One of our greatest motivators as hunters is the support and encouragement we receive from others. Most hunters heading to the woods every early fall in search of meat for the freezer or a mount for the wall, typically have a very likewise situation at home. In my own home, this support comes at a price. Though this time of year is great for me, being able to head into the woods, for my wife it can be completely miserable. My confession: I have been looking around… for a way to fill my freezer.
There are a tons of things that we can do to better give this support back to our loved ones. I like to pay it forward. During the late winter, spring, and summer months, I will bust my butt most days to get a years worth of yard work and house work done in order to allow hunting time come fall. Through the fall and winter, try to take note of all the things your spouse and loved ones seem to pick up in order for you to hunt. Appreciation towards the specific task will go a long way. Through my few years of marriage, I have more recently learned that “thanks for everything” doesn’t mean as much as “thanks for getting the groceries taken care of today and swinging by the post office. That really helped us out.” Specificity is key.
As much as my wife may not understand why I would rather sit outside in the rain and cold, she supports me and respects the sport. To be fair though, I don’t fully understand yoga. More specifically, I don’t understand paying someone to talk me through stretching, but I will support her interest in it and not only respect, but admire her efforts of bettering herself both physically and mentally.
Supporting these interests can also mean tagging along. Like most people, I have my limits as to what I would do. Attending Hannah’s yoga class is on the wrong side of that limit! I will, however, go shopping with her, out to the movies, or even to a play. The time I enjoy spending most with her is on hikes when the weather is right, taking the canoe or raft out on the water, or even sitting back and relaxing by a fire in the yard. All things enjoyed by both of us, connecting us to each other and the outdoors.
I like to get my wife involved wherever I can in the process of harvesting and preparing wild game. Though she used to be quite hesitant about butchering and preparing meat, she can now be seen drinking a glass of wine while de-boning a rear quarter for roasts, steaks, and ground. It is quite hysterical to see her mother evaluating these situations when she’s at the house. “In all my years, I would have never thought…!” is a typical expression her mother will say in regards to the leaps and bounds Hannah has taken to close the gap between our dinner table and the woods.
I also like to get my wife involved in shooting. She finds it both frustrating and therapeutic. Sounds a little bit like a traditional bowhunter in the works, huh? Using a lighter weight bow (29# @ 28″) she is able to shoot comfortably and confidently, giving us something to connect on, and ultimately allowing us to spend more time together. This is especially true in the warmer weather of spring and summer.
Cooking together can be a great experience as well. There are tons of resources for preparing wild game. The internet is a great place to start, but there are many great books out there as well. Food, specifically meat, is one of the few tangible things we are able to share from our experiences outdoors. Being able to not only enjoy these rewards of hard work, but be able to support a family with it is rewarding to everyone in the home.
I always tell my wife “It could be worse. Instead of this [hunting] I could be spending money at a bar.” In all honesty, and I hope she doesn’t read this because I really don’t care to take up a bar hobby, but it would most likely be cheaper. Thinking back on every year, the amount of funds to support hunting and fishing could easily pay for a brand new truck in cash. Hunting definitely costs a lot of money every year, with little tangible return on investment.
There are times that I feel selfish for this, knowing there are things my wife would probably love to have or do that cost as much or more than my next traditional bow. Every once in a while though, I’ll bite the bullet and get her what she mentions in passing. A lot of times it can be something simple like grabbing brunch on the way home from a morning hunt for everyone, which can make all the difference in the world.
I have, time to time, shown up with what I would consider a “bank breaker” or large gift. Hannah, like any person, is extremely appreciative of this. Though it’s tough to swing often, it is worth the effort to share that big surprise with her every year.
All-in-all, we need to take care of the ones that take care of us. Even taking hunting out of the equation, it is something we must do to have a healthy functioning home. If we learn to help each other out, furthering the effectiveness of the modern hunter and gatherer, life can be damn good. Like all things we care about, if we take care of them, they will take care of us. Be appreciate, understanding, and humble. Never forget who you’re filling the freezer for.