A lot to be thankful for at Thanksgiving

Luke Clayton is sponsored by Catfish Radio

This is the time of year for us all to slow down a bit and take account of all that we have to be thankful for. It does our soul good to take a little time and do an assessment of all the good things in our lives. Those of us that have the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the outdoors can add beautiful sunrises and sunsets to our list of special things for which to be thankful. We should all be especially thankful for the wonderful times we enjoy with our family and friends while camping, fishing and hunting.

I attend church on a regular basis but I can truthfully say I never feel closer to God than when I am in a deer stand waiting for the sun to shed its golden rays over the awaiting early morning landscape. A glance toward the velvet black sky, adorned with countless stars shining like diamonds, makes me very aware that I, and everyone that shares my passion for the outdoors, has much to be thankful for.

I am extremely thankful for the close friendships that I have developed while spending time in a duck blind or behind a brace of bird dogs. Each Thanksgiving, I reflect back on some of the people that helped mold me as a sportsman and, give thanks for having had them in my life. There was my Mother and Dad that had me tagging along on their bass fishing excursions when I was barely big enough to hoist a cane pole. My brother in law, Billy Joplin got my hunters blood pumping when he took me on squirrel and quail hunts in rural Red River County way back in the fifties. I remember vividly the day when Billy invited me to come along on my first squirrel hunt with a top notch squirrel dog. Before that, the only way I knew to hunt squirrels was still hunting, slipping along quietly through the woods and watching for movement in the treetops that gave away the squirrels location. We borrowed a big raw boned hound with questionable bloodline from Mr. Guthrie. The dog was absolutely lethal on sniffing out and ‘barking treed’ on the plentiful cat and fox squirrels in our neck of the woods. We enjoyed many successful hunts with that old hound. I’m sorry to say I have forgotten his name in the past fifty years but I can still hear him barking treed with that booming deep bass voice at the base of a big pin oak way back in the bottoms near Bagwell where we often hunted.

Then there was that special Thanksgiving back in about 1964 when I was a fourteen year old greenhorn deer hunter. I was spending the Thanksgiving Holiday with Poppa Dinkins down near Hockley in southeast Texas. Poppa was in his upper eighties at the time but still spry enough to point out the best spots to hunt deer on his ranch. He and I enjoyed Thanksgiving day with some of his old friends that lived on a very rural ranch located about ten miles from his home. I remember well Poppa and his older friends setting out in the yard after a big Thanksgiving meal, drinking black coffee and talking about hunts they enjoyed in their younger years. What I would give to go back and spend another of those peaceful days with Poppa when our biggest care was which deer stand we would hunt the next morning! I’m very thankful to have had the privilege of spending a great many glorious fall days with this fine old gentleman.

These days, I am thankful for a wife that, having been raised almost within the shadows of downtown Houston, doesn’t always understand the urges that cause me to crawl out of a nice warm bed to join my buddies in a frigid duck blind or head to the high country of Colorado to hunt elk. She must have learned thought the years that I need this annual exposure to what passes for ‘wild’ country today to be complete. There is no medicine better than spending time in the outdoors for making a person feel fully alive. I am fortunate to live close to several hundred acres I have leased for hunting and fishing. Few days go by that I am not paddling my little Nucanoe to the backwaters in pursuit of bass or ducks or scouting for deer or hog sign in the dense hardwood bottoms. I am fortunate indeed to live so close to what I consider an outdoor wonderland but what many might perceive as an almost worthless piece of remote real estate.

Each Thanksgiving, my wife and I spend time working with our friends Joe and Donna Dunn who have a ministry in which they feed the homeless in downtown Dallas. I make this statement with absolute certainty: If you feel things might not be going well in your world, devote some time to helping those that, for whatever reason, live on the streets. It’s an eye opening experience and one that will make you thankful for what you do have. If you would like to help these folks have a better Holiday Season, or possibly, to just survive the upcoming winter, go online to Dallas International Street Church – Dallas Texas. This is the web site for Pastor Karen Dudley’s Dallas International Street Church. I’ve seen firsthand the good that is done here. It’s a place where donations are put to use, immediately. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?