I can’t recall the exact date, but somewhere around 20 plus years ago the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks created several special youth seasons for those younger than 16 years of age. Don’t hold me to it, but I believe a two day waterfowl season was the first in a series for the kids. Then, if my feeble mind recalls, I think an early turkey season was next. The fall of that same year we started the deer season with a weekend for the youngsters only. Of course any child that participated in any season had to be accompanied by a license-holding adult for obvious reasons. This phenomenal brainstorm by leaders in our state has turned the early opportunity for our youth into a treasured tradition. In fact, though it is hard to fathom, some of my fondest memories hunting with my son were made during these special seasons. To put this in perspective, John Hartley is approaching 30 now. Once again I remind you how time flies.
This past weekend Rock accompanied me to my hunting club in the delta. We weren’t carrying weapons of stick and string nor did we even don camo clothing. Our agenda was to re-stock the dwindled pile of split red oak for the fires to come this winter. As we turned off the highway by the giant pecan tree, we could detect a gentle plume of gray smoke rising above the cypress and gum trees that surround our quaint village of cabins. This was the tell-tale sign that someone was already in camp for a fire was burning in our old fire pot. Of course it never fails, no one shows up to help unload until the last stick was pulled from the bed of the Z71. As if on que, when Rock handed me the last stick the camp road came alive with pickups and side by sides as dads and sons and daughters filled the camp yard. Several of our members were taking advantage of the early weekend. We all visited a bit and then Rock and I headed back toward Madison for the kids were ready to hit the woods.
There is another youngster in my neighborhood that was also preparing for this early crack at whitetails. This past Friday I took on the daunting task of cleaning out my garage. Well, at least one of them. Over the summer my garage has been a catch all for insect sweep nets, mud from four wheelers, left over soybean and cotton seed from trials, and every other form of clutter you can imagine. Brooks Dismuke, son of Sara and Trent Dismuke of Madison, walked across the street to see why my driveway was full of “stuff”. Brooks is my six-year-old buddy. As I continued my endeavor, he jumped right in to help. As we swept mud and filled the trash can he proceeded to inform me that “tomorrow” was the day he was going to get his first deer. All the while, Trent was scurrying around like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter trying to get ready to leave for his farm in Yazoo County. With Brook’s help, my garage began to once again be recognized as a place for vehicles instead of a storage unit. From across the street we could hear Trent calling Brooks to load up. He looked back over his shoulder as he headed for the truck and said, “I’ll tell you my story when I get back.” Quite the story it is indeed.
Brooks and Trent settled into a ground blind on the edge of a winter food plot Saturday evening. It takes a little while to get fully prepared for a new season as evidenced by them leaving the flashlights, snacks, and other items deemed necessary. Not to worry, for a rifle and cartridges were all that was really needed for this afternoon. It wasn’t long before a mature doe stepped in to the plot offering a perfect shot for Brooks. Everything was textbook until a little swirl of the wind allowed the hunter’s scent to be picked up by the doe’s sensitive nose and off through the briars she ran. Welcome to the reality of deer hunting, Brooks. Things settled down a bit and at the witching hour of dusk, another opportunity appeared at the end of the plot. Brooks settled in behind his rifle and without the help from dad, made his shot. Trent related that after the shot Brooks shook the whole blind with excitement. When they found good sign of a hit tears streamed down his cheeks. Trent, unsure of his emotions, asked him what was wrong. Looking up at his dad he said “these are happy tears dad, I just wanted this deer so bad.” Well said, Brooks.
They returned to gather up his partners to help in the tracking job. Brooks’ buddies Wyatt Godfrey and Daniel Artman followed the trail to his prize where the celebration then began in earnest. The night was filled with activities of cooking hot dogs by the campfire and reliving the afternoon. These memories of a father and son hunt will be everlasting.
There’s nothing like the bond that is created between a parent and child when each shares the love of the outdoors together. This is just the start for these two. Whether it’s the frosty morning in the hardwood swamps, or the icy waters of a duck blind, each experience will be a chapter in their lives as sportsmen. In time, God willing, Brooks will get to share the same experience with a son or daughter of his own and the love of the outdoors and our hunting and fishing heritage will be passed on for generations to come. Congratulations, Brooks, on you first one. You’ll never forget that day with your dad. I wish you many more days to come just like this one.
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.