By Holly Clark | PUBLISHED January 2nd, 2022
I wasn't prepared for that horrifying moment. Honestly, it caught me so off guard that I wasn't quite sure how to handle the situation. It left me speechless and worried about what was to come next. Just seconds before the dreadful incident, I was sitting around a bonfire on a beautiful July summer night with an ice-cold, bubbly cocktail in my hand. I was relaxing, enjoying the peace that comes after the struggle that is our kids' bedtime. But then, something terrible happened.
My husband took a seat beside me, cracked open a beer, and said, "I saw a buck in velvet today!"
I blacked out for a second, or maybe it was longer; I really am not certain. When I came to, my mind was racing. Surely this was too soon!? Was it really possible that I would already be entering the absolutely dreadful hunter's wife season?! I still have red, white, and blue nail polish on from the 4th of July; why in God's name did I hear him say the word buck? Did I hear him wrong?! WHAT IS HAPPENING??? (Side note: Did you know there's an actual velvet fest every year?? Did you know that a buck in velvet means a buck with fuzzy antlers... and that fuzz provides nutrition to the deer's antlers?! Seriously! Add that to the long list of things I never knew before I married a human who is obsessed with deer.)
After a questionable amount of time had passed, I looked at him and said, "What the actual fuck?"
He seemed a little perplexed about my reaction. I cleared my throat and tried to calm down, even though that seemed nearly impossible. "I'm sorry. What I meant to say was, 'Is it already starting?' Like... should I just prepare to see you in December?"
His mouth curved into a smug, shit eating grin. And that was the only answer I needed. I stood up, slammed my drink, and went inside to make another as I prepared for several months of single motherhood.
Ok, so maybe that is a little dramatic. But, it really isn't all that farfetched. If you are a hunter's wife, husband, or significant other, I know you feel me. As soon as you hear the first mention of deer, they gone.
I have never, ever respected single mothers more than I have after this past hunting season. It's kind of funny, though, because when my husband is around, he doesn't really seem all that helpful. He mostly just sits and watches hunting videos while holding a child or two, pretending he's "keeping the kids calm" while I clean, cook, or whatever, but I digress. I'm not sure why it seems like life is so hard when he's gone. Maybe it's simply because I know he is in the quiet, harmonious forest enjoying his "me time" while I have baby vomit in my hair and don't even remember what my first name is. Is it Mom? Mam? Mammy? WHAT IS MY NAME, DAMN IT?!
Anyways, I thought I should give some quick tips for any moms or dads that find themselves completely abandoned during hunting season, left to fend for themselves. These tips are tried and true, based on my own shitty experiences. I hope I can help even one person out there who is struggling with being a metaphorical widow/widower. Here goes:
- Drink wine. I don't feel like I need to explain that.
- Gamble online. There is a really cool website called Bovada, and if you feel like you need some time for you, you can just spend all your spouse's money there, easily. How much does a new bow cost? Broadheads? Merino wool? Tree stand, sticks, saddle? Wow, now that I think about it, I'm going to play the high stakes games next season.
- Do you live by family members who are willing to watch your kids? If not, you are going to die. Move ASAP.
- Strap your kids in their carseats and go somewhere. I don't mean like, go somewhere and get out of the car, I just mean like... sit in the car. You don't even have to leave the driveway if you don't want to. It's so blissful when they are strapped in their seats and you can just sit there.
- Noise canceling headphones. Just kidding. That would be neglectful and abusive, so don't actually ignore your kids with noise canceling headphones... but I can't say I haven't considered it before.
As you can see, I don't actually have any tips for you. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
All jokes aside, there are some wonderful parts of being a hunter's wife and baby mama. I adore hearing my daughter say that one day, she will be a hunter and go with daddy into the woods.
Watching her use her Elsa bow and arrow to "be a hunter just like dad!" I cherish seeing my two-year-old scout with my husband and witnessing him learn about buck rubs and deer beds. Seeing my kids eat venison like nobody's business and get so excited when their dad brings home a deer. I may be alone on this one, but I thoroughly enjoy watching our dogs try to steal the shed antlers off the wall for a tasty treat. I admire hearing the way my husband and his buddies talk so respectfully about God's creatures and thank Him for their harvest. More than all of that, though, I treasure hearing my husband's voice change after he spends a day out in the woods... like he found part of his soul again. Don't tell my husband I said this, but there are, in fact, some beautiful things about deer hunter wife life.