About two years ago, Mom and Dad purchased about 100 acres in Millington, TN. It’s about 30 minutes door to door from our house. The land backs up to the Mirimichi Golf Course that is owned by Justin Timberlake. About 45 acres is farmland that is leased out to a farmer for soybeans. The other is timber – mostly cottonwoods. Big creek runs through the land as well. And I can tell you, Big Creek is a REALLY big creek. There’s really no way to get across it.
There was a small house on the land that is probably about 90 years old. It was in a terrible state of disrepair. No one had lived in it for about 9 years. Our original intent was to tear it down. But upon further thought, my parents decided to put some money into it and bring it back to life. Our family now spends the night out there at least once every other month. The kids LOVE being out there. It takes us back to a simpler time. Sitting around together – all on the same couch. Watching TV. Eating popcorn. Playing board games. Picking up sticks outside.
One thing that I did growing up was spend a lot of time hunting with dad. I got to understand wildlife, gun safety, how to plant food plots. You know – man stuff. Quite frankly, I want my kids to understand the outdoors too.
The amount of wildlife on our place at Millington is less than desirable. Most of this is due to the lack of habitat for the animals. Contrary to what most would think, a really mature forest is NOT good a good habitat for wildlife at all. With a little thought, it all makes sense. Sure, the trees are tall, and there are no briars or weeds growing up on the ground. But when you think about it, what kind of protection does this provide for wildlife like deer and turkeys? What kind of food is available? The short answer is – none.
We’ve worked hard to improve the land. One of the first things we did was to have the Ducks Unlimited guys come out and help us figure out how to get more ducks in. We had a levee pushed up around part of the open field that is cropland and installed a spillway that can be opened and closed. Now, after the soybeans are harvested, we dam up the spillway and allow about 5 acres to flood. Last year was a dismal season for duck hunting due to the weather, but this year we’re hopeful that colder weather will move in up north and the ducks will be migrating…while the season is open. The land is about 5 miles from the Mississippi River, so it seems promising. We’ve already built two duck blinds and I’ve been able to take Haley, Trey and Laura duck hunting already this year. We’ve only bagged a couple of ducks so far, but I can assure you, taking them hunting isn’t just about killing animals. Our primary focus is spending time together and enjoying God’s creation.
So, next up on the agenda is to cut a large portion of the timber and allow some undergrowth to come in. We’ll also be planting a couple of varieties of oak trees, which unlike cottonwoods, will continue to provide a food source for the wildlife on the ground even after the trees have matured.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed over the past year or so is that Laura has also taken up hunting. I know that she enjoys it to some degree, but I also know the main reason she does it is because she knows I enjoy it so much. Aside from allowing us to spend time together, the thing she enjoys most is learning about the animals. Learning the times when deer are most likely to move, what deer eat, what the rut is and how it makes taking a mature buck more likely. She likes to learn about how ducks make the 2,000 mile journey every year…and what drives them to do it. Learning about decoys and calls and tactics. How deer don’t see in color, but ducks do. How a turkey’s most valuable defense is it’s eyesight, but a deer’s is it’s sense of smell.
I took Haley duck hunting yesterday evening. She spent most of the time in the duck blind sitting on the floor and playing on my IPad. Did the noise coming from the IPad help my chances hunting? No. Did a group of 8 wood ducks come over and flare off at the last minute due to the bright light of the IPad? Yes. But I did get a chance to shoot two ducks. And Haley got really excited about it. And the truth is, her excitement had little to do with the ducks. It was more about my excitement. The fact that I picked HER to go hunting with me. To share in that
experience. I chose her to share yesterday evening with in a duck blind. It’s this these types of memories that sticks with me from the hunts with my dad. And it is these types of memories I look forward to making more of.
Below are a couple pictures from hunts this year…followed by the morning of my first duck hunt and the first duck I killed with my dad.