Growing up in Idaho, I have known many hunters – the guys who went out a couple times a year, but namely on that big two-week deer hunt that they got so riled up about months in advance. They would wait impatiently to find out which of their buddies and family members pulled a tag. And then only one of them would have a tag, and all of them would go out for the big trip.
I learned after dating a “real” hunter that these were called “kitchen pass” hunters. Real hunters go out every weekend, and if they got off work during daylight hours, they went out during the week, too. They scouted their prey for months at a time. Once they helped one group of friends bag em, tag em and take em home, they went out hunting with their next group. After hunting season, then comes the shed hunt.
And if you think hunting season ever ends, you are dead wrong. There may be a few weeks in the summer when your guy finally comes home, but that’s just because he is hunting his girl now – making up for the last year or kissing up for the upcoming year.
Hunting is serious business. They are very competitive and extremely territorial. And don’t even think about tagging along with “real” hunters. They don’t want a gal slowing them down. I could have been the best hunter in the world, but I assure you that my guy would have just felt like I was a competitor. When he comes home he wants to feel like I am proud of him, not that I’ve just beaten him at his favorite game. Oh no, he made it clear from day one he does not like dating girls who hunt.
Well luckily for us both, I like deer and elk meat and I sure as heck like to shoot, but you won’t find me out in the cold in the dead of winter. Just like I don’t want him reading over my shoulder when I write or when I am asking questions when I’m interviewing someone. And I sure wouldn’t want him in the studio while I was on air, but I did feel proud that he listened to the show while at work.
Dating a hunter is also serious business and it’s not for every one. I realized very quickly that I am not a gal who does well dating a man who is never home. But he taught me some very important lessons.
One night as I prepped my bubble bath and grabbed my books for my nightly relaxing ritual, he commented: “Just because you had a bad childhood doesn’t mean you need someone to fix you.”
It was a compliment of sorts. He meant that he liked me just fine and he didn’t think my endless supply of educational and self-help books were necessary. It also meant that, just as I don’t understand his obsession with going out seven nights a week staring at deer with a bunch of drunken friends, he doesn’t understand my need for continually learning and improving in an area he thought I had mastered. He liked me the way I was. It’s quite sweet if you look at it from a girl’s point of view. He also taught me to accept myself the way I was, which was also quite sweet.
But here is what I learned from dating a “real” hunter. Whatever it is you are striving for (knowledge, weight loss, becoming a better parent, getting out of debt, getting the career you deserve) it is serious business and it takes hard work. Usually, daily effort.
I think we are accustomed to looking for the easy way out. We want to take the path well traveled, mapped out and known to show instant results and if it has GPA coordinates, even better.
But life simply isn’t that way. And I’ve learned from men that no one appreciates what they get for free. You hang onto the things you worked hard to achieve.
As Dr. Phil said, relationships may be built in Heaven, but they are managed here on Earth. Our lives are also managed here on Earth, where we must work hard to achieve our goals, and manage them realistically but with hope and desire. And we often must do them alone with the help of our loved ones. Just as hunters go in a pack, only one of them can shoot that deer.