The Preacher And The Partridges

Southerners are generally known as being well-mannered and a little more laid back. Now of course, I am speaking of real southerners, natives who can tell you about being chased by a mama with a switch, and who never needed a recipe for cornbread: not a transplant from New York who has yet to use the phrase “fixin’ to” in a sentence.

But who trusts anybody with a Hillary sticker on their bumper?

We take barbecue seriously. We take stock car racing seriously. And Lord knows we take college football seriously.

And hunting. Hunting is serious business. If it is opening day of deer season, Black Lives Matter protesters had best not be blocking the road to the woods. The hunters are already ramped up and ready to rumble, the prior non-hunting  months being spent reading deer hunting magazines with articles on how to be a better deer hunter, including how to deal with clearing away hostile obstacles in the path of your hunting stand.

Southerners hunt a lot of things: deer, turkey, hogs, ducks, bear, possums, raccoons, snakes, and all sorts of birds.

My brother Sonny came by to take me hunting one Saturday morning. We stopped at Balchin’s country store and got some Coca-Colas, vienna sausages, soda crackers, a hunk of hoop cheese and a can of Skoal for Sonny. We hopped back in the truck and headed to the fields.

It was the first Saturday in September. The field was muddy, but we found a spot on the edge of a field behind some brush, and squatted down, awaiting our feathered bounty.

We fared pretty well that day, and left early enough to hear Larry Munson broadcasting a Bulldogs game on the truck radio. We headed to our Aunt Beulah’s house, her promise of chicken and dumplings for supper being too good to pass up.

We pulled up to her back porch, shed our muddy boots, and went inside to get cleaned up. As we went to the front porch to sit a spell, Preacher Culpepper drove up in his shiny black Crown Victoria.

“Oh lawd, the preacher’s here!” Aunt Beulah got up and started throwing newspapers under the sofa, and putting her People Magazine back under her Bible.

Aunt Beulah was not ready for the pop-in. Especially the preacher pop-in.

Preacher Culpepper walked up to the front porch, and Aunt Beulah introduced Sonny and me.

“Well, it’s good to meet you boys. Just out doing some visitation.”

Aunt Beulah gave the preacher a glass of tea, and complimented him on his last sermon.

“My two nephews are down here doing some hunting, Preacher.”

Sonny was needing to relieve himself of the effects of the Skoal, but he was hemmed in.

“Oh, is that right? Well now, I’m not much of a hunter myself. What have you boys been hunting?”

Finally, Sonny could take it no more. He leaned over the front porch rail as discreetly as possible, and shot the discards into the holly bushes. He stood back up, wiped his mouth, and turned toward the preacher.

“We been dove hunting. Got a truck bed full of em.”

The preacher had a quizzical look on his face.

“Dove hunting?”

“Oh yeah. Got a passel of em.”

The preacher stood up, straightened his necktie and scratched his head.

“No, no. You boys didn’t shoot no doves.”

“Well, yeah, we…”

“No, no, you didn’t shoot no doves!   Doves are the bird of peace!   You boys must’ve been hunting partridges!”

“No,” Sonny answered, as Aunt Beulah shifted nervously.  “It’s opening day of dove season, and we been hunting doves.”

“No, no, no,” the preacher protested. You were hunting partridges. Doves are the bird of peace!”

I could tell he was getting riled. He kept repeating “pottriches, pottriches!”

Preacher Culpepper was convinced Sonny and I were two vile heathens. The notion anyone would kill the bird of peace was an obvious affront to him.

He eventually composed himself, but gave Aunt Beulah a stern look as he headed toward his car, perplexed that she would allow such barbaric infidels on her front porch.

The next day, Aunt Beulah took him a chicken casserole, to assuage his consternation. She made sure to emphasize it was made with chicken meat.

Sonny and I went home with our pottriches, knowing we had likely been inserted into the preacher’s next sermon.


© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe