New Boots, Old Friends, and Opening Weekend
5:30 am on the morning of September 1st I found myself in AL T’s Restaurant in Winnie, Texas. These are by no means the normal hours of operation for this establishment, but it has become the annual headquarters for hunters on opening day thanks to a local outfitter, The Drake Plantation. Owned and operated by Brian and Sandra Fischer, The Drake Plantation offers guided hunts for doves, teal, ducks, and geese, but this particular weekend, we were gathered for their annual Opening Weekend Dove Hunt.
Groups of fathers and sons, friends, husbands and wives, co-workers, and hunting buddies began to file in to the restaurant. After registering, each hunter was given a colored wristband to represent the field in which they would be hunting that day. Brian gave a welcome/thank you speech, and then the nearly 120 hunters were sent on their way with instructions to be safe, have fun, and kill their limits of birds. Hunters followed the guides to three different locations in the area, and it was time for the real fun to begin.
This hunt was especially exciting as it was the first time my dad and I were getting to break in our new Everglade 2.0 boots. We both chose the uninsulated boots for the South Texas heat, but dad went with the Marsh color option while I chose the Purple. Right away, I noticed how lightweight the boots were. Sometimes rubber boots can feel like ankle weights, but the Everglade 2.0 Boots felt no heavier than a tennis shoe. Being a girl with big calves, the adjustable gusset on the back of the boot was, by far, my favorite feature of the upgraded boots. ALLLLL the praise hands for boots that fit everyone.
We were set up in a rice field that had been harvested and then overrun by “Mexican weed” (I’m sure there’s a more scientific name for this plant, but a Google search only produced pictures of cannabis which is NOT what we were hunting in.) The perimeter of the field had been mowed, but the middle of the field was covered in this very dense weed. As birds started to fall in the middle of the weeds, I was extremely glad that the rubber shin guards on my boots were protecting my lower legs.
It was a great hunt, but my favorite part of the day did not happen in the field. After the morning hunt, everybody left, grabbed some lunch, and planned to meet back later that afternoon to finish out our limits. An afternoon rain shower passed through the area about the time that we were supposed to meet, so my dad and I waited out the storm under a small pavilion with some of the other guides. These are guys that my dad has known since before I was born, and listening to them as they got to talking about all the hunts they have shared was priceless. They could tell you exactly which field they were in, who was with them, and what they killed on any given hunt in the last 30+ years.
As I sat and listened, I couldn’t help but realize that THIS is what it’s all about. Sharing the outdoors with your children, grandchildren, and friends that are more like family is what makes the early mornings, freezing temperatures, and rugged terrain all worth it. The boots, waders, and other gear that we make here at Gator Waders allow our customers to create those memories on which they will reminisce for years to come. We give you "Confidence in Every Step" so that you can lead future generations on the same journey through the outdoors, and we are extremely grateful and proud to be a part of your stories.