Fishing, Cowboys, Golf, and Tattoos

Jeremy Rawls

October 12, 2023

Bonfire 170 took place in Brandon, Mississippi, on the Reservoir with crappie fishing as the goal.  Local fishermen, competitive and record holders alike, volunteered to take four of our participants out on the water for two days.  The group caught a lot of fish and had the chance to see the latest in fish-finding equipment, making for an awesome experience.  From scanning the bottoms and seeing some gators float by, those that had not seen Mississippi were very excited and happy to enjoy nature in a way they did not previously expect.  The crappie fishermen were true professionals and made the group feel immersed in a sport that was new to them, answering questions and coaching along the way.  For those that had fished bass or catfish prior, this was a totally different experience, with 20 foot poles and hunting techniques; a new perspective on fishing.

In the afternoons, the group took a safari trip, shot Old West firearms with the Mississippi Peacemakers, and attended the Sanderson Farms PGA Golf Tournament.  The safari was a simple drive through with the highlight of seeing the car ahead being overrun by zebras frantically assaulting a group of teenagers with their windows rolled down too far.  The Wild West shooting activity was a literal blast with the volunteers being in full costume and letting the group shoot pre-1900 replicas of pistol, shotgun, and lever action rifles.  As all of our participants have shot weapons many times, this type of range, three-gun shooting, and theme were completely different from the norm and a ton of fun.
Golf, on the other hand, saw the group stick out like a sore thumb, as four bearded and tattooed men wandered around the course, not knowing who was always yelling at them to be quiet, since one served with tanks and two others served with artillery and the last was Special Forces; none of which know what “hush” means.  Not to mention, the group dresses in normal attire, which is not what golf tournament spectators wear, making the group leader the only person on the course in a black shirt, swallowed up in a sea of pastels, white shorts and skirts, and cream colored hats.
The group stayed in a great location with boat docks right on the Reservoir, cooked food, and had many discussions on topics impacting them the most.  Unfortunately, the attack on Israel brought on many talks and memories, but it was good to have the discussions and be supported by others that had similar experiences in these times.  Being able to relate and talk about life from our perspective is paramount in growing from the traumas and scars of the past.  This Bonfire Adventure was a blessing, and we hope many more participants can enjoy Mississippi this way.