A Dream Hunt Trip Shared by Two Long-time Friends
I stood on top of the steep hill looking down into the valley hundreds of feet below. The landscape was covered with rocks, cactus, sage and lots of thorny bushes. The cold wind blew up the slope and into our faces, but the rain of the last two days was finally gone and Lee McDermett and I stood in the full sun and took in God’s beauty. This was the hunting trip I had always dreamed of, but had never taken.
Early last week, Lee called me and asked if I wanted to go hunting just outside Langtry, Texas near where the Pecos River meets the Rio Grande just above Lake Amistad. My friendship with Lee is a pretty cool story. When we were kids, we lived in Floresville and were friends, and so were our mothers. We went to Church together at the Floresville Church of Christ. Lee was a pretty good bull rider and made his living traveling the rodeo circuit. Some years ago, he moved to Forney and established a successful business, the McDermett Insurance Agency. In 1998 I was running for County Commissioner and knocked on Lee’s door. You can imagine my surprise when my childhood friend answered. As it turned out, his mom was there and I got to see her too. It had been a couple of decades since I went off to college. My mom was delighted I had seen her old friend. Now the story gets even more interesting. Lee introduced me to his wife, JoDee Harwell McDermett. When I asked if I could put up a yard sign, I was shocked by the response. They told me that JoDee was a member of the Harwell family, as in one of the other candidates for County Commissioner, Rayford Harwell.
In those days, Precinct 2 was pretty much split between Forney and Terrell. In the General election, I was up against two candidates: Don Lindsey, the former Mayor of Terrell, and running as an Independent Candidate was Raford Harwell. Rayford was a terrific man. He owned the Exxon Station on Moore and knew absolutely everybody. Not just that, he refereed football and umpired baseball for decades. He also played Santa Clause in Terrell at Christmas time. He was notorious for helping people at the drop of a hat. He was loved, and for good reason. Fortunately, all three of us ran a respectful campaign. Something that seems rare nowadays. In the years since, I have enjoyed a friendship with JoDee and their kids, Blair and Joey.
Over the years Lee and I have gotten together for lunch whenever we can and we have gone deer and turkey hunting together a couple of times. While those were great, they were nothing like this trip.
The country is notoriously rugged and so are the people who live here. But on weekends during deer season, there are more hunters than locals. Just a few miles up river is the site of Judge Roy Bean’s Jersey Lilly Bar and Courthouse. Before Judge Bean, it was a lawless land and although it is tame now, it still has a feel a lot different than Forney. In the Café, perfect strangers will strike up a conversation, and exemplify the term “Texas Friendly.”
On the way in last Thursday, we stopped in Comsock, a town of 475 people, at a famous eatery called, “The J and P Bar and Grill.” The place was packed. Before we stopped, Lee informed me that the C and J’s had been the subject of several food shows. When the food arrived, we dug in after a prayer and the reason the place was packed on a Thursday night became obvious. I orderd the “Devil’s Burger.” Of course, Lee had to comment on the irony of a preacher making that unlikely choice. However, the freshly ground burgers on ciabatta bread with grilled jalapenos was nothing short of heavenly. The fresh cut fries were the perfect companion to a perfect burger. When you hunt with Lee, you also eat good….really good.
There is too much to tell about the incredible trip, I’ll just have to take up the story next week. Trust me, part of the story gets weird…really weird. It has to do with what Lee found on the porch of his camper at deer camp last May. You will never guess.