When I was growing up, my father would regale me with stories of coon hunting in the swamps of southern Mississippi. He would tell me about the dogs, "They are not pets, Randy. Don't touch them, and don't call them or try and tell them what to do. There is only one "dog man" on a coon hunt.", the people, the swamps, and the challenges of coon hunting in the '40's and '50's of the last century. He was a Naval Aviator during the early '40's. Later, he was a young man with four children looking for work after the war. He would tell me of the times they would use Carbide lanterns, crude affairs that would combine water and carbide to produce a combustible gas that could be lit to provide a flame positioned in front of a mirror. These were worn on the head like a coal miner. Another lesson I learned was how to navigate by the stars. It was part of his Naval Aviation training and he told me of times when they were absolutely turned around in the swamp, and he would be able to find Polaris, the North Star, or the Seven Sisters, pointing roughly east, and they could find their way out.
All that was a precursor to my inevitable introduction to southern quail hunting when I turned 40. My wife bought me my first bird dog for my birthday. I immersed myself in the lore and history of the sport. While my history only runs 33 years, personally, and 73 years for my family, I'm reading that the Morrisons can trace their Southern roots back hundreds of years.
Mills Morrison displays a deep appreciation for the Southern hunting way of life, and bird hunting specifically. The title of his hard-covered book, TIMES NOT FORGOTTEN Reflections of a Southern Sportsman is absolutely appropriate.
The first chapter, The Burden and Beauty of Hunting in the South, tells a short history of the plantations, their history, creation, demise, and resurgence. He doesn't shy away from the issue of slavery (as he puts it: "enslaved persons'), but confronts it head-on, as it is integral to the formation of the plantations and deeply intertwined in the story of the South. I was chilled by the story of his great-great-great grandfather "killed by bandits for his money" on the way home from selling cows. "This left his wife, Polly Lane, with a young family, enslaved laborers, and a working farm, surrounded by the same hoodlums who killed her husband". Polly was tough. Women were tough and courageous and determined. These were pioneers, not "sipping a Mint Julep on the porch of a columned mansion." This was a dangerous wilderness, then. Polly survived and succeeded in raising several successful children.
As a bird hunter and an (very) amateur historian of the South, I enjoy reading the history of the Red Hills of the Georgia/North Florida area. There is a reason so many quail plantations survive and thrive in the area. Julia, Mills' wife, and Mills take us on quail hunts, dove hunts, deer hunting, etc, throughout the area. Their stories bring back the smell of the woods and grassy slopes with cool mornings and warm afternoons. They even include two book reviews by Harry Morrison: The Education of Pretty Boy by Havilah Babcock and The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark. both are must-have books, in my opinion.
I confess I did not know what to expect when I opened the book the day after it arrived. What I found was a thoroughly good read that brought me chills, head-nodding in agreement, laughs, and wonder. There is so much more inside. This is a wonderful gold mine of history and love for the Southern Hunting way of life. It is a hard cover book of 445 pages with numerous photos. My recommendation is to obtain it, read it, and slide it into the bookshelf next to Babcock and Ruark. It was thoroughly delightful.
Disclaimer: I did not receive any type of material compensation. I did not receive a free copy of the book for this review.
To order a copy: Message: Julia D. Morrison, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org