Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Perfect Season

You always hear of the perfect storm, the storm that happens when God decides to line everything up perfectly to show you a glimpse of his awesome power. Hunters are always searching for a perfect season, that season when God’s grace lines everything up for you perfectly, and you have an awesome season.

Some hunters wait their entire lives for the perfect season, and never live it. God blessed me with the perfect season during the winter of ’93-’94. I was a senior in college. I was a loner. I felt no need to be a part of a hunting party. Hunting alone was fine with me.

I had in my possession a newly acquired Browning A-500 R. I had worked, while a full time student at Francis Marion University, and saved enough to buy the used automatic, the finest shotgun I had ever owned. I looked forward to hunting with it.

A few years before, beavers had dammed a branch and created a beaver pond on a farm my mother owned. Wood ducks love a new beaver pond loaded with undergrowth.

I knew it was going to be a good season. My father went hunting with me Thanksgiving morning. I killed my limit of two wood ducks with three shots. It seemed that my new gun was quite a shooter.

The weather changed over Christmas break. It got cold, very cold for South Carolina. Morning temperatures fell to around zero degrees. Wind chill was close to negative twenty every morning.

It seemed as though all the pieces to the perfect season were falling into place. A fresh beaver pond loaded with the cover wood ducks love, the weather to push ducks down and keep them down, and I had a new gun that was a shooter. It was about to turn fun.

I had studied wood ducks all my life. If you have ducks and you shoot a lot, they don’t come back. I hunted with discipline. I hunted alone most mornings. When I left to hunt in the morning, I loaded my gun. That’s all the shells I took with me. I refused to shoot the first two flocks to leave the pond. I wanted them to be back the next morning. I only had three shots, so I patiently waited for good ones. Most mornings I returned home with two ducks and a shell in my pocket. I hunted the same pond every morning, Monday through Saturday until the season ended on January 20th. I had ducks until the last day of the season.

I was only twenty years old, but I had experienced, by God’s grace, the perfect season.

That was eighteen years ago. Never again have I shot so well for an entire season. Not since ’94 has the winter been so cold for so long and pushed down so many birds.

In ’95 I started hunting with Coach Taylor. In ’99 Joe started hunting with us. These two duck crazed men have been with me through thick and thin, ducks and no ducks since then. My brothers hunt with us from time to time as the birds show up and the mood strikes. Mike has hunted with me from time to time since we were teenagers. Other friends have come and gone through the years. I have lost the loner mentality. Now it seems as though fellowship is the greatest joy I get from the hunt.

Now, my son Bo is at my side whenever I head out to hunt ducks. It’s a blessing to watch him. He has the excitement of youth, the joy of experiencing everything for the first time. I would like to envy him, but I can’t. You see, watching him through a father’s eyes brings me the most joy I have ever had hunting.

I doubt I ever have another perfect season. If I did, it wouldn’t be the same, I’ve been there already. But to see my son have a perfect season, that would be something special….the Briary River Way


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