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Today is June 3, 2020

Outdoors

A typewriter and big woods, More famous hunters in Mississippi

By Tony Kinton

A typewriter and big woods, More famous hunters in Mississippi

Carl Trout with two of his dogs, Lilly and Moonshine.

William Faulkner, 1897-1962, can with authority be considered one of the most influential figures (if not the most) in 20th century American literature. His writing may often be maligned because of its difficulty to read and understand, but his genius goes unquestioned. He was one unlike the multitudes. Faulkner’s impact was recognized when he received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1949 — a commendation he was reticent to embrace.

And of particular interest to one who chronicles stories of wild things and wild places as I have now for 40-plus years, Faulkner was a hunter. Not just a casual hunter, a dedicated hunter who took the pursuit seriously and with deep emotion. He was always respectful of the game. Many of his works were developed from stories he heard around campfires of deer and bear camps in the Mississippi Delta, stories told by fellow hunters ensconced for a time in the big woods.

One story often told was of an aging bear the hunters had chased for many years, Old Reel Foot. Faulkner’s fictionalized version of this was the centerpiece of his short story, “The Bear.” It is considered by many one of his best pieces of writing. In typical Faulkner fashion, the story covers a great many avenues of the human condition but centers around hunting.

Recently, I found myself in what I like to think were Faulkner’s footsteps. There is no way to prove — or disprove — that. Consequently, I shall allow my phantasmac supposition to stand. He certainly was in the area. Charleston, Miss. — often referred to as The Gateway to the Delta. There is an annual festival in Charleston by that name. Faulkner was a small-game hunter as well as deer and bear, and I was in an area that he visited quite a bit. So, I was in Faulkner’s footsteps.

I was hunting quail with Cal Trout of Trout Valley Quail Preserve. Cal is a quail hunter, a man of letters, a reader of Faulkner. Our conversations vacillated between bird dogs and Faulkner, between shotguns and the poetry of Wendell Berry. It was grand.

And regarding shotguns, Cal uncased a Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen, the Belgium version. I put barrels and forearm on the stock of a Beretta Silver Pigeon in 28-gauge. We each nodded at our immediate inauguration into a mutual admiration society. And then Moonshine, Cal’s Britany, went on point. Grand again.

Should you elect an intriguing experience, take a quail hunt with Cal. And while there, plan a run over to Oxford and visit Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home. You will be immersed in Mississippi finery.

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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