Once a rare sight among Minnesota hunters, women are increasingly commonplace in the state's woods and fields during fall grouse, pheasant, waterfowl and deer seasons.
Their greater participation in the field sports is also noted in spring during Minnesota's April and May turkey hunting seasons. Increasingly, women are also taking leadership roles in the state's conservation and environment groups, including the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Below are profiles of four Minnesota women who will chase gobblers this spring.
Nikki Harrington, 43, Shoreview
Growing up in a family that hunted, Harrington was familiar with fall pursuits for pheasants and deer. But she had never hunted turkeys. Then, in 2007, a good friend, Lorraine Edwards, introduced her to the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and, through the organization, to turkey hunting.
Though Harrington hadn't yet hunted turkeys, in January 2008 she and Edwards attended the state NWTF convention in northern Minnesota.
It was there that Harrington's nascent interest in turkey hunting caught the eye of another gobbler hunter, Todd Harrington, who would become her husband.
"That spring, in 2008, was the first year I hunted turkeys, and Lorraine and I were on her grandfather's property in Le Sueur County,'' Nikki Harrington said. "It was a great hunt. I got a nice tom, a 21-pounder. We had seen it running and ended up stalking it before eventually sitting down against a tree. Lorraine did the calling. The bird came in and I shot it when it was about 25 yards away.''
Harrington is now a volunteer with the North Metro Longbeards Chapter of NWTF and is especially interested in getting youth involved in hunting, whether for turkeys or other game species.
"Since that first turkey hunt of mine in 2008, I now hunt turkeys in both spring and fall,'' she said. "In the spring I hunt with Lorraine, and in the fall I hunt with my husband.''