As time moves forward, and our lives take shape as the sum of the choices we’ve made, new and interesting opportunities begin to reveal themselves. At times these are welcome revelations. Some times they are immediate tragedies that smooth out into unforeseen opportunities. Oftentimes, our lives simply become the best we can make of them, regardless what hand we’re dealt and how we decide to play them.
I moved home in 2008 to start Trout Valley Quail Preserve and to farm with my family. My grandmother’s grandfather bought our land from the Choctaw Indians around 1870. So, we’ve been here awhile. We have a good healthy farm; and aside from earning a BA in English and history and an MA in journalism, plus three years spent teaching AP English at a high school, I’ve spent my whole life farming. I love farming. I love being attached to family and friends through something as tangible as the soil and its surrounding biosphere… the very thing God entrusted to us and engendered us to care for and to cultivate.
My personal philosophy on the human-land dynamic is the driving force behind what brought me back to my home in one of the poorest counties in the poorest area of Mississippi, when presumably I could have gone anywhere and found work. But the life of a multi-generational farmer is what I chose. It isn’t all I wanted to do, but it provides the foundation for my own self-understanding. It is what undergirds all else that is and has been my life. I take, as a self-evident and instructive fact, the poet Wendell Berry when he writes, “for when we choose the way by which our only life is lived, we choose and do not know what we have chosen, for this the heart’s choice, not the mind’s; to be true to the heart’s one choice is the long labor of the mind.”
My father decided to retire once we gathered, ginned and sold the 2018 cotton crop. After taking a long hard look at the market, the trade war, our equipment, the outlook for the coming year, etc… I decided not to continue a 148 year-old family business. It may have been the most difficult decision I’ve made so far. It thoroughly broke my heart and left me bewildered regarding my future. I had only been married four years and had a year-and-half old daughter. So, as the sun was setting on one livelihood-the one I had chosen-it was imperative that the next choice I made was the right one.
The upside is that during the winter months, I had not been idle. Through Trout Valley Quail Preserve, I’ve been taking customers Mississippi quail hunting since the 2010-2011 quail season. Over that time we’ve developed a fun and devoted community of quail hunters. Some of them are local and some are from far-flung locales. From Georgia to Alaska; Columbia to South Africa; and, of course, right here in Northwest Mississippi, we’ve been blessed and grateful to have the best customers having the best time possible every fall, winter and early spring.
So, even though a lot may change, that will not.
We are grateful for everyone who has ever come and shared a morning or afternoon with us. And, we intend to continue offering the best Mississippi quail hunting has to offer. We will continue to offer hunts as usual from our Tallahatchie County locations. My wife and I have moved just up the road to Tate County, Mississippi, and we hope to offer hunts from that location, as well, in the near future. Additionally, we are building a new kennel and training facility at our new home. We will soon be accepting applications for a handful of bird dogs to train over the next year.
So, all of this is very exciting; and we are very much looking forward to continuing our hunts on Trout Valley Farm, the Bloodworth Place and the Ford Place at home in Tallahatchie County. And, we are looking forward to our new facilities and grounds in Tate County.
In the meantime, Oxford Lafayette Realty (owned by my good friend and fellow quail fanatic, Clayton Faggert and principal broker Burke Stockett) hired me as an associate broker specializing in land, commercial and residential sales. We are just getting started, but the future looks bright. I couldn’t be happier than putting my lifetime’s worth of experience in managing land to work helping people realize their dream of land and home ownership. If there’s anything I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to reach out. Please find the contact below.
Oxford Lafayette Realty
2603 West Oxford Loop
Oxford, MS 38655
And, finally, in honor of our ten-year anniversary we are offering ten percent off all hunts booked between now and October 1st.
Head over to the website and book your preferred dates.
Thank you all again for a great decade. I’ve enjoyed every hunt I’ve guided. My guides tell me the same. And we all know none of them would ever tell a tall tale!
Thank you, and I look forward to shooting away these corona blues with all of you this fall.