It’s been a minute since I could slow my roll and make a post without likely falling asleep!
I think I may have mentioned we have two new grand kids coming this year! 🥰🥰🥰🥰
Our youngest son and his sweet girl had a ‘Gender Reveal’ party at the first of this month. She is very organized and really gifted for decorating and doing so in a thrifty fashion!! I’m so amazed at and proud of her mad skills! Everything was super cute and pink and blue, with lots of ways for the attendees to stake their claim on if the baby is a girl or a boy!
My heart was so full for about a week and half I couldn’t process any writing! Then it was work, work and here — take some more work!! 🤣🤣
But you know, I do not say that in complaint! Work is absolutely a blessing! We are made to sharpen our skills and accomplish and serve and lead and train and help and provide! I’ve been both ways, and working is BY FAR the better! Whether I worked as a housewife and homeschool mom and writer or keeping a friend’s child or as a Sergeant in a law enforcement agency that was leading the way for Florida back in the day, or in insurance sales and firearms training, there are so many ways we contribute, we grow and we learn.
It’s only that I need more sleep than I use to, so I can’t burn the candle at both ends like I did back in my 20s and 30s and somewhat in my 40s!
So, the days have been so full and among them has been seeing to little details for Batman’s upcoming retirement. There’s a lot of paperwork. Lots of questions with answers sought and comprehension eventually acquired! I remember the days when we longed for and sought for this job, this calling. I remember the struggles and sacrifice and much heart ache, adrenaline rushes, exhaustion, and steady grinding. I’m not entirely sure he understands the depth and breadth of what he has accomplished. All with and through the Grace of God and his own willingness.
I am so grateful and excited for his upcoming next. Scriptures tell us, our latter shall be greater. The path of the just is as the shining sun, shining more and more unto the perfect day!! I’m completely believing that for him, and for me with him! Just. Getting. Started.
We share birthdays so to speak, my birthday being the day after his! Which is awfully handy!
We started last year getting some of our family together to celebrate on Batman’s birthday and this year was just overwhelmingly everything good and joyful! He grilled and I cooked side dishes and baked. And my brother and his tribe came and our sons and their families!
There was a little friendly horseshoe competition between the guys and lots of wrangling the littlest of the younguns!
We are blessed to have so much family to enjoy! I know this sounds sappy, and I’m quite ok with that! The last two years prior to this, while filled with much of The Lord’s much needed Grace and blessings, were very painful in lots of ways. So, I believe celebration for accomplishments, progress and just altogether sweetness of life are important to life! 😍👏🏻👏🏻
We capped it off by sparklers, and the youngest three of the affectionately known as Sugarboogars, had not so far had an opportunity to experience such things just yet!
There were much squeals of shock and awe and utter delight! Oddly none of them were afraid! Even the almost two year old Loved them! I can’t imagine where they got that from! 🙃 But, I will say my second favorite holiday is Independence Day!! 🎇🎆🎇🎆
I am praying this year draws Batman even closer to the Lord and fills his heart with joy and peace and old dreams fulfilled and new dreams dreamed! That the Lord teaches me how to be more of a surprise and blessing to him! He’s beyond good to me! So very grateful for him!
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” — Psalm 138:7-8
It creeps up on us once a year without fail, and suddenly “BAM” you’re a whole year older. It’s inevitable, it happens to us all and there is no way of stopping it.
When I was a kid, I like most of us, never worried about age or growing old, I played hard, ran the woods and fields, fished, hunted, trapped and just basically did kid stuff until ma or pa called me home. Every birthday that came when I was young was celebrated with my family, we were not “well off” but mom and dad always made it special and surrounded by my brothers and sister I don’t see how it could have been any better.
The years progress and we get older and have to stop doing “kid” stuff and “act our age” so to speak (something I struggle with having a professional small boy mentality), but I believe we all maintain, somewhere deep inside buried under years of stress and strife, piled upon us by work and trying to make a living, a piece of that “kid”. It’s this small piece that shows up at times to play jokes, laugh at inappropriate times and generally helps to keep us sane in a world that is drifting rudderless nowadays (squirrel).
So, as I look back, I see numerous things from my childhood that have been erased by my getting older and I would like them back at some point in time. Without these childhood things and mentalities we become drab boring adults just muddling our way through life, where’s the fun in that?
This year on my birthday I was again surrounded by family, not mom who is off with my sister in Pensacola, not Dad who is in heaven looking down shaking his head at my nonsense, but family none the less, my boys and their families and Peach’s brother and his family. I cannot see how it could be a better birthday than the way it was (‘cept maybe minus the yellow flies, deer flies some call ‘em) we cooked on the grill, played badminton and horse shoes, goofed, talked and caught up. Peach and I have awesome families and kids and grandkids and they all come together to help us old farts remember when we were kids and not to take life too seriously.
Birthdays, long as we’re here, we will have them, they are celebrations that we should embrace and enjoy. Surround yourself with family, be thankful for having them, do not take life too serious, play a game, laugh, and most of all love, and I think you will enjoy each one more than the last one.
“Nothin better than your banana puddin’ for my birthday, Peach“
Road trips are a fun way to spend an afternoon or weekend. Cruising forgotten highways and byways of the states always takes Peach and I to interesting places. Normally we don’t have a plan, pick a direction and off we go, to me that’s easier as there’s no firm destination so there’s no worry about getting anyplace in a hurry, which is the way we like it. We are apt to pull over and take pictures of airplanes or signs on the side of the road at any given moment.
We generally take these trips as photo opportunities and snap pics at things we think is cool or interesting, be it places or objects. Kinda like a mobile photo shoot so to speak, so I will keep attaching photos from several of our trips, maybe someone will recognize a place or see something they may want to visit.
Going for a ride does so many good things for Peach and myself, without a destination we are free to stop and explore, basically anything we want, and we like to explore together, so there’s that. There’s also the fact that we both really like taking pictures of just about anything and everything and what better way to see various things than to go on a road trip.
Then of course there’s eating, and if you know me you know I don’t like skipping meals (no fat jokes, I’m a sensitive guy) and again there are soooooooooooo many small shops and eateries to stop and sample food. Local favorites where ever you are, usually do not look like much in small out of the way towns and places, but boy howdy the food is outstanding most times and the staff in these small places are usually friendly and polite and try and ensure you have a pleasant meal while you are there.
Some of the views we get are crazy outstanding and some of the places are rich and full of history, take a walk thru Savanna’s squares and read the plaques denoting a time gone by (a time which a lot of my friends say I’m a throw back from) where a person had to work to make a living, and people genuinely cared about their cities and towns and their neighbors. We see a lot of these type places driving down forgotten county roads, the roads the truckers used to rely on for their routes. My dad when he was young was an over the road trucker and used to in his latter years comment on how he wished he had the time to drive some of the roads he used to just to see the routes again, to my sadness, as bad as I wanted to surprise him and go on a road trip with him over those old routes, he went to be with our maker before I could make that happen, sometimes I feel as if he is pointing me in directions to go (crazy? Maybe but I believe).
To me, and I believe to Peach also, the fun is in the adventure of what we find along the way, and we continue to find things that surprise, enlighten, and give pause, all have been happy interesting things, some things have been long in finding, some just around the corner, but in all, we know in our hearts that, “You will not find happiness at the end of your journey, if you do not bring it with you” (read that scribbled on a bathroom wall on one of our road trips 🤣 an have found it to be so true).
If you’re out and about and see an old country boy and a beautiful Peach stopped on the side of the road taking pictures, or in a small town wandering and photographing with phones and cameras, don’t be alarmed, it’s prolly just Peach and Batman headed “Down the Road”
Y’all take a piece of advice from an old country boy that’s “living in the wrong time” in this new fangled world; Live your life as God intended, learn to take happiness with you where ever you are headed, stop and meet people in small out of the way places, smile, give a kind word to someone, and above all, find that someone that you can not stand to be apart from and hang on to them forever, the adventure awaits just down the road.
“Peach, it’s getting time to spin the dial and see which direction we should head, don’t ya think?”
Today is the day! “Yay! We get to go to the shooting range with family!” To me there is no better way to spend time, than being together with family and having great fun. Toss in shooting guns, and teaching young folk firearms use and safety, and you have a recipe for an awesome time.
I’ve been blessed with awesome kin folk, on both sides of Peach and my families. This time we’re together with Peach’s brother, lovely wife and two absolutely awesome nieces.
So here we are, all out at the range, and we get stuff out and set up. Canopy for the sun, table for guns and bullets, and ear protection eye protection, and miscellaneous items. Firearms and kids, be it a 10 year old, or 17 year old, or 50 year old, should always be directly supervised by an adult that actually knows about firearms and firearms safety!
Anywho..at the range we are all set to go and first order of business is safety, safety, safety and safety (this is the ONLY exception to my “safety 3rd” rule). New shooter/old shooter, doesn’t matter which or who, safety is paramount around firearms. We take our time and go over safety, and gun fundamentals with the two nieces and others even if they have shot before.
Then off we go to shoot, it was a GREAT time and I think everyone enjoyed themselves, we all shot each other’s guns the nieces started with a small caliber .22 and shot it AWESOME!! Couldn’t have asked for better from two girls that had never shot before. Even had them do a shoot while moving course later that we threw together just for fun, and they excelled at it. I have been a firearms instructor for a lot of years and in my opinion, if they keep shooting they could go to competitions and do quite well. K (I never reveal family names) did very well, but I believe the sound was bothering her until we got her to wear earmuffs instead of the ear plugs once we made that swap I think it was better for her. She shot well prior to and shot well after, I believe the sound and heat was a bit taxing on her but she hung in there like a trooper. L on the other hand, took to it like a duck to water and shot the whole time and excelled even though her uncle kept making her run the course over and over because he couldn’t get the video he was taking right (hey, I never claimed to be a film maker, have a son that graduated school for that).
Both my wonderful nieces are a pleasure to be around and that’s a compliment to their parents who are two great people. Their dad is a good shot on his own and seemed to enjoy the shooting and the fact that his 3 “girls” were having as much fun as he was. If things go the way we hope I foresee many more trips to the range in his future. The “mom” has always been just a fun person to be around and boy howdy can she shoot a handgun! Everyone can use tips, but when you shoot that well the tips are more about posture, tiny grip changes, and mental focus. The premise starting off was to get the “girls” comfortable with the guns, I think we accomplished that pretty quick, and I also think we need to get back out there before too long has passed so as to reaffirm the habits taught and learned. A couple more times of basics and I think we could sit down and discuss a bit of home defense shooting.
Cart before the horse it seems, anywho to bring this ramble to a close, before I get lost in inane babble, Peach and I had an absolute blast with them all, and it is my sincere hope it started something we can do much more frequently, I hope they had as much fun as I did. If by chance my kin read this, thanks for coming out and hanging out with us, for me there can be no better time than to be together with kinfolk doing fun things. K get mom and dad to buy you good hearing protection, L do the same and both of you will do great if you keep at it. L&M in my old fashioned humble opinion, perfect kids come from great parents you two fit the mold, y’all let us know when ya wanna shoot again and we will make it happen.
Side note to others that read this and are interested, find a competent teacher, doesn’t have to have credentials from fancy associations, just needs to have the patience and knowledge to teach, and go have fun.
Recommended Apparel and Equipment:
Hat with a brim, eye protection (safety glasses), good hearing protection, I recommend a collared shirt (hot brass flies down your shirt it will melt your skin TRUST ME IT HURTS) shorts are ok, I wear loose pants BDU or cargo, but shorts are fine (no one wants to be subjected to these legs) but wear closed toe shoes that cover your foot even tennis shoes or the like (see above about brass) and that you can move in.
As for guns, I have never recommended calibers or types, I suggest you try as many as you can till you find the one that fits your hand and you handle the recoil on the best.
Quietly sitting on the bank intently staring at the “homemade” cork float as it wiggles and shakes then finally disappears under the muddy water. Reacting too soon I jerk the cane pole up but no fish, my uncle “Russy” says “too soon knot head let him take it a bit longer and I lower the hooked worm and “bobber” back into the pond…
My oldest memory of fishing was that one, I’ve made hundreds since, but that one I remember, and hope I always do. It was simple pond fishing with a stick, some line, and a hook and it was to me the best way to fish, and still may be. Fishing is an activity that anyone can participate in that wants to, just add water and you never know what you may catch. I have since early childhood loved fishing, pretty sure this love came from my Dad, who when he was young loved to fish also.
And by the looks of it, was pretty good at it. I have fished lots of places, sometimes I catch something, other times not so much, but all times I have a good time. Fishing is one of those things that to me is always fun, catch anything or not, I am outdoors and away from people, and fishing.
Part of the fun is finding new places to fish. Peach and I when we were dating used to tromp all over the river and it’s feeder creeks up to our knees without ever a care, she has always been a lil trooper. Catching and releasing the little bream or sunfish we would sometimes get. We would ride down CR13 and wherever a creek crossed it, we would get out and wander the banks and fish or wade out in the creek itself. We used prolly my favorite fishin pole and reel setup in the world (next to a cane pole and bobber) a Zebco 202 rod and reel set. Easy to use, can cast under hand, over hand, sidearm, anyway You want. Pretty good rod came with the set, and it was all we needed. I cannot tell you how much fun that was to do.
Fishing does something few things can, it causes you to let go of silly things and stresses, the longer you stick at it. The longer you fish, the more you see how relaxing it is to be away from work and worry. Fishing should be a legitimate medical reason as to why you took a day off work, instead of using vacation or sick days, you should also accrue fishing days (I may have stumbled onto a genius idea). I have no doubt in my mind that if a study was done, it would prove me right, one fishing day a month would make a happier more productive employee (squirrel ran by).
I recall one summer my sister and I spent the time with my aunt and uncle who lived in Georgia, somewhere just outside of Atlanta. I had an awesome time there as when they were working we had free run of the place. There was a perfect creek down below their house and my sister and I played in it for hours, it also led to a bigger creek that eventually fed a lake (try as I might I cannot remember exactly where this was, getting old robs too many memories) and there was a dock there. My sister and I would fish from the dock for hours on end and I honestly cannot remember if I ever caught anything, I do remember my sister catching a beautiful colored fish which we later found out to be a rainbow trout!! (We let it go, but that’s what my uncle said we were describing). Up the road a very short walk, past stands of blackberry bushes (more thorn than bush but I have no idea what it’s called if it is not a bush) which we later that summer went back to and picked buckets full of and my aunt made blackberry cobbler (sorry another squirrel). Anyways, up the road was a pond, looked like coffee with creamer in it and we went there just once that I recall but we caught catfish, oh my did we ever, it was probably the most fun fishing I remember from that whole trip, cast a line out and wait and eventually without fail a catfish would take the bait. These are memories that leave an impression on a young person and I am glad I experienced it.
I am the kind of person that likes pretty much all fishing and I carry poles in my truck on the off chance I spot a “fishin hole” along my way that may require my fishing assistance. Yes, I have actually been late to things due to stopping at a promising looking creek along the way to see if there are any fish.
I have deep sea fished, worked on a charter boat, fished in lakes and rivers, but my most favorite is fishing in small creeks and ponds I can walk around. Be it with a cane pole or fishing rod, I’ve even used a fly rod (I am really horrible with it but I have caught fish with it) and I like them all.
(That’s me in my flooded yard learning a bit about fly casting)
I remember being in Ft Eustis, Virginia in the military and fishing in a lake there, not sure if I caught anything, does not matter, I do remember I had fun in doing so and that’s all that matters. Fished again in Honduras while there in the military, in the Caribbean and in fast flowing ice cold rivers coming straight off the mountains, again not sure if I caught fish, do not remember doing so, but I remember the fun I had just fishing.
Peach and I over the years have fished all over in lakes ponds rivers and oceans, we have creek fished and sat in the side of the road and fished in ditches, simply because we love being and doing things together, and we love fishing. It’s cool that we have this like in common, would be sad if it was not something we both liked.
As we grew older and we got more and more responsibilities, fishing was pushed aside. But as things often do when you like doing them, fishing kept popping up and we still went off and on. Through the years we have gone times that we totally forgot about fishing and all the sudden one day we are headed out to fish.
Most days we kinda want to catch fish but rarely do we really ever want to keep them so we go and if we catch any we usually release them quickly. The fun is in the trip not the actual keeping.
So many times we have caught and released fish after fish and I cannot think of a time we regretted any of it.
Fishing takes patience, which most of us adults no longer have lots of. But in order to enjoy fishing you are forced to slow down and be patient, while waiting for the fish to bite. If you cannot make yourself be patient, slow down, wait for the fish to bite, you will probably never really catch many.
Being patient, waiting at times for hours is not easy when you are really young, or older (and have lost your patience from years of aggravation) but in fishing it’s a “have to have” to be successful, if you are counting the day a success by catching fish. If you’re like me and no longer think the day is a failure if you do not catch anything, then you are well on your way to being “successful”
In today’s hurry up and make all the money you can world, a world where you can not seem to slow down for a few minutes much less a whole day, I in my humble opinion wish everyone that wanted could come sit in the shade on a creek or pond bank with me and watch a bobber dance on the water while no thoughts or sounds of man or being in a hurry intrude, trust me my friend, for a brief moment in time you would be so much happier.
So, here we are again headed towards a new year and all that it holds in promise. If all goes well (welp, cross that off, when has all gone well ever?) this time next year I will have less than a month left to work at a job that has encompassed 27 years of my life. Peach and I will be moving on to different things and honestly I’m ok with that. I have enjoyed this career and will think fondly about it after i’m gone, but only for a few weeks, then it goes in the “bucket” and off we go to do stuff.
I have been pondering ideas around in my mind as what to do with the time I will have. First time must be spent repairing and replacing all the little things around the place that I have let slip with the “I’ll do it later” tag on it. That honestly is not a lot of things but it is a few and should keep me busy for a couple weeks, then what? Peach has informed me numerous times that she will not be giving up her job so I will have to find interesting things to do to occupy my alone time, I will probably do a bit more fishing, I used to enjoy that and my kids called me the fish whisperer as a joke. Run the trap lines with a bit more interest, something I kinda got out of the habit of doing that I really enjoy the challenge of. Exploring new spots in which to hunt is also an option, can’t ever have too many spots to sit and surprise a wary buck. I won’t be going off taking photographs by my lonesome, as that is something Peach and I do together. I may write more, get in the habit of posting small little blurbs as to what my daily plan is and what I did the day prior, basically a record for my family to see and laugh at when I’m no longer here (you’re not that lucky Peach, it’s gonna be a long time still). Peach got me started with this blogging stuff and I don’t always hold up my end and write posts like I should. But, I won’t have the “work” excuse anymore. I have made myself a promise that I would try and write a book of stories, as mentioned in a previous post “writing interesting things” (it was I think) and putting it out there to see if there are any “old country boys and girls” like me out there that might find it humorous to buy a copy and laugh at my “out of the wrong time period” sense of humor and right and wrong. We are gonna give it a couple months to see how things settle down in the Country before we start travelling around, not in the mood for people to freak out if I’m not wearing a mask on the side of the road changing a flat tire for some lady who is helpless roadside (yes it could be a guy too, don’t get all indignant, told you I was from the wrong time period). Once we start traveling, I hope to post interesting tidbits along the way that others who are traveling around may find useful, even if it is a “do not do this or that” mistake we made that saves someone an issue. I know Peach will be posting all kinds of good things as we travel I am even gonna get her a new faster computer to use to do so (no excuses now, Peach). Been rummaging around through stuff on the internet (what a fresh h*** of grossness and stupidity you can find if you’re not careful what you search for) reading about people making money doing blog posts, that is novel. Not sure I got what it takes to do that but if someone wants me to write a blog post for their business or about a product that I am familiar with, and they want a down to earth honest opinion on, and they are going to pay me for it, then I’m your huckleberry (y’all point them my direction will ya?).
Some of you all will remember Peach and I teach firearms usage and gun safety, we have done this for a while now and its a satisfying pastime, plus brings in a little extra income. We plan to do this even after retirement as we have found that it is something people want and need. As an NRA instructor I have 3 certifications: Certified Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection in the Home, and Basic Pistol, all of these are important to some folks, and its something we are happy to provide. The cool thing about being an NRA instructor is no matter where in the United States we are, we can sit down and give a class to anyone that wants it, provided we have the necessary safety precautions in place, and in some instances a range to shoot. Another side project I recently took an interest in to perhaps provide a bit of extra income if we need, but more to keep me active and out of the refrigerator (have I mentioned Peach is an EXCELLENT cook?) is becoming a “Home Inspector”, there seems to be a place for me as one, and it is something I could do when I wanted and not do when I was busy with other important matters (like fishing, hunting, napping is very important to me, also), it would require I attended classes either in person or online, and pass several tests (if you knew me you would know how much I dislike tests of any kind), but I think I could manage to do well enough to get licensed in the State to do it. I think I would be good at it as I have knowledge already from life experience and I have a willingness and want to help people. The biggest issue facing Peach and I as with most retirees is health insurance, but with Peach’s smarts and us listening to each others ideas, I believe we have a plan that will let us do what we want when we want without to much hassle.
It would appear from all the ideas about extra income that we are going to be working just as much as we do now, but that’s not the case, all these ideas are what float around in the mind of Batman when he has to much time on his hands. Y’all keep checkin back in, if for no other reason, you can see what scatterbrained ideas I come up with next.
“Now I get to enjoy some of your awesome chili huh, Peach?”
All my life I have, as have millions of others have, hunted things. Be it animals or pictures or items, hunting is ingrained in my soul. I have hunted with my eyes, numerous cameras, rifles, shotguns, bows, crossbows, fishing poles, traps, and cages, you name it and I have probably tried it. The degree of success depends on what you think the outcome should be. There are times when I could walk out my door and trip over something I wanted to hunt, and there have been times that entire seasons have gone by without me getting any game at all. Both to me are victories as I get to participate in a sport/hobby/lifestyle that I love. I have written a few times about being out in the wilds and finding my “peace”, and sometimes it applies when I’m hunting, not always though, as it’s a different mentality to me.
There’s not a lot of danger hunting where I do, yes there are some bear at times, and wild boar, and even a white tailed deer can mess you up if you get it cornered and are careless. But for the most part it’s accidents, the occasional snake or your own clumsiness that will be your undoing. There are ways to make it challenging and even the playing field a bit. The object of hunting is to take game to consume (for me anyways I DO NOT trophy hunt, you can’t eat horns) and to do so in a humane fashion. Granted I could shoot an animal from 500 yards away with today’s modern rifles, but in my humble opinion, this is not hunting in the true sense, it’s more sport shooting. I have NOTHING against this way, it’s just not hunting to me. I prefer the close combat hunting where I pit my stealth, woods knowledge and skill against an animal that lives there, where it knows all the paths and ways. Out foxing a wild animal at close range in its “home” to me is the definition of hunting. Slipping up on a sounder of wild boar within 20,15, 10 yards armed with a bow or crossbow or even a handgun, is thrilling and scary as all get out, especially if all you’re doing is taking photographs and the “weapon” you have is not really adequate to stop a determined charge of a boar or momma sow with piglets. My point in this being, given the right circumstance even modern hunting can be challenging and dangerous. I can describe things like this and people might get it, here wait, come along on a hunt with me and see…
Quietly closing the truck door in the darkness after getting all my gear out and on, I look up and listen to the night sounds. 05:30 am, still at least 2 hours before first light, may have gotten here a bit early today, but it is the first day of the season. Silently slipping into my back-pack and then cocking the crossbow I get set, and take a few quiet moments to look up at the sky full of millions upon billions of stars and thank God for another day. Some days you just feel “it”, there’s something here not quite right today, but you shake it off and begin to make your way to the ground blind that Peach and I set up a few weeks ago, this will be the first stopping point until it gets bright enough to see to legally hunt. Moving slowly along the trail, listening to try and make sure I don’t spook any early morning game on the way to the blind. Hearing the softest sound of a footfall in the palmettos and briars to the side of the trail and immediately freezing, to try and determine what it could be. It’s pitch black, I truly wish there was a better description of the kind of dark it gets in the deep woods before dawn, an inky blackness that blocks all light, it’s like swimming in black paint at times. At times like this it’s the other senses that I trust, closing my eyes I listen, and try to catch a whiff of any scents (animals do have distinct smells and we can sometimes pick up on them) that may be drifting on the almost non existent wind currents. Time slowly ticks past, and here and there the errant mosquito buzzes around and still I stand perfectly still like an old oak tree with its roots firmly sunk in the rich earth. There is a feeling something is there but no sound, no movement, no smell to give it away, so I wait. Slowly the feeling subsides and the night creatures go back to making their soft noises, and I, even though I cannot shake the feeling that I’m being watched, move on down the trail towards the blind. Finally I reach the blind and settle in one of the two camp chairs slowly relaxing and waiting on the first signs of daylight.
Waiting in the blind, listening to the world wake slowly, the feeling is still there, muted, subdued but still there, the feeling of watchfulness. The first hints of daylight start showing through and yet I still wait, not time to move yet, cannot legally hunt. Slowly things start to take shape in the graying light and something moves across the trail I just walked 25-30 yards away, low but moving like silk undulating in the wind without making a sound. What was that? No idea, but it was quick! Silently putting my back-pack on again and picking up my crossbow I emerge from the blind. Put a bolt (crossbow arrow) on the crossbow and stand still preparing to begin my hunting.
Today I’m “still hunting” which unlike its name, involves moving. Taking two preplanned steps I settle and look, slowly all the way around me, starting close up and moving my eyes in ever widening arcs over the terrain. It never ceases to amaze me how animals can be standing right in front of me and I don’t even see them until I make a mistake and get too close or move when I shouldn’t and they bolt. Still hunting brings into play all the senses and skills learned.
Ever so slowly I move in the same pattern, 2 steps, stop, look slowly around me. In this fashion I take a great deal of time to go anywhere. The sun still hasn’t breached the horizon, so the world is a gray pallet and distant things blend into the background. Making it to the fork in the trail I have to decide to either go into the deeper woods or stay along the edge. Today I enter the trail that will eventually take me past a ladder stand and into the woods deeper eventually running into the creek and swamp parts. Slipping deeper into the woods I stop by the ladder stand and just wait, watching an open area where game travels at times, partially due to its location near wild persimmon trees. Squirrels hop about gathering the abundant acorns and chasing each other and I slip quietly on. The sun finally erupts over the horizon behind the trees in a burst of color like blood and orange all across the sky behind the trees lighting the woods. Carefully I move trying not to be noticed by the animals seen and unseen that I know are here as I can see and “feel” them. Freezing mid step I see a flicker of movement ahead, and try to determine what it is. Bird? Or maybe it’s the tail of a feeding white tailed deer. It’s a deer! Walking away it hasn’t noticed me, not in a position to shoot either, walking away, to much growth between us and farther than I like. Winds ok, blowing to me off my right front so it won’t smell me, so I ever so slowly, like the decay of time, inch forward on the trail behind it trying to stay where I can keep it in sight. It’s amazing how they can brush past bushes but make no sound, if I could do that I’d be the most efficient hunter in the world. Despite my trying to, I’m unable to keep the deer in sight and be quiet, so it fades off into the trail ahead, not spooked that I can tell, just feeding along. I slip along, hoping to catch a glimpse but never do again. Breaking through to the edge of the creek line the woods are darker but the undergrowth much thinner, making visibility better but not as much as one would think. Slinking along in the same fashion I make my way through the woods cautiously, stopping every 2 steps just as before.
I stop and watch a raccoon family tromp past and cross the creek 15 yards to my right, never noticing I am there, too involved with whatever thoughts raccoons have. Slowly and steadily, I make my way in a long circle eventually coming back to the opening in the woods, by the persimmon trees, again this time from the opposite side and as I approach the hair on my neck stands up and I know I’m being watched. Freezing in place I start methodically picking apart every piece of cover, searching for whatever it is causing the creepy sensation, my senses in full alert as my heart pounds in my chest so loud I think it’s audible. Nothing! I can’t see…wait There it is, holy cow He’s huge!! And he’s looking right at me!!! Bobcat “Lynx Rufus” aka “red lynx” Florida’s #1 ambush predator, sneaky, stealthy, ghostly killer, efficient at its art. Not normally a threat to humans unless trapped or cornered. This is what I have been “feeling” since I first arrived, why is it not slinking off like normal. Watching it sink lower almost flat to the ground it’s floating shoulder blades allowing it to almost appear flat, claws digging into the ground to get a better grip it is getting ready to charge! Honestly I can’t believe what I’m seeing, leveling the crossbow scope on his shoulder I hear the audible click as the safety clicks off not even realizing I did so and at that instant he explodes from cover, leaping 5′ before I realize, I drop the sights rapidly catching up to him and release the bolt and it travels the 20′ left between us in seconds hitting home and passing completely through. He somersaults mid-stride Breaking off his charge and dashing towards the briars where I hear thrashing and growling for a few more seconds then silence. I had no idea I had backed up so far as I try 3 times before I can get another bolt from the quiver and cock the bow never taking my eyes off the spot I last saw him. Letting my heart sink back outta my throat I finally slowly (and I cannot stress how slowly) I move towards the spot. Scanning scanning don’t see him, gotta be there, where.. there he is, not moving, not breathing. I drag him out and look at him, big “Tom” bobcat, looks healthy, why did he act so odd? Bolt hit him right in the shoulder and passed clean through, he was dead before he knew he was hit. The scared ****less shakes hit, and subside with time and I gather the “cat” and slowly make my way back to the truck. I will skin, and sell the hide as I am also a trapper and bobcats are in season.
Funny how hunting goes, sometimes when we think we are the hunters, we become the hunted. I did nothing to the bobcat mentioned earlier, for some reason he chose to stalk and eventually try me. Today was my day, next time…
I’m a creature of the woods like all the other creatures God put here, I’m at home there as much as I’m at home in my house. I know there are dangers in hunting as in every walk of life, but with the “Armor of God” and faith in Him I will continue to hunt and live my life with Peach.
“Next time you get to tag along Peach, 4 eyes see more stuff than 2″
“Peace” has a multitude of meanings (look it up yourself) and often we forget what it can mean to us as people.
I like to think of it as the most unstressed, relaxed, calm and happy feeling. The kinda feeling one gets walking in a brisk wind along a vacant beach where no signs of humanity intrude. Or snuggling in a favorite chair and getting lost in a good book where the story carries you away. Or sitting outside after dark in a quiet place watching the stars migrate across the heavens. Peace to me is that content feeling, that place where I’m not distracted by man’s noisy need to control everything and be heard all the time. Walking around photographing pretty things with Peach, holding hands and just being, not having to speak to know that you are happy just being together. Taking sunrise pictures while at work to send to my “pretty girl” Peach to let her know I always think of her.
There are many other things that help me find peace, wandering around outdoors is one of my favorite ones. Think I mentioned before Peach and I like to hunt, trap, fish and generally wander the woods, always have. Getting into a blind an hour before the first hint of light, lets things settle. Night creatures are headed home and the dawn patrol are waking up. I get settled, squirm around, and finally settle comfortably and wait. It is a wonderful world deep in the woods away from man’s intrusion that slowly reveals itself. Owls, sing their haunting hoots and purrs and crackles, and shuffles in the bushes made by mice, opossums, raccoons and others add to the suspense. Still too dark to make out any real detail, I close my eyes and just listen to nature’s symphony slowly give its first performance. Birds flit quietly from their homes into the bushes, still not quite ready to play their tune. Usually the first animal I can actually see and identify are squirrels, as they slink around and find seeds and acorns to nibble on and sometimes stash buried in thousands of secret spots. They too are still silent, not wanting to break the silence of the morning, and then it happens. Somewhere, could be close, could be far away, the first bird clears its throat and to my surprise it’s the gobble of a turkey. Unless you have heard one in the wild you haven’t heard a real turkey, folks. Then the other birds perk up, and soon there’s music all around in the form of this bird and that, each seeming to try to outdo the other. Sometimes a squirrel interjects it’s voice into the symphony but mostly they are too busy eating and chasing each other around.
This continues for 30-45 minutes then settles to infrequent chirps from birds, and solitary songs as the sun breaks the horizon. Then the squirrels slink off and up into the trees and begin their turn at calling to each other and clattering and chattering away, trying to drown each other out.
All the while, I sit (sometimes, when I’m really lucky Peach joins me) and listen and watch silently. Letting the sounds from the animals that God created wash over and through me. As it does I can feel tension and stress piled on from the week of work and strife, slowly start to break up. The longer I stay the more I find my “Peace”, the kind of feeling that is hard to explain, but everyone knows when it happens. For a time, no worry no fear no pain no insecurities nothing, just “Peace”. It’s what I expect to feel every day in heaven when my time is up here. Till then I have found a way to find true “Peace” and be as God intended us to be, happy, content and blessed to be alive and in God’s masterpiece. Those of you whom hunting offends, I do not apologize for being a hunter, God made us that way, I do think there is a reason for me being one, but to be honest the actual taking of game has become much less important to me over the years than it used to be, I still do take game but if I let something pass sometimes, it does not bother me as it once did.
Finding “Peace” means many things to many people, but to me it’s meaning is as described above, and none of it would be possible without God’s input and my Peach’s companionship. Once a week or more if I’m lucky, I slip away to one of these places and “breathe the free air” and feel my “Peace” seep into my tired body to enliven me for another week.
I truly hope each and every person can find the kind of “Peace” that they need at a time when they need it most and it does for them what they need. Everyone needs a cleansing of their minds to function as God meant. Folks, He watches us, He listens to us and He gives us ways to reboot, for me it’s through “Peace”
Hope this ramble makes some kinda sense to someone that needs it, if not *shrug* makes sense to Peach and I 😬
“Right Peach, makes sense to us right? Peach? Peach?…not funny”
Sitting out on the deck early this morning before most of this part of the world wakes up, I closed my eyes and just listened. Ever do that? Just listen? Interesting what the result may be if you do. Because I was outdoors, and Peach and I live out in the country (not deep in the woods away from all sounds of man like I wish but, still country folk) I get to hear nature, sometimes mans noise butts in, but mainly nature. Early like this, there are still night creatures about but also the day crews are waking up and moving about. It’s a peaceful time, and the amount of nature that could be heard (probably could hear more, but for years of teaching shooting numbing my hearing 😳) night hawks, whip-or-wills (Chuck-will’s-widow more often) early morning Cardinals, Mocking birds and of course, the always present sound of roosters crowing, Horned owls, Barred owls, and Screech owls… you get the idea. All add their voices at one time or another, together or separate, frequent or rarely, and just listening to them relaxes me.
There are at times no sounds at all, it’s creepy still, the time of morning or night when as Sherlock Holmes put it “the powers of evil are exalted”. Times like these some get nervous or frightened, but as Don Williams sang “Nothing makes a sound in the night like the wind does, but you’re not afraid if you’re washed in the blood like I was”. Night sounds (early morning, too) can stir up fears in people, an involuntary reaction stemming back to the days when it was kill or be killed, and wild carnivores roamed everywhere, it also stems from man’s evilness to one another where certain elements prey on weaker victims. But in the here and now, the sounds I hear are stealthy, and then some are musical, neither cause fear as I have and still hunt the evil most refuse to acknowledge exists and fear little in doing so (“Fear profits no man” ..13th Warrior). Settling more in my comfy chair I hear leaves rustle, probably a mouse or mole looking for edible yummies, as I look up thru the live oak leaves to the crystal clear ink black sky with its brilliant sparkly lights (them is stars in case you didn’t get it) flashing colorful lights from far away. You can almost hear the trees talking to the wind and each other (probably wondering why we get to move around when they can’t) with soft subtle voices that you either believe in or don’t. If you believe, you can quietly hear the soft voices on the wind, maybe not understand them but you can hear them if you listen. Most refuse to hear those quiet voices from things in nature, especially those they hear when it is dark, and they do it out of fears. Fears of the unknown, fears others may not have heard it and would ridicule or belittle them, fears they would lose friendships or companions.
“Fear does not stop death it stops Life and worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles it takes away today’s Peace”
If you must fear, the fear should be that you have let God down by not following his word. (Squirrel ran by…apologies)
Listening teaches us so much more than talking does, and if most people would open their ears and close their mouths, they would learn tons and there would be way less conflict. So I sit, when I can, be it at home or at work (rare but I do sometimes get the chance) and I listen to what the world is trying to tell me. I hear the sunrise, I hear the wind, I hear Gods creations great and small. I don’t always understand them, but I hear them all, each has its own unique voice, some booming some barely perceptible. None of these would I be able to hear if all I did was talk. The gift of silence is often underestimated, but having the ability to let someone talk or vent, without interjecting, is a rare ability that more people need. Take the time to shut up and just listen, I bet you hear a lot and maybe learn to appreciate silence more.