The Shootout

David sat crouched behind the stone gray wall of the porch. The porch stretched all the way across the front of the old big brown house and the only opening was the concrete steps in the middle.  It was the perfect place for hiding and for good protection.  The only other protection he had was his six-shooters on each hip.  In the distance he heard the faint noise of the train whistle.  He knew it would only be a matter of time before it all broke out.  The only thing he didn’t know was how many of them there was. 

The sound was getting closer.  He could hear the loud roar of the engines as they crept along the tracks.  The biggest advantage David had was the fact that they weren’t aware of him being there.  He had drawn the pistol from his right holster, opened it and double-checked to make sure it was loaded. Then he double-checked the other pistol on his left hip.  “Yep. Loaded and ready.” He whispered to himself as he put them both back in the holsters.

The train was getting closer. He pushed his big brim cowboy hat up just a little and peered over the stone wall to see the bright headlight on the train come into view.  The noise of the train horn was almost deafening as it slowly made its way through the crossing up ahead, another advantage David had. The train had to slow down coming through the small town so he was certain he would have an easy shot.  He didn’t want the sun’s glare in his eyes and he didn’t want to lose his hat so he pulled the drawstring up tight to his chin as though he was locking his hat in place. There was a road between the old house and train track but David wasn’t concerned about distance.  He knew the six-shooters would reach its target. He shot a lot farther than that just the day before so he knew the trusty irons wouldn’t let him down.

The time had come. David could actually see the engineer with his elbow on the window.  “Wait for it. Wait for it.” He kept repeating to himself.  Finally the perfect time had hit. Just as the first engine was almost parallel to the edge of the yard David jumped up drawing both pistols in one sweeping motion and began firing.  Instantly smoke began to rise from those small cannons in his hands as they popped and cracked as fast as he could pull the triggers.  First from the left hand then the right hand, back and forth one shot after the other with a constant spray of gunfire in the direction of the train.

The loud noise from the train engine muffled out the noise of the guns popping but then the engineer spotted him.  He ducked down and David knew he was reaching for something.  Suddenly he came back up with what he was sure was a shotgun or rifle. David didn’t know what he had he just knew it was long and black.  He took careful aim but David didn’t stop firing as smoke filled the porch.  David felt the hit, dead center of his chest.  He had to get as many shots back as he could before he fell. He wasn’t going to quit. Suddenly the engineer reached for his chest. A perfect hit. David saw him fall back as he holstered his six-shooters one more time before he grabbed on the stone wall with one hand while grabbing his chest with the other. He fell over the wall into the yard. 

David lay there as the train slowly made its way past the house.  He still didn’t know how many there was.  He only saw one.  So before the engines got completely out of sight he quickly rose up, pointed his index finger in the direction of the train and counted.  “One, two, three. Yep. There are three of them…three engines pulling that train.”

David got up, dusted himself off, re-adjusted his hat as he shouted and waved at the engineer “I’ll get you tomorrow!” The engineer leaned out the window and waved back smiling from ear to ear. As he went out of sight David took another roll of caps out of his pocket and reloaded his guns for the next gunfight.

And that my friend… is a true story.

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There Is More To Being A Hunter Than Hunting

My son and I recently went to the Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, AL. To say the least it was very crowded.  We had to walk along with the flow of people just to be able to go from one booth to the next.  It would remind you of heavy traffic during rush hour but the traffic weren’t cars and trucks but people. And speaking of traffic we had to circle several blocks before we actually found a place to park.  We decided to go on my little car instead of one of our bigger trucks and it was probably a good thing we did. We found a parking spot on a corner where only a small car or motorcycle could park. Then we had to walk for a few blocks to get to the Convention Center downtown where it was being held.

All they asked for in admission was one can of food that would be donated to the Montgomery area food bank.  We have always taken several cans of different items and we usually would have a bag full. Besides it does go to a very worthy cause, it helps feed the hungry.  I stood in the lobby for a few minutes before we left coming home and watched people bring only the one required can to get in.

As we walked around we didn’t see a bunch of bearded men at every booth trying to sell some foul-smelling deer lure, or trying to sell you a camouflage outfit with a rifle and cartridges. And there wasn’t a bunch of bearded men dressed in camouflage walking around to each booth looking at the latest thing on the market. I honestly thought you could only make so many different kinds of camo. 

But what was there was a lot of families enjoying quality time together. Women looking at guns and rifles, ammunition, sizing the toddler up with their own hunting clothes and gear.  They had baby clothes, blankets, and toys for children.  Husbands and fathers were spending time with their families. It wasn’t just about the man. I saw several husbands showing different kinds of guns to their wife’s they thought would be a good fit for her. Father’s were sizing up their son or daughter with a gun along with the help of representatives from companies like Remington, Marlin and Winchester. 

Hunting can and has become a family affair. I was there with my son. There were many times we would go hunting and not see anything but we were together. It was quality time for a father and son enjoying the great outdoors.  When fathers take their sons or daughters hunting it builds a bond between them.  We all know statistics show that when a father and mother is involved with their children, the children are less likely to get into any kind of trouble as teens or after they’re grown. My son and I didn’t buy anything and just like those days when we didn’t catch a fish or kill a deer and others think that it was a waste let me tell you it wasn’t. It was worth every minute of spending time with my son. 

As the title of this blog, there is more to being a hunter than hunting. Buckmasters is only one of many different hunting organizations that are a prime example. There is more to being a hunter than hunting. It is also about respect. Respect of other people, their property, respect for the outdoors, respect for firearms, teaching and learning responsibility and the list goes on and on. Above all things, Buckmasters is very instrumental in taking handicap children and adults out on a hunt, as well as many other hunting organizations and individuals. We were impressed when we looked at a shooting house that would be for a handicap hunter in a wheelchair. 

I had the privilege to meet one hunting celebrity, Travis ‘T-Bone’ Turner. He wasn’t there gloating and bragging on what he killed while out on a hunt. He was there endorsing and promoting of all things. Air rifles. Guns catered more to children. He talked to, autographed and had pictures with the future generation of deer hunters.

So you see there is more to hunting than just being a hunter.  There is so much that we as hunters can share with others.  It is priceless for a child who has never had an opportunity to go hunting or a handicap person who would have never had an opportunity to hunt or fish can go home and have that memory to share for the rest of their lives. And to think that we had a part in making someone else’s life that much more memorable. 

One Old Saying

My mother used to have an old saying, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.” 

I haven’t given that much thought until I heard the pastor say those exact same words one Sunday morning while preaching.  For all you ministers and Sunday school teachers out there, some people do pay attention during service.   And of course the wheels in my mind got to turning over an interpretation of the saying.

We can’t control what other people say or do, not even our children.  But we can still love them, care for them and pray for them.  Not to long ago on my way to work a car pulled out in front of me. I didn’t have to slam on my brakes but I did have to slow down.  My first thought was, “You stupid idiot!” Then before I got to work it happened a couple of more times that same morning.  My thought before I got to work was, “What? Am I driving an invisible car?” But then I tried to put myself in their shoes just for a moment.  Maybe they were on their way to the hospital. Maybe they were late for work for the hundredth time and the next one would cost them their job.  Maybe they were just having a bad morning. 

You and I both know there are solutions to every ‘Maybe’ I mentioned.  But if we had a genie in a bottle would our wish be another insult to add to their misery?  I’ve always heard it said, ‘Misery loves company’.  So I did something for that first car that pulled out in front of me, and the others, as well. After I called them a stupid idiot of course.  I pointed my finger at them and said, “Hope you have a great and wonderful day.”  Yep, I said a prayer for them.

Many people would curse and swear at them, probably give them what I call a one-finger-salute then carry that burdensome grudge into their workplace.  Before you know it the day is gone and you’ve had a miserable day simply because you let someone else get beside you.  Since you had such a miserable day at work and because one, two or three people cut you off in traffic now you go home and you continue to carry that burden into a place that should be a place of comfort and love.  Instead it too becomes a battle zone between spouses and/or children.

How did it occur? Because when a bird flew over our head we let it build a nest in our hair.  When something happened that we couldn’t control that affected us in some miniscule way we let it grow within us.  How do you get things to grow? We feed them. All day we fed that anger and eventually let it control us. And as it grew it spread onto others. 

 I don’t know if C.S. Lewis or Martin Luther is the one actually credited for the originality of the old saying but I never met either of them but I knew my mother. And she, not C.S. Lewis or Martin Luther, was the influence on teaching me this priceless lesson. Who are we going to teach and be an influence to?

 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Prov. 16:32) 

Is The Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Everyone’s answer may be the same. ‘It’s all according to how you look at it.’  That is one question a lot of people know that can have two answers and both answers can be correct. 

Is the glass half full or half empty? Naturally if we look at it as being half full then we are labeled as being positive. A positive person tries to look for the good in anything and everything. I like to think my mother was a positive person.  A positive person generally has a smile on their face (maybe not all the time but a lot of the time). I try to be a positive person. Just like other people I too get down in the dumps and depressed sometimes. And if I don’t pick myself up there is someone else who can. I’m just glad that someone came along at the right time when I needed them the most. My question is: Are you one of those people who can lift me or someone else up when they feel down and out?

Obviously we all will say that we are that person and maybe so.  And to do that we have to be a positive person and say, ‘the glass is half full’.  I have a friend who always smiles and his favorite phrase is, “Hang in there sunshine, it’ll all get better.” He becomes a small ray of hope for others, for me. When it seems it can’t get any darker suddenly he pops in and he’s got a grin on his face like a `possum in a garbage can.  If you just smiled and laughed at that then you ought to be that positive person. 

If we look at the glass as being half empty then we are stereotyped as being a negative person. We don’t see the good in things. Those are the people who can’t see the beautiful forest for all the trees being in the way.  If they have a bleak outlook on life now what does their future look like? One thing that is overlooked that would make us a negative person is the questions we ask to someone else’s generosity. How many times has someone done something for you and you’d say, “You shouldn’t have.” Did you see that little “n’t”? That is actually a negative word abbreviated. Not, no, nada. If someone wants to get a blessing by being a blessing to us why would we want to address it negatively?   “Thank you.” “You’re so kind.” “I really appreciate that very much.” Would work just perfectly for such situations.

Have you ever been around a person that hates their life, hates the world and everybody in it? They are miserable and they want everybody around them miserable? And no matter how much positive you throw at them they throw more negative back? I was talking to someone one time making a suggestion and I finally asked them why are they so negative when I’m trying to be positive? Their words to me were they were not being negative they were being realistic. What if Abraham Lincoln was only realistic while trying to learn to read and write? What if Warren Buffet was only realistic while delivering newspapers as a boy? Just like them I would rather fall flat on my face trying to be positive and try to succeed than to be negative and never try at all. For me it goes right back to the famous words of Alfred Lord Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ Or in my words, ‘It is better to have tried and failed than to never try at all.’

One of the many reasons I go to church is to encourage others and to be encouraged myself. And that’s what I tell everyone around me. Carry a positive attitude and be positive for those around you.