Anticipating ‘First Light’

Duck hunting is a revered tradition and rite of passage in the Mississippi Delta. My son grew up listening to his dad and his friends talk about everything involved with “the hunt.” Although you may not realize it, kids sit quietly at times and soak up every morsel of your conversations.

He learned they got together during hunting season to go to breakfast at the local diner while it was still dark. The restaurant always opened early during the season to accommodate the hunters’ schedule. Then they gathered back at the house to collect all the equipment they needed to head out to the duck hole before first shooting light. At seven-years-old, our son had not yet been invited to join the men’s excursion, but he always woke up early to hear them carrying out their rituals. 

One pre-dawn morning, after the guys left for breakfast, he climbed the short stairway up to the attic. After rummaging around, he found several pieces of camouflage netting and began to meticulously tape it around his tennis shoes. Not duct tape, but the scotch tape I kept in the kitchen junk drawer. Once his handiwork was complete, he went out to the back steps to wait for his dad to return from breakfast with his buddies. When they saw the young boy sitting there in his homemade “duck-hunting” gear, how could they say no to him tagging along?

As it turned out, he shot his first duck that day and named him “Fred.” 

First light is a special time in the morning that occurs about 30 minutes before sunrise. It’s always filled with anticipation about what the day will bring. Agriculture is filled with anticipation as well. As we draw closer to harvest season, everyone in the cotton industry is hoping for a bountiful crop.

Several field days that cover cotton also are offered in August and September. They are good “first light” barometers of what is to come in the pipeline. Check the calendar at, strap on your cotton farming gear and make plans to attend.

Who knows? If this season is a success, you may decide to name your 2023 crop “Fred.”

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