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Outdoor Women at Big Oaks

June 10, 2023

Outdoor Women at Big Oaks (OWBO) is a 1 day event for women, ages 12 and over, who want to learn basic skills and appreciation about an environment that encourages fun and success in the outdoors. Courses such as fishing, canoeing, bird watching, archery, and much more! All activities begin and end at the beautiful historic Old Timbers Lodge. Only 110 spots are available so register early! 

This fundraiser ends May 6th, 2023. Shirts will be shipped to you in time for the event on June 10th, 2023.

*this is just one of many options for you to choose from

*Registration is non-refundable and prices are subject to change

To register, mail in this form (coming soon) to:

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge Office


1661 West JPG Niblo Road

Madison, IN 47250

Registration fees:

  • $55 per person for members (BOCS) if postmarked before May 4th.

  • $65 per person for non-member (BOCS) if postmarked before May 4th.

  • $70 per person for BOCS membership & event registration if postmarked before May 4th.

  • $35 for participants 12-22 years of age. Must take same classes as guardian/parent if under 18.

  • $80 per person from May 5th thru May 25th

Your registration fee includes:

  • Welcome gift

  • 4 classes (including all class materials)

  • Continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshments

  • Day Pass to Big Oaks NWR

Event Schedule:
07:45 -- 09:00 AM : Welcome, Breakfast, and Refuge Safety Briefing (required) at Old Timbers Lodge
09:00 -- 04:00 PM : Class Sessions and Lunch
04:00 -- 04:45 PM : Re-group for wrap up and evaluations

2019 Course Descriptions (2023 coming soon!)

Archery, Basic. Basic archery skills will be covered and students will have hands on experience with modern archery equipment shooting at a bull’s eye type target. Requires a short walk on a gravel road to site.

Atlatl Throwing. Learn the history and get a short safety lesson on how to throw an Atlatl. An atlatl is a spear throwing tool used by Native Americans and Eskimos. Have a throwing competition!

Art with Nature. Learn how to make nature a part of art.

Attracting Moths to Your Pollinator Garden. Learn how to incorporate specific nectar and host plants in your pollinator garden to attract nighttime pollinators. Learn about techniques to observe nighttime pollinators who are not attracted to light.

Backyard Bugs. Want to learn more about your local creepy crawlies? Indiana is home to many insects, but many of them hide in trees, in creeks, under logs and even under your feet! Join a local entomologist to explore some of the insect diversity found at Big Oaks and learn how to identify the most common groups you can find in your own backyard. Comfortable shoes and clothes that can get wet/damp and dirty.

Beginners Outdoor Yoga. What a good way to enjoy your amazing day with a stretch! Outdoor yoga will add another dimension and can intensify the yoga experience in many ways. This nature inspired class will drive home -focusing awareness, breathing deeply, practicing stillness.
The class will take place outside in the grass and participants must bring a beach towel, blanket, or yoga mat. Stretchy clothing is recommended.

Bird Watching. Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge is home to many different species of birds. You’ll learn how to select and use binoculars and field guides. Then you’ll go birding in the field with experts to learn birds by sight and song. Refuge Manager Joe Robb will be one of your instructors ~ you can’t help but find his enthusiasm contagious! Be sure to wear hiking shoes for a slow walk through the woods. Binoculars and field guides will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Canoeing and Kayaking, Basic. Learn how to get in and out of a canoe and/or kayak while staying dry. Practice several paddling methods including how to travel in a straight line. This course is taught on a lake, so be prepared. You may get wet. Bring extra clothing and a towel…just in case. Sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses would be a good idea, too. Van takes you to lake.

Cooking Wild Game. A taste of the wild will provide participants with a mix of hands-on wild game preparation as well as opportunities to try a variety of wild game dishes. Participants will leave the session with yummy recipes and some insights into the hunter/gather life style.

Crossbow Hunting from a Tree Stand. Learn to load and shoot a crossbow. To simulate a true deer hunt, experience the use of different tree stands: Climb a tree safely with the use of a Climbing tree stand: assemble and install a Ladder stand: and mount a Hang-on stand with the use of a climbing stick. After settling into your stand, take a practice shot at a deer target.
No sandals or open toe shoes.

Falconry. The course gives an overview of falconry, a sport in which licensed experts train raptors (most often falcons and hawks) for hunting.

Filleting Fish. Learn how to fillet a fish. Try to fillet a fish yourself.

Fire Building. Learn how to build a fire. Practice your skills. Show off to your friends the next time you start a campfire!

Firearm Familiarity. Live fire demonstrations are included in this course, which covers basic firearm safety and instruction. Participants will have an opportunity to practice shooting handguns and rifles. All equipment is provided. Van will take you to site.

Fly Fishing. Fishing with a fly rod is the natural way to catch fish. Learn about equipment basics, rods, lines, reels and flies, and general casting techniques. This basic course should provide you with enough information to start you off in the right direction for years of fly fishing adventures. All equipment for this course is provided. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy and wet. Van will take you to site.

Herb Gardening. Slide on your crocs, smear on some sunscreen and grab your trowel! Master Gardener, Candi Johns, is back. Join her this year as she walks participants through the basics of starting an herb garden. Learn about soil preparation, seed sowing, transplanting, plant care, pest management, harvesting and more. Participants will even take home an herb for their garden!

Intro to Trap Shooting. Learn the basics of firearm safety and trap shooting, including proper gun mounting and leading the target. Then practice shooting sporting clays with an expert. All equipment for this course provided. Vans will take you to area.

Knot Knowledge. Reef knot, timber hitch, bowline, sheet bend, taut line… Selecting the right knot can be critical in outdoor pursuits. You will learn to tie the basic knots necessary for camping, canoeing, and hiking. This course assumes the participants have little to no experience with knots.

Kombucha Basics. This class will teach what you need & how to get started to brew your own Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea that can take several weeks to prepare. It can be found today in many grocery stores in the health food, refrigerated section. This class is for those with no past experience brewing Kombucha.

Living Green. Basic tips and strategies of a lifestyle of living green. Learn recycling, composting tips, buying more green products, reducing energy loss and more in order to live a life that is healthier for our earth.

Master Naturalist, Intro. This is an introduction to the Indiana Master Naturalist program. Learn how it works, the certification process and a question and answer session. A tree identification hike will follow as a sample of what you can learn. Wear appropriate shoes to walk in the woods.

Mushrooms. Fungus among us! We will explore the various types of fungi and slime molds found in the forests of southern Indiana. We will learn basic terminology and how to collect, identify, and preserve specimens to create a personal collection. Class is designed for those with very little to no mushroom knowledge. Identification guides and collecting material will be provided for use. Dress appropriately for a hike through the woods.

Mushroom Inoculation. Learn how to inoculate a log to grow your own mushrooms.

Providing Homes for Wildlife. Learn how to provide wildlife habitat using plants/native materials in your yard. Plus build a house for a bird or animal.

Rappelling. Get basic instruction on rappelling before you practice rappelling down a cliff by the lodge. This class requires some upper body strength and hike back to the top. Wear sturdy shoes – no open toe shoes.

Self Defense. Having the knowledge and courage to protect yourself is important. Participants will be introduced to the basics of self-defense. The session will focus on verbal and physical strategies for dealing with aggressive confrontations and will provide the opportunity to practice the use of these skills in drills and simulated attack scenarios. Active participation is encouraged and participants must be ready to have fun! Short walk to site.

Smartphone Photography. This course will focus on smartphone photography because the best camera to use is the one that is with you. We will also go over useful applications for exploring outdoors, identifying plants and animals and editing pictures so you can share all sorts of exciting information when you show off your pictures. Please bring smartphone (android or ios), powerbank or fully charged. Shoes for walking in the woods.

Tai Chi. Get a brief description of what Tai Chi is, see an exhibition and learn some beginning movements. This is a low impact, slow motion exercise. Wear clothing you can move in and shoes that will allow you to pivot on your toes.

Tomahawk Throwing. Maybe you know how to shoot or use archery equipment, but do you know how to accurately throw a tomahawk? Discover the basics of tomahawk throwing during this fun, hands-on class! Short walk to site.

Wild Edibles/ Medicinal Plants. Join us as we go “organic” and discover local plants you can use for food or Medicine! Bring a hand lens if you have one. Be prepared to walk in the woods.

Wild Water. Learn potential problems with “wild” water - what makes it unsafe for human consumption. Learn historical facts on water safety; where to look for water (in our area only); warning signs of contamination; how much water you need; how to delay (or avoid) dehydration; signs & symptoms of dehydration; how to collect water (tarps, solar stills, plants, etc.) and how to filter water using various methods.

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