A Wife’s Journey from Urban Life to the Hunting Woods

A Wife’s Journey from Urban Life to the Hunting Woods

“One question, Jay,” my wife, Amy, asked, as I shifted my eyes up from staring at my coffee. “Can I go with you?” The question of where and when was not just some simple little adventure. For weeks I’d been pouring over stats and maps with my buddies planning our September elk escapades. I’d always given my wife an open invitation to join me on my adventures since she is physically and mentally capable of handling the intensities. She is a marathon runner and world-traveler. But truthfully, my 2024 bingo sheet didn’t account for her volunteering to join our little band of renegades to haul extra gear around as we pitted ourselves against the mountains. I smiled.

My better half grew up in urban New Jersey where hunting was about the furthest thing from her circle of activities. She did, however, grow up as an avid saltwater angler. There were two elements that brought us together: our mutual interest in Jesus and fishing.

Two years before we met, I found myself at a bachelor party a mile away from what is now our house. It was the same weekend Amy had bought the place, but our paths never crossed. Her housewarming gift to herself was a Savage 6.5 Creedmoor. She was promised grand hunting adventures by other men that never materialized. Two years went by and the gun collected dust on the wall. Then through only the will of the good Lord, we matched on some niche dating website. She must have seen something she liked because all I had when we met was potential. I was incredibly sick at the time and it showed. Our first date was an absolute disaster and because of it, I tried to ghost her the following day. She was having none of it and called me out for it.

I was going camping with the family and found myself in the middle of the lake in a kayak a few pops deep, fishing for perch, when I invited Amy to come fishing. Not only did she show up but she brought her hammock, set it up and hung out for three days. My ol’ man looked at me intently as she drove off and said, “Jay, do not mess this up.” I had a great history of messing things up and heeded his advice.

She’d expressed her interest in hunting as an extension of her interest in fishing. During COVID she told me it was by watching MeatEater episodes on YouTube that really sparked interest in taking a hunter safety course and pursuing the lifestyle. And, of course, I was trying to show off and show how tough I was and agreed to be her teacher. What I really meant was, "I'm going to show you what hunting means, and demonstrate an intensity level you might not have realized was out there.” I was such a knucklehead.

As the first hunting season rolled around just a month into dating, I knew it was the first hurdle of this budding relationship. In back-to-back weeks, I took off for elk camp then headed for the Great Plains to chase mule deer. Upon my return to the East, whitetail deer season was ramping up and I invited her to sit with me.

My first mistake was my impatience. October 20 was windy and cold. I rushed us out the door in my excitement over the cold weather while her hair was still wet from the shower. She was not a fan of me for that three-hour sit. I had failed to really consider my level of pain tolerance compared to someone brand new to the concept of sitting in trees for fun. I actually killed a doe that night right at dark. Now what was funny was that she was pretty mad at me until we found the deer. Then she lit up and became completely enthralled with the process of dealing with the animal. I should have learned from this to be more aware and to focus on making sure she was warm. When I was growing up and got cold and started fidgeting, all I heard was, “Shhh, quit moving.”

Fast forward to the second weekend of rifle season. This time, Amy was the shooter. I moved us into position amongst some hemlocks where a herd of does had been the previous day. It was cold and still. Because of the temperature, we needed to keep moving so as to not freeze—good thing too because we walked right into a small doe. Amy pulled herself together and made the shot. I think she was too cold to celebrate from what I recall. Her friends and family from back in the city were entirely surprised at her newfound interest.

Now fast forward to the spring of 2023. Daylight had already broken over the eastern horizon. I was standing on the porch listening intently in between the hum of cars passing by for the gobble I'd heard the day before behind our neighbor’s house. Nothing. I poured another cup of coffee and flipped open my maps app to find a piece of public land I figured might not have been touched yet. Being the third week of the season and not having had much luck for many weeks, time was of the essence. I picked a spot near the only field I could find in northern New York and sped down the road.

Upon arrival, I observed many turkey scratchings and berated myself in silence for not having checked this parcel earlier. I slipped toward the corn field, stopping to call every few yards to elicit a response. Then I decided to do something crazy. I told Jesus if he would send me a gobbler, I’d ask Amy to marry me over Memorial Day weekend. Eleven minutes later I killed a mature Adirondack gobbler. Amy was not happy that I decided to go hunting without her. However, I held up my end of the bargain with Jesus, and she said yes.

Jason reid and his wife, Amy, dance on their wedding day.

We bite off a lot as a couple. The bigger the adventure the better. There's no such thing as too much until we realize we’ve bit off too much. We planned a wedding in 12 weeks, a honeymoon and I went elk hunting. In the midst of all of this, Amy decided she would rather spend more time bowhunting than rifle hunting—mostly because it's better weather than in rifle season and there is more time for us to spend in the field.

I have to give her credit. We got the bow right before the wedding and got set up. She hunted for seven straight weeks with me. It pushed our patience with each other for sure. I’m proud of her. During the first week of hunting, I had to take her to the treestands and give her over-the-top instruction. By the final weekend of bow season, she was taking off by herself, getting into bow range and even missed a small buck. She was able to grasp the early milestones of bowhunting by learning and applying situational information quickly. It was a fun transition for me from hunter to teacher as I passed on this deep passion for the intricacies of bowhunting to my best friend. For two decades, my brothers and I were the ones who were the rising stars of our hunting camp. Now we found ourselves caring more about her and others in our group, trying to get them in position to have the best chance.

Amy Reid waits in a treestand

When she volunteered to pack gear and join the elk hunt, I shouldn’t say I was super surprised. I didn’t think she would want to hang out with a bunch of dudes being dudes for 12 days. “One thing, Jay,” she said. “I know I’ll be dealing with Hunt-Mode Jason, but don’t forget I’m your wife still.” I replied, “I wouldn’t want to.”