Proverbs 15:13 says, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.” When the heart is happy, the face can’t help but show it. This past Saturday morning, it was my great privilege to take two young men duck hunting, and the result was smiles all around.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has provided opportunities for youth, under the age of 16, to enjoy special days of hunting various species of birds and animals throughout the year. The youth of our state can hunt deer for a week prior to the opening of the regular gun season each November.
In concert with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service, our youth also have the opportunity to hunt ducks on special weekends. This past weekend was one of those opportunities. Before moving on with this particular story, the hunting public should also be aware of special youth squirrel and turkey hunts coming up.
Prior to this past weekend, one of my duck hunting friends and a member of our congregation, Drew Burton, called to invite my grandsons to duck hunt with him this past Saturday. I was truly appreciative of the invitation and promised to check with Brett and Ty. Brett, who is 15, didn’t hesitate in saying yes, but Ty, who is 8, is still a bit short in the tooth for duck hunting, so the hunt was set.
Friday morning, the day before the planned hunt, Drew called to say he had another obligation and couldn’t guide the hunt, and would I take his place? Of course, I was thrilled to do so and informed Brett of the change of plans. Hoping to find at least one more youth to go along, Brett suggested Alford Hill, and a quick call resulted in another excited young man.
This would be his first duck hunt.
Before daylight Saturday morning, after a short four-wheeler ride into the duck hole, we began setting out decoys and planning where to stand. In the process of placing the decoys, the ducks started pouring in, ignoring us, landing within shooting distance and instantly getting back up. In less than thirty minutes and much shooting, we had a couple of ducks, a green-head mallard and a drake gadwall. Then the ducks stopped coming in where we were.
After watching flight after flight of ducks going into another spot some five-hundred yards to our south, we made up our minds to move. It took some time, but the change in locations was worth it. The boys nearly shot out of shells, and in the process bagged another drake mallard, drake gadwall, and two widgeons. Two or three other ducks were clearly hit, but they kept going and were soon out of sight.
I asked, “What would your baseball coach say if he were here?” They both answered at the same time, “I hope you can hit a baseball better than you can ducks!” The three of us were all smiles and laughing at the thought.
At one point during the hunt, I was calling. In between calls, I pointed out ducks that were cupped and coming in. “Brett, take those ducks!” Well, he did, and with a single shot. Brett dropped both widgeons like a bad habit. They folded like a tent, and we were all smiles.
The boys were all smiles after each duck dropped out of the sky, and I was smiling as well. It was pure pleasure watching these young men have the time of their lives hunting ducks. Alford and his dad had a decision to make after the hunt. “Do we mount the green-head or the gadwall, the latter being his first duck, or both?” When Brett and I drove off, the four of us were all smiles. I’m smiling even as I share this wonderful time on a youth duck hunt.
Believing that taking youth on a special duck, deer, squirrel or turkey hunt will bring smiles all around might be a long shot for some of you, but…whatever you do, don’t be afraid to go with the long shots. Live life to its fullest every moment and be ready!
Rev. Richard Wiman is the pastor of First
Presbyterian Church in Belzoni and an
accomplished, much-published writer.