Hunting Season…in the South…maybe everywhere else too…

I am a Southerner. I was born in the South and have always lived in the South. Some things in our past I have never been proud of, but I chalked it up to bad things happen and we grow and learn from our mistakes. I grew up in a small town. I said “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.” The year I graduated from high school, I was even a debutante. There was so much I loved about the South. The weather, the food, and how it was “growing up”. People were coming from all over to be a part of our communities. Atlanta and Charlotte were changing right before my eyes. I was proud of where I lived. There were still jokes about the South, but the people who made and laughed at the jokes had never been to my community and met the progressive people that surrounded me. Things are now changing in the South.

My family never had a gun. My dad had an antique gun left to him, but it did not appear to work. Nonetheless, growing up, I was told not to touch the gun. I didn’t. My dad did not hunt. It never occurred to him to spend an afternoon killing animals. He played golf. There was no rite of passage for me to lift a gun, stare a living, breathing creature in the eyes, pull the trigger, take the life out of it and then smile and pose with the bloody, lifeless creature for pictures. If I had come home smiling and excited with a dead deer, quite possibly my parents would have had concerns about my mental health. Today in the South, there is pride in gun ownership. Hunting is a new pastime. The hunters’ explanation is they eat what they kill…but the grocery stores in the South have an array of various species of dead animals available. If this was common when I was growing up, I was totally unaware.

Some friends of mine who ride horses fear for the safety of their beloved equines due to hunters. One said they would sit on her fence, gun in hand, ready for the kill. These friends, terrified for their animals, would take them into the barn, praying for their safety. It is not just fear on the farm. I was sitting in my backyard several years ago, and an arrow whizzed past my head and lodged into my house. My animals and my son were with me. It happened so fast. We never received an apology from the hunter. Apparently, it was hunting season.

The change is even in the magazines of the South. A new magazine that appeals to a high income reader, Garden and Gun, makes guns and hunting seem so natural in the South. The magazine shows all that is great about the South as well as its new found love of hunting. Southern Living, a great Southern magazine, with homes, food, and fun, now sports advertisements showing guys in Southern attire loading guns. I looked back at a few of my old copies of the magazine…no guns. Another interesting change is that the gardening section is called the “Grumpy Gardner”; I sure hope he does not have a gun!!

I still love the South. I still believe in all it is and all it can be. I am not sure I will ever get used to the parents’ bragging about their kids’ first deer kill, as they smile from ear to ear on Facebook. I can’t get used to all the billboards advertising shooting ranges. But the culture of the South has its own beat, and I can still hear it. So I guess I’ll grab me an iced tea, sit under a live oak, grab a Southern magazine…and during hunting season…wear a bulletproof vest. For the record…I am a Southerner who does not eat meat or own a gun. The only time I shoot an animal is with my iPhone!

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