There are many ways to prepare for a hunt. As I wrote in my last column, practice is crucial. I feel strongly about preparing for the hunt mentally and physically, as well as equipment wise. Preparation takes more than a few days, or even more than a few weeks so I prepare and practice all year. Knowing how much time I devote to my passion this particular column is about how I prepare at home because that is really where everything begins. Before I get too far into this article though I want to say that I am a very lucky guy. I have a very supportive wife in Deb and she encourages me to chase my bow hunting dreams. I guess the way she encourages me makes me want to also encourage her in pursuing her dreams.
I am a just regular guy but one who has a great passion for bowhunting. Some might even say it is an obsession. I think about hunting constantly but I am also married and even though hunting is on my mind, I have learned a few things that have helped not only my hunting progress, but also in my relationship with my wife.
Deb has become a proficient huntress in her own right so she understands why I feel about bowhunting as I do and that certainly makes our relationship easier at home. I also want to say that what I’m writing here are just suggestions and since every relationship is different they may not be the best course of action for you.
We bow hunters understand the extra time we need in the field, so maybe a few thoughtful words or actions at home will make it a little easier and more fun to stay in the woods with the woman, or man in your life at home. I personally hunt roughly 50 or so days a year and scout even more. I am a guy with a full time job during the day and a part-time job at Triggers Pro Shop at night and some weekends. Plus, with all the other preparation’s for hunting season time is precious commodity.
I have been married to my wonderful bride Deb for eleven years. Admittedly we have had our ups and downs just like any other relationship out there. In fact in the beginning I had explained to Deb my passion for hunting and what it meant to be in the wild. Yet, I don’t think she was completely prepared for just how passionate I was. I find a sense of peace in the wild that cleanses my soul of the rust or mildew that seems to form with the rigors of everyday life. As I found out, this soul cleansing also gave me energy and perspective to help enhance my relationship with my wife. I hope that some of the examples that have helped me strengthen my relationship and afford me the time spent in the woods can also help you.
1. I continually support and encourage Deb to attain her dreams just as she has encouraged me to attain mine. In the beginning our dreams were a little different but we do not live as complete a life if our dreams are not attained in some form or another. As I said before, Deb does have an understanding of how it feels to be an archery hunter in the woods, but unlike me she is not consumed with hunting but does understand the lengths I will go to prepare for a hunt. She enjoys being in the field and puts in her time at the range and prepares for the hunt herself, but she has other interests as well. I have been lucky enough to spend time hunting in many western states chasing elk while Deb likes to travel and has gone to Europe to visit friends. Do we have the disposable income to just put in for tags in all the western states or for that matter for Deb to go to Europe? No, but we saved as a team and we have both been able to achieve little pieces of the big dream.
2. I hear of guys with long ‘honey do’ lists. I guess I am lucky because I don’t have one. I do try though to cook supper, clean up after myself and yes, even vacuum to make it a little easier on my wife when she comes home from a hard day at work. It helps ease her mind so she doesn’t feel like she has to do everything while I am hunting. I know I don’t do this every day but I try to help out when I can.
3. I take my bride out on dates now and then; we also try to make time for a weekend getaway from time to time. Even though Deb has become a good huntress herself she appreciates the time to just be us, from sipping a cold beer in a pub somewhere or going to Wyoming to take pictures of the bighorn sheep in the spring. The funny thing is, given the place we live, truly a hop away from Wyoming and a skip from Montana; our getaways always seem to go right through a prospective hunting area. We make a game out of looking for wildlife with a camera always at the ready. We live in the Black Hills of South Dakota where there is ample opportunity to go for hikes and walks or enjoy the wonders that surround us. For her birthday I try to make it special and a ‘her’ time. Also, Deb likes to golf and, while neither of us is that good at it, we play a round for her birthday weekend. I get us a room at a local bed and breakfast so we can relax in front of the fire place and talk without the intrusions of phone, computer, and television. These are things that revive her spirit and cleanse her soul, which also helps our relationship strengthen.
4. Deb had been introduced to hunting when she was a young girl. She had been around it but not in a serious way. I reintroduced her in a more focused and energetic way to the hunting world. During the spring and summer months she and I spend a lot of time shooting our BowTech in 3D archery events. We have friendly competition between ourselves and those that join us generally have a good time listening to our banter. I have learned another lesson by encouraging her to become an independent hunter. While I was away on another hunt she took her first archery buck. When I got the call that she had shot her buck, I could not have been happier or more proud of her. Later, the satisfaction in watching her excitement and the gleam in her eyes as she told me her story of the hunt in person was the best reward I can think of.
I know children were not talked about in this column but I wanted to write about the foundation of the family, the wife and husband. I understand that some wives have no interest to hunt and some hunt just as hard as the husband. I know that I am lucky to have a wife that enjoys being in the woods as much as I do. Yes, I am still driven to hunt some hard-core do it yourself hunts, and even though Deb does not come with me on every hunt. She understands that I am doing what I love.