When the news release landed in my email, I shook my head at the headline that told of two hunting fatalities at a Mississippi national forest.
One death involved a young duck hunter who fell from a boat while heading out before sunrise.
And then I read through the story to discover the first young man to die was a Franklinton 16-year-old shot by his father.
That sent a shudder through me, as I immediately thought about my two children and imagined what it would be like for something like this to happen.
Before anyone gets upset, I’m not passing judgement. Accidents happen, and there were no details on this horrible incident that will haunt a father, a mother, any siblings, grandparents and friends for the rest of their lives.
Honestly, what flashed through my head is a boating accident years ago when I got careless, lost control and ran my boat under one laydown and rammed a second downed tree, slamming my son into the front deck.
Fortunately, Garrett was unhurt. However, as I read about this father, all I could think was, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”
The fact is that we enjoy sports that involve some measure of risk. There are no brakes on a boat, and yet far too often we speed through intersecting bayous and around curves without slowing. We all know a 20-foot fall from a tree stand can be fatal, but how many of us leave the safety harness at the camp? It’s no secret that leaving the safety off in the duck blind is like playing Russian roulette, but we all know hunters who constantly have to be reminded.
Catching fish, downing a deer or shooting a cupped duck produces adrenaline rushes that have no comparison. I mean, if you can see a bass or trout slam a topwater without your knees going weak, you should take up golf or bird watching.
Unfortunately, most of us spend so much time in the outdoors we don’t even consider the dangers, having long ago lost a sense of caution. And complacency is the seed of disaster.
We all have a tendency to point fingers and scold someone else when they do something stupid while hunting or fishing, especially when someone dies. After all, we certainly wouldn’t have been involved in such a catastrophic event, right?
But don’t we all have a story or two that could have resulted in injury or even death? Don’t we usually laugh about them around the camp?
Here’s a scary fact we should never forget: Lives hang in the balance on every hunting and fishing trip we make. That means every decision counts.
We all should guard against complacency so there are no more tragic stories to publish.
Let’s be vigilant and make memories to treasure instead of ones that haunt us.