By Ben Smith:
Fall is officially here. Well, at least according to the calendar it’s here. I know the velvet season just passed, and a great deal of you braved the elements from a high perch in a tree last weekend, but it’s hard to get excited about deer hunting when the temperatures are still reaching the mid 90’s. From what I’ve seen on the book of faces, my buddy Matt’s theory surrounding velvet season and the Delta is still holding true for the most part. I’ve seen more bucks killed from outside of the Delta area than from in it. Of course, as soon as rifle season gets here all of that will change. Maybe by then we’ll be able to go outside without melting.
For the second straight year, and likely for all future velvet season weekends, I managed to stay out of the woods. As long as it’s over ninety degrees, and as long as the MDWFP requires you to submit your private land kill for CWD testing, I’ll pass on the velvet season. So instead of hunting, I did what any responsible husband would do on a Saturday…I raked and put out pine straw in flower beds. That’s right. Contrary to popular belief, not all of my weekends involve shooting something, or catching fish. Sometimes I do yard work…even if it is against my will.
Fellas, the good news is that if you do some handy work around the house every once in a while, it’s a lot easier to get in the woods, or on the water, later. With the temperatures still soaring, I figured it best to play the long game for the future. Now, when the weather gets right, and my bloodthirst returns, I can say, “remember when I spent that Saturday making those flower beds look so good?” She won’t have any choice but submit to my humble request to go hunting. Most of you guys that have been married for a while should know these things by now. And for you younger guys that are still figuring out how this works, use this column for free advice.
If you’re like me, and not quite ready to accept that hunting season is almost here, use the last few weeks of summer weather to take advantage of fewer boats being on the water. The last couple of weeks I’ve been itching to at the very least take a boat ride. With the rivers around here being so low, the options to run the boat are slim. Sunday evening, I finally decided to load up and go to the lake. I figured there wouldn’t be too many people on the water, and thankfully I was right.
I hooked the boat up and was ready to go when I got marching orders from a higher authority that I had to take at least one kid with me. The oldest had an obligation that evening and the youngest is far too much of a handful for me alone, so the middle daughter it was. Fortunately, she’s probably our most adventurous so a trip to the lake with dad, even knowing my history, doesn’t dissuade her from going. We packed plenty of snacks, a few rods, and headed out.
Upon arriving at the lake, I was relieved to see that I was correct in the number of people on the water. There was one boat and a couple of jet skis. Hard to ask for anything better than that at a public lake on the weekend. We dumped the boat in the water and the motor cranking on the first turn of the key was music to my ears. Given recent history, I hold my breath every time I start to crank it. We took it for a spin around the lake a couple of times before shutting it down to take a swim.
For the next few minutes, I watched my daughter jump in the lake over and over from the boat. By the time we stopped to swim, there were no other boats on the water. We essentially had the entire lake to ourselves, and she treated it as such. Watching her enjoy the lake was something my soul desperately needed. With my boat being out of commission for most of the summer, and schools starting back so early, I felt like we’d been robbed of our summer, but this was a nice consolation prize.
After swimming, we took a little time to fish some. Somehow, I’d managed to allow time to slip away without teaching her the proper way to cast. I can remember teaching her older sister how to cast in our driveway, but for some reason I hadn’t done the same thing with her. For the next half hour, we spent our time learning how to cast. She picked it up quick, which is good because after thirty minutes she was ready to jump out of the boat again.
Conflicted, I sat back in my old boat seat and watched her play. Part of me was thoroughly enjoying the moment, and part of me was sad. I once heard it said, “sometimes the days are long, but the years are short.” I believe there is wisdom in that. We all have days that we think will never end, but one day you kick back in your boat and wonder where the last five years have gone. As the sun began to set, I was reluctant to tell her we had to leave. I didn’t want it to end. It was a great reminder to be in the moment. Be where your feet are. Don’t fret over the little things…and teach them how to fish.