When my neighbor saw my wife and I returning from a day in the field, he was surprised to learn she goes hunting with me. He told us his wife never hunts with him. I teased him and asked if he actually asked her to go and he assured me he did. But I assume he knew she would not hunt with him before they were married. Young people, beware the boy or girl that doesn’t have a pair of hiking boots.
We’ve all seen the TV shows where the guys make a joke out of taking their wives hunting or fishing. Those women were obviously out of place and constantly complained and deliberately made noise at the worst time.
We’ve also all heard the jokes. “You take your wife hunting? Do you mean in the same tree-stand? What would you want do that for?” The same jokes could be made about some men.
I admit I am tempted to make fun when someone (male or female) cries about getting their shoes dirty or breaks a nail. I actually had a college student cry during a short “field trip” because she got her shoes muddy.
But I don’t want to hear that crap about women not being able to do certain things. Most women don’t hunt, but just watch Liz Cavalier and her daughter Jessica (Swamp People on the History Channel), drag a big gator into the boat, then tell me women can’t hunt or fish.
1.5 Million Women in U.S. do Hunt
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 only 13.7 million people (12%) in the U.S. hunt and 33.1 million people (28%) fish. Only 1.5 million (11%) of all hunters in the U.S. were women and 8.9 million (27%) of anglers were women. There are no data about the proportion of women that tag along on hunting and fishing trips without buying licenses, but that would certainly make the numbers higher.
There are lots of guys that wish their gals hunted and fished with them and I know some women that wished their men hunted and fished with them too. It seems to me if something were that important to you, it would be a high priority to make sure your future spouse shared your passion for those activities.
Think about how much stress would be removed from a relationship if your spouse hunted or fished with you. Instead of despising the amount money you invest and the time you spend away from her/him and the family, they will be a willing participant.
They will understand why you need a rangefinder or a lighter fly rod and maybe even buy one for themselves. But if you have already gone down that path, no sense in trading in a spouse that doesn’t hunt for another that does. It will probably take less effort to teach the one you already have than to find a new one.
Taking any person into the outdoors that is not used to doing outdoor things will be a challenge. Fathers, mothers, uncles and grandfathers get to do the easy part by recruiting the next generation of kids. Most kids can’t wait to go hunting or fishing, so they are optimistic because many want to go and do what Dad, Mom, Uncle Joe and Grandpa do. They may not have negative attitudes about outdoors experiences because they haven’t had any bad outdoor experiences yet.
Negative Outdoor Experiences
The older people are, the higher the probably they have had negative experiences. By negative experiences, I mean they got too hot, too cold, muddy, tired, hungry, they tripped, they fell down, got scratched by briars, “eaten alive” by bugs, got scared by a snake or large mammalian predators (whether actually seen or not) or they got lost or were afraid of getting lost. I am sure there are more.
Convincing people that have had bad experiences to do things outdoors will be more challenging. Let’s face it, most people today think they are “roughing it” when they light the grill or the fire pit in the backyard. Heaven help us if someone has to pee in the woods. And these are people we care about.
As people that do love the outdoors, we have experienced many of those bad situations, conditions and feelings, and we can’t wait to go back for more because we are willing to pay the price because we know what the payoffs can be.
My Wife was an Unlikely Outdoors Woman
My wife was already an outdoor person before I met her. She had never shot a gun before, so she did not hunt, but she did fish, hike and camp, so getting her to go hunting with me was not as hard as some people. But based on her background, it was very unlikely that she became an outdoors woman. She grew up in a large city in New Jersey. The same exit Tony Soprano drove past on the way to “office”. Yes, the one with the oil refineries. I still marvel at how she became interested in outdoor activities without any guidance from her family.
She started going outdoors as a teenager after she learned to drive. She started by visiting State Parks and Wildlife Refuges and eventually volunteered to help build and maintain trails. She went to college and learned about birds and wildlife and field biology skills. I met her after she had moved to the West and got a field job doing wildlife surveys.
She likes to go hunting with me, but so far she has never carried a gun because she won’t take the hunter safety program. That’s her choice and I don’t push it anymore, but feel certain that she would take the course if she had a friend to take it with her.
I always ask if she wants to go hunting and she goes with me about half the time. Of course it changes the hunt when she tags along. Mainly because one person can move faster and makes less noise, less movement and less scent than two people, but on the positive side, four eyes and ears are always better than two.
My wife is a trooper. We hike, scout and hunt for mule deer, elk and grouse on public land in the Inter-mountain West, which means lots of walking in rough country. She never complains about being too cold and the only time she ever complained about the terrain was after she sprained her ankle. Despite my offer to quit and go back to the truck, she stuck it out the rest of the day, even after we had to drop straight off a very steep 1:1 grade. And because she never quits, we have been able to share some amazing experiences.
Don’t Shush Me
The only negative thing about hunting with my wife was she hated it when I “shushed” her for making noise during our first few hunts. I have tried to learn to shush without attitude, but she has learned not to make noise, so problem solved. She turned the tables and “shushed” me during our elk hunt in October (2014) and I am glad she did.
So how do we teach our “city folk” spouses and friends to actually enjoy and appreciate the outdoors like we do?
- The 2014 General Elk Hunt with My Wife
- How to Introduce someone to Outdoor Activities (coming soon).
I am interested in hearing from all of you that hunt or fish with your spouses or wish that you did.
Photo courtesy of gaby53mt at flickr