I should have been suspicious when a giddy outdoorsman appeared before me and said he had not only planned, but actually booked the best vacation everrrrrrr... He told me he had booked us 5-star accommodation and it would be absolutely amazing. He had gone so far as to schedule us both out of work, arrange dog-sitting, and claimed it was going to be the best family vacation we have ever had. Let me tell you, this has never, ever, ever happened before. Given that I have been subject to his tricks for years, you would think I would have registered the dates as the opening weekend of bow hunting season. Dumb dumb. But as I looked into his borderline psychotic excited eyes, I simply said sounds great! I know all of the outdoorsman who are reading this are thinking, "that is one smart son of a bitch!" Don't get any ideas!
Like anything, as soon as you have agreed and been tangled up in the web of deceit, you are trapped and that's when the truth comes out. Cue: Haunted house music with elk bugles echoing in the background...
The truth soon began to trickle out. This was an eight day bow-hunting trip to a cabin in the middle of eastern Montana. This cabin was located hours from any sort of town, grocery store or shoe store and up 45 miles of a gravel road, so needless to say- we weren't going anywhere. I don't want to forget that our cabin was also experiencing some severely stinky septic problems...Yes, we would pack in all of the food and I was to be named...Camp Cook! Oh, hooray! In this situation, family vacation meant that the outdoorsman and his fellow addict would vacate the premises promptly at 5 a.m., waking the entire cabin of 1, 3, and 5 year olds as they tore off on their 4-wheelers hooting and bugling. Yes, they expected but did not receive hot biscuits and gravy freshly cooked and served each morning. I suppose the "family" part was when the Camo duo would appear at midday to have lunch and lay on the couch until evening when they once again would burn out in the driveway in the 4-wheeler with dancing elk in their eyes. Hmm.... They then returned after the kids bedtime to play cards and drink beer. Soooo I'm wondering why was I forced on this "best vacation ever"????
I must say this is what I suspect. I think that the outdoorsman was trying to concoct a plan where he could have another week off of work, have yummy food ready & waiting 24/7 and in his mind- still spend "quality" time with his family without feeling guilty. I have to admit- I was duped and fell for his tricks. I was warming up to the idea of a week off of work to hang out with the kids and cook, but little did I know that the party was just getting started.
Apparently the 100s of acres that were were camped at didn't have anyyyyyyy elk on them. All of the elk were on the neighboring private property and although he bugled and cow called til his eyes about popped out of his head, they were not coming even close to his crosshairs. So then he got this fantastic idea!!!! Can you feel my excitement?! He called his buddy and asked if we could go to his cabin and hunt for the remaining few days. His buddy agreed and the outdoorsman told me that we would have an hour drive and he would be sooooo grateful if I "wanted" to pack everyone's stuff back up while he went out hunting that morning. I figured we were here to get an elk, so I might as well. Anyone who has children knows that packing up everything is truly an act of God, especially when they want to "help". Well I got it done and when he returned, we were off!
It turns out that the 1-hour drive was actually a 4 hour drive but the outdoorsman thought this little fib would be forgiven as he knew I would not sign up for 4 hours of car time with 3 toddlers. I still am having nightmares. Honestly. But that's not where this trip ends... soon the tires on the 4-wheeler trailer begin smoking and look suspiciously wobbly...we are literally in the middle of nowhere and luckily his hunting partner is behind us flashing his lights and waving at our smoking trailer. We all pull over and see that the trailer needs a new axle and cannot go on, especially with the weight of a 4-wheeler and a weeks worth of beer and food. So we unload most of the coolers and food onto
the hunting partners truck and the outdoorsman asks me to drive the 4-wheeler, you know because it's safer, than pulling the trailer with screaming children for the next 40 miles at 45 mph. I, of course, say no thank you to the 40 mile ride in the rain on a 4-wheeler and hop in the truck and pull that smokin' trailer into the next town. Thankfully they had a mechanic that could work on the trailer and had it back to us a few days later.
Once we dropped the trailer off, we continued on to the next cabin. The outdoorsman looked positively frozen as he drove the 4-wheeler another 60 miles... I'm sure glad I missed out on that. By the time we arrived it was dark and we were in the midst of a wind-howling, rain dumper of a storm. If you have ever seen the winds of eastern Montana, you will understand this. I have never been in a storm in eastern Montana and I think I about blew away! I was scared the kids might disappear, so we frantically ran into the new cabin and were attacked by angry wasps that had taken up residence in the crooks and crannies of the log cabin. We took cover and we're smashing wasps with shoes like deranged lunatics while the Camo men packed in all of our gear. We hungrily mowed down some nachos and went to bed. I swear that wind howled like it was going to tear the roof off all night long and at dawn the Camo duo was gone again. Luckily, at the new cabin the sounds of their coffee making and adrenaline hooting was muted by the wind howling and everyone slept in for a bit.
Midday the Camo duo came back and were as giddy as school girls. They had found the elk. They apparently had some sort of bugle conversation with some bulls and were positively jacked up. Their steps were springy and their spirits were high. Suddenly, this was the "best vacation ever" once again. I still remain skeptical.
As I sit and write this saga down... I wonder- is this really worth it? The elk "high" must be something I just cannot relate to. Yes, it is definitely an adventure. Now I can honestly say, that I understand why it takes them 5 hours to do a 2 hour trip, between the broken equipment and the necessity of having to glass every single moving creature in range, I get it. I get that they have a problem, the poor little fellers. It is fun to see such excitement in them though. And even though all they came home with this trip was a grouse, they had the "best vacation everrrrr". The outdoorsmen were on cloud nine at just the opportunity at getting an elk. They endure hours of traveling, early mornings, freezing weather, miles of steep hiking, and the many dangers of the wilds just to get near an elk and try and outsmart Mother Nature. These outdoorsman love hunting, they live for it, the dream of it, and they will never stop. Hunting really is an addiction. I'm wondering... where is the help center? I know a few people who need to check in! Will insurance cover this?
On a side note- The kids thoroughly enjoyed the bear that sat outside of our cabin window and hunting for grasshoppers. Nothing is as priceless as getting kids into nature and letting them develop of love for it as well.
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.
It is available for purchase at Amazon: