Friday, October 6, 2017

The Dove Hunt

“…make the most of your time…- Eph. 5:16 Every September 1st, dove season begins in most states. Dove are the most populous game bird in America. They are fast flyers and hard to hit, but are a blast to hunt (pun intended). This past September 1st, my son Eric, Brian my brother-in-law, and I packed up the shotguns and camo and went on a hunting trip up to Bois D’Arc Conservation area, west of Springfield. We had a great time and even got a few birds. The morning of hunting stirred up more than just the birds- it stirred up my soul. My dad loved hunting. I think it tapped into his rural, farm upbringing, and he was an excellent shot. Mostly, I think he just loved the time with his four boys. No sports, no pagers going off (remember those?), no phone calls, no TV. It was just raw, beautiful time well spent with a dad and his kids. We knew we had each other for most of the day. Mom never did join us. She stayed home to do the cooking when we returned. If we brought back birds, she cooked the dove and we had a feast. That Friday with Eric, I found myself teary-eyed several times as I reflected back on those hunts and times with my dad and my brothers. Growing up, we never went hunting on our own. In between all the sports and business, we always made time for hunting together. I remember Dad waking us up Saturday morning to go hunting and my wanting to stay in bed. Most of our Friday nights were late following our football games. But once we got to the hunting fields, we were ready to go. I miss those times. I miss my dad. I miss my mom. I miss my oldest brother Pel. I miss my second oldest bother Marc. I miss my family (though I am so thankful for my brother Bob). These “every Saturday morning” hunts were so much fun for little brother Joey. I felt so secure and solid spending the day with my awesome brothers. As the youngest, I hunted with a .410 shotgun. My brothers had started with the good ole .410 as well. It used s smaller load and had a smaller pattern. It’s already tough to hit the fast-flying dove, much harder with this small shotgun. But my dad wanted us to learn to hunt slowly and safely. What we learned was that it took a very good shot to hit a dove! Eventually, we all became pretty good shots and we all graduated to larger guns. The beauty of those hunts was in the time together. It was in cleaning the dove when we were finished. It was in eating sandwiches out in the field. It was in swapping stories (mostly true) of our exploits on the hunt. Those were the times I was missing. As I was reflecting back on those days, it hit me: let the new hunts begin! I glanced over at Eric, so thankful for my son. I thought of Mark, my son-in-law (who I went hunting with the next weekend). I thought of their sons, James and Griffin. One day they will take their boys hunting. And the legacy will continue. It will continue because the hunts have never really been about the birds. Many times the Staples boys would drive home from the hunt empty-handed. Dove are very finicky. Sometimes they don’t come out. But the family time was solid. It was bonding time for us- time to just be together. May we all cherish the times we have with family. Time passes so quickly. May we make the most of every opportunity. May we relish in the hunting or shopping or mealtimes… …as we embrace out beautiful families. By Eric Joseph Staples©

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