By VALERIE SKALA WALKER
I’ve been living the life of a duck hunter’s wife for about ten years now. Turns out, I didn’t just marry my husband, I also married his Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and his decoy collection. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. But I have learned how to find humor in just about every corner of this life. And I’ve discovered just a few ways in which a hunter’s household is, as Bill Engvall once put it, “a couple of degrees off plumb.” Here’s my latest top 10 list of ways to tell if you, too, are a hunter’s spouse.
• When introducing your dog to strangers, you can tell immediately if you’ve met a kindred soul based on whether or not you have to explain why your dog’s name is Benelli.
• You describe the boat blind as your “vacation home.”
• The furnace repairman once did a double-take in your basement, thinking you were raising geese down there. Admittedly, in the dim basement light, the flocked-head big-foot geese did look pretty realistic behind that line of wire fence you had installed to serve as a puppy pen.
• There is no question that one of your family vehicles will always be a full-size Chevy truck. SUVs are out, obviously, because where would you put the dead animals and the mud-covered waders?
• You go Christmas shopping in your deep freezer. “Does your sister rate the loin steaks or just some elk burger?”
• Your property is on the other side of a fifty-foot-high berm from a working gravel quarry. You viewed this as a major bonus when you bought the house: perfect shooting backstop! You are the envy of many of your friends.
• At least one of the windows in your house has the screen off because Elmer Fudd was hunting those wily wabbits again.
• You’ve started referring to your family as your “pack” and describe your household hierarchy as a human alpha male, a wife, and a hunting dog whose aim in life is to move up the ranking.
• You let a few people know (tongue in cheek!) where to look in case you ever go missing, after you realized that the garbagemen in your neighborhood don’t bat an eye at the stinky, bloody garbage cans that show up at the end of your driveway during hunting season.
• You wonder if other people have a line item in their budgets for ammo and taxidermy. And, oh yeah, don’t forget those hearing aids that you’re going to need. (“What?”)
Val Walker grew up on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area outside Ely, Minnesota, and presently lives outside Elburn, Illinois, with her husband, Bob, and their Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Benelli.