Sunday, November 15, 2015

Living Where I Hunt

To be able to hunt the same land we live on is a privilege.  I believe the vast majority of deer hunters do not have the ability to sleep in their own bed, eat breakfast in their own kitchen, walk out their own back door, go a few hundred yards, and sit down in their deer stand.  At least, the majority of deer hunters I've known are not able to do this. Some might own property 'up north' or otherwise away from their urban or suburban primary residence.  Some rent someone else's property for the hunting season.  Some drive to and from public hunting lands every single time they go out to hunt.

Me, I walk out my back door, across my field, into the woods, and to whichever of our various deer stands/blinds I feel like hunting from that particular morning or afternoon. Or, at least whichever location DH hasn't put dibs on first.  And if any of the kids are home to hunt, I do try to leave their favorite spots open.

Sounds great, right?

It is.  Sorta.  Except by hunting from the same property I live on, I don't get the advantage of being on vacation or going to hunting camp like the hunters who have to travel.  I still have to cook the meals, clean the floors, take care of the livestock, raise the children (when they were still at young and at home), and all the other daily chores I normally do.  That includes work during the week.  Hunting is something extra I'm trying to squeeze in, not something that I get to say "everything else doesn't exist right now, it's hunting season and I'm going hunting."

It also means that we frequently have 'guests' popping in during the deer hunting season.  Those 'guests' (and I say that tongue in cheek, or maybe biting my tongue, since they don't behave like normal guests, but like they can do what they please while at my home) are friends of DH's who don't have hunting right out their own back doors.  Well, actually a couple of them do, but are more limited in which direction they can shoot by more densely populated neighborhoods than what we live in.

For many years, these 'guests' settled themselves into the deer stands on our property, and if there was an open spot left, then I got to hunt too.  Meanwhile, I was feeding them dinner, washing up the dishes they ate off of, washing the bedding they used when they stayed overnight, cleaning the bathroom & restocking the toilet paper they used. . . All for last dibs on the hunting spots on my own property.  While trying to keep up with all my regular daily responsibilities.

Then, one year, I pretty much blew a gasket.  I told DH that if things were going to continue this way (the prepared meals, the housekeeping service, the priority hunting spots) that he needed to charge his buddies a fee for the privilege of hunting our land.  Especially since at least one of them all ready rented other land but still came to our place and enjoyed the hospitality plus took home our venison.

It was not a discussion you would have wanted to witness, as it got a little heated. I knew from experience that traditionally the guy at hunting camp who was elected to do the cooking and cleaning for the rest of the hunting crew was referred to as the 'camp bitch', and I may have said something about showing DH's buddies a real 'camp bitch' if I continued to be disrespected in my own home while footing the bill for their non-charged hunting experience. . .

But, things did change. Some of the 'guests' suddenly were less interested in taking deer from our woods.  Kind of ironic, how once some courtesy was enforced, hunting at my house became less desirable compared to hunting on the lands they were paying money to use.  When the free meals stopped, and quiet time was nine p.m. on school nights, it just became too far for them to drive just to hunt for an afternoon a handful of times during season. Some guests stopped living with us (interrupting our family life/schedule, since the kids still needed a quiet bedtime so they could get enough sleep and be up and at school in the mornings) quite so much.  The ones who did stay for days started bringing 'gifts' of groceries and packages of toilet paper.

And, wonder of wonders, I stopped being the last person who got to claim a hunting spot.  In fact, I moved up to number two on the list when it came time to choose blinds. And immediately after me on that list, was which ever of our children were old enough to hunt and were home for that particular hunting time.  IF there was any room left in our woods after that, then DH's 'guests' might be able to have a spot.

There is a difference between being hospitable and being taken advantage of.  It's a fine line. And, unfortunately for those of us who hunt where we live, it gets crossed more often than it should.


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