Thought I’d share something a bit personal with y’all.
My father saw to it that as young boys we learned how to be outdoorsmen. He had a home in Washington and a ranch in Texas. My brother and I grew up playing in the forests and mountains near the base of Mount Rainier during winter and spring breaks from school. During the summers, Dad would cut us loose early from working on the ranch located a few hours south of Dallas, so that we could seek out adventures of our own in the grasslands and woods that peppered the property. One of the many lessons learned was how to hunt dove and quail throughout the plains of Texas. For my 15th birthday dad bought me an early present; this 20 gauge Remington 870 seen in the picture. I used it on our last bird hunt together that fall, with family in central Texas. He died a year later in a helicopter crash in Oregon. This shotgun has remained stored in my safe since 1995; cleaned and oiled every fall with maybe two boxes of shells ran through its entire life.
For the past 20 something years the family members that I grew up hunting with have invited me to come hunt opening day on their ranch. For 20 years I came up with an excuse not to. It hurt to be around them because for my entire life I have associated those faces with love and happiness; but now there was one face always missing. This year, I accepted their offer and headed out to the plains of Texas with my shotgun in hand. The 20 bore ran like a Singer and did its job. However, the dove were flying high and just out of reach for the small bore. OK, sure, maybe I was rusty and should have done a little five-stand before I went out. Swapping over to my father’s 12 gauge mid-morning allowed me to harvest three birds immediately. As my cousin Tyler quietly whispered across the field, “Looks like your average has increased significantly with that 12 gauge.” I agreed with his assessment.
After spending a couple days with family in the field hunting, several discussions were had regarding important subjects which soon became debates. Debates ranged from who’s biscuits were better, dad’s or Granny Causey’s to less important subjects such as which camo pattern dove hunters preferred or who’s method of breasting a dove was more efficient. These are the types of conversations I remembered so many years ago. This was the camaraderie that I had missed and yearned for, for so long. And it did not hurt anymore. I may have found some closure with a painful chapter that has haunted me since I was a teenager. Now, as a 40 year old rookie father with his own son who has already proven to be adventurous himself in his first year; perhaps this feeling of happiness, love, and adventure will continue to fill those gaps of the missing face with new faces.
I hope that y’all create your own adventures with family and cherish each of those moments. Thank you for allowing me to share this one with you.