Married to a deer hunter: a wife’s perspective

Ladies, do you feel neglected and single every year when deer hunting season rolls around? Well, I did. I am also ashamed to say that I was secretly annoyed at my husband’s excitement that tends to take over his every thought each fall. If you are married to an avid hunter, you also may feel resentment towards his favorite activity, I struggled with this for years. Whether you openly express your dislike for his all-consuming pastime or secretly seethe with a smile on your face, this article may interest you. I decided to share my journey to acceptance and understanding of my husband’s passion for deer hunting. I once had feelings of being left behind and even abandonment (yes, I can be needy) especially during the early years of our marriage. Some of you ladies may be able to relate to my story and hopefully even gain a bit of advice through my experience of being married to a deer hunter for almost 32 years. I got past those feelings of disdain toward his obsession and became supportive of his need to spend time in nature and hang with his hunting chums.

If you are one of those women who love to hunt alongside your man, then “you go girl!” However, this article is not for you. This article is for those ladies who can’t even comprehend why anyone would want sit or stand for hours holding a heavy gun and gear while being chewed on by mosquitoes (we live in Texas), just for chance that you might
spot a deer, and you might actually get a chance shoot it, and if you actually hit your target, you are rewarded by getting the opportunity to drag your prize out of the woods- I’ll pass!. To be clear, I love nature for camping and admiring the beauty of God’s creation, however, hunting does not appeal to me. I understood why our ancestors hunted for meat- -because they were hungry. I used to wonder why my husband would want to spend his fall/winter weekends deer hunting. It wasn’t because he was hungry and needed some protein, especially nowadays when you can just pick up your meat at grocery store already wrapped in nice little packages. So, I went on a discovery to understand why he felt the need to spend the time away, and why I felt so negatively towards him doing so.

It took me a while to understand what it meant for my husband to spend that time in the woods in search of the buck that would be the envy of the entire deer camp. Even though It is not my idea of fun, it was important to him. I needed to look inside myself and examine the real reasons behind my dislike for his “fall fascination.” When it became clear what my concerns and annoyances were, I then looked for solutions to alleviate those sources. I also talked with my husband about my concerns therefore, he would know how I was feeling and that I was trying to get past my negative feelings without asking him to stop doing what he loves. I intentionally discovered new ways to address my irritation about his passion, as well as, gently mentioning the small things he could do to minimize my frustration. After dealing with my concerns, I found that I became more accepting and even happy that he can spend time doing what he loves. Below are some examples of the issues I had and how I got passed them. I hope that some of my suggestions might assist you in avoiding that yearly slump that we hunt widows go through.

When I walked down the aisle and married the man of my dreams, I fail to remember taking the vow, “Do you promise allow your husband to hunt every Thanksgiving until death do you part?” To be fair, he does eat Thanksgiving feasts with the family, but he takes his pumpkin pie to go. Ladies, he gives a new meaning to the phrase “dine and dash.” I couldn’t seem to forget the time that he went hunting out-of-state the weekend of our son’s first birthday- Oh yes he did! Apparently, one of the symptoms of hunting fever is an acute amnesia to pre-scheduled, non-hunting related activities, such as your- son’s first birthday party. Our son had audacity and the incredibly bad luck of being born during deer hunting season, let’s just say we learned to schedule birthday parties around hunting trips.

As it turns out, the cure for my husband’s hunting amnesia was as simple as hanging a calendar on the wall. By documenting upcoming hunting trips on a calendar the “Hunter” pre-selects all the dates that he wants to hunt that upcoming season, that way the “Huntee” (us, girls) knows way in advance when the hunter will be hunting and not available for other activities. For the “Hunter” to say don’t schedule me anything during hunting season, does not work for the “Huntee,” especially when she does not memorize hunting season dates by state. By him selecting these weekends way ahead of time, there will not be anymore forgotten hunting trips.

Another area of bitterness was the financial strain on our family finances, especially just before Christmas gift buying season. I would be trying to scrimp and save to make our kid’s Christmas list dreams come true and being told that he really needs new gun this year, even though we can barely shut the gun safe door because it is so full; or the need a new gadget or better boots… It’s endless. Unfortunately, hunting season is not the time of year we have extra funds for hunting trips and ever so important essential upgrading of hunting gear and gadgets, that appears to be a matter of life and death. As we know, no hobby is cheap, and hunting in not any different, especially if you do not own hunting land. However, after the new bride feeling wore off and I realized that hunting was not going to be a short-term fad or an activity that he would soon lose interest in. I felt the need to minimize conflict and produce a win-win situation for both of us otherwise, I was going to have issues every fall for the rest of our marriage. I realized that I needed to set-up some strategies that would work for both of us. Hunting was going to be a part of our lives and because it is important to him, and he is important to me. What we needed was balance and a budget.

One year, at the end of the hunting season, I asked him to make a budget detailing what hunting would cost the for upcoming season. I told him that the budget should include the prices of everything from gas, ammo, food, lodging, new hunting gizmos, and of course his Gentleman Jack. By having him make the budget, I was able to get a better idea of how much it would cost to hunt next season and save each month year-round for the upcoming hunting season. In truth, he resisted making this list at first, it took some persuading for him to do it. In retrospect, I suppose he was resistant to add it all up, because he knew it would be a lot of money, and I believe he worried that I would argue that it we could not afford the trips. However, once I explained my purpose was to save money all year long for the hunting trips, he agreed. With the information he gave me, I was able to take a little bit out of each paycheck all year long to save for the season. By dividing the cost by 12 or 24 depending on how you get paid, will ensure you have all or a good portion of the money saved by the fall. We put the money saved to in our savings account. When hunting season arrives the next year, I transfer all the money into his personal bank account, so that he could freely spend the money for hunting expenses and gadget upgrades, without effecting our joint bank account.

Additionally, I’d like to address concerns you might have when your man goes to hunting camps with his buddies. If you are having trepidations about the kind of mischief that goes on at these deer camps when they aren’t occupied with hunting or maybe you have even heard the phrase, “What happens at deer camp, stays at deer camp” and you are curious about the top-secret mayhem that is going on. Well, let me advise you to not be concerned. I, myself have never entered the threshold of a deer camp because no one made of two “X” chromosomes have ever entered my husband’s camp and lived to tell about it, but after 30 plus years of listening to the stories, I have come to the conclusion that “What happens a deer camp, I want to stay at deer camp.” The fact is that manners go right out the window. This is the only place they are free to belch or pass gas without fear of judgment and let’s not forget that they purposely put on doe urine like its cologne. Therefore, don’t worry or feel left out. Girl, you’re not missing a thang.

You may have picked up on this already, but amazingly during these trips, our men can remarkably speak an entirely new language. It’s a unique hunting dialect in which they express their masculine comradery through tales of past hunting adventures and dumb dirty jokes. Most women are unable to speak this language, and there is no Rosetta Stone language learning program available, I checked. Speaking this distinctive language is how hunters connect on an emotional level. Like me, I hope you can come to realize that some men just need to be in the woods, to be one with nature, to hunt, to feel manly, and to connect with other men who feel the same way. Ladies, this is a need in which we cannot fulfill. I came to realize that my hard-working man deserves this time to connect with nature, to show off his antlers of past seasons, and to talk about the one that got away.

Girls lets ensure that our guys can get these needs met and prevent it from being an issue in our marriages. With some honest conversation and a little planning, you can turn what was once a source of contention, into a win-win for both “Hunter” and “Huntee.”

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