In a world filled with “how to” articles and “ways to become successful” recommendations from every media corner, it can sometimes seem challenging to stand out in a crowd of self-proclaimed experts as a writer.
Well, an expert I am not, but an outside-of-the-box kind of guy, I certainly am. So, here’s my “out-of-the-box, super-secret, guaranteed-to-get-you more days in the hunting field (ergo, more opportunities) tidbits of advice. This is an “I’ve picked these up with only a few years of hunting under my belt” type of article (by the way).
What’s the old saying?
Happy spouse, happy house?
Well, I think this may be one of the most underutilized and overlooked tactics that exists. Securing the homefront in the off-season and creating harmony in your home life just might be your missing link to hunting season bliss. (That’s coming from a guy who became a hunter after meeting his wife.)
You could say I’ve had to work a bit extra hard in the “understanding” department. We’ve all heard it: “Hunting isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life.” That saying has always made me cringe slightly, but the more I thought about it, it’s quite bang-on, isn’t it?
Being a hunter takes a serious commitment to put in the work that requires an enjoyable or successful outcome. Scouting, weekends away, pre-season work, Elk camp, draws, marksmanship, field prep, gear acquisition, the list goes on and each one of these tasks is taking away from your home life and the responsibilities that come along with it.
So, without further ado, here are my “Top Five Ways To Be a Better Hunting ‘Ppartne’.
1) Plan. Stick to said plan.
Planner or not, you owe it to your partner to map out your season and plan as far in advance as possible to the best of your abilities. Being able to sit down together and map out what the season is going to look like helps create a narrative of collaboration versus one of dictation. This is about working together in order to create buy-in from your family and to make sure everyone is on board with your hunting plan.
Mark it on a calendar and stick to it. Discuss the need for a bit of wiggle room depending on weather/wind, but for the most part, you will have a clear vision of how many days in the field you actually get to hunt while giving your family a clear outlook of the upcoming fall. By planning out in advance you may lose a little flexibility but remember that relationships are sometimes about compromising— and during the off season you’re better off doing most of the compromising.
Planning out not only your hunting trips but your family trips and your partner’s getaways together, at the same time, feels like a less-selfish approach. So, if you’re able to, try tomap out the whole calendar together and give everyone in the family something to look forward to.
Now, if you’re in a solid relationship, this is a no-brainer as you probably already understand the fundamentals of communicating with your partner. But we aren’t all Chatty Cathys who could eat up an hour on Dr.Phil.
The first thing to communicate is clearly discussing expectations of the hunting season. Notice I said discuss expectations, not set expectations. This is a two-way street and the more your partner can feel involved in the process, the better they will feel when it’s been Day 16 in a row in the deer stand.
Along with communicating expectations, it’s important to express your “why.” The why behind the scouting trips. How long is it actually going to take to process the deer. The time it takes to get proficient with your bow in the off-season in order to ethically hunt. If you’re explaining the why behind your actions, there is a much better opportunity for understanding from the other perspective.
So now that you’re all communicative, it’s time to ask what it is you can do for your partner to better set them up for the hunting season. September is back-to-school time. Maybe this includes doing all the back-to-school shopping and getting the kids set up for another year of routine. Driving to their extracurriculars. Whatever it may be…asking versus guessing what your significant other needs is a whole hell of a lot easier than guessing.
3) Off-Season Prep
No, I’m not talking about tree stand work, field plots or scouting. I’m talking about fixing the garage door, mowing the lawn or driving your daughter to dance. You need to step up in a big way during the off-season if you’re thinking about slinking out of bed at 4 a.m. every Sunday for 12 weeks.
All those projects that are adding up around the house had better start slowly getting taken care of, or you could be in a world of hurt come season time. This one isn’t just for your partner, this one’s for you. The more you can accomplish in the off-season equals more free time in the fall and even better…more guilt-free time in the field. If you’re anything like me those unfinished projects seem to really creep into my mind during those long days alone in the bush! Getting them finished and tucked away allows me to disconnect and enjoy my time in the field that much more.
You really have an opportunity here to put some brownie points away so the more you can take on from the household load the better. Think of the amount of time and energy you put into your season. It’s not unheard of for Whitetail hunters to spend well over 100 hours in the stand. That’s two-and-a-half work weeks away from the home front. If you elk hunt, well there’s another week. Spring bear. Your draw years. The time really adds up when your passion takes over. Just remember that you need to keep the passion at home as intense.
Also, while we are on the topic of off-season activities. I have far too many buddies with anniversaries and kids’ birthdays during hunting season. Leave the baby-making and aisle-walking for the off-season if you don’t want to find yourself missing out on some great days come hunting season!
4) Support their thing
Let’s be real. There aren’t many things that take up as much time as hunting. So, you may be supporting multiple ventures here. But who cares? In the grand scheme of things, there are very few things outside of work that would keep someone away from their family as much as hunting.
Remember that the next time they are off to an evening out or a weekend away. You can’t expect to get in return what you’re not willing to dish out, especially when you are looking for endless support. So, it’s important to give it back. It’s also a great opportunity to maybe help your partner find some activities of their own. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness in a relationship and things are apt to get dicey if only one person has a “thing.”
5) Take ‘em with you
What is this, the same thing as golf? That unspoken rule that you don’t bring your partner because this is an escape from your partner? No way! I genuinely think that if you want your partner to understand your passion…that person needs to experience it.It’s a great opportunity to connect, for you to show off your outdoorsmanship a little and for you to walk them through all the parts that make it special to you.
That includes the sunrise coffee, the forest waking up all around you, the adrenaline and the calm. Now, I’m not talking about trying to make them hunters here…heck, they probably aren’t going to love it. But the point isn’t for them to fall in love with it. The point is for them to witness your love for it.
Anyone who has gone hunting with me can attest that my love and passion is impossible to hide, and I’m sure yours is, too. It’s infectious. Having your partner sees you in your element doing something you truly love? That’s pure gold! Now that my daughter has grown to love hunting, I’m able to take her into the bush and give Mom some free time while doing something I love. We call that a win-win where I’m from, folks.