Mr. Bob’s last hunt — a fond farewell
By: Mary Morris
By MARY MORRIS
The grizzled, veteran hunter entered the woods of the Milan Ammo Plant, the government-owned property just east of the city limits, well before daylight. His previous scouting efforts had led him to a place where he just knew he could outsmart that old tom turkey.
Having hunted this property for years, he was familiar with the hills, valleys, side roads and deer trails that cut across the many acres of land. Sure, he had his favorite spots to set up and try to ambush large-racked bucks or old toms with beards dragging the ground, but this day would be different than the others.
Bob Parkins owned and edited the Milan Mirror Exchange newspaper and raised some of his children to carry the workload in his later years, especially when he wanted to venture out with gun or bow.
He knew he had a deadline to meet at the paper but didn’t hesitate to make use of the beautiful spring weather to seek out a strutting turkey. In the solitude of the early morning hours, he could also clear his mind of the useless clutter that tends to build up over time. He was known to piece together his words for a personal tidbit column that occupied the top corner of page two in every single paper that was printed at his newspaper office. I would think that many of those columns, called “B.P.’s Parkin’ Place” were born while he was afield, hunting.
Why, just last week, he was sharing with the townsfolk about the case of ticks he brought back from one morning’s hunt. And in the same “Parkin’ Place” could be a story of the local ball team’s victory or loss, or how his family celebrated another birthday and roared with laughter over one of the grandbaby’s babbling.
His column will be greatly missed by every single reader of the paper. His weekly muse on life and liberty, with interjections of just how things should be done will let some off the hook, knowing he won’t be there watching to make sure they keep things on the up and up.
He never failed to let his readers know just how he felt, whether it was good or bad, about any subject matter he wrote about.
On this beautiful, peaceful morning, as the sun graced the pale blue eastern sky, he would seek out his reward. He would match his wits and wisdom to that of an old gobbler and he just knew that he would be victorious, as the battle between the two came to an end.
I can visualize his smile, as he clicked the safety back on his shotgun and arose from his secret hiding spot to approach the fallen bird. I’m sure, just as any true sportsman would do (and I know Mr. Bob truly was one) a silent prayer went up thanking the Lord for his success in outwitting the wise old bird. I’m also sure he felt humbled by what he had just accomplished, yet he was joyful with thanks in taking proper aim and making his mark ring true.
As he gathered up his belongings, including his gun, camo, gloves and his long sought after bird of the wild, he probably didn’t feel any pain — only pleasure from a successful morning’s hunt and pride in that he had accomplished his mission with time to spare. He had left word of when he would come out of the woods and arrive back at work. He was well ahead of that schedule.
It had been a wonderful hunt and he just couldn’t shake the elated feeling that surrounded him as he left the playing field.
With a song in his heart and twinkle in his eye, he headed back to his pickup that was parked farther up the road. His trip down into the woods had been in the cool darkness of predawn, so as he strolled out, he glazed at the beauty of spring bursting forth all around him.
Glorious white dogwoods lit up the shadows in front of the tallest of timbers. Pretty pink redbuds stood out among the young and tender greenery of tiny new leaves. The bluebirds were singing and, possibly, a butterfly flew across his path. He took all the beauty of the outdoors in with each breath. Yes, indeed, it was a wonderful morning.
Somewhere along the way, Mr. Bob chose a different path. Taking the higher trail, leaving the well-trodden one below, he climbed up a mountain that he never even realized was there.
He never noticed when the path grew very narrow, or that the curly leafed ferns draped over his pebbled way. He just knew he was full of joy and headed home.
They found him later, on up in the morning. His prized turkey laid nearby, with a few downy feathers scattered where the breeze had tossed them about. His gun by his side and spent shotgun shell in his pocket, his face still held a faint, but content smile.
Yes, he took the high road, up to the mountain top, where Jesus reached down and took his hand.
His family, as strong as they are, is feeling lonely and weak without him as their patriarch. The tears have not stopped — and won’t for days to come/ But each of his children, grandchildren and his wonderful wife, Ms. Doris, should remember how great this special man was and what he left behind in each of them.
He was a family man, community and church leader. He was a man who gave freely and fully of himself to God, his family, his church, and his town, all in that prioritized order.
Mr. Bob was a great sportsman, loving the outdoors with such passion that it was hard to converse with him and not talk about hunting or fishing. Well, at least after you got past how the family members were doing and all.
And so now you know of Mr. Bob’s last hunt. A hunt that most of us, as real outdoors folk, would love to make as our own last one. A hunt that leaves a smile on our faces, a song in our hearts, and even involves a hunting tag that is filled. A hunt spent in the woods or field, just enjoying all the wonders God has put out there for us to see, hear and feel. Finally, it involves a hunt that takes us from this world to a better one in the twinkling of an eye. To a world where there is no pain, no regrets and no tears.
I venture to say that each and every one of us that enjoys the outdoor lifestyle can envision this scenario as the final hunt in their mortal life.
May your body rest in peace, Mr. Bob, while your soul ventures on to that “great hunting ground” in the sky. May your loved ones find comfort in knowing you left behind this old world, doing something you loved to do and entered another, even more beautiful place. You finally reached the ultimate goal of every Christian hunter. You practiced, planned, walked the right steps, and finally fulfilled your ultimate trophy; a prize well deserved. What all of these efforts won you was the supreme right, the right to sit at the feet of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We’ll miss you Mr. Bob.
and fellow sportsman
Published in The Messenger 5.23.08