Back when we were first married my wife agreed to go on an afternoon hunt with me. I was so excited! It was during the early archery season in Vermont so the temperatures were mild, close to 70 degrees if I remember correctly. I thought it was a perfect set up - she could bring a book and read in the afternoon warmth until an unsuspecting deer came walking by at which point I would shoot it. My skills as an archer would have her fawning all over me. However, there was one fatal flaw in my plan and that was that I wouldn't allow her to wear bug spray. In retrospect, I probably should have let her wear the bug spray...
Let's just say that hunting is not her thing, especially if it’s warm and the mosquitoes are out or if it's cold and they are dead. That pretty much sums up her interest in hunting. It doesn't exist, and on that evening it didn’t take long to confirm what she had already informed me of over and over. I should clarify, her interest in hunting deer doesn't exist but she is interested in a different style of hunting and it's one where I'm left figuratively swatting at the mosquitoes while she's out enjoying the hunt.
A couple times a year we fly back to Minnesota to visit her family and it’s either in the summer when we celebrate most of the birthdays or at Christmas when we exchange gifts. It's become a tradition for her mom to pick us up at the airport in Minneapolis which is a solid two and a half hours from their home. Let me say that another way for the hunters who are reading this - it would be a solid two and a half hours if the journey was made in the same way we walk out of the woods after an evening hunt - directly. However, this particular journey is always made in similar fashion to a daylong still hunt thanks to the plethora of stores near the airport and the necessary evil of buying gifts for everyone. What could take two and a half hours always turns in to at least twice that, if not more. Those two ladies stalk their prey with unwavering diligence.
Before our son Sam came along I was left to spectacle this incredible combination of patience and determination by myself. Now that he’s around I’m left to spectacle this display with a fussy child. Neato! Each stand (store) location brings new excitement. First there's The Mall of America. As we get closer, the chatter between the two of them is similar to that of two excited hunters preparing for the hunt. The mall is a real doozy and it’s been known to eat up hours of time on our journey home. Their knowledge of the place is second-to-none. They know where the hot spots are and waste no time getting into position, but ironically, once in position they waste a ton of time. That’s the way I see it anyway. The only way to get through it is with a good book or to close my eyes and pretend I’m in a hunting camp somewhere listening to fellow hunters.
Years of practice waiting for The Big One has left me well prepared for these scenarios. Patience is the key to survival. After hitting up The Mall of America it’s on to Target or some other high producing stand location. What is the obsession with Target anyway? Is it because the trips there are so successful? Nevertheless, as successful as Target is we also hit up Herbergers, Toys-R-Us (for the nieces and nephews and me) and Kohls if necessary, which it usually is. And then, just like that the sun has set and we are still two and a half hours from home. Double neato! So we head west out of Minneapolis to hunt down another town named Mankato in search of additional stores. If need be (there is usually a need) we stop there as well just in case something got away from them back in the cities.
What blows my mind is that for the amount of time they spend perusing through items they hardly ever come out with stuff! They could spend all day hunting and return home empty handed! I don’t get it…yet they have to try out every stand location just in case they are presented with an opportunity to move in for the kill. Talk about a waste of time. To top it off, if they do bag their quarry half of the time they return it! What the heck? I don’t drag a live buck back to my truck just to drive him around town for a while to see if he’s a good fit. Consider the following conversation at a local check station,
“Hey fellas, check this ole boy out. Careful now, I’m just trying him out. I’m not sure I’m going to keep him.” I’d say with cautious excitement. “What do you think?”
“Oh Tim, he looks awesome. Why don’t you think you’ll keep him?” Bill replies as the other hunters gather around.
“I’m not sure,” I respond insecurely, “I’m just not convinced we are a good match, you know? He’s got a great rack but I’m not overly excited about some of his other features. I just thought I’d get your opinion first.”
“Well, I think you look great with him. I’d keep him if I were you, but if you’re just not comfortable with him maybe you should return him.” Bill says with an encouraging tone.
“Thanks Bill. I needed that. I think I’ll return Him.”
See what I mean? I can’t relate to the notion of bagging an item just to return it a week later on the return trip to the airport. It doesn’t make sense. Who would do that? My Favorite Hunter, that’s who. We’ve been married for almost 9 years now and although she’s clearly the one with the strange hobbies I love her more and more every day. Today is her birthday and although last year of her life hasn’t been easy I’ve never thought she was more beautiful than she is today. She’s a great mom to Sam and an awesome wife to me. We laugh together and cry together. We pray together and go for long drives together. She likes to play catch with a football and cook venison that I bring home. I could mention a thousand other things if I had time (and the ability to focus). How blessed am I?! She is incredible and she’s my favorite hunter.
Happy Birthday Sweetie! I love you!
I love this woman!
Footnote: The story used in this article, although based largely on facts and personal experiences, could be slightly exaggerated...