A Tale of Tragedy…and a Lesson

Homo sapiens is not an aquatic species but we seem uncommonly drawn to the water. Coastal fishing and waterfowl hunting are enormously popular in Texas and many of us pursue these activities vigorously. So vigorously, in fact, that we sometimes take far greater risks to enjoy epic days on the water than we likely ever would for other activities. It's the way we're wired.

But how should we weigh risk?

Friday, January 6, 2017, a powerful winter storm swept across the coastal plains of Texas. The mercury plummeted to upper-30s as dawn approached and gusty north wind was reported to have reached 40-mph between Palacios and Port Lavaca. Tough weather but, quite often the stuff of waterfowling legend.

Tragically though, three young Baytown duck hunters have no such tale to share they lost their lives on Carancahua Bay.

We cannot begin to imagine the grief and despair of families and loved ones, and pray we will never experience it firsthand.

There were no witnesses, so we can only surmise their terror that morning as their 17-foot aluminum boat either swamped or capsized in angry seas. Their outboard engine may have failed, leaving them at the mercy of the winter storm. All three wisely wore life vests but hypothermia likely claimed them, not drowning. God rest their souls. The men had two retriever dogs with them, one reportedly also perished, no report as to the fate of the other.

To question the decision of these men to launch that morning is totally inappropriate, and likely could only serve to increase the suffering of loved ones in mourning.

Suffice to say, they were very avid and ambitious young sports. However young in years, they were not short on experience, having accomplished numerous bay crossings on prior outings. Blame it on youthful zeal.

I never met either of these young hunters but I certainly share similar passion for the outdoors. Many readers of this magazine share it, too. And we have taken unreasonable risks a time or two. But with happier endings. We live and learn.

A tragic and bitter lesson is all that remains. Join me in praying for peaceful, eternal rest for the deceased and God's healing mercy for their loved ones.


This time of year, attending one of the numerous upcoming boat-sport shows is an entertaining and informative way to view the latest and greatest the marine industries have brought to market boats, outboard motors, trailers, and electronic gear. The shows are unique in that no other venue provides as much opportunity to compare, and perhaps even test-drive the newest offerings. Boat builders, dealers and their staffs will be in attendance along with factory representatives to fully demonstrate products and answer technical questions.


Practice safe and courteous boating always, no matter the weather, and be sure to include family on your outings. Especially kids!