A Wifes Tale by Stephanie Lusk Gravely
Before I get started, I just want to make one thing clear. I love my husband, I love my husband, I love my husband. Now that the legal disclaimer has been stated, I can move on.
When I married my husband five years ago, he was not a sportsman by any means. He liked cars. Well, like is not quite strong enough. He lusted after cars. This man, on our second date, nearly wrecked the vehicle we were riding in to get a good look at some black sports car driving the other direction. I thought he was ogling the bleach blonde tootsie driving said vehicle. I came to learn that he hadn’t even noticed the girl; he was drooling over the car.
My dad, on the other hand, is a sportsman. There are pictures of me with my father holding up fish, turkeys, standing before deer hung upside down in our front yard, in a backpack as an infant on some creek bank in the middle of nowhere. I was graced with parents that valued the outdoors. I learned from an early age to respect it, how to cook what I caught, and not to take more than I could use. I’ve watched my mom grind deer meat into burger, pound steaks, can the meat, freeze the meat, dry the meat, and cook the meat. I liked the lifestyle, but wasn’t a hunter myself, so I didn’t get the all-encompassing Buck Fever every fall. I was, however, the only girl in my fourth grade class to receive a B.B. Gun for Christmas.
Upon my marriage, my dad started luring my husband to the other side. Before too long, the transformation began and I was doomed to a house filled with various hunting and fishing paraphernalia. He started with a bow, a target, a new target, a new bow, a new sight for the new bow, a new sight for the new bow because the other sight wasn’t good enough, new arrows for the new bow because he has lost all the other arrows in my father’s field from sighting in the new sight, new camouflage, new tree stand, a newer bigger tree stand, another tree stand to attach permanently, more camouflage, urine in a bottle (I still think that is the most disgusting thing!), detergent to mask any scent (and I had better not even THINK of touching the camo after he has dried it so carefully), and numerous other gadgets and gizmos to make a hunters life easier.
My husband killed his first deer from a tree stand on my parent’s farm. He nearly fell out of the stand while trying to call me on the cell phone (I made him take it just in case) to let me know he had gotten the Big One! I was so proud, while the other girls I worked with just looked at me as if I had grown another head.
Dad now finds this to be the opportunity to give my husband a crash course in patience and tracking. My husband has never tracked a deer; field dressed a deer, or even skinned a deer. Dad kneels down beside my husband and tells him everything to do, all the while smoking his Marlboro and grinning from ear to ear. My father is one of those hunters that carries snack cakes and soda into the woods, smokes cigarettes while hunting, wears the minimum legal limit of blaze orange, no camo, just coveralls, and still manages to land his limit nearly every year. And I am not talking spike bucks and little deer…we have these monsters mounted on the walls! While my husband is spraying stuff all over himself and meticulously de-scenting everything around him, my dad is standing off to the side, lighting up a cigarette and popping the top on the Pepsi can.
With this new thrill of the hunt, and a set of four point horns proudly carried everywhere in the back of the truck, my non-sportsman-love-of-my-life, has become transformed into a camo-wearing, gun-toting, hunting-magazine-subscribing, avid sportsman.
This leads to our latest experience. We have neighbors that are our age (nearly 30), no kids, and are from similar backgrounds. Wouldn’t you know it, the husband is a sportsman, and the wife is the outdoorsy type too. We get along great, and she and I know something is up when we see the two guys gathered around the kitchen table pouring over some new gadget, land plot map, brochure, or just being in the same room together. We’re just never sure what our role is going to be exactly.
I spent my night last night, holding a flashlight, swatting at bugs, toting ice, turning the water hose on and off, and offering suggestions on just the right way to cut a set of horns off of a deer. My husband, Mr. Neighbor and a friend of theirs managed to land their first deer of the season, and did not make it home until waaaaay past my bedtime. Mrs. Neighbor and I were rooted out of bed to help…well, we were told to go back to bed, but who can sleep when there are three carcasses hanging in your front yard, in the middle of a subdivision, on a Tuesday night. Not counting the amount of noise they were making. IF we had went to bed, we would have been awakened a million times by the ‘Honey, do you know where…” So we just got up and dug right in.
We have a community watch program, and I hope they were not watching last night. Everyone in the neighborhood already thinks that husband and I are weird, now it is official. They call it country living where we live now. After growing up in the hills of West Virginia, and not being able to see your neighbor, this is town living. The nearest grocery store is two miles down the road, not the 30-minute drive that I was used to all of my life.
Mrs. Neighbor and I made all the right ‘oooohhhhing’ and ‘ahhhhing ‘ sounds when they unloaded the deer out of the pickup. We were half asleep, she in her pajamas, me in my oldest jeans and t-shirt, shoes with no socks, and my glasses on. We patiently listened to the ‘tales of the hunt’, took turns holding the flashlight, washing the meat, and fetching the little things that the guys had forgotten. It takes a special kind of woman to actually enjoy these experiences, but at 1am, I am not so sure if either one of us was that special kind of woman.
I made it back to my own kitchen a bit later, to rinse and cut up the chunks of meat, put them in the kettle and get them in the fridge. I even called my mom, who thankfully works the night shift, to ask how much salt I should use. It’s been so long since I have put up the meat myself. I prefer a professional meat cutter, less hassle, less mess. Her first question was “What’s wrong?” Nothing, just hubby got a deer and its 1am…everything is peachy. She laughs, tells me it reminds her of their early years, and tells me to go to bed. Have I mentioned that Mrs. Neighbor and I both have to get up for work at about 6am?
So it is the next day. The pot of deer meat is soaking in the refrigerator; I am sucking down the coffee to wipe the lack of sleep off my brain. I know there will be tenderloin on the grill tonight, maybe a beer or two to wash it down with. We will probably have to go through this again many, many times, but when you fry up that first strip of steak, put it on a plate of fried eggs and fresh biscuits, all the pain just melts away.
Maybe I’ll get them to give me one of the skins and I’ll make a rug out of it….nahhhh. That would really give these city folks something to talk about.