More and more hunters are going on “blind” dates with their spouse or loved one. Ground blinds, that is. Hunting together as a family has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and I believe that we can all agree that spending time outdoors with people whom you love is therapeutic. All couples have their own dynamic; while some are competitive and work to outperform their loved one, others will revel in the success of their spouse.
We recently had a situation come up while hunting in Texas that defined our entire relationship within a matter of minutes. Let me take you there…
My husband and I hunt together. Not just once in a while, but more like full time. We rarely spend a day in the woods without the other one because we run our production company together, and we also co-host a television show. On average, we spend about 250 days out of the year in the field hunting and filming. I booked a hunt for us in Texas to end our months long big game season for 2015. Imagine that, after hunting together nonstop for 3 months straight, we wanted to hunt together to “get away from it all”. We both bought licenses, we drove to an incredible (no fences) ranch in South Texas, and we decided that I could shoot the “Trophy Buck” that came with our package. He was fine with shooting a management buck, which means that anything with 8 points is fair game. The genetics on this piece of property is overrun with old 8 point bucks, and the management process is meant to clean that out a little bit. That being said, the genetics on this ranch are incredible and there are certainly some giants walking around in the brush.
On the first morning of our hunt, while sitting side by side in a ground blind together, I held onto my bow while Daniel Lee sat behind the camera. He brought his bow along just in case if a management buck happened to step out. At first light the deer began coming into the field in front of us. One magnificent buck walked out and we knew right away that he was dominant. He chased a doe around, he stomped at the other bucks, and he took over the entire food plot with his strong personality. While most people would have taken the shot as soon as they had enough light to see, I was uncertain. I knew that a trophy buck should be over 5 years old, and the guide told me that a 10 point or better was what I should watch for. I decided to pass. I judged this deer to be about 4 years old, and while he was very large in some ways, the smaller Texas body size had me confused. He was a very nice 9 point, and if he had produced that 5th point on the one side then my decision would have been easier.
I told my husband that he could shoot the deer. While I put my bow down and took the camera, he loaded an arrow and calmed his breathing. I filmed the deer, got a better look at him, and decided that maybe he was my trophy. I decided that I did want to shoot that buck. We switched everything again, camera, bows, and both of us calmed our breathing. When the deer stepped back out again, I could tell that my husband wanted that deer. I knew that it was probably considered a trophy, but I felt willing to forfeit my trophy buck so that my best friend, this wonderful man, could take it. Once again I told Daniel that I wasn’t going to shoot the deer. The look on his face was a mixture of joy and confusion. It was that look that husbands get on their face when they question their wife’s sanity. We quietly switched the camera, I put my bow down, he picked his up, and he waited for the perfect shot. In my head I kept telling myself that it was likely going to be considered a “trophy”, and that I was fine with that. I had made my decision.
I watched that beautiful buck out in front of us, clearly within bow range, and I thought about the moment that we were living in and the story that we were creating. It didn’t matter who shot that deer because my husband and I share a household. Either way it goes into our freezer. And sometimes watching someone whom you love in the act of doing what they love will bring you more joy than anything else in the world. In my heart I knew that I had just given him the trophy buck and that I would be shooting a smaller one. But the look on his handsome face after he made a perfect heart shot on that big brush country deer was all of the convincing I needed to know that I had made the right decision.
You see, in our home it’s not a competition. We don’t strive to out shoot, out hunt, or outdo each other in any way. We hunt as a team, just as we go through life as a team. The rewards we reap far outweigh the boost to our ego, and the stories we create are more meaningful because of the love that goes into them.
What would you do in this situation? Would you take the trophy even though you know it would make your spouse happy to have the opportunity? Or do you pass it over to them knowing that it would make their day, and that it would create a story that would live on forever in your hearts? Comment and let me know what your decision would be!