FATHERS, SONS AND OLD GUNS

(In honor of our youngsters, those who were reared by dads who realized the importance of introducing them to the world of hunting, here is an article I wrote years ago that captures the essence of what this introduction means to kids.)

It began for the boy along about the Christmas of his sixth or seventh year. Dawn was still an hour or more away when the youngster crept out of bed. Peering sleepily around the corner through the living room door, his eyes scanned the brightly-wrapped packages spangled with tinsel and glitter beneath the tree. His breath caught in his throat when he saw it – twinkling colored lights reflecting off the blue steel barrel and walnut stock. His first gun….the .410 he’d dreamed about.

That was thirty Christmases ago. Today, the boy is a man; a father with a son of his own. This Christmas, the old .410 will be passed down along with the memories it helped create; like the tomato can he peppered with holes the first time he shot it….the surprise he felt when his shoulder was whacked from the recoil….the rusty fox squirrel he rolled off a hickory limb….how he rushed up to it, picked it up and held it up for his proud father to see….remembering the expression on his father’s face was one he’d never seen there before.

Before he takes his son out with the old .410, there’ll be time for instruction; for answering youthful questions fired out from behind eyes wide with excitement. He’ll hand the boy the gun, unbreached, chamber empty, explaining how it functions; how it can be a faithful companion; how it can turn on you coldly if handled carelessly. After the lesson, they’ll walk out back and prop a tomato can against a clay bank. The father will watch his son’s startled expression change to one of pride as the can spins and careens wildly when pellets perforate it.

It’s Saturday, and the man and boy make preparations for this, their first hunt together…..the teacher and student. Dawn brushes the eastern sky in a blend of delicate pastels as the two wait in the woods in suspenseful silence. A fallen log serves as a comfortable seat in the hardwood glade. On all sides of the ridge are hickories, the ground littered with fresh cuttings. At the foot of the ridge past the thicket, a creek meanders out of the hills to course lazily at the feet of silvery beeches and ancient cypresses.

The raspy rattle of a brown thrasher serves as a woodland wake-up call and a wren, scolding softly, hops to the end of the log where the two sit. Blue jays argue and fuss over acorns in an oak overhead.
The boy is drinking it all in when his dad touches his elbow and points to movement in a nearby hickory. It’s a squirrel, the boy spots it and then looks at his dad with a perplexed expression that says, “What do I do now?”

Regaining control, he remembers his dad’s instructions and waits until the squirrel scampers to the opposite side of the tree. Standing slowly, he eases forward a few steps. As the squirrel reappears and begins whacking away on a hickory nut, the youngster slowly raises the old gun, nestles the butt against the hollow of his slender shoulder, aims…..and touches the trigger.

There is no startled expression from the recoil this time. He feels no jolt but is aware only of the squirrel tumbling in a shower of leaves to the ground. With a whoop, the youngster rushes to it, picks it up, and grinning, looks back at his dad. For a moment, the man doesn’t speak. He can’t. A unique bond has been created, an intangible essence of oneness that needs no explanation. It can only be experienced by a man and boy – teacher and student – together under the hickories.

FISHING REPORT

CANEY LAKE – Bass are schooling and hitting shad imitation topwater lures. Some are being caught on the deeper points on jigging spoons, tail spinners and crank baits. Crappie continue to be fair with best catches made around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – Bass have been best in the mouth of cuts on shad imitations and in river lakes around stumps on jigs and soft plastics. Crappie are around the deep tops in the river fishing jigs 15-20 feet deep in 25 foot water. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass have been fair fishing around the boat docks early and late on a variety of lures including jigs, soft plastics and spinners. Crappie fishing has been best fishing the deep holes out on the flats fishing shiners or jigs 10-15 feet deep in 18-20 foot deep water. Bream fishing has slowed while catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks.. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream fishing is fair on crickets with most caught around the piers and boat docks. Stripers are schooling and are hitting topwater lures with white bucktails taking some beneath the surface. Bass fishing has been best fishing topwaters in the shallows or at night fishing around the lights with plastic worms. Crappie fishing is best fishing 10 feet deep in 14-17 foot water on shiners. Catfish are fair on blood bait. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Bass are schooling and hitting shad imitation topwater lures. Some are being caught on the deeper points on jigging spoons, tail spinners and crank baits. Crappie continue to be fair with best catches made around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Bass have been fair around the grass and trees on Wobble heads, crank baits and Rat-L-Traps. Crappie are scattered and fair; bream fishing is fair on worms and crickets. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream fishing has been fair on crickets and worms. Bass are fair on soft plastics. Crappie are slow. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been fair with mostly smaller fish being caught except one angler landed a 39 pounder on rod and reel. Crappie are slow to fair. No report on bream or bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The lake is being lowered and fishing is slow. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is rising. Crappie have been fair but some slabs reported. Bass fishing is fair. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.


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