Uncle Charlie Tales

................stories about upland game birds, bird dogs, and shotguns but mostly about the man who loves all three

November Dilemma

I really don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I guess it’s because I need your sympathy. You see, it’s like this. I’ve got this uncle who is a fanatic about quail hunting. Now normally that’s not so bad, but Uncle Charlie is an exception when it comes to any definition of normal.

He’s an addict. Mention bird hunting and he snaps into a point resembling a rangy old pointer and starts slobbering and rolling his eyes while trying to tell three different bird dog stories at the same time.

I had to move. Honest I did, to get away from him. Not because I wanted to but because our close association was ruining my future.

I guess it’s time to confess. I’m a Baptist preacher and my Uncle Charlie is, to put it mildly, an old reprobate. I had to put some distance between him and me if I was ever going to be known as anything other than a bird hunter and Uncle Charlie's nephew. Everybody knows a prophet is without honor in his own hometown.

He understood. In fact, he encouraged me. I still remember his words, “Son, you ain’t never going to amount to nothin’ if you keep hanging around me. Go on up to Atlanta and get yourself one of them big fancy churches where you can make a decent living. These Baptists down here in South Georgia wrote the book on how to keep preachers poor and as bad as you shoot, you’ll starve to death. Besides, church going folks around here don’t cotton much to me anyhow and your bird hunting with me is raising some eyebrows among the blue haired circle, if you know what I mean.”

I knew what he meant. Folks were beginning to talk. Anyway I’d already been thinking about it. I could come back down home and hunt with him during the quail season so I would have the best of both worlds; living in the big city where I’d have more opportunity and still be able to pursue my passion of quail hunting.

Uncle Charlie wasn’t through, “It won’t matter what people around here think after you move to Atlanta, they think all preachers up there are liberals anyway.”

Thanks, Uncle Charlie, that’s all I needed.

So I got the call from a fancy church in the city and made the move. But I keep my shotgun oiled and my bird dog exercised in hopes of spending as much time in South Georgia as humanly possible during November, December and January.

I’ve had some suspicious looks and some folks have hinted that they’d really like to know why their new preacher keeps a Brittany Spaniel in the parsonage. And what in the world, some have asked, does he do with that old pickup parked behind the church?

So far, I’ve kept my secret life under wraps pretty much, at least I think I have. Every Sunday night during quail season as soon as church is over, that old pickup is idling and that stubby tailed dog is barking and quicker than you can say sic ‘em to a coon dog, me and Lady are on I-75 rolling south through the night.

That is, whenever I can get away. You see that’s the rub. I told the church I take Mondays off. They know I do. It’s published in the church newsletter. But almost every Monday somebody schedules a surgery, somebody dies, or somebody gets deathly ill, and my trips to South Georgia are getting fewer and farther between.

Uncle Charlie just doesn’t understand. “Tell them you’ve got a sick uncle you have to visit! I’m not going to live forever you know!”

Yep, I do know and it’s killing me.

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