“Is there anything special you want for Christmas?”
That’s a question bowhunters often hear as the holidays draw near, but it can be difficult to answer, depending on who asks. Don’t feel pressured if the person asking isn’t a hunter and doesn’t understand archery, or frowns when hearing you miss Black Friday sales by sitting in a treestand.
Think before answering. If you tell a nonhunter you want a tie or a sweater, that’s what you’ll get.
But nobody wants ties or sweaters. Ever. Then again, if you answer frankly, a long talk might follow. Some nonhunters simply don’t understand what we do in the woods, and trying to change their assumptions can be difficult.
So, how do we have that honest conversation with a skeptical friend or bleeding-heart relative? The easiest solution is to avoid the conversation. You could just answer: “I have so much already. Why not donate to the charity of your choice in my name?”
But if they insist on buying you something, try to soften the conversation by trying to relate to them. You could say: “I really love the outdoors. Sitting in the woods on a brisk autumn morning and watching the world wake up is one of my favorite things to do. Maybe a gift certificate from a local archery shop would be nice.”
If the person looks confused, elaborate a bit: “I hunt with my eyes, because being close to wildlife is a blessing I can’t get from TV. I hunt with my heart, because being close to nature is good for my spirit. There’s no better place in my world. I also hunt with a camera, because it captures the beauty of the woods and its animals, and I like seeing them whenever I can. I also hunt with a bow, because it helps me take what nature provides to strengthen my body, my soul and my spirit.”
Maybe that’s too elegant of an answer. Maybe they’ll look at you as if you have three eyes. They might even say, “I don’t think I could eat a wild animal.”
But that statement gives you an in: “Tell ya what. Get me a Crock-pot for Christmas. I’ll cook some beef and venison, and I’ll challenge you to taste the difference. Then I’ll cook some chicken and pheasant, and challenge you again. And then we’ll try some squirrel and pork. How about that?”
It’s interesting how gift-giving can spark such conversations, but that’s where things can go if you truthfully specify what you want for Christmas. Just realize that your answer might make you late for the treestand, delay your drive to a holiday party, or miss your morning stop at the coffee shop.
These are opportunities, however, and if you anticipate the conversations that could result, you can politely extol the virtues of your passions. Before speaking, though, just remember two important things: Never apologize for being a bowhunter, and never settle for a sweater.