Old friendships, new adventures and plans for the new year | Outside
Tell me, what do you plan to do with your precious and wild life? -Mary Oliver, “Summer Day”
I don’t watch TV a lot, but G and I spent some time on vacation watching a few shows. One of them, “Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness”, was recommended by our friend Penny Kemp, and it was exceptional.
One of his topics was how we spend our time, which is important because we have a limited amount of it. As I reflected on what I had planned to do in 2022, I kept coming back to something Patel said during the episode: “The most important product we all have is now.”
I thought about the quote a lot on Friday night as we celebrated the upcoming New Years and Saturday morning while packing for a hunting trip in the Mississippi Delta. I had been looking forward to the trip for several weeks, but was also a little nervous as it would take me out of my hunting comfort zone.
Over the past few years, I had received an invitation from a lifelong friend Trey Humphreys to attend the Mississippi Christian Bowhunters Chapter’s annual hunt at the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge near Hollandale. I had been unable to hunt in previous years, but after thinking about Ravi Patel’s quote, I decided to do it in 2022.
However, as I mentioned earlier, I was stepping out of my hunting comfort zone, as I had not bowled since October 2015. With that in mind, I did several training sessions with my bow in order to be ready.
After several sessions, I decided that my effective range would be limited to less than 30 meters, and I was confident that I could achieve this if the opportunity presented itself under ideal conditions. Unfortunately, ideal conditions would prove to be rare.
If you’ve lived in Mississippi for a very long time, you realize that our winter climate can vary widely. This was the case last weekend, as Saturday was a ‘short sleeve’ day with highs in the ’70s as we rushed to hang up our stands before the storm to come.
After hunting the refuge for several years, Trey already had in mind a promising place for me, a place that had been offered to him in the past. After walking together and hanging up my stand, Trey ventured further into the swamp to hook his up, and I walked back to the truck.
I took my time to go out, enjoying the beauty of the “great woods”. The Delta has always had a special attraction for me. It’s almost like stepping into another world – or at least another country as you descend from the hills into this plain. Forests and swamps seem almost primitive, as if a Stegosaurus could come out of palm trees and cypress trees at any time.
Our base camp for the hunt was the group cabin at Leroy Percy State Park (the first state park to be established in Mississippi), and on the first night at camp, we enjoyed a short devotion led by Trey and a moment of camaraderie around the dinner table. Later that night, I fell asleep listening to the sounds of rain on the roof while imagining giant delta dollars hunting.
These dreams rushed across a Mississippi winter the next morning as I sat shaking in my booth with temperatures dropping throughout the day as the winds howled and the rain subsided. transformed into sleet and then into snow. I don’t remember feeling so cold for a long time.
The next morning was a lot brighter, colder and more sunny, but as the sun rose over the palm trees and cypress trees, I found myself longing for the hills of my home in Winston County.
Around 9 a.m. and without the deer moving, I figured if I went down and got out I could come home shortly after lunch, and that’s exactly what I did. Within 30 minutes of stepping into my stand at the farm that afternoon I had seen a cute six point and the day ended with two more beautiful young cocks and several does.
In the booth I thought about how great it had been to meet up with an old friend and explore new hunting grounds. I have also given a lot of thought to my outdoor plans for the New Year, plans to hunt wild turkeys in Florida and hike another section of the TA with Dan and several of our friends, fishing projects at flying to new locations, plans to buy a barn, and new critters on the farm.
That night it struck me how blessed I am, and as I walked down and back to the farm to spend time with G, enjoying our last night together before we both returned to work, I realized I had big things on the horizon in 2022.
It’s up to you to have a good “wild and precious life” in 2022, and to see yourself there in our great outdoors.
Email outside columnist Brad Dye at [email protected]