It is a Briary River tradition to hunt the Beaver Pond on Christmas Eve. We have done it for years. Most of the guys here will tell you, Bo dictates where I shoot ducks, in one way or another he picks the blind. The first year he hunted with me he was too small to go to the blind, so I pulled my truck up in the corner of my yard and let him sit in the truck while I shot ducks outside the truck in my yard. He didn’t have a choice about hunting with me most mornings, you see, Saturday morning was usually the only morning I had to hunt, and his Mama works on Saturday, so Bo had to hunt with me, that’s just all there was too it. Then there were the special mornings when I was off for Christmas break when his Mama didn’t have to work. On those mornings I got to hunt the pond.
This particular year Marsha didn’t have to work Christmas Eve. It was a dry year and the pond was low. There was no blind on the point across the pond, but the ducks were there, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to hunt there all year. On Christmas Eve, I called the point. It wasn’t an exceptionally good hunt that morning. As I recall, there weren’t many birds at all. A few birds had flown early and I had killed a wood duck drake rising over the timber to my left. Then the birds stopped flying. It was just like turning the water off at the faucet. Coach Taylor and Bernie were talking in the corner of the yard where I usually shot. Joe was bored and started making some funny sounding noises on a duck call from the blind across the pond from me. I laughed at him and told him to stop.
Then it happened. It was one of those perfect moments in your life where time seems to just stand still and it seems as though you have forever to think things out, when in reality it all takes place in a split second.
Something caught the corner of my left eye. I can still feel myself breathing. My gun instinctively starts to rise to my shoulder. Something is coming down the pipe, right down the run of the branch. Is that? Yes it is. I push the safety off. I breathe out. The hammer falls.
Then Joe’s course voice shatters my perfect moment and brings me back to reality. What in the world you shootin’ at? Rice Rocket. Then he saw it skipping across the water between us. I never saw it ‘till it hit the water. Well, I saw him. He was closer to you than he was me. He was flying to fast for me to say anything, so I just shot. I see.
Making Memories, The Briary River Way.