Hunting Life, Happy Wife

For years, I have been involved in a love-hate relationship. And no, I am not talking about my husband, but his winter mistress: hunting season. From September to February, I have a sister wife that used to not do much for me except for taking up a lot of his time, energy, and money. I will be honest; I am the first to be snarky about his love for all things hunting & fishing! The incessant dinging throughout the night as his trail cams go off, the hours-long phone calls talking about upcoming hunts, the surprise boxes of new, overpriced camouflage clothing – it can be A LOT for any semi patient wife. But while these things can sometimes be annoying, I realized I may have an unpopular opinion as I sat down to write this article: “There really are no cons to being a hunter’s wife.”

New Experiences and Life Lessons 

When Ryan and I met eleven years ago I knew he was into hunting immediately. His childhood room was filled with pictures of him as a kid with his Dad and Grandpa, proudly holding up their various deer/ducks/rabbits they had gotten that trip. His family owns property in Mississippi, which is home to horses, cows, deer, chickens, peacocks, goats, you name it! They’ve been going there since the 90s and I quickly learned a different way of life. See me, I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. My parents never even so much as owned a gun. Food came from the grocery store, and I knew very few people that hunted. I was introduced to a whole new world a decade ago by his family, and I am thankful for the mind-opening experiences it has provided me. I’ve shot guns, gotten to feel the excitement of a hunt, and have learned about an entire world that I knew nothing about. Eating venison took me time to wrap my mind around and the idea of killing a deer used to horrify me. Years later I have learned the appreciation that hunters put into their bounties and am super thankful every time we get to fill our deep freezer full of delicious, fresh food.

No Choice but to Disconnect

Disconnecting. Let’s be honest, in 2021 it is almost impossible to disconnect from our day-to-day lives. And I am not just talking about social media and our phones. What about all the other things that we find ourselves doing over the weekend? The endless loads of laundry. Cleaning. Yard work. Errands. Do all these things need to be done? Yes. But do we find ourselves consumed with these items instead of relaxing and recharging? Also, yes. We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure on being perfect & having it all together. It is easy to forget that sometimes it helps to stop, take a deep breath of fresh air, and just relax. Going to the country forces me to leave all these to-do items at home. I pack a bag full of leggings, sweaters, and comfy boots knowing for a couple of days I won’t need to put on makeup or straighten a bedroom. My laptop comes with me but only gets used for work when needed. My phone gets put away unless I am taking a picture of my kids or some cute animals. It is food for my soul and good for my mental health. It has become one of my happiest places.

Family Time & Memories Made

There are plenty of times when I look for my kids that I will find one laying on a hammock petting the barn cats. Or that they’ve gone to take a ride to get eggs out of the coops in the back. I love watching them run through the grass playing made-up games with all their “cousins” (because blood-related or not, they’re all cousins to them now). They’ve both taken up an interest in hunting and fishing, seeing the excitement on my daughter’s face last year when they shot an 8-point buck together was priceless. The laughter while cooking in the barn, the stories around the fire sipping moonshine, and the memories we make every time we are there make up a special place in my heart. I get to spend time with my in-laws, our extended family, and people that I wouldn’t otherwise see except at holidays. These are the valuable moments I live for as I get older!

From Friends to Family

One of the biggest perks of being a hunting wife is getting to know the other wives and their families! After years of spending our weekends and holidays together, these people have turned from friends into real family. I don’t personally hunt, but some of the other women do. You better believe I am cheering on my girls from the camp and it’s always exciting when one of them comes back with a deer. Our kids are all growing up together and we look forward to seeing one another. I am truly thankful for the bond that I have made with these amazing ladies and the time spent laughing till we cry.

It’s All About Balance

While you’re reading this right now, there’s a good chance that I am sitting at the hunting camp watching my kids while my husband is out hunting. I do spend a lot of my time supporting his hobby that he loves. We sacrifice weekend activities, we have crazy schedules, and a lot of our lives revolve around what open season is that month. In return though, my heart is full during these months – filled to the top with quality family time. When it’s time for me time, whether that be dinner with my friends, a girls’ weekend, or krewe-related events; I don’t feel as guilty as I run out the door! While our hobbies may be different, both of us taking the time out to do the things we love makes us a stronger family.

Embracing something I had zero interest in (and used to almost resent!) has taught me much more about life than I had ever bargained for. It may have taken me years to really appreciate the hunting life, and I’m still going to side-eye him most of the season, but I am grateful for all the things I have learned as a hunter’s wife!

Dana Wattigney
Moving from Nebraska in middle school, Dana considers herself a New Orleanian 25 years later. She now lives in Belle Chasse with her husband Ryan, 12-year-old Mila, and 8-year-old Rex. As the Executive Director of the YMCA in her community, she is very involved in all aspects of family life. You can find her on the weekend doing DIY projects, cheering on LSU or the Saints, and spending time with her family. A lover of all revelry, there is no festival, concert, or event that she won't go to! Catch her with the Krewe of Cleopatra each Mardi Gras. She gets out of town with her kids as much as possible, they enjoy the outdoors, especially the mountains & the beach. Affectionately known as "Dana Dolittle" to her friends, you can expect her to have a random animal she is trying to help at any given time. Dana loves to write & says there are no topics off limits.


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