Tale of a successful ‘dear’ hunt
After nearly an hour of walking along a steep mountainside, Michelle found herself tangled in a patch of thorny briars. Her hair was caught in several places as she tried to crawl through the thicket on hands and knees.This was so not what she had bargained for, and yet she didn’t give up.
The goal was to help push a deer from the overgrown hillside down into an adjacent field where I was standing with my trusty .308 Winchester. It was Michelle’s first time tagging along on a deer hunt. She didn’t have a license or a gun, but offered to do some drives for me.
And, of course, my biggest hope was to impress her by bagging a big one — a true trophy we could hang on the wall and talk about for years to come.
I watched the hillside closely. I prayed something would meander its way down into the stubbly, freshly cut corn field.
Suddenly, I saw movement at the edge of the hill, right near the road that separated the thick woods and the corn field I was watching.
And there was a flash of brown — just the wrong shade. It was ways too dark to be a deer.
It was, instead, a disheveled Michelle.
Her clothing was filled with briars and hair stuck out every which way after its battle with thicket after thorny thicket.
Her look at that moment may not have won her many modeling trophies on a glitzy catwalk, but to me, it was one of many beautiful moments over the 11-plus years we’ve been married. I was impressed by her sacrifice, waking up early to crawl through thick brush just to spend time with me. She wanted to help me get a deer just as much as I wanted to impress her with harvesting a big-racked buck.
We didn’t see a single deer that day — and it turned out to be the last time she would tag along on a deer hunt.
She, instead, makes the sacrifices at home while watching the kids so I can keep going out year after year — and she welcomes my son and I home with a warm pot of homemade soup, freshly baked Christmas cookies or some other treat to help warm us up after a cold day outdoors.
She braves countless camping trips in a less-than-comfortable tent. She helps teach our kids to value nature and the outdoors. She tried taking a shot with my 20-gauge shotgun. She even casts a mean trout line — snagging a beautiful brookie on one trip to the White Deer Creek when I couldn’t get a bite all morning.
I’ve learned that behind every successful outdoorsman is a loving, supportive spouse — and we shouldn’t take that for granted.
Sure, we can honor that significant other on Mother’s (or Father’s) Day, Valentine’s Day and on the yearly anniversary. But, is that really enough?
I’ve found myself guilty more than I’d like to admit lately of getting caught up in the busyness of life. Work, obligations with the kids, helping out with church, taking care of various projects around the house — all are very important and have their place. However, taking time to cherish those that make the sacrifices behind the scenes needs to be a priority. I know it will be for me moving forward.
So, on the day Michelle and I tackled the Montour Preserve hunting lands, I may not have brought home a deer — but I did bring home a dear.
It was my most successful — and memorable — hunt yet.