It's a family thing

by Chris Green

As spring approaches it signals the end of another great hunting season. There is a special group of guys among those who hate to see it end.

The father and sons team of Harry, Scott and Robert Smith love to bird hunt, and the end of duck season is just the beginning of a long wait until dove season in the fall.

Harry taught his boys to hunt at an early age, taking them duck hunting near their hometown at the time, Lewisville (Lafayette County). Scott remembers his first duck hunt, when he got hooked on the sport. The ride in the boat, the sound of the ducks quacking overhead and the thrill of watching them come flying in, wings cupped, to his father’s call — just writing about it makes me smile as I think about my own first duck hunt.

Scott reflected on such a trip when he was 10 years old. While hunting in an oxbow lake with a creek running out of it, Harry’s friend, Steve Miller, decided to take them into the creek looking for the perfect spot. The only problem with this plan was that a beaver dam blocked the way. This was a minor obstacle for a seasoned veteran, so he decided to go over the dam instead — not by getting out of the boat and dragging it across the dam (that would be too much work because it’s much easier to hit the throttle and cruise right over it instead). 

Well you can imagine how that turned out. The propeller got jammed in the dam and broke the sheer pin, so even when freed of the beaver’s handiwork, the propeller wouldn’t turn. Steve must have been kin to MacGyver because this little setback wasn’t enough to stop a serious duck hunter on a mission. He dismantled a flashlight, removed the metal spring and fashioned it into a new sheer pin. The hunt must go on.

After growing up, as college and careers added a little geography between them, hunting together became more of a challenge. When Harry retired from his monument company, he and his wife, Connie, moved to Maumelle to be closer to Robert in Little Rock and Scott in Conway. Scott is an orthopedic surgeon in Conway and lives with his wife, Melanie, and daughters, Avery and Ainsley. Robert is an attorney in Little Rock and lives with his wife, Brittany, son, Reid, and daughter, Ella.

Scott and Harry Smith after duck hunting.

The grandkids may have had a little to do with that decision as well.

Duck hunting in Arkansas only lasts about two months, so what’s an addicted bird hunter to do the rest of the year? You have to figure out a way to extend your hunting season, and the Smiths do that by adding an annual pheasant hunting trip to the mix.

Harry was introduced to pheasant hunting in 1993 when on a business trip to South Dakota, and he knew his sons would love it as much as he did. He made a return trip with them in 1996, and a new family tradition was born. 

The three of them now go to Dakota Ridge Lodge just outside of Watertown, S.D., every year to pheasant hunt. Their success has varied from year to year with their best being 300 birds during a two-day hunt.

Scott and Robert know how fortunate they are to have this type of relationship with their dad.