Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

Last Shot

Last Shot


I got a text from my uncle on Saturday night: “Last day of duck season tomorrow? Can you meet me at Buc-ee’s at 5:45?”

It was an easy yes, though since I hadn’t gotten around to buying my license or duck stamps (and buying them for one morning seemed a little much), I warned him all I’d be shooting was a camera. I dug boots out from the back of my closet, double-checked my lens and batteries, and fell asleep with an alarm set for 4:45.

People are sometimes surprised when they find out I like hunting, but it’s been a part of my life, in a way, since I was a kid. My mom’s side of the family are hunters, and my dad did his fair share alongside them. It was a regular part of the lives of my friends and other families we knew, and part of the Texas ethos we all identified with, if only culturally.

I was also born and raised in environmentalism-centric Austin, though, which found me equal parts crunchy and country. Those two camps were often depicted as polar opposites, but I identified strongly with both and couldn’t help noticing strong similarities between the two. The two kinds of people I knew who most loved the land were hunters and hippies, even though they were supposed to hate each other.

As an adult, I finally took the time to explore those connections, and found that the amount of people with a foot in both worlds was enough for a world itself. The ethics behind the practice are refreshing and compelling, and publications like Modern Huntsman gave language and imagery to the space I’d long occupied. It was all the validation I needed to actually try and start hunting myself.


On Sunday, though, I was just along for the ride — which was fine by me. The ethics may have given me a reason to start hunting, but the overall experience is what I really love. Being outside is my happy place. I’ll take sitting in duck blind with a thermos of coffee any day, thank you very much. (Thanks for the thermos of coffee, by the way, Uncle Terry.)


We got to the lease while it was still dark outside, and I silently pulled layers of camo on as the guys got their supplies ready. We made our way to the blind and piled in, the early-morning banter making me laugh and the cold air making my eyes water. Someone started the countdown: Eighteen minutes to shooting time. Eleven. Six.

The lower the number got, the quieter and more still everyone became. Soon, morning light was glowing on the horizon, and I sat back and enjoyed the show.


2018-19 duck season, I only got one day of ya, but you were good to me. I think I’ll be back for more later this year. (This time, with duck stamps.)

254 | Lamar County

254 | Lamar County

Internet Fun! | January 19

Internet Fun! | January 19