.
“I have never experienced at least 90% of the activities we provide,” White said. “We have all levels of experienced women attending our events. I focus each event on considering anyone coming is completely brand new to the adventure, even if they are not. Because let’s face it, we can always learn something new when you spend time in the outdoors even if you’ve been doing it for years.”
For more information, check their website at www.wanderwomanks.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page.
The Wander Woman Creed:
“Wander Woman is a program for empowering women and others to develop confidence, enjoy time exploring, and learn outdoor skills.”