Now here’s one for the books. I went out into the storefront last week to check on some new over under orders and ran into a good customer Reverend Bob Ford. Bob wrote one of our best selling Books “Beagle Tails” and stops by regularly to bless us here at Lion Country . I told him I heard he married my longtime LCS employee Andy Purnell and the lovely Miss Lisa at a gun dog beagle field trial no less. He said that he certainly did and boy what a tale that is. Ok we said …” and who better to tell that on story on Buck’s blog than a good writer who happened to be there and officiating the ceremony ? “True ,true it certainly made sense to all in the store and Bob laughed and agreed he was indeed the logical choice write it and write it he would. 2 days later and here it is in my inbox. So grab the tissues,get out the rice, here’s how we get hitched in Lion Country. Thanks Bob!
-John “Buck” Koritko
As a pastor I get to officiate for a lot of weddings. Some are more interesting than others. Last year I finished my last numbers wedding. I mean it was held on 12-12-12. I also presided at an 11-11-11 wedding, and a 10-10-10. You get the picture. The 12-12-12 wedding was interesting. It was my friend Andy Purnell who was marrying another friend of mine, Lisa Snyder. Both are very active beaglers. They have a kennel that is full of field champions. All the retired dogs live in their house. They also have coonhounds. Lisa, just a wee bit of a gal, is an active judge and can run with the dogs easily. She can squeeze between saplings that would incapacitate most people trying to do the same. My stomach would probably get wedged in there. Whenever I see Lisa or Andy we talk beagles, not because it is a common interest, but because beagles are passions for us, and most of our non-beagling friends would not appreciate the conversations on pedigrees, hunting, field trials, and the technical jargon of the sport. Anyway, I digress…
The wedding was to be held at the Purnell hunting camp. Keep in mind, 12-12-12 is winter time here in Pennsylvania, and it was also a day in rabbit season. One of the best things to happen in recent years for Pennsylvanians has been that the game commission allows us to hunt small game after the rifle season for deer ends.
“We are going to get married after we both get done with work,” Andy said.
“Okay,” I said, “what time?”
“I dunno,” Andy scratched his beard, “Whenever we all get there.”
I could see that he was his own wedding planner right away. I have been to countless weddings where the ceremony began late due to a malfunctioning bride—something with the flowers, or the dress, or the make-up. The last wedding I performed was almost late due to the bride and bridesmaids running out of hairspray. They were getting ready in the basement and had to send someone for another few cans of the stuff. I once put a wedding on hold for a couple hours because the entire family forgot to pick up grandma and grandpa, who lived 40+ minutes away. One person sped off to get them. Boredom sent all the guests out of the church and across the road to the reception hall in order to tap the beer keg. They were an enthusiastic congregation throughout the liturgy upon the arrival of gram and grampa.
“What is the dress code?” I asked.
“We are wearing Carhart,” he said, “You don’t need a suit. Just wear your hunting clothes. It is gonna be cold.”
“Isn’t the camp heated?” I asked.
“Yeah, but we are going to do the wedding outside, up the hill, on the big flat rock overlooking the town.”
“So,” I scratched my own beard, “We are gonna do this thing in the dark, on top of a mountain, in the winter, and it will start whenever everyone gets there?”
“Exactly,” he nodded his head in agreement.
“I like it,” I nodded back.
I was to meet Andy at a convenience store in the town that the wedding site overlooked around sixish. I did mention that it was rabbit season, right? I decided to hunt the last hour of daylight, and had a fantastic chase from a rabbit that was running big squared of circles in front of my young Duke. I saw the rabbit once out of range, a second time when all I could have shot was the hind end, and it snuck past me on two more circles without being seen. It was getting dark and I knew I had an hour drive to meet Andy. I finally rolled the rabbit and hurriedly field dressed and skinned it. I took Duke home, put the rabbit in the refrigerator to soak, and washed my hands. I got to the convenience store about twenty minutes after six, fearing I was late. Fifteen minutes later Andy arrived. The time was now sixish, I would guess.
Andy was wearing a leg cast. He had broken his ankle on the first day of rabbit season, and didn’t get to hunt much since. He had a little scooter that he put the broken leg on and he pushed himself around with the good leg. He jumped out of the truck he was in and got into mine. I put the scooter in the bed of the truck and he directed me to the camp.
“Stay left on this part of the road,” he said, looking out his window, “It is a sheer cliff on this side and if the snow has turned icy we will not be able to get the truck out. We may get hurt too.”
“Ha ha ha. Good One, Andy!” I took my right hand off the shifter to slap my thigh.
“Dude, I’m serious. One truck sat there till spring one year,” He kept looking out his window, and down. My right hand went back to the shifter, after engaging the four wheel drive, and I crawled to the camp itself. The wedding party was small, and we decided to drive to the top in a couple trucks. Andy and I rode in mine. Everyone else fit in two other trucks. I kept waiting for the Darling family from The Andy Griffith Show to appear.
To say that the rock was windy would have been like saying Noah experienced some rain. I had decided to wear a Woolrich denim jacket that was insulated—I wanted to class it up a little. I quickly retreated to my truck and put two wool shirts, a chamois shirt, and a sweater on top of the two shirts I was already wearing. The only hat in the truck that was not blaze orange was my Filson bush hat—my favorite dog running hat. I pulled it down tight and hoped the wind didn’t carry it into the next county.
“Kinda calm up here tonight,” the best man said, his hair fluttering wildly, “It gets real windy sometimes.”
A gust of wind roared in, and I instantly was aware that I had not zipped my fly after tucking all those shirts into my beltline. I fixed that problem.
“I gotta read the service,” I said to Andy, “Do we have a light?” He pulled a coon hunting light from his pocket, the kind that strap easily to any hat. “You mind wearing that during the ceremony and looking at this book?” I asked.
“No problem,” Andy said.
My coat had a little dog hair on it, because Duke slept on it during the ride home. There was a scratch on my hand from a shard of leg bone when I removed the feet from the rabbit I shot a few hours earlier. Andy could swear he smelled rabbit pelt on my hands, “Even when you wash your hands that smell lasts a little bit,” he said, “It is perfect.”
This is how a dog man gets married. Andy works at Lion Country Supply, and if you call there with a question regarding a tracking collar you will probably be directed to him. I call his cell phone all the time with a tracking collar question when I am turning dogs loose at dawn and he says things like, “I already told you how to fix this problem. Do you pay attention when I talk?” He is always polite to the customers, but as a friend he is honest about my shortcomings. “How did you get through college?” he once said when I asked him how to clear the accumulated data on my Garmin. He is a houndsman. And now he is leashed. When a dog man gets married he isn’t “getting hitched” as people say about most weddings. He is getting leashed. I expect his kennel to get even better, because his wife can see everything the dogs do on a rabbit as she squirts between trees and ducks under briars. Well, I got to go. Andy and I are running dogs tonight. He said to meet him at sevenish.
-Reverend Bob Ford