Pheasant Hunting photo

This is me with my first rooster of the year, always a noteworthy event. Almost equally important is this: even though you can see that Jed wanted to jump out of my arms and keep hunting I called my limit one bird and went home. I got back a little earlier than I told my wife I would and had daylight left for some leaf raking.

Having now been married for 29 hunting seasons I can offer this observation: It is not so much the time you spend in the field that leads to disharmony during the fall. Coming home later than you said you would be home is what causes problems.

The mistake made by husbands (I can speak only from a male perspective here) is this: when their wives ask when they will get back, they pick an unrealistically early return time, trying to minimize the inconvenience of being gone all day.

The problem is, once you name a time it becomes a Deadline in the mind of a spouse. You will be held to it and if you miss it even by a little bit and you are Late. Marital strife and grousing about hunting season ensues. I learned this long time ago.

So, instead of trying to sugarcoat the idea of ducking out on family responsibility to go hunting by saying you won’t be gone long, suck it up and announce your return time using the “latest time plus half an hour plus fifteen minutes” formula.

Think of the latest time you will get back. Figure the end of legal shooting time, plus time to get back to the truck plus drive time home. Then add half an hour because it always takes longer than you think it will to load gear, visit with other hunters you run into, stop at the convenience store for beef jerky and pop, and so on. Then tack on 15 more minutes to give yourself an added cushion. That’s when you say you will be come. Voila. You now have set an easily attainable deadline and you will arrive home on time or even early from hunting. (For deer and big game hunting you have to add: “I’ll be late if I get one. I’ll call if I do.”)

By following this rule, you get home at the same time you would have gotten home anyway, but because you are not “late” there is no problem. Your spouse is actually happy to see you when you step in the door.

I told the friend who snapped this picture the “latest time plus half an hour plus 15 minutes” formula. He laughed and said “I got you beat. I just tell my wife I’ll be home by sunrise.” I guess that works too but I am not brave enough to try it.