Deer Hunting Widow

Well, it’s that time of the year again – and I don’t mean Thanksgiving, holiday ads on tv, early Christmas music on the radio, or football games on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I’m not waiting for snow, holiday decorations or family visits. Here, in Wisconsin, it’s deer-hunting season. The time of the year when men (and some women) head for the woods to get that trophy buck, or for some like my husband, any type of deer for our year’s supply of venison.

When we lived at our previous residence, we were fortunate enough to own twenty acres of woods, just outside our back door – or at least a decent walking distance from the back door. A few weeks before the season started, Al would put up his deer stand. Camera slung around my neck, I would follow, keeping my eyes trained through the lens rather than on how far he was climbing up the tree. In between taking pictures, my job was to clamp anything he needed on a long rope for him to haul up to his stand.

Before early light on opening day, while I was still snuggled deep under the blankets, no matter how cold, snowy or rainy, he trudged out to his stand, to spend the day watching birds, squirrels and hopefully deer. Since it was private land, I never worried about any crazy hunter on our land. At the end of the day, if he wasn’t successful, he’d come back to the house where a pot of chicken wild-rice soup awaited. He’d talk to his buddies on the phone sharing stories of hits and misses and fall asleep on the couch.

This was my day (s) to get things done without interruption – unless he shot a deer. We each had a walkie-talkie. If I heard a gun go off (which necessarily wasn’t his as there was other woods around us), I would wait a bit until his voice came over the airwaves. Then I’d bundle up and following his directions, head out to where he waited with the downed deer. My job this time was to hold the deer’s legs while he gutted it. Then while he dragged the animal from the woods to the house, I followed with his gun, backpack and various other gear, go with him to register it, then help hang it from the deck. Even though I spent most of the time alone, I was not a “deer-hunting widow.”

We moved three years ago to be closer to the grandkids. Since then I have joined the ranks of women who are left alone for as little as a weekend or as long as ten days. Even though we have acreage, none of it is wooded. So Al has to depend on his friends to find a place to hunt. Since moving, not only does he hunt in Wisconsin’s season, but Minnesota’s, too. This doesn’t just take up the weekends of the hunt, but at least two weekends putting up deer stands in Minnesota and where he will hunt in Wisconsin. This amounts to five weekends (some of them four-day weekends)  taken up with hunting. And I don’t even know where he’s hunting. I have to have faith that he is somewhere safe.

I know women who spend their husband-free time shopping, spending time with friends and going out for dinner and drinks. They all say how they enjoy this time where they don’t have a schedule, don’t need to fix meals and have control of the remote. I don’t like to shop, so use this time to get things done, eat what I want and like other woman, control the television.

There are disadvantages, too. It’s quiet – sometimes too quiet. Depending on where he is and if he has phone service, I have no contact with him for days on end. And, even though I have control of the remote, watching the Green Bay Packers alone, just isn’t the same. I’m a big fan, but today, I’m writing this while the game is on. I even thought about just listening to it while scrapbooking.

I think I’m getting bored. Everything I wanted to get done with weekend is crossed off my list. I’ve written over 1,000 words a day on the next book. I’ve done eight pages for the grandchildren’s scrapbooks and even watched a movie. It’s time for the big-game hunter to come home – hopefully with a hunk of meat in tow.

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