The Duck Commander crew, Phil Robertson top left, at Three Oaks. Columnist Chris Bates is second to right on bottom row.


It may not be what it seems — even with Duck Commander

     We were taking the Duck Commander hunting the next morning, and the outlook could not have been worse. I had gotten to know Phil and Jase Robertson and some of their outdoor products team through my hunting store as the state’s largest vendor for them at that time. This was before the takeoff of their TV show and their subsequent escalation to fame outside the hunting industry. I had invited them to duck hunt at our family place in the Mississippi Delta, and now the conditions had turned against us.  


     Severe winter thunderstorms rolled in the night before with lightning, extreme winds and warming temperatures, which would normally move ducks out of an entire multi-county area and make the hunting unproductive. While Phil said grace over dinner for us (yes, the man can bring God into the room with a simple meal blessing), the storm lit up the night sky. We dreaded having such bad conditions for the next morning’s hunt. This hunt had been weeks in preparation, and we would be filming for one of their hunting videos. I had a completely sleepless night dreading the perceived worthless hunt the next morning.


     Just before dawn, the storm began to clear as we went through the motions of gearing up boats, decoys and hunters. The sun began to rise on the flooded Delta slough, and we were all mentally prepared for a very unsuccessful day. It was then that the ducks began to show up — and they came en masse. As we stood in the flooded tree line and listened to Phil and Jase with their poetic calling, the couple of hours that followed brought some of the most outstanding hunting of the season. Our retriever was busy, we reloaded constantly, and many high-fives were given. Duck Commander claimed it as one of their best hunts in a long time!


     So often we anticipate outcomes in our own lives just the same way. Our human nature is to, at some level, want to control circumstances, and then we perceive the conclusions to come. Along with that, we tend to forecast with dread or doubt involved as fear enters the picture. Circumstances beyond our control cloud our plans and hopes. We often mentally make monsters of a hazy future, but worry and dread less when we can see what’s on the horizon, even if it is challenging.  


     As people living in God’s shadow, we know in our heads that faith is the answer. The Word tells us clearly to trust and all will be well at the end of the day. The application of that is the hard part. In “Strength to Love,” Martin Luther King Jr. referred to an old familiar idiom when he said, “This faith transforms the whirlwind of despair into a warm and reviving breeze of hope … Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.” We are given tools that we can utilize, including prayers to use and internalize, such as this prayer of David in Psalm 86:2-4: “Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.”


     A truth about our human psyche is that it can mislead us. We navigate life, and often it feels much harder than it actually is. We can turn to each other and to our own methods of finding balance with mind, body and spirit. Most of all, we should exercise the opportunities to look through our dread while in the fray and know that tomorrow morning’s outcome is not up to us. With the tools given to us and strength from each other and God, let’s look through today or tomorrow’s storm to another sunrise, when it may be far better than it seemed. After all, that is His grand promise.  


Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.