When you read the question “should you hunt with your significant other,” you probably have an immediate answer based on your experience or your gut instinct about your relationship. If the idea sounds great to you, you might be surprised to hear that in the course of writing an article about hunting guides, I had two guides mention that some of their biggest nightmare scenarios involved husbands and wives.
“I don’t know exactly what it is,” a longtime friend and Western hunting guide told me, “but some of my worst clients have been husband-and-wife teams where the wife doesn’t have much prior hunting experience. If she’s an experienced hunter, it’s no problem. If she’s not, the husband will almost always try to be the guide. The guide will try his best to make it work, but eventually they’ll disagree about something, and it all goes downhill from there. The husband will get mad on behalf of his wife when he really doesn’t know what’s supposed to be going on. It starts with good intentions, but it usually devolves. I have so many stories like this. If I can split up a husband and wife into hunting with different guides in different spots, I do.”
“I have guided some husband and wife teams that were wonderful,” a Midwestern deer and turkey guide told me, “especially several older couples that have become lifelong friends. But in general, I agree with the other guide that the husband often wants to do the guide’s job. At times, it’s a nightmare. I’ve had to leave obnoxious husbands in a certain spot in the woods so I could take the wife farther in and get her a turkey, only to have the husband tell everyone at breakfast that he called the bird in for her.
“Or sometimes the husband or boyfriend is a know-it-all type who tries to be a big shot,” he continued. “Whatever, if he wants to look good in front of his wife, I can put up with some of that. But I had one guy who was just insufferable. When we were blood-trailing a deer he had shot, one of my guide buddies decided to be funny and played a recording of a mountain lion screaming (this was in a state where we don’t even have mountain lions). The husband grabbed the wife and pushed her in front of him in the direction of the scream, and kept her between him and the sound the whole time! She started slapping and kicking him—it was hilarious. So much for Mr. Big Shot.”
Whether that sounds vaguely familiar to you or not, you should still consider the question: Should you hunt with your significant other? Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Pros: Yes, Hunt With Your Guy
No doubt, hunting together can be a great way to spend time with your boyfriend or husband. Although there’s not much talking involved—unless you’re hunting something like ducks or doves—a lot of bonding can happen just sitting in the silence watching the sun rise.
If you’re hunting something like elk or turkeys that requires strategy, two heads can be better than one. If you and your significant other work well together, this kind of problem solving and strategizing can definitely bring you closer together and even increase your odds of success.
Too, there’s nothing like working hard at something and accomplishing a huge goal—like taking an animal—to bond two people. If you’ve ever met a stranger in hunt camp and left with a friend, you know exactly what that’s like. Plus, how great would it be to have someone to snuggle with in a cold deer stand or duck blind?
Cons: No, Leave Him at Home
I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and I don’t do well when it comes to completing projects together—something we learned years ago while trying to hang mini-blinds in our first house. His direct approach to “instruction” leaves me feeling criticized, even when that wasn’t his intent at all. I can only imagine that the same thing would result if we tried to team up on a strategy-driven hunt. We do go to hunt camp together, but we generally split up and sit or hunt by ourselves once we get there, and it works great for us. If you and your significant other know yourselves well enough to admit that one of you would try to take over and the other would get cranky about it, do yourselves a favor and let hunting be some personal quiet time you take separately.
If, like the women the guides referred to above, you have limited hunting experience, be honest with yourself about how well you take advice and direction from your significant other. And be honest with yourself about how well your man might take direction from a guide, if you’re going outfitted.
The other positive thing about hunting without your significant other is that it gives you the opportunity to either A—get some much-needed time alone; or B—spend some time with girlfriends, especially if you have the luxury of structuring it as a girls’ weekend away. Plus, someone has to stay home with the kids, right?