BOW program celebrates 20 years of connecting women to the outdoors


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Learn how to hunt deer. Tie a fly and catch trout. Call a turkey. Go kayaking. Women and families all over Minnesota are learning these and more skills through the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Donna Tirpack helps a BOW participant during Deer Day.

Minnesota offers more BOW programs than any other state in the nation, with more than 100 family and women-specific offerings. In early May, DNR staff honored volunteers and celebrated two decades of BOW.

“The program wouldn’t exist without volunteers and their commitment, knowledge and passion,” said Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator with the DNR. “These women share their skills and help each other connect with nature in a supportive environment. And exploring the outdoors is simply more fun with friends.”

Classes taught in a noncompetitive environment cover a range of outdoors skills, from Fishing 101 to guided sturgeon fishing adventure trips, from firearms safety classes to mentored archery deer hunts. For a list of upcoming BOW classes and events, see the BOW calendar.

“The BOW program has long been the gold standard in providing ways for adult women and families to learn outdoor skills,” said Jay Johnson, DNR hunting recruitment and retention supervisor. “Often they learn these skills through multi-session classes that move participants from low to high skill levels.”

Besides helping to recruit new hunters, BOW fosters a social support system for women looking to make friends through outdoor sports and hone newly learned skills, said Johnson.

“A great example of this is the Women’s Hunting Archery Series. It’s a collaboration between BOW and the North Country Bowhunters Chapter of Safari Club International. With each class, women have a chance to better their skills and share in each other’s success,” Johnson said.

Read more about the history and download the BOW catalog.