You don’t ever read in hunting publications about the Kitchen Pass. This may be because most of us outdoor editors are either a little gray-haired around the temples, or have very little hair left at all. The Kitchen Pass, it seems to me, is more applicable to my son’s generation than to mine.
Looking back to when I was a youthful man with a wife and three small kids, there was no such thing as a Kitchen Pass, nor was there a need for one. I never waited for the right moment to ask Diane if I could go deer hunting. We never sat down around the kitchen table to negotiate the best days of my hunt week.
All of this was more or less understood and accepted, a fact of life for a woman married to a man that loved to deer hunt. She grew up in rural Maine. Her father hunted. In fact, most every man in town took a week or so in November and went away with “the boys” to deer camp. Even employers, let alone wives, knew better than to fiddle around with a worker’s deer week. There was more than one man who gave up his job rather than sacrifice his deer week, especially if his week off coincided with the peak of the rut.
Diane remembers that she not only didn’t resent my 8-10 days in the November woods, but kind of enjoyed having me away. No fancy evening meals to prepare. Nobody scrutinizing the checkbook. Less laundry to do. No dress shirts to iron.
That was then. Today things have changed. Young married men are more mature than we were, more supportive and sensitive to raising little ones and running a household. The downside of this, from my observation, is that these young sportsmen are expected, even during November, to divide their discretionary time between the deer woods and the Honey-Do list. Their wives call it “keeping perspective.”
A young married man who writes an excellent bow hunting column for my publication, the Northwoods Sporting Journal, says that he always feels down when deer season ends. Between his bow, his rifle and his muzzleloader, this poor guy hunts deer from mid September to mid-December. He gets more than his fair share of Kitchen Passes. His wife says,” Gee, Hon, it sure seems like the hunting seasons are a lot longer than they were when we were courting.”
There is a funny and satirical hunting video making the rounds on the Internet. In the video, the hunter, in full camo, is making a Power Point presentation to his wife. It is a lament in which he pleads with her to understand the enormous sacrifice he makes freezing his butt off in a tree stand trying to get quality meat for her and the kids.
“When you add it all up, the cost of guns, ATV, poker money, special scent-lok clothing,” he tells her, “this deer meat costs about $162 a pound.” He furrows his brow, and, almost in tears, says,” A little thank you once in awhile might be nice.”
In a book I plan to write, called “Deer Hunting For Beginners,” there will be a chapter titled the Kitchen Pass. It will counsel young, unmarried deer hunters and provide them pre-marital advice. For example, it will urge them to be selective in their courting decisions. There will be a multiple choice Q & A section in this book. For example, “You are dating two girls of equal caliber. “A” is from San Francisco, Calif., and “B” is from Orneville, Maine. Which one should you settle down with?”
Less obvious, perhaps, to a young sportsman in full rut will be the delicate but critical issue of marital timing. The caveats for lovesick, wedding-bound sportsmen are: first, never wed in November, and, second, try, whenever possible, to avoid having your children born in November. And third, try to avoid marrying a girl whose birthday is in November (Unless she is from Orneville). Kitchen Passes are difficult to obtain when a wedding anniversary, a wife’s birthday or, heaven forbid, a child’s birthday falls on the third week in November.
V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.