Not So Quiet on the Southern Front

Dr. Ray Pritchard

When I went outside this morning, I heard several loud blasts from a shotgun. That can only mean one thing--dove hunting season has started in Mississippi. From now until sometime in January, you can hear guns blasting early in the morning, especially on the weekends. Dove season starts in September, but it is only the warm-up for the real thing--deer hunting, which begins in October. That goes through at least three phases that I know of--rifles, primitive weapons (muskets) and rifles again.

Almost all the men go hunting. During the meal before the revival service on Saturday night, Pastor Wes Sherman said that he had gotten up at 4:30 AM on Friday to go goose hunting. On Saturday he rose at 4:15 AM to go dove hunting with some pals from the church. They shot a few dove that Pastor Wes marinated on Saturday afternoon, then wrapped the meat in bacon strips, and grilled to perfection. I had never had dove before. Dave Jones, the guest music leader, told me it tasted like liver. He was right. And if you like liver, you'll like dove. You get the idea that the guys do it more for the fun of getting up long before dawn, calling each other to see if they are all out of bed, stumbling through the darkness to the pickup truck, then driving 20 miles to a country road past the "Denmark" sign on Highway 6, then heading out into the fields to wait for the doves to show up. I'm not sure if Pastor Wes shot any doves or not, but he told a great story about one of the other hunters who was tracking a dove eight feet off the track. When he swung his gun around, Wes hit the dirt and started yelling, "I'm over here. Don't shoot." I think his friend shot anyway. Doubled his catch for the day, he said.

On Thursday night Wes introduced me to the volunteer who leads the children's ministry at Pilgrims Rest, a man who is taller and bigger than I am. Wes said that they like to go hunting and fishing together, and when Wes kills a deer, he takes it to this man who helps him skin it. "Every pastor needs a children's minister he can go deer hunting with," Wes said..

On Friday night there was a little skit for children's church involving "Mr. Bob" and a man who made the children's minister look small. The plot doesn't matter, but it was funny and the kids loved it. Immediately after the skit, the two men served as ushers to receive the offering. As they passed by, Mr. Bob leaned over, pointed to the other fellow, and said, "He's an amateur professional wrestler," which means he wrestles part time. After the service, I met the young man who towered over me. With a grin, he told me that he wrestles under the moniker, "The Giant Hillbilly."

Meanwhile the guns of September have stopped for the day. The next battle begins at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning.

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