Yes, you read right. Not only did I, but my sister-in-law and I invaded deer camp this past weekend. Anyone that lives in Wisconsin knows this is the most scared of times. I've been married to my husband for 23 years, with him for 27; my sister-in-law has been married to my brother-in-law for 16 years, with him for 25. Never have either of us stepped foot within a 250 mile radius of the hunting grounds.
Normally, we both become deer hunter widows. We've had dinner dates, movies, cookie exchanges and shopping trips. My MO is to paint anything I can get my hands on in our house. Every year changes; sometimes it's cabinets, sometimes it's walls. This year, there was no painting.
Our family dynamic changed this fall when our father-in-law passed away. Our husbands chatted between themselves and decided it was time to bring to camp.
Now you can imagine, my first thought was "no way, never going to happen, I like my alone time". I didn't want to cook or clean for the group, nor did my sister-in-law. We both like our freedom that weekend, which normally consists of not doing dishes for four days and living on take out Chinese or pizza.
This year we welcomed the change. The boys (both husbands, and our two sons) went Thursday, and we left Friday to make the 4 1/2 hour trip after work. We chatted the entire time and the 4 1/2 hours felt like about 60 minutes.
We were given the option to sleep in on Saturday morning, but we both braced for the 4:30 am wake up call when we had gone to bed well after midnight. Before we headed out, I started making our dinner...what would be a full Thanksgiving dinner. (Remember, I didn't want to cook).
She went with her husband; I sat with our youngest son. I've come to appreciate the patience a deer hunter must have. I was cold (14 degrees that first morning), and I needed to pee. It's not like I'm male and can just whip it out and take care of business. Nope...leave the logistics to your imagination.
There is something so very surreal when you see your 17 year old's face light up when he sees that first deer. I watched him from the comfort of my chair get up, turn his chair on its side, and take aim. The shot was well over 150 yards; a distance even the most seasoned hunter would have trouble with. I was able to video the action, and I realized that my heart was about to jump out of my chest. Watching him take aim, hold his breath and shoot was incredible. Sadly, the shot was low and the doe took off. The disappointment on his face was terrible. I wanted it for him. The disappointment on his part was because he wanted me to see it. Shortly thereafter I saw a doe prance off into the woods, and then a buck follow. He decided against the shot because it was even further than the first. We headed back to camp.
Everyone else went out later the day and little luck again, but they all came back to what was a sleep inducing meal. I think everyone needed it. We laughed. We told stories. It was exactly what I needed.
Day two started out much like day one. An early morning wake up call. My sister-in-law went with my brother-in-law again, my boys hunted together, and I braved the cold (this time 9 degrees) with my husband. The view was breathtaking. We were over a ridge and were able to watch the sunrise. I had only wished I had my Canon with me. My phone didn't do it justice, and the cold was just too much for it.
I lasted a few hours and headed back to camp to get breakfast ready. No one had luck the second morning. Everyone headed out around lunch, and I decided I better nap since I had a five hour drive home (longer than Friday, taking our oldest back to college). I was out for 2 1/2 hours, only to be abruptly woken by something. That something turned out to be my boys tagging a deer. Our oldest got the lone doe this season. He was determined to take something, since the love of his life had gotten one the day before with her family.
What I am most proud of is that our boys did it together. There were no arguments; there was no one storming off. Our oldest asked our youngest to use the lone doe tag of the group.
Our family doesn't hunt just for the sport. They don't take more than they eat and would never hunt illegally. There were five deer in our yard and they could easily been taken, but it was well after sunset.
I spent the end of Sunday driving my oldest back to college. It was nice spending some alone time with him since he's away at school and normally we just text. There were only a few moments where I wanted to throw him out the truck (sorry kiddo). Knowing that he'll graduate soon and move out, I appreciate these few moments.
My sister-in-law helped my husband clean the cottage before the left on Monday.
Needless to say, invading deer camp wasn't what I thought it was. We still cooked, and cleaned, which is ok, because I love to cook, and she loves to clean. I guess it's who we are.
Will we go back next year? I think so. They might have another hunter on their hands though because I'm the best shot in the house.