Once upon a time there were three hunters. (Well actually there were only two hunters and one great adventurer.) These three men had an urge to take off one December on a journey to a hunting lease down in southwest Texas. This lease belonged to friends who were kind enough to offer a southwest Texas hunting experience for my husband, my little brother, and my dear, sweet Dad.
There is no comparison between hunting in southwest Texas versus hunting at the farm in East Texas. I have personally sat in stands at both places.They each have a beauty all their own, and they both offer serenity as well as the chance to see a doe or buck. In East Texas you tend to be surrounded by lush woods possibly overlooking a clearing. Your eyes must be well tuned to all movement as deer are stealth experts in that part of the woods.
The lease near the small town of Sanderson, Texas, has a beauty all its own. Sitting in the stand one can see for miles with low brush and tumbleweed being the main source of vegetation. Its rocky, desert like terrain with the mountains of Mexico lining the horizon lend a wild west feeling to the beautiful, open land. What appears to be still and lifeless at 4:30 in the evening mysteriously becomes a hotbed of activity within the hour. Mommas bring their baby fawns out to play and cautiously lead the way for those bucks who seem to instinctively know they are the prize of the day. The surrounding ground becomes covered with rabbit and quail scurrying around looking for dinner and playing in the open. It was a memorable trip for me, and one I could hardly wait for my Dad to experience.
My grandfather was not a hunter. He raised cattle and farmed. He always enjoyed visiting with the hunters in the area around the farm, but he felt that a farmer didn't have the time to waste on hunting and fishing for pleasure - even if you did eat your kill. He concentrated his time on his crops and his cattle. As a result, Dad never did get into hunting or fishing...well, that coupled with the fact that being a full-time minister along with keeping up the farm did not leave much time for fishing and hunting. I think that is one of the joys opened up to him whenever my little brother came along. Andy had loved it from day one. Dad enjoyed watching the pleasure it brought to him, possibly living vicariously through Andy's experiences.
It was not easy talking Dad into taking the trip. It was evident he wanted to go, but unbeknownst to us, he was already having issues and was concerned about bathroom accomodations. He was especially concerned about the nine hour trip. After much coaxing from my little brother and reassurance from Charlie that they would take their time and stop whenever he needed a break, Dad agreed to go. Once his mind was made up, he never looked back...and I am so thankful he didn't.
He reminded me of a giddy little kid the morning they got up at 4:30 AM to head out. Giving Mom a quick peck on the lips and swat on the rear, he promised to return late Sunday evening. His answer to her warning to behave and be careful was a grin, a chuckle, and a retort that she had better talk to the two boys he was riding with. Sometime later that morning he called Mom asking her if she could hear him clearly. Thinking they were in an area with low signal, she replied that he wasn't breaking up at all. Dad's reply? "Well, you know I'm riding with Charlie, and as fast as he's going, I figured it would take a little while for my voice to catch up with real time!"
I don't know if the Davis's will ever know just how much their kindness in allowing that trip truly meant to my Dad, my brother, and my husband. That was one of the last trips Dad was able to enjoy, and he had the time of his life. He came back with stories galore, but his favorite was the one about the older man whipping the younger man's behind over stealing a seat at the hunter's feast. I am not sure whether something like that has ever happened before or will ever happen again, but it truly cracked him up.
God saw fit for it to snow while he was there, and that was another source of joy for him. Dad was never one for especially liking to have pictures taken of himself. On this trip, however, there were several times he would pose somewhere and ask Charlie to take the picture and "send it back to the girls." One of my favorites is the one below where he was hamming it up by the Davis road sign at the lease.
As the trip wound down and they drove into the driveway tired, smelly, and happy as clams, Dad asked for one more set of pictures. Before heading back to Livingston he wanted to take pictures with Charlie and Andy because he "never wanted to forget the trip he was afraid to take but was so thankful he made." That was the closest he got to the river trip he so wanted to make at Big Bend with all of the guys. After raising three girls, he loved having his son and son-in-laws in his life. There was no mistaking the fact that he loved us all, but I am so thankful for the times Dad was able to have guy time. He so deserved that after all of the estrogen he put up with for so many years.