A New Chapter: Awakening the Hunter

December 17th, 2011 marked a new chapter in my life.  We moved into a home that sits on almost 7 acres and is nestled snugly in the woods of Missouri.  Before making this move, we lived in New Mexico – hot, dry, sandy.  A bit different from the humid, “rain-forest” like terrain of Missouri.  However, we love it!

Two weeks after moving in – we had our first party…New Years!  We had a few friends over and enjoyed sharing our new abode.  During the party, my husband struck up a conversation with a friend.  That initial conversation has now transformed our lives (thank you, Levi)!  In essence, here’s how the convo went:

Levi: Do you do any hunting?

Hubby: No, never really have.  Why?

Levi: Well I’ve hunted deer this winter and wondered if you might be interested in joining me.

Hubby: Sounds interesting.  Yeah – that would be fun to try.

Within a few days of this conversation, while I continued unpacking boxes and managing the kidlets, my husband came down the stairs dressed in full camo – camo pants, hat, jacket, hiking boots, and a mesh face mask.  (Earlier, he had gone to Wal-Mart to pick up milk for me and the kids AND little did I know he found a few “other” things for himself.)  Keep in mind, I had never seen this side of my husband before.  He is a preppy golfer, clean-shaven kind of guy…then all of a sudden the wrath of the “hunter” had been released.  As I watched him and his friend go out to the woods together, it struck me.  (They had their bows in hand and were heading out to hide in the thicket to wait for the deer.)   They didn’t say it – but I could just feel it.  In an innocent way, it was as if they were 10 years old again…boys on an adventure, heading out as if it was their first

Target Practice

taste of independence, quietly excited about a new challenge.

Within a couple of hours, I got a text on my phone.  “Got one.  Won’t be home for dinner.  More later…”  My first thought was, “Oh. My. Gosh.  They were serious.  They really did it!  They are not just 10 year olds pretending…This is really happening.  They got a deer!”  And sure enough, about an hour later there was a deer hanging in our garage.  From a girl growing up in the suburbs living a pretty comfortable life, I never thought I’d have a deer hanging in my garage – much less one that was shot by MY husband!

My daughter had romanticized about this “hunt” and in her mind it was going to be a cute little deer that she could go see once Daddy had gotten it.  I kept trying to couch the cuteness of the hunt, trying to prepare her for reality but to no avail.  She wanted to see what her Daddy had done and celebrate with him.  But when she saw it, her face went blank and in a serious tone, she commented, “I didn’t know there was going to be that much blood.”  The cuteness factor was over and reality set in…for both of us.

Now I consider myself I strong woman.  I take charge when the situation calls for it, I can take care of myself, I figure out solutions to things when others can’t – a go-getter-kind of gal.  And yet, over the next week, this Costco, Wal-Mart, mini-van driving Mom was helping process a deer.  Me!  I had never butchered anything in my life.  I had never even taken that biology course where the pre-requisite to passing the course was to dissect a frog.  I missed that one…but I tell you I made up for it over that week.  I kept going into the garage to see the progress of this “process”.  I tried really hard to be the supportive wife, to congratulate my-hunk-of-burning-love, to show him I could be the ultimate wife…but I just couldn’t muster a sincere “Yahoo”.  I just kept saying, “Wow, ok, you know…I just need to take a break.  I’ll try to come back in a little bit.”  Happily, I later learned that I was not loosing my mojo or becoming a wimp but I was just pregnant and didn’t know it at the time.  So I am not a total looser.   Phew!

About a week after we got the whole deer processed, packed and labeled for the freezer – my husband shot another one.  So not only did I get to help process the first one – I GOT TO DO IT TWICE!  Hooray for me!  We learned a lot through this experience – most importantly have someone else process it for you.  In the end, it would be a lot less work for us, and it would probably yield a lot more meat in the long run.  Good to know for the future.

Over the next couple weeks, my husband would come home hoping to find a yummy venison dinner waiting for him.  Truth be told, it took me a while to cook it.  Each time I went to pull some meat out for dinner, that earlier queasiness I felt in the garage was reawakened and I had to put it back in the freezer.  But I eventually made it over that hump and was pleasantly surprised to see how flavorful and delicious the meat was.  Honestly, it rivaled the best filet minion I’ve had.  And as a bonus, I learned it’s the best meat for one to eat if you are pregnant.  It’s lean and yet packed full of nutrients.  So it’s all good.

Five months later, we’re now moving into summer.  Deer hunting season is over, and we are now entertained with fawns frolicking about.  Yet, the hunter in my once-preppy, styled hubby is alive and well.  Realizing this hobby has now turned into an obsession, I consented and purchased him a testosterone-jacked compound bow for our 15th wedding anniversary.  Fifteen years ago, that gift would never have been on my radar.  But in striving to be a good wife, I want to cherish what makes him feel most like a man; I want to support those activities that bring out the best he has to offer.  That’s what this marriage thing is all about – right?  Yet, he recently informed me squirrel season is opening up next week.  Yeah…No!  I guess that’s where my “cherishing of his dreams” comes to a screeching halt.  To borrow the lyrics from Meatloaf, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that…”

But still love ya, babe!