I must admit, I never thought I would marry a man who hadn’t ever been hunting. Not that I was opposed to dating someone who had never hunted, it’s just that during my dating days, my social circles tended to involve boys who grew up hunting, fishing, and getting trucks stuck in the mud.
But I also never thought I would marry a man with a cat, and yet here I am.
My sweet husband doesn’t have one square inch of camouflage in his entire closet. He only started fishing when he met me, and prior to our relationship, he had barely ever handled a gun. The man doesn’t own a pair of boots. God bless him.
He obviously has other things going for him that make him worth spending the rest of my life with. Being extremely cute and sweet for starters.
Yet last weekend my husband finally got to cross hunting off the list of things he’d never done.
We were in the little town of Goldthwaite, Texas (population 2,000) for the grand opening of the Texas Botanical Gardens and were invited to hunt at our friend Warren’s ranch just outside of town.
Warren took us around the ranch on the four wheeler before hunting and we got up close and personal with the wind turbines he leases part of his ranch for. I’d never stood at the base one before and all I can say is it made me feel very short.
Brandon had been burning the midnight oil the previous night finishing his hunter education course (required of all hunters in the state of Texas) so he was studied up on regulations, gun safety, terminology, types of ammunition, and wildlife conservation, but I didn’t know how he was going to feel about hunting once he got out there. I completely understand the first-time hunting nerves. I had them and think they are very normal.
But per usual, Brandon remained cool, calm, and collected. (Which may have something to do with why I married him.)
By the time we got to the blind, we had scared off any living creature on the ranch. The gator Warren dropped us off in roared through the silence, and then we sounded like a herd of elephants as we tore through tall grass on our way to the blind. I am just not a quiet person, and that right there is my biggest challenge with deer hunting.
I always tend to make a bunch of racket getting into the blind, so while I’m at it I go ahead and get completely settled. I take my earplugs out of my bag and put them in a place I can get to quickly, get out my camera, load my gun (but keep it on safety), and test out my shooting position by putting my gun through the blind opening as if I were about to take shot and adjusting my chair as needed.
Then, all i have to do is rest my gun inside the blind, watch the sun begin to sink below the trees, and wait for the deer to come out.
I had told Brandon that there was absolutely no pressure to shoot a deer. If he decided it wasn’t his cup of tea, that is fine!
But he aimed his gun, took a deep breath, and BAM! got himself his first deer.
Of course, in all the excitement, I had forgotten to put in my earplugs, so my ears were ringing off and on all evening.
After Brandon got his buck, I got a doe. I love to cook with venison, especially in winter stews and such, so am happy to have a full freezer again.
To me, and to many hunters I know, hunting is about experiencing nature, about taking care of the landscapes and habitat that are home to our deer herd, and about gratitude for what you take from the land.
Brandon had a fabulous time and jumped right in when it was time to clean and quarter the deer. We’re picking up our venison from the smokehouse this week and can’t wait.
But the story’s not over yet…
Guess what the headline was in the Goldthwaite Eagle on Monday morning?
A guy’s first hunt and he gets written up in the paper. I wonder if he realizes this doesn’t happen to everyone.
A first hunt is such a special moment to share with someone, and I am so happy I got to share it with with my sneaker-wearing, calculus-loving, cat-owning husband.
Venison queso, here we come!