Mississippi Ag Commissioner speaks at local fundraising event

Published 10:09 am Friday, August 18, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Nearly 190 people attended the Southwest Mississippi National Deer Association Gun Bash fundraising event Thursday night at the Lincoln County Civic Center. Proceeds from the fundraiser went to the local NDA branch and helped support the Hunt of a Lifetime. 

Items were auctioned off in a silent auction, an auctioneer auctioned off a silencer, four embroidered NDA gun cases and a crossbow set up. 

Raffled drawings were conducted for a collection of guns, a chainsaw set, a Browning 7mm rifle with a Vortex scope and BOG tripod and a Gunner dog kennel. Hunt of a Lifetime takes disabled hunters on a special hunt of their choosing. 

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Camo Ministries volunteer and former Hunt of a Lifetime participant Warren Ashmore took to the podium before Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson spoke. Ashmore received the Hunt of a Lifetime in 2021. He was involved in an ATV accident in 2007 which left him with degenerative spine conditions and a traumatic brain injury. He opted to go on an Elk hunt and the experience was life changing. 

“God had other plans for me and I learned he is always in control. It is important to stay positive and humble,” Ashmore said. “I have learned to take nothing for granted. He still has great plans for my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.’ I believe things will be better than I could ever imagine. He makes a way when there seems to be no way.” 

Ashmore said after the event he was feeling so much better this year he was able to help in the cleanup of chairs and tables. On the stage, he told the crowd he is an example of how the mission of Hunt of a Lifetime and the program can make a difference. 

Since his ATV accident and the elk hunt in 2021 he has learned to let go of what he can not change and to invest in others. His speech set the stage for Gipson to take to the podium as the guest speaker for the evening. 

Stewards of creation

Gipson thanked the crowd for their interest in conservation and supporting a ministry like Hunt of a Lifetime. He said his son Benjamin has taken on the responsibility of habitat management on their property and can now hear quail calling for the first time in a long time. 

“Wildlife is something we have to guard. We have to guard against threats,” Gipson said. 

One of those threats is the wild pig invasion in Mississippi, he said.  Louisiana State University AgCenter recently earned a patent for a toxic hog bait and the bait was presented to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in an educational session of their August commission meeting Thursday. 

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is fighting wild hogs with the Wild Hog Control Program and cost sharing programs. Gipson said he knows they will be a never ending problem but people must work to help control them. About 60 to 70 percent of the wild hog population has to be removed each year just to keep their numbers steady. 

Gipson reminded the crowd conservation is one of the most important practices. 

“We care about the land and we want to take care of it,” Gipson said. “In doing so you take care of people too.”

Helping with compassion

Gipson turned his attention back to Hunt of a Lifetime. He shared the story of how Jesus healed a paralytic in Mark 2. Jesus was teaching in a home and there was no room in the home. A group of men brought a paralytic to the house and seeing they could not get in climbed on top of the roof, removed the roof and lowered him down to Jesus. Mark 2 says Jesus saw their faith and healed the paralytic man. 

“With love and compassion, they did whatever it took to get him to the Lord,” Gipson said. “When you give to this mission you are doing something like that. You allow people to take people who could not go hunting or fishing themselves. You get them out in creation. They will see that and experience it. In a way, they are in the presence of God. I want to thank you for being people of compassion.”