January 2, 2019
It’s that time of year again… The time every wife of a waterfowl hunter dreads (unless you’re one of those bada** wives that hunts with your husband! #respect).
We’re called “hunters’ widows” for a reason. Our men are out of the house by 3am, hunting until 10 or 11am, back around 1pm, cleaning their birds until 2, passed out on the couch for a long winter’s nap by 3pm, and repeating this pattern every weekend from early October through late January.
It’s an expensive, time-consuming hobby that can take a toll on any marriage. And while the men are out hunting, guess who’s going solo on watching the kids and taking care of the house?
Before our daughter was born, friends and family would ask, “How’s hunting season going for Jeff?” Now, they ask, “Will you let Molly go hunting with her dad someday?”
I realize it can be a controversial topic, but I also know that my husband and his hunting partners are all respectful, rule-abiding hunters who value safety above all else.
Most non-hunters also don’t realize that the tax revenue generated from purchases on ammunition, guns, tags, and licenses all fund conservation agencies that maintain the habitat of waterfowl nation-wide.
So when it comes to allowing my daughter to go hunting with her dad someday, my answer is yes, but only under the following conditions:
She’s old enough
Technically, in California, there is no age requirement to hunt waterfowl - only proof of passing your hunter’s safety course makes you eligible to purchase a hunting license.
I’ve talked to my husband about how young is too young to hunt with dad (without shooting), and he thinks if she shows interest, she can can start accompanying him around 7 years old, but I’m more comfortable with 10 years old.
Hunters must have a very mature mindset to appreciate the sport in a safe and respectful way, so if she’s not mentally ready to hunt at 10, she can wait until she’s older.
Molly’s only one, so we still have some time to come to a compromise, and of course, Molly will give her input as well.
She passes hunter’s safety
This one’s a given. Molly MUST pass her hunter’s safety course in order to pay for her hunting license in California.
She also needs to learn how to clean and safely handle and store her gun (in a locked safe) and go to the shooting range throughout the year to improve her skills. If this is a hobby she’s serious about pursuing, then she must take all the procedural steps seriously as well.
She comes prepared
Molly MUST have proper ear and eye protection, and all the right gear for being out in the marsh. Temperatures can get below freezing, and hunters often have to wade through feet of water to get to their spot. She also needs to help her dad prep the night before by getting their bags packed, decoys organized, guns cleaned, etc., if she wants to join in the fun.
She’s willing to eat what she brings home
“You kill it, you eat it” is a motto we live by in our household. If you shoot a bird, you better believe you’re going to pluck it, breast it, and eat it, so if Molly won’t agree to those terms, then she can observe without firing her gun.
She truly enjoys it
All of this hopeful planning for Molly’s future as a waterfowl hunter hinges on her willingness to partake. If she doesn’t show interest in hunting, or even observing, my husband and I agreed that we will not push her to make hunting a hobby.
Hunting is not for everyone, but if you’re educated, safe, and create purpose by eating what you shoot, it’s a sport with rich tradition that’s enjoyed by families all over the world.
Should Molly choose to hunt, it will be a fun and exciting way for her to spend time with her dad and connect with nature, but if she decides it’s not for her, then that’s fine, too.