My first introduction to the outdoor industry was when I wrote my first article for a magazine called “Bow Bender” that was based in Canada, and I was paid a whopping $45 for that article. Kathleen Windsor was the editor of that magazine back then, and she gave me my start in the outdoor industry.
I've been told, “You're one of the luckiest men alive to be able to hunt or participate in outdoors shows for 305 days of the year.” I guess I am, but people don’t see the toll this takes on my family. I've been married to my wife, Louise, for 31 years. If Louise wasn’t an amazingly confident and secure person, my being gone from home that long would put a strain on our marriage. However, Louise does get to come with me on some of these trips and adventures.This year she’ll get to be with me in Argentina and Patagonia. Last year we were in Spain and Greece hunting together. So, she does get to accompany me on a few of my hunts.
I don’t think that many hunters realize that you’ve really got to have your family life in order before you can ever consider hunting even 100 days per year. Whether you’re the male or the female who hunts, if your spouse isn’t happy at home, and he or she doesn’t mind being on their own, your marriage won’t work. So, I’ve found it’s very, very critical to find a spouse who’s willing to be alone perhaps 305 days per year, or your family life won’t work. Remember I've been doing this type of hunting and been involved in the outdoor industry for 31 years. Without my wife Louise being the type person she is, and my children being as strong as they are, my family life could have been in real trouble.
Another question I'm often asked is, “How do you find a woman who can handle you're being gone 305 days out of the year?” I gave Louise ample warning. From the time we met, then 5 months later, I asked Louise to marry me, which happened to be November 1. Of course, November 1 is hunting season in Saskatchewan. Louise said yes to my invitation of marriage, and we set a date of November 30 to get married. I left the morning after I asked her to marry me, and I returned 2 days before the wedding. She had all the arrangements and plans made. All I had to do was show up and get married. So, she had ample warning about how important hunting was to me, since for 28 days after I asked her to marry me, I was gone hunting. When the pastor said,“Until death do us part,” she had the opportunity to say “No,” but she didn’t.
I did do kind of a bait and switch on Louise. When I asked her to marry me, I was an antique dealer who liked to hunt and was starting to write about the outdoors. She’s taken her vows seriously. I couldn’t have lived the life I've lived, done the things I've done and gone to the places that I've been to without her strong support and the support of my children.
Hunting is not just about hunting – it’s about hunting and family. There has to be a balance in there somewhere, or there's a chance that you'll lose one or both. I've been really fortunate to have the family that I have and the outdoor career that I have experienced.