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— I don’t have to tell those of you who keep up with such things that a recent weekend marked the opening of modern gun deer hunting season. Yes, I hear excited “yippee” coming from all you camouflage-clad hunters out there

It’s a big deal in our family, too, unfortunately complicated somewhat by the fact that our wedding anniversary falls very close to “opening weekend” each year.

This oversight in planning was made 30 years ago when I was young and oblivious to the fact that I was making a lifelong commitment to share my anniversary weekend tilldeath-do-us-part with the opening day of deer season. Just for the record - and because this is my side of the story - you should know that Earl, whose mind apparently was not on deer hunting back in 1979, choose the date for our wedding to take place.

At least I have an excuse for making such a faux pas. I did not know any better. I was unaware at that point in my life that “opening day” is a major holiday for die-hard deer hunters. For them to choose not to participate is like giving up Christmas.

Earl, who grew up hunting, will admit that the lapse in judgment has left him scratching his head more than once while muttering, “What was I thinking?”

For the first twelve months of marriage, I lived in ignorant bliss regarding how deer season would impact future anniversary celebrations. But just days before the end of our first year of marriage the conflict that we would face each fall reared its taunting head. Would Earl give up opening weekend of deer season to take me someplace to celebrate our anniversary? Or would I stay home while my husband hunted?

We tried different options, such as celebrating an earlier or later weekend and leaving “opening weekend” available. That one certainly worked better than the year Earl planned to hunt for part of the day then come home to take me out someplace. The problem is, hunting is somewhat like fishing - if luck is in your favor, you tend to stay longer than you intended. By the time the hunter got home and cleaned up there was very little time left to get to a nice restaurant.

Some years the hunter won and some years I won, but finally after seeing 30 anniversaries / deer seasons come and go, we have stumbled upon what looks to be the best answer of all.

To give Earl the credit he deserves, I must say that he has been willing to forgo hunting on “opening day” several different years to accommodate my interest in spending a special weekend away. He even offered to do the same thing this year, but together we changed our minds when we found out that our out-of-town kids would be home that weekend.We postponed our anniversary trip and Earl got busy with plans to use our cabin in Newton County as Deer Camp headquarters for our son, a son-in-law and a grandson, not to mention his excited self.

While the guys did their thing on “opening day,” I spent a fun day closer to home with my two daughters and soon-tobe daughter-in-law, Lynz. Later on, Lynz and I headed to the cabin to crash the hunting party and to make sure the hunters had a good evening meal.

The next morning, well before the crack of dawn, they were at it again. With obvious excitement, they donned their camouflage outfits and finished them off with orange vests and caps. With Earl directing the three-generational group, the plan was intently laid out - including which direction from the cabin each would head, who would sit on the deer stands, and all the other important matters that hunters must discuss before they hit the woods.

Anticipation hung in the air as the guys prepared to leave the cabin before sunrise. Although grateful that I didn’t have to start my day so early, I listened like a sleepy fly on the wall to bits and pieces of their energized conversations. I smiled to myself at the planning and strategizing going on as the four of them prepared for the big hunt. Later in the morning they reassembled, cluttering the living room of the small cabin with deer rifles, shotguns, hunting vests and orange caps.

As Lynz and I competed the last steps needed to serve the hungry hunters a hearty meal, we listened to each of them recounting their experience that morning in the woods. It occurred to me that I was observing something pretty special.Although bringing home a trophy buck with a nice rack is the ultimate reward, there’s obviously much more to hunting, and I was having a rare opportunity to see it. What a pleasure it was for me to sense how much enjoyment the hunters - which happen to include some of my favorite guys in the whole world - were getting from spending this time together at “Deer Camp.”

Was the weekend more fun for me than going away for my anniversary? Goodness, it is hard to lose a 30-year long argument, but I have to say, “Yes!”

Besides, we can always do that later. In fact, I have suggested to Earl the idea of making opening day deer camp at the cabin an annual family tradition!

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Editor, What is going on in Decatur? Secret meetings for a select business, not following safety codes, threatening to fire someone because it is their job to make sure businesses follow the codes?

Thanks to the press for reporting this story. I need to pay more attention to what is going on in my town - except it is difficult with secret meetings and decisions, and threats. M. Scharfenberg Decatur

Opinion, Pages 5 on 11/25/2009

Print Headline: A Walk in the Park Resolving a 30-year Conflict at Deer Camp

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