Briar patch revival
By A. Ray Lee
It was late in the season, and all areas of the club property had been hunted except one.
It had been avoided for good reason. The mature timber had been harvested, and along with sprouting pine seedlings, briars had formed an entanglement almost impenetrable by man or animal.
Nevertheless, a few club members insisted a good buck or two might be using the area as a haven from the hunters.
Joel Chandler Harris’ tale came to mind as Clint and I walked down the new stand line cut with machetes through the thickest briar patch on the Post Oak property. The path was narrow. Vines with long, hooked barbs reached out to trip and snare anyone passing through. Briars were so thick on each side of the trail, even Br’er Rabbit would have been challenged to navigate through them.
We eased our way along, ducking and weaving, hoping to reach our assigned stand before the dogs were turned loose to start the drive.
I was not very optimistic about the hunt, for I could not believe a deer would try to escape from the drivers by running through the tangle before us. Time passed slowly. There was no place for us to sit, so we stood for what seemed like hours.
Not even a bird stirred around us. We waited in vain to hear the sound of the dogs hot on a trail, but there was only silence.
Briars were scattered across all the hunting areas but nothing like these, making me question the sanity of anyone who would choose to be a driver under such conditions. The Byrd cousins – Clarence Jr., always known as Red Bird, and Herbert Allen, sometimes called Black Bird – were two who chose to be. Others were drafted to join them when the need arose. They often returned to the clubhouse at the end of the day with lacerated hands, bleeding cheeks and an occasional barb embedded in their ears.
After what seemed an eternity, we heard voices in the distance. Clarence Jr. and Herbert Allen were headed our way, but their progress was slow.
Clint and I became alert in the slim hope that a deer might plow through the briars and be momentarily in the clear, but not even a rabbit appeared.
The Byrd cousins were staunch Baptist deacons. The last we heard was when Herbert Allen called out to Clarence Jr., “Hey Red, if we could round up every sinner in the county, drive them through these briars and tell them hell is going to be like this, we would have the greatest revival York has ever seen.”
Although his conclusion might have lacked sound theological basis, in those moments, as I weaved and ducked my way back to the truck, I heartily agreed with him.