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Minnesota businesses cater to 'hunting widows'

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While some half a million Minnesotans will take to the woods during the deer hunting season which began this weekend, many of their spouses and significant others will take to the shopping malls, restaurants and night clubs for their own getaways.

Those so-called "hunting widows" are being wooed more and more by businesses around Minnesota.

“The boys will hunt, the girls will shop,” said Dawn Hilde, who was shopping in downtown Fargo Saturday with her best friend Susan Neuenschwander, according to the Fargo Forum.

Hilde’s husband is deer hunting this weekend in Polk County along with his four brothers and a nephew, she said, and Neuenschwander’s husband is out with friends, so they're doing some shopping and supporting businesses in downtown Fargo, according to the Forum.

Business owners have noticed the "hunting widows" trend and are doing more to cater to those customers, who are most often women.

In the southern part of the state, for example, Lake City is hosting its second annual "Doe Days," put on by local merchants, with special activities, sales and refreshments to attract more visitors, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

"It's not just sales, it's entertainment. it's a whole weekend full of fun things to do," said Jil Garry, owner of Treats and Treasures, who has been instrumental in organizing Doe Days. Garry told the Post Bulletin the response has been great, and more businesses are participating this year than they did last year.

Doe Days also included an art crawl, an appearance by a local author, a progressive brunch and a spa day.

Retailers in nearby towns including St. Charles, Utica, Lewiston, Eyota, and Dover also are hosting special Ladies Weekend activities, according to the Post Bulletin.

Lots of other places are hosting special activities this weekend as well, including the Brainerd Lakes area, Alexandria, and the new Premium Outlets Mall in Eagan.

Of course, not everyone left behind is a hunting "widow," since thousands of women go out hunting themselves during deer season.

In 2011, last year for which data was available, the DNR issued approximately 56,000 firearms deer hunting licenses to women, according to the website Women Hunting and Fishing, which promotes outdoor activities for women.

That's a nearly 32 percent increase in women hunters over the previous five years. But women still make up only about 11 percent of the 500,000 gun deer hunters in Minnesota.

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