There’s no better feeling than doing something you love with someone you love, and that includes hunting! While spending a cold day in the great outdoors may not be for everyone, couples who hunt together know it’s an awesome way to bond and spend time with one another.

Read on to see what Mitch Strobl, our newlywed Director of Customer Relations, and SevenGen’s TJ Unger have to say about finding love in the blind.

TJ & Liz

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Who got you into hunting?

My father introduced me to whitetail hunting when I was 9 years old. I’ve since developed my passion for the outdoors and now get to share all that our hunting heritage has to offer with my best friend—my wife, Liz.

What do you love most about hunting with your wife?

Liz and I enjoy the adventure of new experiences where we have an opportunity to explore, learn and challenge ourselves. Hunting has been an ultimate avenue for us to share in these experiences and build lifelong memories along the way.

Has hunting brought you closer together? How?

Today, we are a society of constant connectivity—social media, television, Internet, etc., which often comes at the unfortunate expense of “family time.” Hunting is an exception and has, without question, made Liz and my relationship stronger and brought us closer together. The frequent “downtime” of the hunt allows us to grow through communication and involvement. We share stories, we laugh, argue, and sometimes even cry. Yes, we have the occasional “disagreement” in the tree stand, but we always persevere from 20 feet up! Whether it’s spring turkeys or autumn whitetails, the seasons afford Liz and me an opportunity for pure togetherness.

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What was your most memorable hunt together?

Liz and I share countless hours hunting together each year. One of our most memorable hunts was in the foothills of Nebraska, chasing turkeys with good friend Cory Peterson of Hidden Valley Outfitters. It was the afternoon of our last hunt, and my turn behind the trigger.  I had my heart set on bringing home a true Merriam gobbler and, with daylight fading, odds were not in my favor. We sat in our ground blind reminiscing on the week, when unexpectedly a true Merriam tom silently strutted into the open. At less than 10 steps, I was instantly ready to squeeze that trigger. Instead, I heard the whisper of my wife, coaching me to be patient and let things unfold so that we could enjoy the moment together.

Can hunting be romantic?

We, as sportsmen, know that it’s not just about the trophy — it’s about the experience, and together we are making memories that we will both cherish for a lifetime. We also remind each other that hunting takes much patience … and so does love! And when asked if hunting can be romantic, Liz and I have two words: “Blind date”!

Mitch & Stephanie:

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Who got whom into hunting?

I introduced Stephanie to hunting, although she didn’t really have a choice. If she wanted to spend time with me, she HAD to go hunting.

What do you love most about hunting with your wife?

It’s pretty simple for Stephanie and me. Hunting equates to quality, uninterrupted time together. Too many times during everyday life we have responsibilities that limit our time together: work, family, etc. When we go hunting, it’s dedicated time where it’s just the two of us and the great outdoors. Having that time together is special; we’re out in nature and there are no distractions so that time is valuable to both of us. I believe that’s why we make such a great effort to hunt all the time!

Can hunting together be romantic?

Well, I guess it depends on what your definition of romantic is! Stephanie would be quick to tell you about how we put makeup on together in the bathroom mirror during waterfowl season. She’s really taken to my forest green, brown and black combo! And let me tell you, she looks good in camo! Okay, in all seriousness, hunting together is very romantic. Quality time is important to both of us, and hunting allows us to have plenty of uninterrupted quality time together. Plus, the fact that Stephanie takes the time and makes the effort to explore my hobby is very romantic, too.

Has hunting brought you closer together? How?

Absolutely, for two reasons: quality time and sacrifice. Hunting allows us to get away from our everyday life in the city and we can just “be.” Some of our best days together have been in pursuit of a deer, turkey or hog. Everything that goes into a hunt contributes to the experience: the planning, anticipation, getting ready, the drive there, the hunt, pictures, video, preparing the meat, cooking it, and eating it. It all adds up to a monumental experience together where we accomplished something. Plus, I’m grateful for the sacrifice on her end. I appreciate the fact that Stephanie proactively took the time and made the effort to experience a hobby that is and always will be very important to me. Of course, I do the same for her, so there’s equal appreciation and that significantly helps our relationship.

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What is your most memorable hunt together?

While my archery buck in Ohio is a close second, I’d have to say Stephanie’s first turkey hunt is our most memorable trip together. For those who have been turkey hunting before, you know what I’m talking about… when that first gobble cracks the morning silence, it sends goosebumps through every square inch of your body. I’ve never seen her eyes light up the way they did when she heard her first gobble. Well, except for when I proposed to her. I laughed because I knew exactly how she was feeling at that moment — she was hooked!

Now, here’s the thing with Stephanie: She talks A LOT. So the second she heard that gobble, question after question ensued, to the point where I thought SURELY there can’t be any more! Looking back, the questions are what I loved the most. It reminded me of what it’s like to be a new hunter. Of course, I was more than happy to answer them.

The gobblers continued doing their thing for 20 minutes or so, and I was able to give Stephanie the full play-by-play of what was about to happen with my mad calling skills (not). I’d been turkey hunting before, and my call does nothing but scare those turkeys the other way! But I couldn’t help myself. I sent out a few clucks and purrs and sure enough, they flew down the opposite direction. Panic mode set in. Stephanie was convinced that I blew it. I assured her they’d be back around, it would just take patience. It was that point in the season where if you couldn’t pull a tom away first thing in the morning, you’d better wait until late morning, so that’s what we did. They went on their way and we repositioned in a high-activity area. Sure enough, they eventually came by our setup and everything worked out perfectly.

 

There was a huge group of them, which worried me. We were tucked up under a cedar bush, so we were definitely concealed, but with a group of 10 or so turkeys I thought for sure they’d bust us. Luckily, one of the gobblers ventured out on his own, a fatal mistake. Steph did everything just like we practiced, made me so proud! She asked to turn off the safety, I confirmed. She aimed at the neck and put a good ethical shot on him! That’s when the tears came… which, is something I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but it turned into one of those moments we still talk about on a regular basis. It’s a big deal, taking an animal’s life. I tried my best to prepare her for the seriousness of the situation, but it’s truly something you have to experience in order to fully understand it. After the initial shock eased, then the laughter and excitement came in. Looking back on the video, we had such a good time. We made fools of ourselves, yes, but it was totally worth it. What an experience to share together, something we’ll definitely remember forever.

 

Image and Story credit: TJ Unger, Pro Staff Member for Dominator365 and Director of Business Development for SevenGen