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Huntress Hokuf targets Extreme Huntress finals

Tara Hokuf is a semifinalist in the 2019 Extreme Huntress competition. She is competing with 20 other women for the opportunity to be one of four finalists which will compete in a skills and hunting contest in Texas in the fall, and one of the four will be crowned champion in January. (Submitted Photo)

BEMIDJI -- Tara Hokuf has always loved the outdoors. From joining her grandfather, father and brother as the first female to hunt in the family, to now working with multiple outdoors organizations such as North Country Guide Service, Reel Camo Girl and Pro Whitetail, she has always been involved with outdoor recreation.

A few years ago, she came across Extreme Huntress, which is a worldwide organization that annually holds a competition seeking out a huntress who most embodies a woman who is a positive role model for other women and girls who want to participate in hunting.

Hokuf was busy tending to her first daughter at the time, but she knew she wanted to try her hand at the contest at some point.

Now she and her husband, Chad, have two daughters, Avery and Alex, and she “figured this was the year.”

After filling out an extensive application and turning in an essay and an optional video by the April 17 deadline, the Extreme Huntress panel of judges went to work.

In late April, the list of 20 semifinalists was released, and Hokuf found her name on it.

“Honestly, I didn’t even think I could make it to the semifinals because it’s an international competition, and I thought, ‘What does this northern Minnesota girl have compared to some of these people who can travel all over the world to hunt,” Hokuf said. “But I don’t think they’re looking for the trophy hunters. I think they’re looking for women who are passionate about the mission, and that’s me.”

Born and raised in Hibbing, Hokuf learned everything she knows about hunting and fishing from her brother, Jace Grangruth; father, Gary Grangruth; and grandfather, Curt Fischer, who is now deceased.

While “the guys” were encouraging and happy to have her on trips, they didn’t take it easy on her.

“Nobody was baiting my hooks for me or hauling my gear,” Hokuf said. “I always pulled my weight and did my part, and I think I’m better for that.”

Hokuf eventually moved to Bemidji to attend Bemidji State, from which she graduated in 2007 with a degree in psychology.

“I kind of fell in love with the community, as well as a local Bemidji boy,” she said. “We got married and started a family, and I haven’t left.”

With the 20 semifinalists in the Extreme Huntress competition selected, the next step in the competition is to narrow the field to four finalists through further judging by the panel as well as public voting.

Meadow Kouffeld, of Grand Rapids, joins Hokuf as the two Minnesotans who remain in the contest, while others come from all across the United States. Three of the 20 even hail from Europe, representing Slovakia, Sweden and Iceland.

To read Hokuf’s essay, watch her video, or to vote for finalists, visit Voting is open until June 1.

Once the names of the four finalists are announced, the women travel to ranches in Texas to compete head-to-head in fitness, shooting, tracking and hunting skills contests. The action is filmed and aired on the Extreme Huntress website beginning Oct. 1, after which the public will vote again.

Should she advance as a finalist, Hokuf’s biggest advantage, perhaps, is her hunting versatility and her willingness to try new things.

“I’m not a professional at any one thing,” she said. “I think you’ll notice with a lot of these women, they have their niche. They’re specifically really good at one certain thing or two certain things. I’ve tried to learn from so many people about so many different types of hunting and ways to hunt certain things, and I’ve to really broaden my horizons to make myself a well-rounded huntress. I don’t need to be the best. I just need to be ethical and fair, do things the right way and continue to be willing to learn from other people who know better than I do.”

Criteria for the champion is 60 percent based on judges’ scores in the hunting competition, 30 percent on outdoor skills competition scores and 10 percent on public voting.

The winner of the 2019 Extreme Huntress champion will be announced at a gala black-tie awards dinner in January at Dallas Safari Club.