More and more today we hear the narrative of fear surrounding gun control and what the future of that may look like for us sportsmen who enjoy hunting and the shooting sports. We cannot discount the tragedy of late and the need for perhaps a stronger system of checks and balances on obtaining certain types of weapons. However, I believe in my heart the inalienable rights provided us, by our forefathers, to keep and bear arms is not, is not in danger of disappearing anytime soon.
Here in Manteo, NC where I live, our Manteo Middle School has a shooting team, and I’m proud to say my son is a member of that team. Practice is on Sunday’s, after church, at the Dare County Shooting Range and taught by active members of the local law enforcement community. As a responsible parent, if could hand pick the kids I would want my son to hang out with, these would be the boys and girls. They are respectful, polite and responsible, particularly with the handling of firearms. Parents show up for practice just like it was basketball or baseball, we hoot when the kids make a good shot and the boys and girls that participate leave feeling excited about their respective accomplishments. What else is there to “sports”?
The sport of hunting is alive and well here on the Outer Banks and last Monday was no exception. Each year, on Martin Luther King Day a group of families head to Hyde or Washington County lay in a ditch on the edge of a winter wheat field and enjoy an annual Tundra Swan hunt. Tags are on a limited draw and this year was the first year we had applied, I got one for both Ryan and I. What a blast, show up at first light and in the distance you hear thousands of swans laying in roost on the lake. Everybody including all the kids set out about 200 decoys on the ice encrusted wheat field and then bounce down into a drainage ditch and wait for the morning to heat up with the rising sun. Swans start to fly off the roost first in small groupings then later in squadrons. What a sight! The kids are crouched down waiting for the birds to begin to circle the decoys and cup up. The sound of the wind fluttering through their wings is like a baseball card on a bicycle tire. The little ones go first and pop up out of the ditch as they are called to render the finishing blows. My son Ryan was so stoked he couldn’t wait to get his shot. I was so proud of him, he waited patiently as the big bird swung around, I looked up and said “Go ahead and take him” he popped up, took aim, and let fly. I watched the bird buckle with the first shot and in an instant he racked another round on his 870 Remington youth model and dropped it like a sack of cement. A couple of fist pumps and knuckle busters later I had my chance. We went 11 for 11 that day with all the kids filling their tags, what a great hunt! Special thanks to Bryan DeHart for supplying all the decoys and to Stanley Allen for allowing us the privilege of hunting his farm.
Be sure to take a kid in the field with you this winter, they’ll love you for it!