Well, we are just about to come to the mid-point of our hunting season, and will close down for a week this Saturday night. We always have a big guide dinner at our shop, and discuss the first half of the season, and take a week’s rest to get recharged for the last half of season.
When Mom and Dad were building this business, we only closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As occupancy increased over the years, I decided that it was very important to rest the guides, dogs, and staff for a week so that the guests in the last half of the season got to see the same enthusiasm as those who visit in the fall, and it has worked well. I remember an old guest from years ago who once told me,” Son, we were so poor when we were growing up that if I had not had a brother, I wouldn’t have had anything to play with on Christmas morning”. Well, we were not quite in that bad a shape, but my parents could not afford to turn down any business in the early years.
I’m certain that each of us has one Christmas that stands out in our minds as our ” best Christmas ever”. Mine was the year that Santa bought me a cock-action, single shot 20 gauge shotgun, a hatchet, a sheath knife, and a coonskin cap. Since we lived in a pecan orchard, I took my brand new shotgun out in the yard, hunted me down a squirrel, and shot him. I ran straight to the squirrel to pick him up. However, I made one major mistake–I did not make certain that my quarry was completely dead before picking him up. Do you know that squirrels have teeth like hypodermic needles? He bit me all the way through my thumb. Since Pop had already taught me not to kill anything that I did not want to eat, unless it was a varmint, I had to get Pop to show me how to clean my squirrel. I think that I was bleeding as much as the squirrel. When finished, he looked almost too much like a rat to eat, but I had to eat him.
In my later years, I received a waiver from Pop that I could kill something that I did not eat as long as I gave it to someone who would eat it. That practice has worked well since I no longer have to clean many birds or animals. I still love to hunt, but my eyes certainly do betray me a good bit these days. As my grandchildren often say,” Papa, when you can see the bird, you can still shoot good. But, Papa, you can’t see a lot of the birds that are flying”. As if I was not acutely aware of this fact already.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy, happy New Year !