Hunting season is upon us. For many of us, that means our husbands are booked every weekend, day off and holiday until at least mid-February. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love our deer lease, the people, the weather, the late-night fires, and the “groceries” my husband brings home on occasion. But I miss my husband.
Years ago, before our youngest came along, we spent almost every Fall and Winter weekend at our camp together. I even tagged along for mandatory work days the month before opening weekend. My husband bought me a bow; we took hunting trips to Oklahoma and Illinois. I even woke up at 4:00 AM in Oklahoma and walked to a tree stand alone to make my first solo hunt. I almost killed my first deer that morning! I froze my butt off, but it was a blast.
Along Came A Baby
Three years ago, I was pregnant for our son and due in December, two weeks before the rut. I’m sure some of you know how that goes with hunters. My husband’s friends ragged him about missing prime hunting time because I would expect him to be home with me and our brand new baby. I ended up having our son early so now his birthday doesn’t interfere with hunting season at all (extremely tiny silver lining of having our micro-preemie).
In the last three years, I’ve been to our lease only a handful of times. Having a special needs baby means he can’t sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house like our daughter can. Up until this year, only one person knew how to take care of him. I felt left behind. A LOT. And it was pretty lonely for a while.
Unlike my husband and his friends, I didn’t grow up around serious hunters. My dad doesn’t hunt. He was home every weekend and every holiday. Until my husband and I got together seven years ago, I didn’t even realize how serious hunting is to some people. It didn’t take long for me to learn that hunting is priority for men like my husband. What did take some time to get used to is accepting this lifestyle as my new reality.
It Is What It Is
I’m okay with it now. My husband was an avid hunter when we started dating. My feelings about it have changed over time, along with our experiences at “the camp.” This is the place we used to spend the weekend drinking way too much beer and having too much fun. (Is that even possible??)
This year will be a little different. My mom and mother-in-law both know how to tend to our son’s trach and respond in an emergency situation. My husband is already planning my next weekend at the camp, and I’m sure our 9-year-old daughter will tag along for a baby-free weekend. Soon it will be the place we can all four go together, as a family. We’ll teach the kids how to hunt and make new family memories.
Do I love hunting season? Not necessarily. Do I look forward to it? No. Definitely not. But with half of the year being dedicated to hunting, I had the choice to embrace it or spend those months miserable and wishing things were different. I chose the former, for my mental health and my husband’s.