Women are harder to train than Labradors, but more rewarding

Feb. 08, 2014 @ 07:03 PM

It happens to me on a regular basis. Someone’s been reading my newspaper column, and they comment on how they wish their wife liked doing outdoor stuff, or that she’d at least go fishing or hunting with them.  Sometimes, Cherie and I are on a fishing, shooting, or hunting trip, and someone asks if she has a sister. At one point, I was at an outdoor venue and I introduced myself to a guy I thought I’d never met. “Oh,” he said, “we met before. You’re the guy who’s married to the woman who shoots so well.” He didn’t really remember who I was, but he sure remembered Cherie outshooting all the guys that day, including me.

This week, I was at Archdale Ammo and Arms and a young man there was lamenting that his girlfriend didn’t care about hunting or fishing. I explained, as best as I could in a limited time, the proper techniques for training a woman. Time was limited, however and it’s a complicated process. I remembered a newspaper column I wrote several years ago that detailed the process in a little more depth and advised him to be sure and purchase a copy of the paper this week, so he could bone up on the subject. Here is the column in its entirety:
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How to properly train the outdoor wife
Last week, Cherie and I went to River Bend Shooting Resort where Cherie and I shot sporting clays and hunted birds. On Sunday afternoon we shot a round of skeet with the resort’s PR guy, Bruce Hensley, well known outdoor writer, Dr. Jim Casada, Cherie, and me. Cherie beat Bruce and Jim and came up short one target from my score. The next day, Cherie and I hunted together while Bruce and Jim hunted together. We outshot them again and Cherie got two pheasants and a chukar as well as her share of the quail. With the lodge almost full on Sunday night, she was the belle of the ball. She makes me feel like a king.
I’d like to have a dollar for every time one of my friends told me how lucky I am to have a wife who enjoys the same things I do. Cherie shoots better than most of my friends, enjoys fishing, rarely complains, and never loses her sense of humor. She even laughs at my stories; in spite of the fact she’s heard them more than anybody alive. Fortunately, God created her with some sort of flaw that prevents her from seeing my shortcomings or I would be very insecure that someone might steal her away from me.
The reason so many men are envious of me, is because most men really want their wives to enjoy the same things they do. In most marriages, the man has his ways of enjoying time and the wife has hers. Not many marriages are blessed with common interests. The fact is, when I married Cherie, she was not an outdoor woman. In fact, she was known to spend time at the Mall and other shopping venues. Over a period of time, she developed an interest in a lot of the outdoor activities I participate in. Some might say that I just gave her an opportunity to do something she had always wanted to do. This is simply wrong; her interest in outdoor activities was purely the result of proper training on my part.
This week, it will be 10 years since I tricked this normally smart woman into agreeing to marry me. It was a complicated, intricate plan, carried out flawlessly, that seduced her into saying yes when I dropped to one knee and produced a ring. I began by listening to her when she talked and trying to do things she’d enjoy. I added the enticement of cooking meals for her and taking her places she liked to go. Once she had succumbed to my charms and agreed to marry me, I let her choose what kind of ceremony we would have. When she said she would like to go some place interesting to get married, I suggested New Orleans, a town with wonderful food, lots of music, and great fishing just down the road.
On that honeymoon fishing trip, I continued to work my plan, making sure she had everything she needed to enjoy the trip in comfort. The guide, a friend, named Donnie Thomas, and I continued the ruse by being patient and allowing her to fish at her own pace. I even gave up my fishing time until I was sure she was up to speed and was catching fish. She managed to catch the largest fish of the day, a 12 pound red drum, and through the flawless execution of my master plan, she had a good time.
On subsequent trips, I continued with my system of being as considerate as the masculine brain will allow. I did devious things, like making sure I was taking her where she could have a good time, providing her with equipment that would work for her, and not what I would have preferred, being patient when she had problems I didn’t understand, and not being upset when she outfished me or outshot me. This went a long way in tricking her into enjoying the outdoors. It’s amazing that when the plan is worked properly she’s fooled into thinking she’s having fun. Paying attention to silly details like making sure I put her comfort and enjoyment ahead of my desire to catch fish, shoot birds, or break targets works so well that it often tricks me into thinking that I am having a good time doing it; it’s amazing. By the way, this training plan also works with kids
I know I don’t deserve this wonderful woman, God blessed me with her for some reason I don’t understand, perhaps as punishment to her for something bad she did in her youth. One thing that might have helped is that I found her in the singles Sunday school class at Green Street Baptist Church, I’ve since told all my single friends that there’s no better place to pick up a woman. I can distinctly remember the day… She came into the class late, a habit she continues anytime she’s going somewhere she’s supposed to be at a specific time. She then began to stare at me like a hungry beagle looking at 5 pounds of pork tenderloin. I will admit that this was possible because I changed seats to get a better view of her, but her staring was so obvious, I was almost embarrassed for her. I took her out to dinner a week later.
For our first Christmas, I probably won her heart with my insightful purchase of Christmas gifts, one of which was a pair of L.L. Bean hunting boots in her size and I’ve continued to make great gift decisions since that time. (Of course, by our second Christmas, she suggested that we not get each other anything and spend the money on Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes instead)
It hasn’t always been easy, I sometimes allow her to catch the biggest fish or outshoot me to keep her confidence high. The fact is that the training program never ends; it just progresses to another level. At this point, we’re ten years into the program. I’ll admit that, in spite of all the work I’ve put into it, it’s been the best 10 years of my life. I figure another 30 years or so and I’ll have her completely trained.
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I wrote that column six years ago and Cherie’s training continues. Women aren’t like Labrador retrievers. You have to keep training women as long as you have them. I suppose they’re more like English setters, in that aspect. Since that time, she’s taken up deer hunting, waterfowling, and caught a North Carolina Citation red drum in a drum blitz, at Hatteras. In shoulder to shoulder fishing, she tied her knot, baited her hook, and landed her 43” trophy fish on her own. I have a photo of her holding  it in her arms like a baby. I took the picture just before she released it back into the ocean, and it may be my favorite photo of her. On her face in that photo, I see confidence, happiness, and a love of the same wonderful creation that warms my heart every time I see the sun rise, smell a salt marsh, or hear the honking of a goose. I think I love the outdoors almost as much as I love her, and that’s a lot.
Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He writes about hunting, fishing, dogs, and shooting for several N.C. newspapers as well as national magazines and websites.  If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at offtheporch52@yahoo.com or offtheporchmedia.com