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Wild Wonders

(ROCKWALL, TX – May 5, 2017) It was pitch black. My headlamp lit a path though the dark field to the edge of the woods and the perfect hide. Philip worked his way into the opening to set up some chairs while I placed the decoy where a turkey could see it after coming off his roost. I settled in, loaded my shotgun, and doused the light. We were the only hunters around, or so we thought. Suddenly there was rustling in the brush beside us. In the moonlight, a silhouette belly-crawled under the thick limbs and leaves and out into the open field.

What is that?” Philip whispered.

I had my hunches but couldn’t believe it; being that close would be a rarity. It stood up on all fours and crossed in front of me, stopped, sniffed, and realized his place on the food chain. The coyote darted away; apparently we had ruined his sleeping spot.

Another time I watched a deer (one I was not hunting at the moment) bed down just 15 yards beside me as he waited out a thunderstorm. He had stood for what seemed like hours and then made a circle like a dog then took a load off his feet. He rested for a spot while I watched in amazement.

While fishing once, the crappie were frenzying and I happened to pick the perfect lure. I hooked what seemed like my twentieth, and fought him toward the bank. From the depths below a huge mouth opened and swallowed the particular fish I fought. I literally had two fish—the crappie I caught with my little black fly and the bass that swallowed the crappie whole. I brought the two over toward the bank when the bass figured out he was caught and gave me back my fish.

I may sound like Daniel Boone, like I can just walk out into the woods and the natural world gathers, but that’s far from the truth. For every successful hunt, there are hours or even days of sitting or stalking, seeing and hearing nothing (or at least nothing that you are hunting). For every fish landed, there are countless casts.

It’s not instant and it’s difficult. Sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s hot, and sometimes it’s miserable, but man, is it worth it. And that is diametrically opposite of how we’ve trained our kids, isn’t it? The wild confronts us with the fact that life isn’t easy and instant and controlled. Going fishless makes you think, problem-solve, and confront the realities that aren’t found in their electronic babysitters. The years I went deerless made that moment when I finally harvested, one of my dearest memories. The nights I’ve spent in a tent are a little uncomfortable and spooky, yet, it is full of lessons our kids could use these days. I’ll guarantee you this, they’ll forget the great games they had on the Xbox, but they’ll never forget a campfire S’more with you and, like my kids, they may just ask for more.

By Scott Gill of Rockwall, teacher, coach and author of Goliath Catfish. Follow Scott’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com.

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