There is a great tradition of trophy hunters and the beautiful wives who accompany them around the world. When I think of the great beauties who have ventured afield, I am reminded of such legendary couples as Craig Boddington and Donna, Jim Shockey and Louise, as well as Robert E. Petersen and Margie.
My own wife and childhood sweetheart, Sharon, has been my encourager and companion from Alaska to Africa as we explored numerous game fields together. A trophy wife is not only lovely to her husband, but also a lover of their experiences in traveling and hunting. It is my joy that Sharon embraces both of these. What hunter wouldn’t be just as thrilled as I was when, out of the blue this past winter, my wife said, “Lets begin planning our next African safari together.”
Sharon enjoys it all. When we are on safari, she sometimes likes to accompany me on a stalk or join in tracking. On occasion we sit together in a blind, glassing for opportunity. Other times she likes to just relax by the pool at the lodge while I am in the field. Once in a while in Namibia, we spent a couple of long days searching for a good kudu. On the third morning, Sharon decided to enjoy life around the camp while I ventured out after my much sought-after spiral horned bull. By late afternoon, my wife became restless and decided to have one of the Bushman trackers take her out for some wildlife photography. About that same time, I was onto an outsized kudu. His horns made the classic 2 1/2 turns and I knew that it was the trophy I came to Africa for. I shouldered my .375 H&H Model 70, chambered a cartridge and caressed the trigger. During the husky recoil of my faithful Winchester, I momentarily lost sight of the great bull. He was hit hard but managed to explode into the heavy brush. My tracker and I immediately jumped into the dense cover to follow.
A truly clarifying moment in my quest to define the makeup of a trophy wife arose out of a hunt Sharon and I had booked with PH Rolf Ritter. It was our second trip to Namibia and we settled in at Ritter’s Woltemade Lodge after our long trip from California. I was out for black wildebeest that first morning–you might say I was over gunned with a .375, but I wanted to be fully prepared in the event I had the opportunity for a trophy eland. Unbeknownst to Sharon, eland was the main reason I was on this safari in the first place. I thought something as large as eland might be pushing my luck with my wife, so I just kept my thoughts and hopes under my hat.
As the morning wore on, our tracker eventually cut fresh wildebeest sign so we alighted from our Land Cruiser and began the search. My tracker suddenly stiffened and signaled me to get down. Eland was the whisper. The heavy-barreled Winchester swung smoothly and was instantly on the great bull. A nod from that experienced bushman was all I needed and the decision was made. A single shot was all that was required and the 260-grain Nosler once again performed flawlessly. Sharon was at the same time excited and perplexed. I reassured her that, like our other trophies, only the front part of that mighty animal would be mounted on our wall.
Well, if you think an eland is big on the ground, you should see what the shoulder mount looks like when the crate arrives from the taxidermist! My buddies and I uncrated my newest prize and took it into our trophy room. Sharon soon came home from shopping and gasped in shock. She just stood there staring, first at me, and then the eland, and again back at me. Oh boy, I did it this time. Well, that girl came over, gave me a hug and said, “Well, if this doesn’t prove that I love you then nothing will.” The real kicker in all of this is that my trophy room is also our bedroom! Some wives might put up with a trophy room in general, but only a real trophy wife will put up with an eland, and an eland on the bedroom wall at that!
A trophy wife not only loves her husband and their shared experiences, but also cares for those she meets along the way–especially children. On our second safari to Namibia, Sharon spent time with orphans at the Imkerhof Children’s Home. It was easy for her to share her love with the kids there, many of whom were suffering from AIDS. I am very proud of my wife.
Over the years I have come to realize that a true “Trophy Wife” is much more than mere beauty on the outside–real beauty is on the inside where there is a heart that holds love for her husband, adventure and the many wonderful people she meets along the way. My girl fits the bill just right!–Tom Nichols