The Armchair Outfitter

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The Summer of Our Discontent

February 16th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Lost mower

This is, no joke, a picture of my back yard last year.  Those of you who know me are not surprised, but you might be tempted to believe it got this way because I was off somewhere living a fabulous life fishing the salt and playing cards.  Au contraire!  (See there, French.  I told you this site was classy.)  In fact, we got stuck in an awful weather pattern where it would be beautiful during the week while we were working and then bucket down rain all weekend.  I’m hoping for better results this year, and I was out running the old weed whacker today trying to get ahead of it.  For those of you who live in northern climes, i.e try this website., everyone in the continental U.S. save Florida and part of Texas, it is already time to start mowing here in sunny Lower Alabama.  I also installed a new pool pump this afternoon in preparation for opening the pool.  Don’t hate, appreciate.

Hopefully this drudge work now will leave more time for adventures later.  I got to turn some wrenches on the Rover lately too, so things are looking better after a long winter.  We had to get out our long pants there for a couple of  months.  Egad!

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Old Time Religion

February 10th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Worship at the Water 4

Well, here I am on a Sunday morning doing what millions of people do every Sunday, sitting in a bar.  Yes, that is my Bible in the photo, and no, I don’t know who Paco is, so don’t ask.  The bar in question is the world-famous Flora-Bama known for the mullet toss, bikini contests, and yes, Sunday worship.  This morning was the second time the Sporting Wife and I have attended Worship at the Water, an outreach of the Perdido Bay United Methodist Church.  We are sitting in the bar proper because there were so many in the main worship space that we could not find standing room.  You know how it is when you go to church of a Sunday and it’s so crowded you can’t even get a place to stand, right?  Yeah, me neither.

We knew to get there early, as the first Sunday we attended we arrived forty-five minutes before the service and many were already making their way to folding chairs.  Omelets are made to order for $7.50, and you also get a drink ticket.  I had a Bloody Mary on our first visit, and a fellow came over to greet me, shook my hand, and said he was glad we were there.  The Sporting Wife said, “I believe that was the preacher,” and she was right.  Discipleship Pastor Jeremy Mount, in a “My Church is the Flora-Bama” t-shirt and cargo shorts, welcomed us into the fold.  We were only half an hour early this morning and we had waited too late to get our food and get a good seat.  At least we were not among the dozens still standing outside when the service began.

The setting may be all in fun, but the service is no joke.  Worship is a spirit-filled affair, with the Solid Rock in the Sand Band laying down a righteous groove on numbers from the “Honky Tonk Hymnal.”  These are mostly standards my Mamaw would know by heart like “Blessed Assurance” and “Amazing Grace”  but if you have never heard a hymn with a harmony guitar solo in it, you really should.  Dress is casual of necessity; after all, we are in a beachfront bar.  Should you wish to be baptized, the Gulf of Mexico awaits right outside the back flap of the tent.  There is no passing of the offering plate, but there are brightly colored tackle boxes where you can make a donation to these fishers of men if you choose.

At the conclusion of the service each time we left to a rousing medley of “I’ll Fly Away” and “I Saw the Light.”  Jerry Lee and Hank would have been proud.  No one sings gospel like a sinner, because we know for sure we need Jesus.  Here’s me with the sign out front just so you know I’m not making this up as an early April Fool’s gag.

Worship at the Water 3

If all of this is not your cup of sangria, that’s fine too, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  I was there this morning, and I can hardly wait to go back.  As some of their outreach literature proclaims, not everyone feels welcome in a church, but everyone feels welcome in a bar.  You can find more information here http://www.pbumc.net/templates/System/details.asp?id=30004&PID=690833 and here http://www.facebook.com/florabamaworship?ref=nf.

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Big Fun with Small Game

January 24th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Small Game 1

Clockwise from lower left:  Garrett, Bryce, Ford, and Avery.  Not Pictured: Cousin Tim, Tim the Guide, Kenneth, Judy, Jar, and the Armchair Outfitter.

I have often thought we sell small game short in hook-and-bullet literature.  Most of us started out hunting small game, but for some reason if it’s not a deer, a turkey, or something bigger, it’s not worth an article.  One of the best hunts I went on last year was a squirrel hunt at the close of the season.  It was the last Saturday, in fact, and I drove seven hours to Tennessee for a day of guided hunting with dogs.  Good Lord willing, I will repeat that same hunt this year.

Cousin Tim called me with the idea, saying, “I don’t know if you’d be interested in coming all the way up here for this or not.”  He told me he knew a fellow who was passionate about squirrel hunting with dogs, and if we put together a hunt, he’d guide us just to have a chance to go.   Our guide was particularly keen on the idea of bringing young people hunting.  Tim wanted to take his son Garrett, and he knew some other young men who might also come along.  Without a moment’s hesitation, I said to count me in on the deal.  Squirrel hunting was the first hunting I ever did when I was kid, but as someone who grew up “in town” I seldom had the opportunity to hunt them with dogs.

In this case, the dogs were Judy and Jar, two fine representatives of the Original Mountain Cur Breed.  Mountain Curs are known for their courage in hunting dangerous game like wild boar or mountain lion, but they are equally adept at trailing and treeing squirrel.  The hunt began with breakfast.  I got to the restaurant before Cousin Tim, and I didn’t know our guide Tim or any of the other hunters.  As we were the only folks in the tiny diner dressed in camouflage, it was obvious we were all headed in the same direction.  Tim the Guide had brought his nephew Avery, and Kenneth had his two grandsons Bryce and Ford with him.  Cousin Tim and Garret got there just as I was ordering my food, and we had a good talk before setting out for Uncle Gary’s farm.

Our contingent was carrying a variety of arms, with hunters about equally divided between riflemen and shotgunners.  There is not sufficient space here for me to get into whether a .22 or a smoothbore is more appropriate for squirrel.  Let me just say that a mix of both is ideal.  Our guide began the day with a talk about safety which was directed equally at the younger folks and us old hands.  This alone convinced me we were in the hands of a professional and were in for a good day’s hunting.  Tim the Guide explained that there was no hurry once the dogs treed because they would hold the squirrel until we were in position.  Riflemen would approach first with hopes of getting a good clean shot.  If the shooter missed or if the squirrel broke for cover, shotgunners could take the animal on the run.  This arrangement suited me about as well as I could imagine.

The day was sunny with a brisk wind, and we didn’t have lots of opportunities, but we wound up with around a half-a-dozen squirrels between us.  This style of hunting, ambling through the woods on the trail of the dogs and conversing with the other hunters, is very agreeable.  I learned that Kenneth was a contemporary of the late, great Houston Thrasher, and we shared some stories about hunting with him, none of which can here be reprinted.

I hear about young people going on their first hunt for deer or turkey, and I can’t imagine a worse idea.  The expectation and the potential for disappointment are so high with big game that I’d much prefer squirrel for a hunter’s introduction.  We got a few squirrels, but we had a blast and shared some good fellowship in the process.  I’d drive any distance for the opportunity to do that again.

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