The dirty work of battling misplaced guilt.

I’ll never forget struggling with “hunter’s guilt”. I was sitting in my favorite deer stand in Northeast Missouri. The weather was perfect, and I felt like all I needed to do was wait long enough and success was going to find me. About twenty minutes after daylight, the Holy Spirit revealed different plans. My relationship with my wife was already strained because we had just had our second child and I was not good at communicating my hunting schedule with her. We had all traveled three hours from home on what was supposed to be a “family fun weekend”, but it turned into her doing what she could have done at home while I sat in a tree all day.

After that trip I had to come up with a solution that would fit my family’s schedule and co-inside with the best time of year to hunt. The main reason for all of this? I needed to be able to hunt without the guilt of knowing my responsibilities were not being well-fulfilled. I’m now thankful that, while my plan isn’t perfect, it has certainly helped de-rail tension and squelch the guilt I once dealt with every time I walked out the door to go hunting or fishing.  

I love the freedom of Proverbs 12:24-25. Proverbs 12:24-25

“[24] The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.[25] Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,but a good word makes him glad. (ESV)”

So much of battling misplaced guilt in our lives begins with being diligent in handling our blessings. Here are the keys to helping you overcome “adventure guilt” by way of diligence.

Establish Clarity

A lot of my guilt was attached to an unclear goal when it came to hunting. I just wanted to “go huntin’”.  I was not doing my homework when it came to the most productive time to hunt. My hunting calendar looked like it had been hit by a shotgun blast. If you’re married, your income is not dependant on hunting, or you have a job that requires intense planning to be absent, it’s unwise to plan your adventure based on a “whim”. Why? Because your absence doesn’t just affect you. The overlapping circles of our life situations require us to be present and reliable. When we remove ourselves from those moments, even for a play or two, our respective teams can suffer.

Do you want to kill a big buck? Do your research and start with the calendar. Ask the question, “When are big bucks in your area typically most active?” Then, schedule your time away around that time. Successful or not, this allows your goal to be clear and provides time for you and the other areas of your life to be prepared.


Talk It Over

Do this in order of priorities. Your family and their schedule should be considered first and foremost. Are your kids really “ok” with you being gone hunting or fishing on their birthday? Is your wife really “ok” with you not going trick-or-treating with her and the kids? Possibly not. It’s hard, trust me, I get it. I learned my lesson when my wife scheduled my own birthday party, invited all my closest friends, and I didn’t show up for it. I like to sit down with my wife and sketch out No, Maybe, and Yes hunting days. I also like to do this with my Church and job Calendars. This lets me put an appropriate amount of planning into being gone from each responsibility.

Go the Extra Mile

If there is anything to me that is most annoying while I’m on vacation or on a hunting or fishing trip, it’s leaving loose ends at work or home. The more things I leave unattended and do not finish up on my to-do list before I leave, the more likely I the chance that I’ll be receiving a panicked phone call or email while I am gone. It’s better to give each area a few extra hours before you head to the field to be sure things are tied up well than it is to leave a mess. Leaving messes only makes bigger messes while you are gone. It could mean creating an “out of office” auto-responder for your email box, or getting those critical honey do’s and repairs finished up at home that have been looming for months. Being a blessing to others before you leave means making life as easy as possible for them while you are gone.   


After you have made your intentions clear, your responsibilities have been properly handled, and your No, Maybe, and Yes days have been agreed to, now you can enjoy the freedom of a guiltless adventure! GO! Sometimes, adventure guilt is merely a lack of accepting freedom. One of the best things about going to the wild is the unplugged nature we can find ourselves in, so take advantage of it! Assign your technology one or two actions; a daily check-in call home if possible, and one email/social media check per trip. Beyond that, do your best to be present in the moment.  

And Finally…

Take time to grow spiritually while you are in the field. Don’t treat time in creation as though it’s only benefit is separating yourself from the haste of your life. Coupled with praying, journaling, and scripture, time spent outdoors can be formative for our spirit. I’ve created a PDF for maintaining SpiritualHealth while you are afield that I’d love for you to use. It’s free, and it has helped me tremendously to make the most of my trips.

Would You Like The Free Downloadable outline for this post? Click Here!

How do you cover the bases at home while you are on your adventures? Leave a comment! 

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