In Control by Randy Rowley 2/26/17 ©


Usually when my friends and I hunt ducks down at the Texas coast we hunt in the marsh between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, off Wilson’s Cut.  The area is the wintering grounds for 80% of the North American population of one million redheads.  Pintail, widgeon, scaup (blue bill), and a few other species also call it home.  Redheads are easy to decoy and are not picky about what your spread looks like.  It is not uncommon for redheads to land among our decoys as we set them out in the afternoon or pick them up after a morning hunt.

We have had many successful hunts off Wilson’s Cut, easily bagging our limits of redheads.  However, as the daily limit of redheads is two and well over 95% of the ducks that we see and shoot are redheads, it can lead to some frustration as well.  Several times as the first flock comes in to our dekes, my shotgun has gone “bang, bang” and two redheads have gone “splash, splash” and I was done for the day.

So when a guy that I meet on Facebook told me that seven of his friends and him had bagged pintails, widgeons, and scaup, in addition to redheads near Port O’Connor, I decided that we needed to give it a try.  I planned a trip and we went in late January.

Two of my favorite sayings are, “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail” and “Always have a Plan B.”  This is especially true for hunting and fishing and is critical for places that I’ve never hunted or fished.  I’d fished Port O’Connor three times before this, but had never hunted it, so I planned carefully.

We implemented Plan A on Friday afternoon.  We launched at Charlie’s Bait Camp, about halfway between Port O’Connor and Seadrift, and tried to take a small cut out to Espiritu Santo Bay.  My Facebook friend told me that the cut was shallow and you had to take it on plane, but each of the three times that we tried all we succeeded in doing was running aground in the shallow water.  My bass boat, Champ, needs at least 1.6’ of water and the water that we were trying to scoot through was skinnier than that, so we gave up and went to Plan B.

We trailered Champ, drove back to Port O’Connor, and launched at Froggie’s Bait Dock.  We headed southwest and took the cut to Dewberry Island.  This cut was much deeper and wider than the first one.  Getting through it was no problem.  But that soon changed.  We went a couple hundred yards and then turned towards the island but quickly ran aground.  We tried again in a few more yards, but the closest we could get Champ to shore before running aground was about 75 yards, which was a long way to carry all of our stuff.  Plus Binh Chu had to carry his son, Harley because he wasn’t able to find waders that fit him.    

After we got everything out, Binh and I moved Champ about 75 yards away.  A few ducks flew by in the 24 MPH north wind and Ken Miller bagged a redhead and lost a cripple when it dove, but no birds were interested in our decoys.  With the strong wind pushing Champ further into the shallows, it took 45 minutes to free from the bottom.  I decided that it would be folly for us to hunt there again and we would try Plan C in the morning. 

Early Saturday morning we headed east from Froggie’s and took Fisherman’s Cut into Barroom Bay and then took Little Mary’s Cut.  The area is very shallow, except for the channel, which is marked.  The markers are easy to see in the daylight, but not easy to spot in the dark.  I decided that the best thing to do was to follow a bay boat, but quickly learned that they could get into a lot skinnier water than I could.  Every time that I’d try it, I’d run aground.  So we backtracked to Little Mary’s Cut and hunted a hundred or so yards west from it.

We were able to get Champ a little closer to shore before grounding, but not much.  A few ducks came by in the light rain and about three came into the decoys.  I bagged two redheads and Ken got one. 

We decided that it was a decent spot, so we tried it again that afternoon, except a couple hundred yards further west from the cut.  Burl bagged two redheads and Binh bagged one.

When the alarm went off at 4:00 AM on Sunday, we were too tired to hunt and slept in.

Despite meticulous planning, we all felt that we were never really in control, mainly because of the plentiful shallow bays and the fact that Champ isn’t designed for skinny water.

“God is in control” is a popular saying and Christian song.  It testifies to the belief that “God’s got this.”  It is supported by scripture.  For example, God said in Isaiah 46:9-10, ““Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”

But when it comes to planning hunting and fishing trips, simply saying “God is in control” while doing no due diligence on our parts is akin to laziness at a minimum and possibly foolishness.  It exonerates us from culpability and nullifies free will by ascribing all responsibility to God.  It passes the baton to him and, if things don’t work out right, expects him to also clean up the mess that our inaction made.

One of the themes of the Bible is God granted us the ability to make choices.  Examples include:

  • Deuteronomy 30:19 – ““This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.””
  • Joshua 24:14-15 – ““Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.  Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.””
  • Proverbs 8:10 (NLT) – “Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold.”

What this boils down to is, when we say, “God is in control” while doing no planning on our part, we are in essence rebelling by choosing not to plan.  And with over 40 years of hunting and fishing under my belt, I have seen a lot of guys rebel by either poor or no planning.

I’ve seen guys show up for weekend trips without tents, cookware, adequate or the right clothes, one without a fishing license (and expect the rest of us to find a place for him to buy one) and one with his scope not mounted on his rifle (and expect the rest of us to wait for him while he went to a rifle range to have it mounted and then sight it in).

I’ve also seen guys show up for trips who have no clue as to where they’re going or what they’re going to do when they get there.  Even when they are spoon-fed detailed information on what to bring, where to meet, costs, etc., they often refuse to read the information and just wing it.

Some think that to have a Plan B signifies a lack of faith – that the minute that we decide that a plan might fail that it ultimately will fail.  But none of us can predict the future.  We all hope that things will go the way that we want them to, but they often don’t for a variety of reasons.  For example, if you are planning to retire at age 50, but chose to get a degree in social work, you’re probably not going to be able to see that goal realized as most people in that field don’t bring in big bucks.

God is a planner.  Ephesians 1:9-11 (NLT) says, “God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.  And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.  Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.  From the beginning, God planned to have fellowship with man.  When Adam and Eve broke that fellowship, God’s plain included a means for us to come back into fellowship with him through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.

To plan is to be responsible and follows our heavenly father’s example.  It is not a lack of faith.  So, especially when confronted with hunting or fishing someplace that you’ve never been, do like I did for that duck hunt – plan and plan some more.

Categories : Devotionals

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