It started as a friendship among three women who shared a passion for hunting and fishing. In less than a year, despite the interruption of a worldwide pandemic, it has become an organization of 100 members and continues to grow. They call themselves “Long Island Babes and Bucks.”
Shelter Islander Julia Weisenberg, who is a member of the town’s Deer & Tick Committee, met Jacqueline Molina of Smithtown while at an archery site at Smith Point.
The two were in adjoining lanes practicing their skills and were the only two women there that day. They began chatting, became friends and were joined by Marissa Estatio of Smithtown in forming the organization last January — just two months before the world closed down to deal with COVID-19.
But in that short time, Babes and Bucks gained 50 members and has now grown to about 100, Ms. Weisenberg said.
“It took off by itself,” she said.
Its aim is bring together women and girls who share an interest in hunting and/or fishing, whether they are beginners, intermediate or expert hunters and/or anglers. Prior to the existence of the organization, most women only shared their interests in these activities with men.
But some, particularly the women who were new to such activities, were intimidated by the men and didn’t find the camaraderie they have since found with other females, Ms. Weisenberg said.
“Our goal is to educate and create life-long friendships while showing the world what we were made of,” according to the group’s Facebook home page.
Ms. Weisenberg describes herself as a relative newcomer to the sport of hunting starting in 2017. She thinks her interest began when, growing up, she heard her mother talk about taking an archery course while in college.
It piqued her interest enough that Ms. Weisenberg took a course and began practicing and has become a capable archer, she said. When she’s not hunting or fishing or raising her children, she is an Athletic and Fitness Association of America certified fitness trainer, and a National Academy of Sports Medicine accredited senior fitness specialist and women’s fitness specialist.
She became involved in the issue of the proliferating deer population on Shelter Island and began attending Deer & Tick meetings, contributing ideas from the audience until her recent appointment to that committee.
She said seeing the efforts from the other side of the table has offered its own education.
She hopes that members of the Babes and Bucks group might eventually be able to assist with the hunt on Shelter Island where herd reduction remains critical.
Ms. Weisenberg also learned from a neighbor how to butcher the deer meat she puts on her own table, while contributing many pounds of venison to the refrigerated unit at Shelter Island’s Recycling Center where residents can claim it without charge.
Those new to hunting and/or fishing are able to get guidance about everything from equipment to techniques in Babes and Bucks, Ms. Weisenberg said. Some who join have an interest, but no knowledge of what’s required to get started.
The group has been able to reach out to some sporting goods stores where owners have provided raffle prizes that can be valuable in getting the newbies into the outdoor sports.
Because of the pandemic, activities have had to be limited, but the group did gather in Centereach once in July for a barbecue where they were able to socially distance but share conversations with one another. When the pandemic subsides, Ms. Weisenberg wants to bring her new friends to Shelter Island for a fundraising event to benefit a local organization.
That’s something members have dedicated themselves to do, raising money not for themselves but organizations in need of funding at a time when so many are strapped for money with other sources drying up during the pandemic.
The group did a food drive to benefit the Island Harvest efforts in Bay Shore. The Retreat, the East Hampton-based program to benefit victims of domestic abuse, just received a $520 check, profits from a virtual 5K race in which Ms. Weisenberg participated.
Other recent recipients of support from Babe sand Bucks include the North Fork Breast Health Coalition in Riverhead, the New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead, Group for the East End based in Southold, Spirits Promise, the Riverhead-based equine rescue organization and Bully Crew, a canine rescue organization in Patchogue.