Thankful for 2020

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and the smell of pumpkin spice everything consumes my life. No, I don’t care for the smell, but it cannot be avoided in the general public. Retail stores are beginning to advertise massive sales for the holiday season, but most importantly, Mississippi’s whitetail gun season begins next weekend.

I’ve had trail cameras in the woods since early August and have been giddy about the results. There are at least 5 “shooter” bucks on camera at our place and I didn’t even come close to covering the entire property so I’m hoping there will be a couple of more that I don’t even yet know about. Over the last four years, we’ve done a pretty good job of managing our property and not shooting too many young bucks. This is the year that is supposed to pay dividends to that patience. I had hoped to take one of our bucks during the early bow season, but bow season was not kind to me. The weather rarely ever cooperated and when it did I could never manage a good shot. I had a few opportunities to take a doe, but the possibility of killing one of those bucks on camera kept me from letting an arrow fly.

Not taking a deer during the bow season has been frustrating, to say the least. Each time I’ve been asked if I’ve killed a deer yet, my answer is “No, I blame it on 2020.” I’ve caught myself blaming misfortune on 2020 quite a bit lately. But why? Why are we so quick to dismiss 2020 as a disaster and hurry up and get to 2021? Sure, 2020 has been a less than desirable year for a lot of people, but what if we think about the things that 2020 has blessed us with. With Thanksgiving only a week or so away, I figured I’d do just that.

When the fear of the virus began to grip America and shut things down in March, our baseball team at William Carey was sitting in first place in our conference with a 5-1 record. We had already taken two out of three from the defending conference champion and swept another weekend series. We were starting to hit our stride when the shutdown occurred, and just like that our season was over. Most would consider this a tragedy, and it was tough, but our guys were given the opportunity to return without losing a year of eligibility, so it worked out. For me, I was now given the opportunity to spend time with my family during a portion of the year when I would usually rarely see them. With the shutdown of baseball and school in full swing, the girls and I spent quality time fishing. We went to our camp in Vicksburg, we went on the river, and we went to any and every pond around. Looking back, it may have been the best spring of my life. I even bought kayaks so we could fish small lakes from somewhere other than the bank.

Turkey season has always eluded me, being that it is in the middle of baseball season. I’ve only had the chance to turkey hunt a handful of times in my life, so the shutdown allowed me the opportunity to get in the woods in April for the first time in a while. I didn’t harvest a bird, but I did get to hear a couple gobbling, and just the sound made the trip worthwhile. During the shutdown, I took the girls camping on the river for the first time ever. What I thought would be a disaster turned out to be the best fishing trip that I took all year. We caught more fish and I made more memories than any other river trip that I can remember. I was shocked that they made it all night sleeping in an uncomfortable old tent that I’ve had for 20 years, but they were troopers and we made it with little complaint. We even took a family vacation to a house on the Jourdan River where the kids got to experience crabbing for the first time. That trip had its own mini catastrophe that resulted in a boat partially submerged, but the girls had a great time either way.

As school began to start again in August, I even found myself a little melancholy. I enjoyed the time with family so much that I almost didn’t want things to go back to normal, at least for a little while. With the holiday season fast approaching, I’m hoping to create even more memories with my family in the woods or on the water. Maybe my luck for deer season will even change in the coming weeks. I’m not lost on the fact that many have suffered this year, and I sometimes feel guilty that I haven’t really had to suffer with friends that have lost family members and jobs. At the same time, it’s hard for me to be too aggravated with 2020 when I really think about it. Even the layoff from baseball made me appreciate the time spent on the field even more than I already did. I don’t think that I will forget this year any time soon, or maybe ever. However, I will probably remember it for many different reasons than most. I will try to remember it as a year where we made the best out of a tough situation that was beyond our control. Who knows, I might even remember it as the best year ever.

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