6 Ways to Avoid Being a "Whitetail Widower"

A "whitetail widower" is someone who gets left behind while their wife has all the fun.

posted on September 16, 2022

Photo courtesy NSSF

Twenty-five years ago, I took the woman who would be my wife into the hunting fields for the first time. She raised her borrowed rifle and downed an eight-point buck that day, and ever since, there's been no stopping her. Beware! Once that primal instinct takes hold, you may find yourself staying back to see to all the domestic duties while the Mrs. takes gun in hand and stalks off into the game fields. There's a name for the guy who gets left behind while his wife is out having all the deer-hunting fun: "whitetail widower." Here are six tips to avoid becoming one...and ensuring your NRA Family stays afield for generations to come.

1. She Doesn't Hunt? Invite Her Along

For many, hunting season is the time when the guys head off to deer camp to enjoy the company of other men, and the women hit the town for an all-girls weekend. There is nothing wrong with that and we all need to get away at times to relax and disconnect from the world and our daily routines. But why not check and see if she's interested in joining you? My wife was raised in a hunting family, but seems nobody ever really invited her out. Going hunting with you doesn’t mean she has to kill an animal. It can be enjoyable to watch game together and just enjoy the outdoors. If she decides to give hunting a try, then all the better!

 2. Take The Whole Gang

The same goes for introducing the entire family to hunting. The only way they will truly know if they like it is if they are allowed to go. This can take a little extra effort, depending on the age of the children, but it is worth it. We’ve had several successful hunts with the whole gang crowded into a deer blind! Usually, my wife and I each take one of the girls to separate hunting areas.

3. Hunt Together

Now that she is an accomplished huntress in her own right, my wife doesn’t need me to be with her in the field. It's still very nice to periodically hunt together. This has become easier as our girls have grown older and don’t require constant parental observation. Getting out into nature is a great way to enjoy each others' company by walking through the woods, driving slowly along the old ranch roads, or sitting quietly on a hillside glassing for game.

4. Be The Observer

My wife loves elk, especially big bulls! As a matter of fact, she is only interested in hunting the males of any game animal she is pursuing. She leaves the management hunting portion of taking does to me. I bought an elk hunt for her once and was quite content to watch as she dropped a nice 6X6 bull with one carefully placed shot. The same was the case when she collected a pronghorn buck a couple years later.

5. Make It A Romantic Getaway

Earlier this summer I booked a guided hunt for my wife and I, each hunting trophy axis bucks with Wildlife Systems. This was the first time each of us was the hunter on such an excursion. Hunting together with a guide on a 2 on 1 hunt (two hunters, one guide) was very enjoyable and something we plan to continue doing. I highly recommend an all-inclusive hunt with a guide and cook for a couples' getaway!

6. Encourage Her to Go On Her Own

I know I started this article by kidding that someday your significant other might want to leave you behind, but fact is...if that's what she wants to do, you should support her. Once, on a business deal, I got the seller, who owned a large ranch, to throw in a management buck hunt for my wife.  Our kids were small at the time so I elected to stay home with them while she went on the hunt. This was a good confidence builder (for both of us) and really showed she knew her stuff. Not only did she collect a huge-bodied, old mule deer buck, but her guide also took her after additional feral hogs.

So there you have it, asking my girlfriend, who later became my wife, to go hunting was one of the best things I ever did. We now have a shared lifestyle and interests that offer memories, exciting experiences, great meat for our family and friends, and beautiful trophies for the walls of our home. Inviting your wife into the hunting world can open an entire new chapter in your life. Just don’t be surprised when she puts more trophies on the wall than you do!

Editor's Note: We hope you've enjoyed the author's hints for encouraging a new woman hunter...but did you know that your NRA has a website just for women who hunt and shoot? Click here for NRA Women, our publication for (and by) women!


Ethan Clark Lede
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