The Threshold of Goneness
Hunting and fishing have been lifelong hobbies for me that I have mostly shared with other male friends. As a younger man, I often asked my girlfriends if they wanted to go hunting with me, but only one, Jen, took me up on my offer.
At the time, I was living in Minnesota, and we went ruffed grouse hunting. She didn’t hunt but was willing to walk along and keep me company. Soon after we started walking through the Aspen forest, I spotted a ruffed grouse. It took flight, I fired, and it fell to the ground.
Naturally, I was proud of my wing shooting skills in the dense woods, but when I brought back the grouse for Jen to see, she broke out in tears. The hunt was over, but thankfully our romance blossomed and we were married soon after.
We moved to central Missouri to begin our lives together. I continued to hunt and fish while Jen developed other outdoor interests, including competition horse riding. My weekend trips away from home during the fall were tolerated, but as our family began to grow I could sense tension building with my absences.
Early in our married lives, it was my habit each year to open the hunting seasons with a muzzleloading deer hunt to northeastern Missouri. Then I would open the duck season with a trip to Audrain County, followed by the opening of the Missouri quail season to Mercer County. After that, I was off to west central Kansas for the opening day of the pheasant season. I cooled off the following weekend with a firearms deer hunt to northern Missouri. Mop-up involved several duck and quail hunts to round out the month of November and early December.
One year, as I was leaving for the firearms deer hunting portion of my fall hunting schedule, I noticed Jen standing on the back porch of the house holding the hands of our two very young sons. Jen was expecting our third son in about three months. There were tears streaming down her cheeks as I rolled out of the driveway. My “Little Voice,” naturally, popped up in the back of my mind and was screaming at me to stop, warning me I would be sorry if I didn’t.
Ah yes, my “Little Voice,” a stoic, subconscious do-gooder, never interested in a little fun, who was always trying to warn me of impending disaster and save me