Blessed or Cursed?

Everett Johnson
Lyrics of the Oak Ridge Boys' 1980 hit keep running through my head "Trying to love two women is tearing me apart."

No, I haven't lost my mind and begun chasing; I'm way too happily married for that sort of foolishness. However I must confess to being totally addicted to two pastimes that compete neck-and-neck for my affections this time of year.

Late September and October bring fine weather to the Texas coast. As a fisherman I yearn for those first cool mornings that make a jacket nice but the water is still warm enough to wade wet. As a waterfowl and upland bird hunter I have waited all year training dogs, busting clays, rigging decoys, and breaking-in new boots.

So as the lyrics go "When you try to please two women, you can't please yourself. At best it's only half good."

I'll be flipping a coin daily trying to decide which I'll be "half good" at, second guesses becoming second nature.

I can see it all so clearly. First post-norther sunrise I'll be sliding over the gunnel tying a topwater, wading toward the shallow bar near the front of Pat's Bay or maybe Cory's Cove. What's left of the north breeze will have mullet stacked along the face of the bar much the way barbed wire stops cattle. There will be slicks and a few eager gulls. Doves and teal will be out of my thoughts as my first cast gets "swooshed" by a five pound trout. The rod will bow as she first races across the bar and then turns back toward me. I will be gathering line frantically until she hits deeper water, plowing and thrashing, then sulking deep against the pressure of the rod. At that very moment I'll be grinning like a big old 'possum. But before she rolls over for the Boga a half-dozen teal will buzz me, within easy range.

Or maybe I'll be setting decoys in the last minutes of darkness when a set of yellow eyes glint briefly in the beam of my cap light, disappear, then pop up a few seconds later. "Danged alligator's backbetter leave the Lab in the truck," I will mutter aloud as though someone could hear. Shooting time will arrive. The first flight of the morning is all blue-wings and they're in the spread before I can rise and swing. Instantly, they're a blur of splashing wings. The first shot misses but I crumple a pair with the second and third. I give that 'possum grin as I ram three shells in the gun. All is right with the world as I trudge out to retrieve, though missing my Lab. Then my iPhone pings and I debate whether to look. One of our writers texts a pic of a huge trout. "Yur missing it" stabs my heart like a dagger.

The last line of the song declares, "It's a long old grind, and it tires your mind."

I believe I'll have to agree with that but rest assured I am going to give it my level best.

October is a great month to be outdoors in Texas.