As we enter the second summer in South Mississippi, I hope you enjoyed your fall. The good thing that second summer signals is the beginning of whitetail archery season. Next weekend, for those north of Highway 84, archery hunters will be sweating in stands and swatting mosquitoes in hopes of bagging the first deer of the year. Lord willing, I will be right there with them, Thermocell on full blast, in the thinnest clothes that I can wear. If the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, I’m not opposed to stripping down to my skivvies in the stand. If memory serves me correct, the last deer that I killed with a bow I more closely resembled Ted Nugent in a loin cloth than the modern day hunter. Half naked, or not, I plan on being in the woods Saturday morning. The wait has been far too long.
Speaking of “far too long” and Highway 84, my fishing buddy and I took a trip down memory lane this weekend. Ashamedly, I haven’t actually ran my boat in a while. The last time that I took it out, I forgot to put gas in it. Mackenzie and I had to troll around Lake Bill Waller rather than use the outboard. This weekend seemed like a good time to remedy that, especially after I’ve shot my bow a few times and feel pretty confident. Sometimes the hardest thing for us is choosing where we want to go. We decided on Lake Bogue Homa.
Before we decided where we were going, I started naming off lakes within reasonable driving distance for the afternoon. I’d detail where they were and the size of the lake. Most of them were within an hour from the house and around 60-80 acres large. That’s not really big enough to open up the motor and let it fly, but I let Mackenzie have some input on our destination. To my delight, she was immediately intrigued with the name “Bogue Homa”. I told her that the lake was 882 acres, which peaked her interest even more due to it being much larger than the previous ones mentioned. When I told her that it was just outside of Laurel (my hometown), she was sold.
We loaded up the boat and our implements of destruction and headed north on Interstate 59. She was excited to be going fishing, I was excited to be going home. Bogue Homa holds a special place in my heart. Before moving to Jacksonville, Florida, we lived only a few miles from the lake. My dad was an avid bass fisherman during those days and would frequently take me with him. We’d usually end up at Bogue Homa or Maynor Creek in Waynesboro. As Mackenzie and I pulled into the lake, my heart felt like it would leap out of my chest. She was amazed at the beauty of the lake, and it is beautiful. Memories flooded over me with the sight of the lake. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was at home.
Stepping out of the truck and breathing the air took me back 30 years. It hasn’t been quite that long since I’d been to the lake, but this time felt different. This was the first time that I’ve taken any of my children to this special spot. I began to think about trips that my dad took me on years ago. I can still remember always stopping at Lakeside Grocery for bait, or a snack, before we’d fish. Dad would carry on conversations with Bill Culpepper, who owned the store, while Ms. Gladys would encourage some sort of sugary snack for me to get for the trip. These were simple times that I yearn for in my life.
I remembered to get gas this time, so we had no problem cranking the boat. I opened the throttle up and we were moving! The warm breeze on my face felt so good that I wished I could freeze time in this moment. The lake was relatively quiet with only a few other boats on the water. When we stopped to rig up our lines, Mackenzie asked me, “Do you hear that?” I’m pretty much deaf in one ear so my reply was, “Hear what?” She said, “Exactly” with a smile on her face, once again proving that she is indeed my child. It was a perfect afternoon to be at Lake Bogue Homa.
We ended up doing more riding and exploring than we did fishing, which was alright with me. My good friend, and former colleague, Reggie Richardson and his wife, Blair, joined us for a while on the water. He needed to run his boat, too. As per usual with us, the conversations mostly amounted to baseball and our kids. I didn’t feel an urgency to fish and Mackenzie didn’t seem to mind, which was good because 882 acres of water feels a bit overwhelming without a depth finder or lake map. After Reggie and Blair left, we trolled around, stopping to fish briefly. We encountered two rather large alligators toward the back of the lake and saw numerous different species of birds. As we moved about, Mackenzie kept clamoring of how pretty everything was, and I couldn’t disagree.
The sun began to set so we headed back toward the ramp. We opened up the motor one last time before trailering our boat. As we pulled off, I took one last glance at the lake. The remaining sunshine left sparkles across the water as if there were hundreds of diamonds floating along. Pulling away, my heart began to ache for days of old. I know we aren’t supposed to live in the past too much, but this trip really tugged on my heart strings. I even took Mackenzie by our old house before we went home. The yard that once seemed so big now looked small. Maybe one day she will visit one of our lakes and have the same fondness that I have for Bogue Homa.
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