First, let me say that the photo above is not our family, just there for your viewing pleasure.
Back Before I was born, my grandfather, Hugh G. Jr. (aka Red), used to compete in a lot of pigeon shoots. A pigeon shoot is a shotgun contests that involves freeing pigeons a few at a time and trying to down them with minimal shots fired. These contests were staged quite a bit and a lot of people participated. He was quite a good marksman, both with a shotgun and other firearms.
In one particular contest, he took first place and the award for his winning was a set of three matching Remington shotguns.
We still have them.
Many years later, after my grandfather had passed and the guns were handed down to my father, my father would take all of us boys hunting on a regular basis. My brother Danny was an exceptional hunter, as it would turn out. Out of all of us boys, he and my dad would compete more than any other pair for title of "best shooter" in the groups that would go hunting.
One season, as we got older, my brother Danny asked my dad if he could use the longest barreled gun out of the set (my dad preferred to use this gun). It was preferable because it gave the wielder a farther range to shoot at birds. Danny proceeded to fell every winged beast which made the mistake of flying within his range.
Afterward my father wrote a short story about that day and the three things he was left to ponder upon the unfolding of the day.
He was not quite sure which of the three stood out as the "real" prize that day. The twenty year old, valuable shotgun as a family heirloom; the 15 dove (that's your limit for one day) that my brother shot which included two triples (three shots and three birds felled) along with a Scottish double (two birds with one shot), or the sixteen year old son who had his dad grinning from ear to ear with pride and amazement.
I am sure we all know which was the actual prize.
Last weekend I went dove hunting with Danny again, and I stood there on that fence line next to a pecan orchard and felt closer to God than in any church I've ever been inside. We were teasing Danny about his ability to not only shoot dove fifty to sixty yards in the air, but also so far in front of him that they dropped in front of him in the orchard. He then proceeded to not only shoot another sky high dove but took half a step forward and almost caught the bird as it plummeted toward his feet. Show off! Sure made me smile.....and miss my son and my dad.
Fathers and sons, turn off your TVs and game consoles, grab your boys and girls and take them out into nature for some good old fashioned fun like our father's fathers used to have.