The Wonder of being the Underdog…
We’re on the road to the hunting woods.
I‘m surprised to see 3 other vehicles during our 10 minute drive – a veritable traffic jam under the circumstances. We park, walk the dark half-mile to our trees. As my boy, Hunter, inches up a pine into the scattered stars, we again assume the role of underdog.
It’s a role we’ve been playing for the past couple of months on the football field. I coach and my boy plays at the smallest middle school in the county. Weekly, we take on schools with double or triple our enrollment. It’s gone as you might expect. I can handle the lopsided scores. I can handle our record. I can’t stand the running clock that, by rule, is implemented when the score gets away from one team (we’ve been on the good end and the bad end of that deal over the years). I really can’t stand when the refs call a game with 2 minutes left on the clock because it is out of reach. Some of us aren’t just trying to score points. Some of us are trying to teach football. Some of us are trying to teach perseverance.
In this increasingly soft society, the football field is one of the last bastions of manhood in America. It’s our treehouse, a place where we can spit, cuss and ‘scratch where it itches’. There are life lessons to be learned. Many of these lasting lessons can also be learned in the outdoors.
For instance, I don’t have the time or money to drive up into Georgia or South Carolina and join a club where we can sit over a feeder and take our pick from among dozens of animals. I’ve got no problem with folks doing that, but I’m more into it for the pure adventure anyway. Hunter and I put in hours scouting our local woods, placing and checking trail cameras and then on ‘game day’ we climb up, sit tight and hope for the best. Regulations are strict on public land and the advantage always favors the critters. ‘In the field or ‘on the field, we are the underdogs.
But there’s a special magic that happens when an underdog steals a win. It’s a feeling you won’t know until you’ve done something bigger than your resources or abilities should have allowed.
When I fish a tournament as a co-angler and a bit of luck shows its head, and I whack it on the head, I feel what my boy felt last spring when a gobbler showed up in the woods behind our house and Hunter stalked to within 20 yards, waited until the bird poked its head from behind a tree and put a 20-gague slug through its neck.
When I press the advantage as a coach and call a blitz or a stunt that results in a sack, I feel what Hunter felt when he charged into a thick bay head and hammered a razorback hog at close range.
As tournament organizations release next season’s schedules, make a plan to get in the game. There are plenty of trails that need co-anglers and boaters alike at all different levels of competition and expense. You may not have the latest equipment, but you can have the greatest experience. Join us, the underdogs, and remember, what you get may not be as important as how you got it.
By the way, before my boy climbed back down that pine tree the other day, he had shot his first buck. It was a 6-pointer, a beautiful specimen for these parts.
Now if we can just beat that team from across town next week . . .