Flipping The Script

Daryl Gay's Back Page, February 2020

Daryl Gay | January 31, 2020

There is a plan in place for the time—40 or 50 years from now—when I get old. Be advised that it’s never too early to plan ahead. So if you have happen to enjoy—or live and breathe—hunting, fishing and all things outdoors, you might want to give consideration to the following counsel and happenstance.

Especially should you be surrounded by and blessed with Knuckleheads; the lifetime investment into the raising of which to be used as the core principle of the plan.

In essence, fix it so that when they down that big buck or limit out in a dove field or grin from ear to ear wading out with a double handful of ducks… it’s clear how they got here and who brung ’em. It’s even OK to show that their success is even better to you than them.

However, be sure they realize that you’ll definitely come back to haunt ’em should they not return the favor 40 or 50 years from now!

I’ve been giving the plan a few practice runs as the Knuckleheads hit their 20s. Things seem to be working out just fine, thank you very much.

As usual, the stuff you plan to put on a plate or in a freezer tends to be traditionally uncooperative, but that’s why we’re out there in the first place. For example…

Dylan, the Knucklehead elder, has a two-fold conspiracy involving a duck hole and a deer crossing. Neither of which I have access to on my own; mainly because I’ve just never asked the owner.

But hey, I’m loving the Knucklehead’s initiative: HE is taking ME!

Over the years, we’ve established a pretty fair working arrangement with the whitetail herd. We identify certain subversive agents within said group and remove the troublemakers to the tune of 10 to 12 per year. Myles, Knucklehead the younger, is an equal partner in the herd-appeasing process. And since he also now has his own family and a freezer to fill, the total tends to range between 15 and 20 agitators.

The herd seems to function just fine, and we all eat good.

But ducks? If there in an ornerier critter on the planet than a duck, I ain’t shot at him. Yet.

As the pre-dawn conspiracy unfolds, we go paddling—with a three-pronged grubbing rake and don’t ask me why—the tiny 10-foot boat across a slough.

I WILL tell you why there is a slough in this spot that was dry ground in November: because it rained every one of the 46 days of December. Making it necessary to tote the boat across the pasture and past the pair of donkeys staring at us like we’re dumber than they are.

Don’t say it.

And what do the ducks do? Decide that the acorns are always sweeter on the other side of the Oconee. Even I ain’t dumb or desperate enough to paddle a shoebox of a jonboat across a swollen river in the dark! With a rake.

Just STAY over there, you feathered heathens!

OK. We understand. We get it. Dylan has certainly seen enough of my harebrained schemes to know the truism of “the best laid plans…”

So, on to part two.

Back on soggy ground, he lays it out: “Ease down this fence row to the corner and settle in. Deer will start jumping the fence out in front of you if they’re not in the pasture already.”

Do I look like my IQ is two?

Don’t say it. But of all the plots and stratagems… At least he gets it honest.

“Just trust me.”

Well, he’s certainly proven himself trustworthy over the years. And we’ve pulled off stranger feats than this. So why not?

Here’s the picture: we came up out of the river swamp, which grows right up to within a half-dozen feet of the pasture. He slides back to post up on a woods lane while I ghost inside the tree line making my way to the corner post. Camo’ed head to toe, I kneel behind brush and rest the rifle barrel on the four-strand electric fence.

Which, thankfully, is not hot.

(Cows have been sold, leaving only the braying bunch, which you couldn’t get shed of with an atomic bomb…)

Three minutes. That’s how long I squatted before the first head popped out 80 yards away. I was looking dead at the spot when the doe materialized into it.

She did what whitetails do—check every particle of earth within a 5-mile radius—before crossing the fence.

And I can’t tell you how! Certainly not over it. It was either under or between, with me looking at her through the scope; took a split-second. Amazing varmints…

She walked into the wide-open pasture even as I saw another head pop into place.

There’s another old saying: “A doe on the ground is worth 12 or 15 back in the trees where you can’t see ’em.”

Or something like that.

And I had this one last foot or so of empty space at the top of my freezer…

And so, reports from initial test runs are ultimately successful, with one caveat: as I’ve said before, never trust a duck. Kid is good at this; plan seems well-oiled.


Shifting gears to yet another devious foe of long standing, dove season in 2054 will be pretty special for me. Comes in on the 5th of September. My Model 12 pump will be 100 years old, and I’ll have my Senior Lifetime Sportsman’s license. Aim is to be shucking and missing just as wildly as ever!

You Knuckleheads just get me to the field, and I don’t care if it’s in a cot! As long as I can pull a trigger, the plan’s in place.


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