It is 5 am on a Friday morning and there are big, hairy school girls giggling outside my window. Oh yes! The group of camo-clad men folk is loading up the stink wagon with guns, sleeping bags, 4-wheelers, and fart inducing grub. This is the annual elk hunting trip that all of the fellow hunting buddies and their fathers go on. Nothing that moves is safe, whether you be a monster elk, a gargantuan buck, a squirrel, a gopher, a coyote, or any other poor critter that crosses this motley crew’s path. I have been hearing about this trip since a day after last year’s trip came to an end. And yes, they are giddy. They will be hooting and hollering as soon as their tires leave the black burnout marks down my driveway.
Being female, I do not have the “strong but silent” gene when it comes to emotions, so I can see what this trip is really about. It is about male bonding. I don’t think that they even care if they are successful in their wilderness shooting sprees, but what matters is that they get to poop in the woods, play cards, drink beer, burn around in a smelly old truck, not brush their teeth for days, and sit around a fire talking straight bull-####… This is the epitome of male bonding. It is a vacation from reality, a vacation from work and most certainly a vacation from hygiene.
Since my outdoorsman could barely walk, his father has been taking him on this extravaganza of camo, guns, and good, old fashioned fun. You know where they eat gas station burritos and then blame the dog for the noxious gases filling the truck cab type fun…On these trips there are lessons being taught and learned by both father and son. The father teaches their son how to ethically hunt, how to put up and tear down camp, how to cook in the woods, and how to guzzle a Pepsi in 30 seconds flat. The son reminds the father to remain young and how to still act like a wild maniac full of piss and vinegar.
Now as I see the next generation of “squirrel-eater”, in my 4 year old son, I know that he too will love the thrill that the outdoors silently holds. The memories that are made on these trips will last forever and the stories will be told for generations. As I watch my outdoorsman guide my son on dressing warmly, “eating what you kill”, and Doritos munching, I know that they are also making memories. I can tell by the way my son cries to go hunting every single, stinkin’ weekend, that he too loves the outdoors. I cannot think of anything healthier than teaching them the value of hard work and submerging yourself in fresh air. With a new hunter in tow, it is interesting to watch the priorities change from “needing” that giant bull elk, to simply getting ANY elk. Our son is now an addict of the outdoors…just like his dad, his grandfather, and his great-grand father…
Who knew that carrying around a dead goose, pooping in the woods, and freezing your booty off what so wonderful! These trips are not about the hunt, but about the bond that is created and maintained through MORE hunting trips. Of course! There is no cancelling and there is no talk of rescheduling. These are the trips of a lifetime.
As I watch out the window at the truck tearing down the driveway, gravel flying, with three heads bobbing in the seat…A grandfather, a father, and a son… I know I have “fart stinked” camo gear to air out, Doritos- cheese shirt stains to clean and tall tales to look forward to for the rest of my life and I couldn’t feel luckier.
Kristen Berube lives a crazy, laugh-filled life with her outdoorsman husband Remi and their three camo-clad children in Missoula, Montana. A graduate of Montana State University and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, she loves being a mom and enjoys hiking, fishing, and camping. “Confessions of a Camo Queen: Living with an Outdoorsman” is her first book. –
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