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Friday, November 18, 2011

November thru the eyes of the hunting widow



November is not just a grey, chilly and blustery preamble to winter. To the wife of a hunter, November is about the absentee husband. Now, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s all in how you look at it.
Some hunting husbands look forward to their two weeks of deer hunting all year long. In the months leading up to November, they troll outdoors stores and websites looking for the latest in new gear for watching, photographing and otherwise capturing wild game. They watch hours of hunting shows on Wild TV, learning new tips and techniques for bagging the big one. Then they wait.
As the opening day of the hunt approaches, many hunters will kiss their wives and families goodbye as they head out for a weekend, a week or even two weeks in the bush with their comrades-in-camouflage (or, in the case of deer season, flame orange). They have packed bullets, beer, bacon and baked beans. It’s been proven—you can live on that for several days. There may or may not be a toothbrush in their travel bag. It isn’t always deemed necessary. And anyone who dares to shave at a hunt camp would not only risk ridicule from his cabin mates but he might also throw the luck of the hunt.
The wives of these hunters are known as ‘hunting widows’. Knowing that their husbands are gone for several days, they may take up redecorating the living room, or at least moving furniture around. Some hunting widows will go shopping, with their husband’s VISA card. This might be just something she was planning to do anyway, or it might be a bit of a dig at the husband who has left her alone with the kids while he goes off to play in the woods with his friends.
My hunter doesn’t go far from home to hunt. He may take a day trip to the St. Lawrence for geese, but mostly he stays on our own 200 acres, which he has mapped and laid out with trails cut through the woods and stands in the trees. He rises at 5am, kisses me goodbye, and slips downstairs to put the coffee on for his thermos. Then he goes out to the bush, climbs up onto his tree stand, and watches the sun rise. Now that the leaves are gone, I can often see his orange coat through the trees from my kitchen window, 50 acres away. When the girls were little, he would leave a walkie-talkie beside their beds so they could talk to him when they woke up. I’m glad my hunter doesn’t go too far from home. I kind of like having him around. We don’t get to see each other much during the season, however. He goes from the sunrise hunt to work to the sunset hunt...and then he falls asleep on the couch.
A friend of mine has a hubby who takes two weeks off work every year for deer season. He hunts in Quebec, as he owns property there. One year it was unseasonably warm and the deer were not moving. The forecast predicted more of the balmy weather for the next week. He called his wife after a few days to say that he would be calling off the hunt and coming home.
“Oh no you aren’t!” she told him. “You can stay at the cottage until the weekend!” Apparently she had been looking forward to the time on her own, and didn’t want him to come home to wait out his vacation loafing about the house. When he did arrive home, she handed him a list of chores to keep him busy until he returned to work.
It was another warm one this year, and I haven’t heard of many lucky hunters returning with buck or doe trophies for their wives. Oh well, at least it keeps them happy, busy and out of trouble.

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