A woman's place is... in the woods
LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS Ralph and Vicki Ciancuarulo are one of the outdoor industry's best known hunting couples.
I had just stepped into the weakest reaches of the porch light when some small projectile pinged against my knit hat. That's odd, I thought, and bent to pick it up. Ping! Another took me in the shoulder.
The objects were stuffed mushrooms, being thrown from the deck by my soon-to-be-ex boyfriend, mad because I'd been hunting and was late to the supper he'd prepared. "These are great!" I said, around a delicious mouthful of mushroom with crabmeat stuffing. A virtual volley of mushrooms followed.
The problem was not that I was dating a guy who would rather watch "Great Chefs" than sit in a tree stand. The problem was that he could not accept that I would rather sit in a tree stand than on a couch.
I was going to miss him. He was a great cook.
Do you know a woman - mom, wife, girlfriend, aunt or daughter - who might enjoy learning to shoot a bow and arrow, or catch a fish? How do hunting's most well-known couples make the lifestyle work?
Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo, Illinois, produce outdoor TV shows and DVDs, including a show called The Choice. There were recently in the area for outdoor shows in Hamburg and Harrisburg. Vicki said that if she and Ralph weren't both hunters, it would be hard to convey the experiences to each other.
"It's the temperature, the wind, all that we witness when we're out there," she said. "You can't bottle that and bring it home, so that people can understand the whole of it."
"I think being partners in the woods makes us better partners in our marriage," she added. "Sharing that time together is so peaceful and it's a big part of our bond."
Similar goals, understanding and common ground are the foundations for couples who hunt. Not all the shared hunting experiences are good, but even shared hardships - especially when transformed into shared hilarity - make couples stronger. Here's an unforgettable example.
Vicki, six months pregnant and moose hunting in Ontario with Ralph, fell into a creek. Their guide Fern Duquette traded clothes with her to help her get warm.
"My hormones were kicking in and I was going from mad, cry, laugh, cry, mad," she recalled. "We'll be laughing about that day forever."
Someone who doesn't hunt, or who is just getting started in hunting, may be intimidated and resentful of the "hunting friends." He or she may feel like an outsider, someone not included in the existing camaraderie, the shared history.
If you're that person, the one whose eyes begin to glaze over when the gang retells for the zillionth time the story about recovering the deer from the algae-covered pond, know this: Hunters as a whole are a friendly group which appreciates supportive spouses and welcomes newcomers.
Being a good partner during hunting season can be as simple as relaxing house rules for a couple of weeks.
"It's hard to stick to a time schedule when hunting season is around," Vicki said. "Communicate before the season comes and agree on the things that are priorities."
She added that support and acceptance of each other's hobbies and work, not just in the hunting world, are the foundation of any relationship. A good partner shouldn't take away something that makes the other person happy.
"Just being supportive will help you be each other's best friends, and having the hunting friends in common will enrich your life," Vicki added.
"You can share in the hunting experience whether you're out there hunting or not, and if you make that extra effort, I promise you it will strengthen the bond you have together."