Scott Rall: Ladies can learn to love the outdoors

Scott RallDaily Globe outdoors columnist I was out in the boat the other day and I saw something that is not rare but is somewhat uncommon. I saw a gal in the boat fishing with her husband or boyfriend. What I have only seen one or two times in t...

SCOTT RALL/DAILY GLOBE The Nistler sisters, Coleen Rook, Judy Dallman, Elaine Omann and Mary Gerdes are a perfect example of women in the outdoors. They recently got together at upper red lake for a fishing outing in the rain.

Scott Rall
Daily Globe outdoors columnist 

I was out in the boat the other day and I saw something that is not rare but is somewhat uncommon. I saw a gal in the boat fishing with her husband or boyfriend. What I have only seen one or two times in the past 10 years is a boat on the water that was occupied by only ladies who were actively fishing.
Gals go along and participate but there are just not all that many gals who will pilot their own boat on a fishing outing. I have seen more gals driving pontoons and other recreational boats but not very many piloting their own fishing boat.
There is one lady I met a few years back, her name is Kristi Coughlon. She is an information officer for the DNR, and that lady can give any other angler, man or woman, a run for their money in the fishing and hunting department.
It is not because they can’t do it. Ladies can develop their skills as anglers and hunters as good as any guy.
Last week on my annual fishing outing with my son and son-in-law I was anchored in a river and saw what appeared to be a sole lady getting ready to fish from shore a short distance away. It was a few minutes later that another gal showed up and then yet another, and after that yet one more. We were done fishing for the day and loaded the boat about 50 yards away from where they were fishing.
When we had stowed the gear I walked over to the group and introduced myself and asked how it was that there were four gals all fishing together and having such a good time doing it. The story they told me was one that made me ask myself why this is not happening all over the nation.
All four ladies were sisters from a family of 13 kids. There were six sisters and seven brothers.
These ladies did lots of outdoor things together. When their men were on an outing together they would get together and do things outside. Fishing was one of those things, but by all means not the only thing. One gal told me if I thought they were pretty good fisher ladies that I should see them in deer camp. They hunt deer and ruffed grouse, among other things. One gal calls grouse partridge, even though she knows they are grouse, not partridge. It worked for me.
If there was one thing about this interaction that was so satisfying, it was just how excited they got when they caught a fish. One lady caught a walleye about 10 minutes into their day that was bigger than any walleye that our boat had caught in the past three full days of fishing, and everyone was just as excited as the one who caught it.
It was very cool to see ladies enjoying the outdoors, and they were doing it without the help or guidance of any guys. They were self-sufficient and more than skilled at what they were doing.
They had grown up about 25 miles south of Upper Red Lake and had spent their entire lives in the outdoors. They now lived in various distant locations but never missed the opportunity to get together and spend time in some form of outdoor recreation.
I asked them if they had ever hunted pheasants. They said no, and after I took a few pictures for this column I offered them an opportunity to travel to southwest Minnesota this fall to do just that. I don’t know if they will take me up on that offer, but I take lots of folks who have never shot a pheasant before and provide that opportunity to them to do so. These ladies all knew their way around a shotgun, so I figured it would be an easy guiding experience. Only time will tell.
There is a program in Minnesota that helps ladies above the age of 14 to become outdoors women. Guess what, it’s called B.O.W. (Becoming an Outdoors Woman). I googled “bow mn dnr” and the web page for this program came right up.
It has a very cool history and was started in 1991 by Christine Thomas at a Wisconsin college. She determined after a little research that ladies preferred to learn outdoor skills in a non-competitive environment and preferred to be taught by other ladies. It came to Minnesota in 1994 with cooperation with Thomas and it is my understanding that many of the people who helped start it are still involved with it yet today some 22 years later. How cool is that?
So let’s assume you are a gal over the age of 14 or you know a gal over the age of 14. Just what can the B.O.W. Program teach you to do?
The list is very long but here are a few. Shore fishing, boat fishing, fly fishing, fly tying, boat fly fishing, and ice fishing.
Now let’s learn hunting. Firearms safety, firearms hunting, archery basics, archery hunting, turkey hunting, air guns, hand gun basics, beginner rifle shooting, beginner shotgun shooting, upland bird hunting, and dog training.
The list just goes on and on. Want to learn how to drive an ATV? There is a class for that. Want to become a bird watcher? There is a class for that. They can teach you how to drive a boat or paddle a canoe. They can teach you the basic of camping, and I have covered only about half of what is available. There are 54 scheduled training events on the calendar between now and Oct. 1.
Linda Bylander is the B.O.W. Program coordinator and her phone number is 218-203-4347. If you think that you would like to get a little more involved in the outdoors, she would be the No. 1 person in the state to call to get that done.
Go to the B.O.W. program web site and check out all that is available. There is a fee for some programs and you will need a fishing license and some other stuff, but all of that is workable. They even have some scholarships available on a limited basis to help offset some of the costs. By and large, being outdoors is not really all that expensive.
You can make it expensive if you want, but with a few of the basics you can enjoy a day afield for a pretty low cost.
I just had a gentleman who is about to retire stop in my office. He was wondering if I could help him with the basics of shore fishing and I told him sure. I tell everyone sure. If you are a person, gal or guy who wants to take up fishing you can contact me at and I will be glad to help you get started by sharing some basic knowledge and skills you will need to get under way. There is no greater satisfaction than helping someone get started in a life outside.
If they happen to be ladies, all the better. Meeting the Nistler sisters helped me reinvigorate my desire to help get more people outside. It was great to meet them and I made an outdoor memory that will last a very long time.

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