I always struggle this time of year. Late-season archery is over and spring turkey doesn’t open for another few months here in Montana. Ice fishing can be a fun way to get back outside, but there are always things that must be put aside to go on those trips. Plus, you will most likely burn some of those day off points you have built up with your significant other. This is what I try and focus on during the off season, building up the goodwill with my wife so that when September comes and I am either at work or hunting until thanksgiving, she is still there when I come home.
Biggest lesson I would share with you is learn how to clean the house and do it. I still struggle with certain aspects of this, but after I pack the truck and before we head out on a weekend elk hunt, I do my best to make sure that I didn’t leave anything out, the dishes are loaded, and my wife won’t have to spend Saturday morning working while I’m out enjoying my passion. Remember that just because your spouse doesn’t find waking up in a tent at 5 am and climbing 1500’ vertical before daylight fun, doesn’t mean that they don’t need to have some reset time of their own. Taking an extra 30 – 45 minutes to make sure they can have some time to themselves is an absolute must during season. This lesson wasn’t about how to clean, but rather how to respect my wife’s time.
When it’s not season, I do my best to not make everything about season prep. I could spend days watching elk hunting on you tube and I still make sure I stay current on Destination Elk and Land of the Free, but I don’t watch these with my wife. Instead, we watch her favorite, Gilmore Girls. At this point I have probably seen the entire series multiple times, but it gives us quality time together. Being present in your relationship will pay dividends at the end of season when there are tasks that have been piling up and the patience levels have worn down. This is an easy way to focus on your relationship.
Plan trips and have fun together as a family. Early on in our relationship, we had some major discussions about what we liked doing. With hunting season being condensed and the main way I provide meat for my family, we discussed doing our best to not have any major trips or activities planned from September until thanksgiving. There are always things that come up. Last year we had 2 weddings to attend including one that was on opening day of bow season. We had an amazing time. I cannot stress this point enough. ITS NOT FUNNY TO JOKE ABOUT YOU’D RATHER BE HUNTING THEN AT THIS PERSON’S BIG DAY. Social media provides a skewed image into how hunters should act during season. Hunting is not the be all end all and, to be frank, if hunting is taking precedent over other momentous life events, I think you need to have a conversation with yourself about how you want your life to be. I know this is a harsh and controversial statement, but, in my perspective, our families need to be our number one focus.
It is important to get out and hunt, but season is only a few weeks out of the year. It is nowhere near as important as spending time with family and friends. On average, I spend about 24 days in the field a year. That leaves 341 days when I am not in the woods hunting. Yes, there is scouting and other activities that I do to prepare for hunting, but I do my best to involve my family in them so that when the time comes, I can spend time away from them without building any animosity or negative feelings. Remember, respect, communication and effort are must-haves to all relationships. you must put more effort into your partner than you do into hunting.
Ethan and his wife live in Missoula, Montana where he works as a construction manager and is co-owner of Red Patch Outdoors. he is passionate about big game hunting and brining new hunter sun to the sport. With the demands on his time, Ethan lives the weekend warrior lifestyle during season to provide meat for his family and friends.