Television show tries to lure more women into hunting and fishing

(David Joles/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)
Female goose hunters Tracy Madsen (left), Galina Diller (center), and...
Story by Dennis Anderson
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
September 11, 2011
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MINNEAPOLIS — How to increase the number of people who hunt and fish?

A question often asked, and one with an obvious answer, say Lisa and Ed Retterath of Elko, Minn.

“Women.”

That firmly held belief was on display Saturday morning in the northern Twin Cities suburbs, as the Retteraths joined the opener of the state’s early goose season not by aiming guns — but cameras.

Co-owners and producers of the cable TV show “Women of the Wild Outdoors,” the Retteraths, along with two videographers, were on site during the first goose hunt of autumn as three women attempted to fell a honker or two.

As it happened, birds were fairly uncooperative — including a few that were shot at by the women but kept flying. But no matter. At morning’s end, the women gauged their outing not solely by their harvest, but by what they saw: birds in the air. Wings over decoys. Storm clouds above, with lightning, then clearing.

“Sometimes you don’t shoot much, but that’s part of the sport,” said Tracey Madsen of Buffalo. “But when geese do come in and lock up over your decoys, it’s so thrilling.”

Women having fun in the outdoors, whether fishing, hunting, skydiving or participating in a score of other activities, provides the story line for each episode of “Women of the Wild Outdoors.” (Aired three times weekly on the Pursuit Channel. DISH Network Ch. 240, DIRECT TV Ch. 608, www.womenofthewildoutdoors.com)

In its second year, the Retteraths’ venture remains for them a passionate undertaking, albeit one that so far just breaks even. “What gets me excited,” Ed said, “is that this is one way we can help save hunting. This is the way to get the woman’s voice out there. Women in our programs help showcase the outdoors to other women.”

“Women of the Wild Outdoors” is unique among outdoors programs in at least two ways. It broadcasts women participating in activities that often are considered male-dominated. And the show has no “star” to tie episodes together.

Instead the Retteraths use auditions, in part, to help determine who will carry each episode’s story line.

In Texas last year, for instance, they found a 16-year-old girl to tell her story. She already had killed 64 big-game animals worldwide. Interesting enough. “But we also filmed her sister,” Ed said, “who was on her first hunt and hadn’t yet killed anything. That made it more interesting.”

Joining Madsen on Saturday were Kassie Kranz of Waverly and Galina Diller of Oakdale.

Madsen’s name was drawn from among the women at Game Fair who said they’d be interested in hunting on the early opener and be filmed while doing it. A longtime Ducks Unlimited volunteer who finds waterfowling — she learned from her dad — challenging and exciting, she asked Kranz, a friend and veteran hunter, to come along.

Diller is the wife of Wendell Diller, inventor of the “quiet shotgun” and the metro goose hunting specialist who guided Saturday morning. His 7-foot-long shotguns issue only muffled “poofs,” giving them advantages when employed where a lot of geese hang out — in noise-averse suburbs.

“I find goose hunting very exciting,” said Galina.

The three women provided the kind of story the Retteraths like to tell — and the type they believe is necessary to bring more women outdoors.

“You don’t sell the outdoors by showing off another guy catching a monster fish,” Ed said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But to draw women to these activities, you have to show other women having fun.”

(c) 2011 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Dennis Anderson

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