Ladies want real outdoors clothes

Recently a friend was gushing to me about the wonderful bargains he had found on some outdoor clothes at a sale. A new camouflage jacket was reduced to just $50 and new boots for $98.

I also remembered that just last year, a hunting buddy remarked that my camouflage looked like the latest thing from the 1960s, which it actually was, except for a pair of binoculars, I haven’t paid over one dollar for anything I wear into the woods in the last 25 years.

I have written before that I have 45 pairs of hunting boots and didn’t pay over a dollar for any of them. Walt Young got on my case about that. He threatened to come to my house to actually see if I had that many boots. He never did. But I did and still do have that many boots. I have a unique situation when it comes to boots. Boys sizes fit me perfectly. Folks buy boots for their sons for hunting season and by the next year, they are too small. So, those lightly-worn boots go into their yard sale and I come along and buy them. If they fit me, I can’t pass them up.

A few decades ago when I was traveling all over the states to hunt turkeys, I acquired all kinds — and different brands — of camouflage. They were the latest thing then and I bagged many a turkey while wearing them. Well, I still have them, still wear them and still bag turkeys while wearing them. I feel no need to have the latest patterns while I still have perfectly good camo togs that seem indestructable.

I do have great reluctance to wear any of those shaggy leafy suits that make you look like a hairy Sasquatch. If I saw someone dressed like that coming toward me in the woods, I’d be very upset. They could look like a bear. I would never, never wear one of those suits.

Summer and early fall yard sales and church rummage sales are full of camo shirts, socks, trousers and boots. You either get up and go to some of them and find some of these bargains, or you pay $100 for a new one. My fluorescent orange deer hunting coat cost 50 cents at a yard sale and I have been wearing it for seven years now. It’s beginning to fray a little around the edges but then so am I.

If you go back a few decades, there was no such thing as camo clothes for women. So we had to buy mens clothes and remodel them. Not being at all acquainted with a sewing machine, I just rolled up the legs and the sleeves and let it go at that. I had a huge safety pin and I used that to hitch the trousers over at the waist and pin them shut.

One day, at an outdoor writer’s meeting, a representative from an outdoor clothing manufacturer asked me if I would like to be a critic. He said his company was going to try to offer outdoor clothing for women and they would like my opinion. I was happy to give them mine.

Some months later, a box was delivered to my house and inside was a camo shirt. It hung to my knees and there was so much material there that if I wanted to tuck it in, I’d look pretty roly-poly and would scarcely be able to move. The arms were still six inches too long. The only change they had made was to change the side the buttons and button holes were on and that was to be the women’s version of a camo shirt.

I got back to them with my feedback on that insulting move. I never heard from them again and some years later they were out of business. I was not at all surprised.

Another ridiculous move was related to me by some indignant women who were at this event. Seems some company decided to present a fashion show for outdoor women so they rented a large hall in a large city and advertised it heavily. The ladies waited patiently, relieved that at last they were going to see practical hunting and fishing clothes that would fit and be useful.

What they got was models wearing polka dotted hip boots with matching creels, slinky camo lingerie not at all fit for use in the woods, boots in various pastel colors, hot pink raincoats with matching hats, and so on. It was a visceral insult to these women and if I had been there, it sure would have been to me.

Since then, many companies have realized that outdoor women — I’m talking real hunters, not posers for TV programs — are not looking for hoop earrings and lipstick to take hunting. They want clothes that fit. And now we have them.

Anything we want, but of course, they are usually very expensive so that is why I’m still wearing those remodeled mens vests and shirts and getting along just fine.

I have a treasure chest of such memories that makes me just smile when I remember them.

When I meet a hunter in the woods, he doesn’t stop and freeze in shock and croak “What are you doing out here?” like I heard scores of times back when. Now they look at me and ask tentatively ” Would your name be Shirley?” Now that’s better.

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