BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: Never a bad hunt, just good and better ones

Published 2:07 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

As far as hunting seasons go, this one had been fairly uneventful.

With the exception of a great archery antelope where I tagged an antelope with my good friend Richard, I had bagged only six ducks all year.

Considering that it was mid-January, duck hunting seemed to be my only chance for redemption.

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There were several factors that led to this being a considerably less-than-average season.

First off, I must put a great deal of the blame on myself. I had taken a new position as senior pastor of First Baptist Winnie, and simply didn’t feel that I needed to spend as much time hunting as in previous seasons.

The next issue was the rain. It had rained more this year than I can ever imagine. My hog hunting spot was mostly under water, and if a duck was looking for water, he had plenty of options.

Thirdly, the weather was unseasonably warm, and the ducks never seemed to show up in large numbers. They were still up north and unless a big northern pushed through, I might be out of luck.

Finally, there was the government shut down. This was the second or third time that this has affected my season. When the government shut down, so did my best duck hunting spot. With my best place closed, I imagined that this must be where all of the birds were staging.

With all of these strikes against me, I still had a burning desire down in my bones. I was a duck hunter and I needed to shoot some ducks. I envisioned piles of ring necks and bluebills streaking over my decoys, I could see red heads and canvasbacks by the dozens.

All of these ducks would notice my new diver decoys and make a final mistake by getting too close to my blind. It would be over. I would fill my straps with these ducks. Once I shot my share of early morning divers, I pictured the big ducks coming in. The wary pintails would make a few passes before setting their wings, and me and my buddies would each take a pair of bull sprigs. We would shoot a few gadwalls and finish up the hunt by outsmarting a giant Mottled Drake duck.

This would be a hunt to remember. We would take pictures, laugh, give high fives, and I would even write a great hunting story. This was what I envisioned as I set my alarm for the next morning.

Sometimes my dreams don’t turn into reality. Instead of the sky full of ducks, I only saw a few ducks and they were out of range. I did see my fair share of water turkeys, and black birds. There was even a nice hawk that flew overhead. We never raised our guns and nothing even came in range. There was very little shooting in the distance and I imagined that other hunters were having the same type of lackluster hunt.

It was at this moment that I realized why I hunt. It’s no longer about the limits of ducks or deer. Here I was hanging out with a great friend and sharing stories about our lives. It was male bonding at its finest. My wife calls this bro time.

We got to enjoy an awesome sunrise, pray together, drink a cup of coffee, and count our many blessings. When it was all over, we even got some great pictures of his dog.

I guess that hunting is a lot like life. As Forrest Gump put it, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you might get.”

When the season is slow, I encourage you to still take time to count your blessings. I sometimes think that the bad hunts make the good ones that much better. When realize how much God has blessed you, there are no bad hunts, only good ones and better ones.

Brian Johnson, originally from Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of and outdoors writer for The News.