Jul
19

Steering Straight by Randy Rowley 7/19/19 ©

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On a cool and overcast Saturday morning in mid-January, three friends and I headed to the marsh between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas for a weekend of duck hunting.  We miscalculated when we needed to depart and didn’t make it to Wilson’s Cut until a little after sunrise.  The blasts of several shotguns going off in the distance greeted us as we unloaded the kayaks (yaks) from Greg Souther’s trailer.

Mark Dillow brought his two yaks, loaning one to Kevin Wall, Greg brought his yak, and I used a yak Mark rented at a Corpus Christi yak shop.

We put our guns, fast grass mats, and homemade ground blinds in each yak’s storage compartment, attached a bag of decoys (dekes) on top of each one, and then launched.  I quickly discovered they’re not easy to get onto, especially being 80 pounds overweight and having on sweats, neoprene waders, a heavy hunting coat, a hunting vest with two boxes of shotshells, and a life vest.  I straddled my yak in about two feet of water and then plopped down.  Fortunately, it stayed upright.

Having some experience with canoes, I thought a yak would be a piece of cake, but boy, was I wrong!  They take a lot of getting used to, especially getting them to go straight.  Just as I was starting to get the hang of it, we exited Wilson’s Cut and went into a shallow area where the water was only about six inches deep.  Instead of paddling, we used our paddles as push poles.  That proved to be much harder than just padding, which was a workout itself.  The paddles stuck in the mud with each push, and we’d then have to pull them out.  The constant pushing and pulling caused our shoulders to ache.

We headed for the far shoreline.  Around 100 ducks took off when we got about 100 yards away.  Upon arrival, we flipped the yaks over to use as makeshift stools and set out the blinds.  Mark, Kevin, and Greg then put out the dekes.  I tried to help but sank to mid-calf in the mud with each step.  The exertion of pulling my stuck boot out of the mud would often stick the other one.  Also, my feet frequently slipped out of my boots when I pulled them out of the mud.  I bought my waders 1 1/2 boot sizes too big as I figured I’d be wearing two pairs of heavy socks.  That decision was a big mistake!  My friends were done by the time I made it halfway to them.

We knew it’d be a good hunt because redhead ducks started landing in our deke spread while my friends were still putting the dekes out!  We hid, and then the redheads began coming in.  As is typical with redheads, they didn’t circle and instead headed straight for the dekes.  Greg nailed the first redhead of the day, and we all soon had a limit of two redheads each.  We also saw some pintails, but only one group came within range.  We shot at them but missed.  We decided waiting for more pintails or other species to appear wouldn’t be worthwhile, so we packed up and left.

Paddling back was a lot tougher because the wind had picked up.  Our deke bags acted like sails when the north wind hit them, pushing us towards the south side of Wilson’s Cut.  We mainly had to paddle on the right side of our yaks to go straight.  It was tough sledding, and we were pooped when we arrived at Mark’s truck.  We loaded up and headed to Mustang Island State Park to get a campsite.

On Sunday morning, we got up early and headed to the spot we’d hunted the morning before.  But it was a completely different day – bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky.  This time I wore three pairs of heavy socks, and my feet didn’t slip out of my waders, so I was able to help put out the dekes.

We didn’t see any redheads near us.  Four groups of pintails came by, but only three of them came within range.  Greg and I missed the first one but nailed the second.  The third one survived because Mark and Kevin never saw it.  At 10:00 AM, we called it a day, packed up, and left.

The wind had picked up again, but now it was from the south, so our yaks wanted to go away from Wilson’s Cut.  This time we mainly had to paddle on the left side of our yaks to go straight.  As during the morning before, we were worn out when we finally made it back to Mark’s truck.  We loaded up, went to our campsite, packed up, and headed home.

Yaks and canoes have two primary advantages over boats.  They can take you places you can’t get to with other watercraft (except a jon boat with a mud motor or an airboat), and they’re quiet, so they don’t scare away fish. You’ll commune with God’s creation much more in a yak or a canoe, and yaks are more stable and lower to the water than a canoe.  Their major disadvantages are they don’t hold much, and they’re slow, but they can be sped up by installing foot pedals or trolling motors.

The book of Proverbs contains short sayings on how to keep our courses straight.  These sayings are not commands but gold nuggets of wisdom and advice.  The Proverbs covers many different topics, and most of them urge us to choose wisdom over foolishness.  The choices are often presented as paths to take when we come to a fork in the road.

Proverbs compares paths leading to success and happiness to paths leading to failure and misery.  For example, Proverbs 4:18-19 says, “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”  Proverbs says there are wise and foolish paths to take and encourages us to contemplate the consequences of our decisions before making them.

Proverbs never promises a perfect life for those who make wise choices, as sometimes a wise choice can cost us a job, relationship, or even our lives in certain parts of the world.  Nor does it promise an awful life for those who make foolish choices.

Proverbs can be hard to swallow for those who see life in the short term.  They think the book is hogwash because they see people making foolish choices, but they don’t receive immediate consequences, or they see people making wise choices, but they aren’t immediately rewarded or rewarded in the way they expect.

But those who see life in the long term know those who make foolish choices receive consequences eventually, and God will ultimately reward those who make wise choices.  Although those consequences and rewards might not happen during this life, they’ll most definitely occur during the next one.

Did you know Jesus valued Proverbs?  During his Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew chapters 5 – 7), he quotes from or refers to Proverbs seven times in the first 30 verses.  Also, he ended his sermon by comparing wise and foolish house builders (see Matthew 7:24–27).

Life is a series of choices.  We make them frequently, often with little thought, such as what we’ll wear, what route we’ll take to work, what we’ll eat, and what topwater lure we’ll start with on Saturday morning.  But some choices require much more thought, such as who we’ll marry, what jobs we’ll take, what houses we’ll own, how we’ll plan for retirement, and if we should buy land to hunt on.

Proverbs 11:14 NASB says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs encourages us to involve wise mentors or friends in our decisions.  These counselors can help us determine which choices are wise and which ones are foolish, which paths will likely succeed and which ones will likely fail, and which options are compatible with our gifts and temperament and which ones aren’t a good fit for us.

A wise person knows when to apply the right thing to do and will guide another person down the correct path at the right time.  Success depends on the hearer’s frame of mind (whether they’re right with the Lord and how teachable they are), the situation (e.g., whether the decision will impact others), and the timing.  Sometimes, when the road forks, both paths could be wise, or neither could.  The path a person should take might depend on who’s walking the path with them and when they’re walking it.  The right path for me might not be the right path for you.  The right path for me today might not be the right path next year or even next week.

Proverbs 3:5 – 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Just as when my friends and I maneuvered our yaks in those strong winds during those January duck hunts, sometimes we come across situations where it’s hard to stay on the right course.  It’s also often hard to choose the right path.  When either of those things happens to you, I encourage including reading Proverbs in your action plan.

Saturday’s ducks

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

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