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Not the birds you hunt

OPINION by Jim Davidson | May 30, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

My former partner, the late Bob Gannaway, used to love to go duck hunting. He also had a very thought-provoking saying that goes, "It's not the birds you hunt, but the birds you hunt with" that really matters. Of course, he was talking about the people you hunt with.

I remember that he used to hunt with a man by the name of Billy McCauley, who owned a big farm near Carlisle, a small town in east Arkansas that is on the Mississippi Flyway. Of course, this means lots of ducks. He took me hunting with him one time, and I still remember that one of the other guests was Ben Laney, former Governor of Arkansas. While Bob did not say so, his comment "It's the birds you hunt with that really matters" is just another way of saying, "We are known by the company we keep."

This introduction really leads me in to what I want to talk with you about today, and that is "bad company corrupts good morals." Bob was like a second father to me, and he was very careful about who he spent his time with and around. If you will take just a moment and look back over your own life, I believe you will agree that you are where you are today in the areas of life that really count due in large part to the people with whom you have chosen to spend your time. Of course, when we were very young, we were blessed if we had a great family, parents and siblings who loved and cared for us, and also served as good role models.

As I thought about my own life over the years, I now realize that I was so blessed by the people with whom I was privileged to spend some of my quality time. When I was much younger I loved to fish, hunt and play golf. My only fishing buddy was Mickey Cox, and we took his boat, motor and fishing tackle to his favorite spot. When we got home he would clean the fish, put them in a zipper bag and send me on my way. It's hard to beat a friend like that. My golfing buddies were Doyle Cook, Junior Kelly, Larry Fry, Ken Ingram, Doctor Jim Weedman and John Berry. My hunting buddies were Bob Gannaway, Herb Ferguson and Bob Kizer.

While the odds are good that you won't know any of these people, I can tell you for sure that none of them were drinkers, smokers, gamblers, did drugs, used profanity or had any other bad habits that I was aware of, but rather each was a true Southern gentleman. Now, why am I telling you this? It is because we are indeed known by the company we keep. Back in the days when I was hunting, fishing or playing golf, I didn't give any thought to this, but now as I reflect on it, I am truly aware that God blessed me more than I deserve. There is an important lesson to be learned here, and this is why I share it. The people we spend our time with are the ones who are feeding our mind and also the ones who are influencing our behavior and life.

When I was a kid, my father spent a lot of time teaching me what was right and what was wrong, and fortunately, I listened to him. If you have children or grandchildren, are you teaching them what is right and what is wrong? I hope you are, because this could be some of the most profitable time you ever spend and could even save their life. In conclusion, you might ask yourself this question that may shed some light on where you are, and if you have children, where they are: "What kind of birds are you hunting with?" You can believe me when I tell you that I only want the BEST for you and your loved ones.

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