By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The deer hunting opener is this weekend in Minnesota. It’s typically thought of as a big weekend for the men in this state, but they don’t hold exclusivity on the event.

“Us women can shoot anything that the men can shoot,” said Andrea Murphy.

Murphy and Fran Szczesniak are among the women who are, more and more, taking part in the weekend. For them, it’s not so much a hobby as it is a sport.

“For me it’s something different than what the average woman does. It’s more adventure. It’s getting out and doing things. I love being outside and this is another way to get out and do things outside,” said Szczesniak.

Among Szczesniak’s more memorable kills was a black bear. She grew up hunting with her father and brothers. She and Murphy became friends on the shooting range.

“I can understand now how men can go off for a weekend and not call their wives and not talk to them or tell them when they’re going to be home, because you just sort of forget everything,” said Murphy.

Murphy, originally from Alabama, said her passion for hunting started when she would go out with her husband years ago.

“The reason I love hunting is the tranquility. You don’t think about anything except just sitting there in the woods,” she said.

The pair took WCCO-TV along while they practiced their shot with a 30-30 rifle. Murphy said she wasn’t always this comfortable holding a gun.

“I had a horrible fear of firearms,” she admitted. “I wouldn’t even let my husband clean the firearms in my house. I would go out shopping.”

Murphy said learning how to handle a gun and hunt was empowering and enjoyable. She and Szczesniak now train and certify other women in firearm classes so they can go out and experience a sport that’s traditionally been dominated by men.

“We’re getting better educated and women are finding out that it’s a well-kept secret,” said Murphy.

The two teach their firearms classes for women through a business called Atlanta Lady. Murphy has a free safety class coming up at the Girlfriends Expo and Getaway.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Office says Minnesota’s nearly 500,000 deer hunters spend at least $260 million in retail sales every year and create nearly 5,300 jobs in greater Minnesota.


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