Steering Straight by Randy Rowley 7/19/19 ©


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 that Mark rented at a Corpus Christi yak shop.

Yaks and canoes have two primary advantages over boats.  They can take you places that you can’t get 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’re slow and don’t hold much.

We put our guns, fast grass mats, and homemade ground blinds in the yak’s storage compartments, attached a bag of decoys on top of each one with bungee cords, and then launched.  The first thing that I discovered is they are not easy to get into, especially when you’re 80 pounds overweight, have on sweats, neoprene waders, a heavy hunting coat, a hunting vest with two boxes of duck shot, and a life vest.  I basically straddled my yak in about two feet of water and then just plopped down.  Fortunately, the yak stayed upright.

Having some experience with canoes, I thought that a yak would be a piece of cake.  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 a lot harder than just padding, which was a workout in 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.  We flipped the yaks over to use them as makeshift stools and set out the blinds.  Mark, Kevin, and Greg then put out the decoys (dekes).  I tried to help but sank to mid-calf in the muck with each step.  The exertion of pulling my stuck boot out of the muck would often stick the other one.  Also, my feet frequently slipped out of my boots when I pulled them out of the muck.  When I bought my waders, I bought them 1 1/2 boot sizes too big as I figured that I would wear two pairs of heavy socks.  That decision was a big mistake!  My friends were done by the time that I made it halfway to them.

We knew it would be a good hunt because redheads started to land in the deke spread while my friends were still putting out the dekes!  We hid, and then the redheads began to come in.  They didn’t circle and instead headed straight for the dekes.  Greg nailed the first redhead of the day.  Soon, we all 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 that 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 decoy bags acted like sails when the north wind hit them, pushing us towards the south side of Wilson’s Cut.  We had to paddle mainly on the right side of our yaks to go on a straight course.  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.

We got up early on Sunday and headed to the spot that we had hunted the day 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, so I was able to help put out the dekes.

We didn’t see a redhead anywhere near us.  Four groups of pintails came by, but only three ducks 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.  Our yaks wanted to go away from Wilson’s Cut.  We had to paddle on the left side of our yaks this time to go on a straight course.  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.

The book of Proverbs contains short sayings on how to keep our courses straight.  These sayings are not commands but are instead gold nuggets of wisdom and advice.  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 that lead to success and happiness to paths that lead 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 conveys that there are wise and foolish paths to take.  Proverbs encourages us to contemplate the consequences of our decisions before we make them.

Proverbs never promises a perfect life for those who make wise choices, as sometimes a wise choice can cost us a job, a 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’ll think that the book is hogwash because they’ll see someone make a foolish choice, but that person doesn’t immediately receive consequences, or they’ll see someone make a wise choice, but that person isn’t immediately rewarded in the way they expect.

But those who see life in the long term know that those who make foolish choices will 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 life.

Jesus valued Proverbs as 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 are not a good fit.

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 (whether the decision will impact others), and the timing.  Sometimes when the road forks, both paths could be wise, or neither.  Where a person should go might depend on who’s walking the path with them and when they’re walking.  The right path for me might not be the same 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 with maneuvering those yaks on that January duck hunt, sometimes we come across situations where it’s hard for us to stay on the right course.  Or choose the right path.  When that happens, I encourage you to include 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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