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Photograph by Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. · www.southernfocus.com

Magazine


Girls Gone Wild!!!

From the Spring 2005 issue

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Okay, men, your secret’s out. No more exclusive rights to the brotherhood of hunting. There’s a new herd of hunters on the horizon, infiltrating some of the Delta’s most sacred grounds. It seems the opposite sex is gradually discovering what you guys have known for years; that is, the very essence of the sport of hunting. For some of these Delta dames, it’s the pride of the pursuit; for others, it’s simply the therapeutic merit of experiencing nature’s finest sanctuaries. Whatever the motivation, move over, fellows! Whether it’s the challenge of the hunt or the thrill of the kill, these barrel-bearing belles heard the call of the wild—and answered.

“Connie, Get Your Gun!”

A relative newcomer to the sport, Connie Morgan of Leland began hunting after her husband, Chip, had rotator cuff surgery two years ago. “Although he couldn’t hunt, he didn’t want to miss opening day, so I drove him to the deer camp,” says Connie. With Chip’s encouragement, her son Trey took her to a tree stand and left her there following minimal instructions. She continues, “After a while, a doe appeared about 30 yards in front of my stand. I thought it was just too close and that I needed to give her a sporting chance. I was talking with Trey on the walkie-talkies, and he convinced me to shoot. When it moved about 75 yards away, I raised my gun, shot, and the deer just dropped. I had never shot a gun until that day, but after that, I was addicted.”

The Morgans, who hunt on family land in Humphreys County near Townsend Lake, enjoy hunting at least two weekends a month. They also spend the Christmas holidays there. Connie explains, “It’s so peaceful there, watching the birds, raccoons, and other wildlife. It’s great to just experience the woods, relax, and enjoy the quiet.”

During Connie’s maiden season, she bagged the doe, a six point, and an eight point. She comments, “Once you get that first deer, you want something bigger and better!” And in January, during her second hunting season, she indeed found something bigger and better. Connie explains, “The season was almost over, and the pressure was on. You might say I had developed a case of ‘buck fever’!” About that time, along came an eight point with a 17-inch spread, weighing over 200 pounds. She shot, and down it went. “It was a mount,” Connie exclaims. “Chip was so proud; he emailed pictures of the deer to everyone; however, because I killed that eight-point, and Trey got a nine-point, and (daughter) Lindsey even killed a small seven-point, Chip has become a little envious since he hasn’t had much luck lately. It seems that I’ve become the big hunter in the family—Chip teases me about being a ‘deer hog’!”

Connie’s new hobby has definitely caused some changes in their lives. “I have become so absorbed in deer hunting that I’m contemplating learning to turkey hunt just to hold me over between deer seasons!” She adds, “For example, at Thanksgiving, my family (four sisters and two brothers) seemed a bit annoyed when I left with the guys after the meal to go hunting instead of hanging around the house with the girls. But I’m not the only female in the family who hunts. My sister-in-law wants us to plan a big hunting trip to Texas—she has even started watching those ‘big buck’ videos.”

So where will all these trophies be displayed? Not on the walls of the Morgan’s Leland home, to be sure. According to Connie, “I don’t allow deer heads on my walls at home, so they will probably end up in my office at work or at the camp.” Connie’s latest trophy is still at the taxidermist and will be ready this summer. “When I took the deer to be mounted, he asked if I wanted the ‘extras’ like the walnut base and the engraved tag. I told him, ‘sure, I want everything—give me the works!’” She enthusiastically adds, “I’m anxious for July—I’ve almost forgotten what he looks like!”

A Hunter For All Seasons

For Laurie Myers, hunting is a family affair. The Memphis native, husband Butch, and ten-year-old daughter Maggie frequently retreat down the River to their cabin at Catfish Point. “Hunting is a great family sport. We all like the outdoors, and this is something we enjoy doing together,” says Laurie. “It’s just a nice getaway.”

Raised in the city, Laurie had her first taste of the sport was when she and her father would go to his gun club and skeet-shoot. “That was our time together,” she explains. She shot in several sporting clay tournaments, where she had the opportunity to meet other gun-toting girls. When she met and married Butch, an avid hunter from Hot Springs, Laurie became interested in hunting and fishing with him. When their daughter Maggie was born, they took her along, as well. “I realized that if I wanted to continue to hunt, I would need to take Maggie along with me. She actually went fishing with us when she was just twelve weeks old! She’s been duck and deer hunting since she was itty bitty, and she is my ‘bird girl’ when we’re dove hunting. Sometimes, we just sit in the tree stand and play “Go Fish” or checkers while we scout for deer for Butch.” She adds, “We’ve just always wanted her to grow up loving the sport.” The Myers family often escapes to Catfish Point, where, according to Laurie, “We do a lot of cooking, and Maggie can go out and play and can just be a kid in a wholesome atmosphere, instead of hanging out at the mall on weekends.”

“I love to duck hunt, and I love turkey hunting,” Laurie adds, “but I live to fish!” Laurie and Butch take an annual trip to south Louisiana to fish for redfish and speckled trout, where a couple of years ago, Laurie reeled in the lunker, a 40-pound redfish. “It took about 40 minutes to get him in. It was a struggle—even got a little personal—but I made it!”

Be sure to dive into Laurie’s tried and true recipe for Trout Chaisson (below). Even if you’ve never landed a 40-pounder, you can substitute your own catch-of-the-day.

Dances with Wolves…and Other Wildlife

“I deer, dove, and hog hunt—I’m a little hesitant to start turkey hunting because I’m afraid I’d love it, too!” says Stephanie McGarrh, who admits her first love is bow-hunting. The Merigold resident who grew up in Winona has enjoyed hunting and riding in the woods with her father since she was a child. “I grew up at my father’s hunting club—that’s just what we did. I was raised hunting, so I guess I don’t know any different. Then, I’d go with my father when they used dogs to run deer, and we’d dove hunt together, as well,” she explains. But when she married her husband Ken, he introduced her to bow-hunting.

“I enjoy gun and muzzle loader season,” she continues, “but bow-hunting gives me more gratification. It’s just much harder and more of a challenge.” When the McGarrh’s children were born, it presented a little change in Stephanie’s hunting schedule—but not much. She confesses that she killed the limit while dove hunting the day before her son was born, and she had to curtail her bow-hunting six weeks before her daughter was born, only because she could no longer climb the tree!

The McGarrh family spends most weekends, especially October through January, at their cabin at Merigold Hunting Club. “We’re just outside people. It gets the children away from the television and video games, and hunting is just something fun that we all like to do,” she remarks. Although she claims a very competitive nature, Stephanie discriminately chooses her targets, careful not to shoot anything that is smaller than what she has killed before. “I want to see a deer and not have to decide if he’s bigger than the last. I just want to see it, and BANG!” she says. After getting her allotted deer for the season and the pressure is off, she still enjoys just being in the woods, armed with only her camera.

Spending time in the outdoors is not without adventure, as Stephanie explains, “This year, while I was bow-hunting in a stand by a bean tree that usually draws a lot of deer traffic, I saw some small bucks and doe with fawns, but nothing I wanted to shoot. I heard some hogs in the vicinity; I’ve never killed a hog with a bow before, so I was hoping for the opportunity to do so. Out of nowhere, I hear this crashing sound directly behind me, which, in most cases, means a hog. So, I get my bow, stand up, look directly below me, and draw back on what I think is a big, black hog, when that “hog” stood up on its hind legs! If you know anything about hogs, you know they can’t do that! I realized it was about a 100-pound black bear standing six inches from the tree I was in! I didn’t have time to get too scared, because he left as fast as he appeared. Needless to say, that ended the deer hunting for that day.”

Adventure or not, escaping to the woods alone is a real vacation for Stephanie, who concludes, “I can sit out there all day. You know, they say that even a bad day hunting is better than a good day working. That’s my time, and if I happen to kill something, then that’s just a bonus!”

Ready, Aim…Fired Up!

Sisters Brantley and Maggie Snipes of Greenville have been hunting “for as long as we can remember.” Clad in their camo ensembles, topped with their big red bows instead of caps (“Mom wanted us to look cute!”), they started at an early age because they’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and watching the wildlife. Brantley, a sophomore at Auburn University, explains, “We’ve just always hunted. We grew up loving to spend time with Dad in the woods, and I finally shot my first deer with his muzzleloader when I was in fifth grade. He was so excited that he forgot to put blood on my face!” But when she got her second deer—this time with a gun, he remembered. Brantley killed her first buck when she was in seventh grade, but they lost the antlers. A few years later, she got the first buck—a seven-point—off their Carroll County land. That buck, antlers and all, held a place of honor in her bedroom for years. She adds, “I was probably the only girl with a Laura Ashley bedroom accented with a deer mount!” Brantley says that deer hunting is very relaxing and she has a passion for nature, but confesses, “You know, there’s that pride issue. It was always fun to come home and show up the neighborhood boys with what I had in the back of the truck!” Since her first deer, she has killed a nine-point and a ten-point, and reveals that she still loves the sport so much that it almost kept her from going to Auburn when she realized she couldn’t run home on the weekends to hunt. She admits, “ I did, however, miss the Auburn-Alabama game this year to go hunting!”

Maggie, an eleventh-grader at Washington School, boasts of the nine-point that she killed last season. “It’s one of the larger ones that we’ve seen on our property,” she comments. She looks forward to getting the mount back from the taxidermist so she can have one in her room, as well. Like her sister, Maggie enjoys just being in the woods and says, “I love it; I go every chance I get!” She has fond memories of taking turns going with their Dad to one of the many shooting boxes scattered about their land. On many occasions, she and her artist mom, Peggy, would also go to a shooting box, where they spent the hours drawing graffiti on the walls with Sharpies. “Mom and I would never see a deer because we were always too noisy laughing about how our camo didn’t match, or how cold we were, or maybe it was the smell of the markers that drove the deer away—whatever, we had fun!” Maggie explains.

Although both girls love to shoot, they agree that hunting becomes a “man’s sport” at cleaning time. Maggie says, “We both get a little queasy when it comes to the cleaning. Brantley is the one who holds the flashlight; I do offer to help, but I’m always a little relieved when Dad says ‘no thanks’!”

Recipes:

“Peter Rabbit McGarrh’s Grilled Fish”

(submitted by Stephanie McGarrh)

This recipe is actually my father-in-law’s; you can also bake the fish, but it’s much better grilled.

  • 6 fish fillets (bass, crappie, or catfish)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper
  • Garlic salt to taste

Place fish fillets in a shallow baking dish. Combine butter and rest of ingredients in saucepan until butter melts. Pour over fish and marinate at least one hour in the refrigerator. Drain and reserve marinade. Sprinkle fish with garlic salt and place on grill (you may use a wire basket to keep fish from breaking apart) over hot coals for 3-5 minutes per side. Baste with marinade while grilling. Very easy and very good!