As a kid growing up in McRoberts in the 1950s, I never thought that I would encounter some of the things I do today — particularly people’s attitudes about hunting and, to a lesser extent, fishing.
I recall the days when we as children would walk by the McRoberts Old Regular Baptist Church at the mouth of Chopping Branch and listen to a song they sang almost every Sunday. I still can hear the words as if I just heard them: “Time has made a change in the old homeplace.”
Things couldn’t be more true today.
Everyone that I knew hunted and fished in those days. My family lived in a house located between the homes of two friends of my father. They were more like my second or third dad instead of friends. They took me hunting when Dad couldn’t go, and taught me the way of the woods. One was Mr. Henry Sword, who I wrote about in Struttin’ Time years ago. The other was Ervin Puckett. If I haven’t written about Mr. Puckett before, I should have.
Mr. Sword went by many names — Shorty, Brother Henry, and Mr. Sword, just to name a few — and was one of my heroes, as was Ervin Puckett. Mr. Sword had a feisty little dog named Scotty who became crippled after encountering a number of groundhogs over the years, but was still taking to the woods when we went groundhog hunting for the first time.
Ervin Puckett used to take me rabbit hunting. He had some of the best beagles in the world. Both men have long since crossed the Silent River, but in my mind and heart they will hunt forever, and one day I hope to rejoin them in another hunt.
Last week I was surprised to learn that one of Mr. Sword’s children (he had eight, and I love them like brothers and sisters) is anti-hunting. The one that told me that still lives in Letcher County and is from the era when we all hunted. Who would have thought that someone who grew up in a hunting family, with hunting friends, and is from an area when sometimes the only meat on the table was what we hunted and killed, would be anti-hunting?
I gave my friend a verse from the Bible to read, Genesis 27:3.
Yes, time has made a change in the old homeplace, and probably not for the better.
Remember, Raymond “Pap” Brown’s youth rabbit hunt on December 3. Call him for more information at 633-9548.
Let’s go hunting!