It’s the first weekend of October. The temperature has changed to a slight chill in the air. Not quite time to pull out the heavy coats and scarves of winter, but a light jacket or sweatshirt is usually a good idea. For the past few weekends I’ve been tuning in my scope and crossbow; all in preparation for this moment.
Sitting in a tree stand looking out into a small clearing with a 30 yard radius on every side. I wait. The sun has just risen over my right shoulder, and the light is making the orange and red leaves on the branches around be dance shadows on the ground below. I raise my head to see two large does walking out of the tree line just a little left of me. I wait. One continues forward as the other hangs back at the trees. I wait. She slowly starts to eat some of the acorns on the ground by the tree directly in front of me.
I ever so slowly reach over with my left hand and almost motionlessly slide my eye to my scope. I have ranged this area half a dozen times. She is about 28 yards from where I sit. I can see the perfect place to put my sight and slowly release the safety. I exhale and feel my finger adding pressure to my trigger. I can feel the butt of the crossbow jerk back into my shoulder as the bolt launches down the barrel and the string hits the stoppers at the front of the bow.
At the same time I am releasing this bolt into the air; three hours north of my current location my children are waking up to begin a Saturday of lounging around the house to watch movies or play video games. There are meals to be prepared and errands to run. Pets to be fed and let out side for their morning walks. Everyone has a special idea of what they want to do on this day off from school, but I am not there to be a part of any of this. This job now falls on my wife to keep the house running on time and kept in order.
She is not out in camouflage in the woods. She is not looking at a deer hoping her arrow hits it’s mark. She is taking care of our children and our home. She is sacrificing her “ day off” so that I can do those things. And for many of us, this is what happens every time we step into the woods to hunt. Whether for a day hunt or a weekend trip or even those week long hunting retreats. Our significant others are keeping everything else going like clockwork.
When you hunt big bucks and get that monster trophy rack you feel like you have been rewarded with an amazing trophy to display for all to see. You may earn bragging rights with in your group of killing the “big one” that season. Harvesting a doe means food on the table for several meals. But for our significant others that stay behind, care for our families and their needs receive no such reward. Most times they are greeted with loads of bloody dirty smelly clothes to wash, and coolers with bloody meat that will need to be processed in the kitchens where most meals are prepared.
Some of us may already know these things and take extra steps to reward our partners for their unceremonious sacrifice. But I think we can all agree that lots of times we forget what they go through so that we can go “play in the woods”.