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.
How many times have you made date plans with your outdoorsman for a specific time and ended up waiting eons past the appointed hour? The outdoorsman’s inner clock seizes up when it comes into contact with fresh air. I know you’ve seen the quip about “time spent fishing is not deducted from a man’s allotted lifespan.” But they forget to mention that those same hours are stolen from the long-suffering woman back in town. The outdoorsman is out gallivanting around, giddy as a skunk in a dumpster, while you wait at home, pacing, wondering where the heck that yahoo is at. You flip between worried and infuriated. Should I go look for him? Did he get a flat tire? Stink wagon blow up? Sprained ankle? Of course, there is never cell phone service. You swear under your breath if he’s not hurt you are going to kill him. Okay, even if he is hurt, you’re going to kill him! I swear, when the outdoorsman’s clock freezes it makes me feel like a high school girl inventing excuses for why the jerk didn’t call. Except now I really just want to kick his camouflage-clad ass.
But part of you always worries—the what-ifs are too scary. What if he broke his leg and right now is crawling fourteen miles back to the truck? What if an ornery bear chased him up a tree and then sat down to wait him out? Most worrisome of all, what if he handed his beer to a friend and said, “Watch this!”?
The sad thing is, after several such episodes, you come to expect him to be a no-show, and you don’t worry so much. I know a gal whose boyfriend, Kyle, would go on week-long hunting trips that sometimes turned into two or three weeks in the backcountry. The first time, she worried herself sick. But right before last year’s hunting season she joined a women’s dart league at one of the local pubs and really got into it. She found her competitive streak, and realized that her years of tossing popcorn to Pookie, her Yorkshire terrier, prepared her well for hitting the bull’s eye. She was deep into the dart league when Kyle headed out on his annual hunt. It was the following April before she wondered if Kyle had gotten his elk, and she realized she hadn’t seen him in months, so she looked him up on Facebook to see if he was still alive.
We all know what would happen if the tables were turned, right? You’ve gone shopping with a promise to be home in two hours. But the sales are better than you expected, and then you run into friends, and you’re all hungry so . . . four hours later, you’re tossing back cosmos at the club with your gals. The outdoorsman? Poor guy, he’s home all alone, waiting, worrying, drinking beer, eating take-out, ogling the hunting channel, cleaning his rifles—and happy as a dog in stink.
All of which just goes to prove that time, as Einstein realized, is relative. For every minute a guy spends fishing or hunting, there are hours of worry and frustration added to some woman’s life.
So what’s the trick to living with an outdoorsman? How do you avoid all the waiting and worrying and still arrive at events on time? Here’s the secret—the patented Camo Queen algorithm. Ask him how long he plans to be gone. Multiply that by 2.5. Add that total to the time he actually leaves the house. Then, when the appointed hour arrives, set a timer for forty-five minutes. Don’t even think of worrying until that timer buzzes. And certainly don’t schedule dinner or anything else for at least another hour after that. In real life, it looks like this:
He plans to leave at 8 a.m. to fish for 4 hours, returning home by noon. So 4 X 2.5 = 10 hours, starting at 8:50 a.m. (he was in such a rush to get out the door early, he had to come back for his fishing vest), which means you start the timer at 6:50 p.m. It rings at 7:35 p.m. Good. He’ll be walking in the door around 8:30 p.m. hungry as a bear.
The beauty of the Camo Queen system is self-evident: you have all day for yoga, shopping, getting your nails done . . . whatever your heart desires.
Some special activities require an additional factor. If you want your outdoorsman home at a certain time from any of the following, adjust your equation accordingly:
Duck hunting: Add another hour and a death threat.
Deer hunting: Add 2 hours and a death threat.
Elk hunting: Add 3 hours and a death threat.
Horn hunting: Add 2 days, a death threat, and no nookie for a month.
Now, if there’s a movie you want to go see, or you have dinner reservations at a specific time, or if you want to get to the hospital not too long after your due date, then you should use another patented Camo Queen tactic—lie. If the movie is at 8 p.m., tell him it’s a matinee that starts at 3 p.m. Dinner reservations? Tell him it’s brunch and your table is set for 11 a.m. And that date for greeting your first-born? Subtract a month from the real due date and tell him you’re a quick incubator. And threaten to donate the outdoorsman’s truck to the local PETA chapter if you’re not at the hospital three minutes after your water breaks.