Now that two daughters have gone off to college, time with my son has become even more precious. When that time is in the field, enjoying a great afternoon of wingshooting, it is even more special. Seeing the shooter Kyle has become is a point of pride for me because I remember first placing a single shot 20 gauge in his hands twelve seasons ago. We have hunted as equals every season since and I look forward to those days all year long.
Kyle is 17 now and easily outshoots his old man. My chest swells with pride each time I see a dove fold up or helicopter to the ground after he squeezes off a round. "I did that; I created that..." is the way I feel even though he has certainly developed some God-given ability with a scatter gun. Scatter gun may be too flippant as he employs a gorgeous Silver Pigeon II Beretta over and under his dad was fortunate to acquire several seasons ago.
Kyle is the epitome of a sportsman. I've seen him search for a bird long after I would have given up to avoid wasting the resource. He is an expert in the handling of firearms and is way beyond his years in the safety department. We often make eye contact in a knowing manner when witnessing irresponsible actions by hunters twice and three times his age. I DO take credit for that...it was hammered into him at a very young age that once that shot leaves the barrel, its direction cannot be altered nor can it be recalled. He's never let me down and I have had lots of compliments on his field manners.
Yesterday's hunt, the last of the season, was pure joy. We got into a swarm of mourning dove and ended up just laughing at our inability to single one out, focus, and take it. I found myself simply watching him, the man he is becoming and his handling of the beautiful Italian firearm. They moved as one and his pellets found their home often more than not. As birds began raining out of the sky, I realized I was 'home', too. There, with my only son, doing what we've done so many times before and knowing that I hold those days more dear than he because I understand their finite nature.
Someday, hopefully many seasons from now, my time in the field will pass. My only desire is to witness this fine young man pass along the wonderful gift I have given him, the love and respect of the outdoors. I hope to one day make that eye contact with my son as we appreciate the fine sportsman my grandson, or granddaughter, has become...and to just laugh at the moment.
Thank you, Lord, for Kyle and for the joy he has given me. I gave him back to You when You let me keep him all those years ago and he's never let me down. Here's to many more days afield with a man I love, cherish and adore. The constant evolution of our friendship makes being his dad the greatest blessing I have incurred. Amen