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The Warden & The Chief

Lafayette County Game Warden Buddy Sledge, Miss Fish and Game

It’s a shame that so many folks in small towns and big cities alike don’t realize till they are grown that they had it made growing up. And while we could absolutely find our share of trouble growing up in Oxford, we were in good hands all along. We were subject to what Dan Fogelberg referred to as his dad’s, “Thundering Velvet Hand.” And while so many don’t “get it” until its all over, lol…in Oxford we knew it as it happened. Oxford is, and was, very special.

So I got out of my last Ole Miss class, grabbed my gear and drove out to College Hill and hung a right and headed down to Hurricane Creek. I parked on the shoulder just past the bridge and got my little 202 and crickets out of the back…’Brim’ beds don’t require anything fancy or expensive. I spoke and nodded to the black folks fishing off the bridge and sitting on buckets on the bank with their cane poles. They were glad to see me again.

They knew I’d catch them dinner cause I’d go back in the snakes where they feared to tread. In a few minutes I found a bed and snuck along the bank and started. In 30 minutes I had 10 ‘brim’ and a big cat that I had to let swim back and forth for a few minutes to tire himself out before I could get him to the bank. When I held him up for the guys on the bridge to see…they were takin’ off running in all directions. Uh oh, damn. the Game Warden, Buddy Sledge! Nowhere for me to run so I walked on up when he motioned.

“Got a license, boy?” “Yes sir, I lied, but its at home” “You’re Jack’s boy aren’t ya?” “Yes sir and I’ll go get it (bluffing)” “Ok meet me down at the store in an hour, be standing by the rattle snake when I pull up” “Yes sir (oh damn!)!”

Photos: UPD Chief Richard Popernik, Ole Miss Annual

I raced to a phone and called The Fur, Fin & Feather and someone said Chief and Mrs. Pop were at the grocery store. Kroger. I flew there and started up the isles and low and behold, there he was. He saw me coming and knew by the look on my face that something was up.

“What have you done Cofield?” “Chief I’m in big trouble, Hurricane…The Bridge…Buddy Sledge…No Fishing License!” Mrs. Pop, who had gone to New Albany High School with Martha Glenn, smiled at Chief, “Go ahead.” Out the door we went and in 20 minutes I was legal… backdated. I think it was $3. “Cofield, get your ass out of here boy and try to stay out of trouble!”

I threw Chief a 5 and took off for the snake cage. I’d been there 3 minutes listening to that rattler rattle when Buddy’s green truck rolled up. He eased through the lot, never came to a good stop. I held up my proof and he leaned out the window, grinned and said, “Boy you’ll never be the Bream fisherman yo Grandaddy Cofield was.”

John Cofield

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