As we've shown in past articles through the years, Mississippi hunting camps come in all makes and models, and I have been blessed to have the privilege of visiting a wide assortment, each with its own personality and intrinsic uniqueness.

Probably no two Magnolia State hunting camps are exactly alike and each, if they could talk, could tell their own special stories.

For me, however, a small log cabin located just outside the tiny hamlet of Arm in Lawrence County near Monticello holds a special place in my heart. Forgive me if this story is somewhat personal. It's about a place I call Uncle Frank's Log Cabin.

In December 1942, two first cousins, Ben Rogers and Bill Lea, were born only a few days apart to Frank and Floy Rogers and Purvis and Myrtle Lea. When both sets of parents moved from the farm to the city, they eventually bought homes in Jackson only a short distance apart, enabling close cousins Ben and Bill to go to school together all the way from the first grade through college.

In the early 1970s, Ben inherited a 97-acre tree farm his father Frank had bought, planning to build a log cabin on it someday. The land holds a special place in Ben's heart since it was a place he and uncle Frank had shared many hours working on through the years, and where Ben learned tree farming from his dad, a task that was not so pleasant to a youngster but a skill for which he is indebted to Uncle Frank today.

However, an unexpected heart attack took Uncle Frank when he was only in his early 50s, leaving Ben with the land plus a steadfast determination to someday fulfill Frank's dream of building a cabin on it.

In 1981, using tall pines felled on the property, Ben finally fulfilled his father's dream when he built Uncle Frank's Log Cabin, a 32x19-foot structure complete with an upstairs sleeping loft. He selected long, straight pines of just the right diameter, and felled them.

Then, opposite sides of each log were slabbed off, allowing the logs to be stacked one atop the other. After the sap had dried off, he debarked the logs, stacking and securing them with 10-foot spikes. Gaps between the logs were then filled with a caulking material.

Later, Ben added a 16x16-foot den onto the back of the cabin with the help of his wife Patsy and son Michael, a successful pediatrician in the Brandon area, so that today the rustic cabin can sleep up to 30 people. Also a rustic bunkhouse built behind the cabin can sleep another 15 campers.

Today, Uncle Frank's Log Cabin serves as a multiuse facility, serving not only as a prime hunting camp for the family but also as a family getaway place as well as a retreat for the youth from several churches, including the one where wife Patsy is the pianist.

In the intervening years, Ben has built several deer stands and planted strategic food plots where he and I have enjoyed several hunts together. The dense woods and small green fields are ideal places to bowhunt, which is my favorite form of deer hunting.

Most of our time there, however, is spent reminiscing about our parents, who are gone now, and about our lives growing up in "Doodleville," a nickname given to the Battlefield Park area of Jackson where dozens of us kids used to happily and safely roam the streets and play in the park and the old Jackson Boy's Club on Hiawatha Street.

Uncle Frank had a dream that his son Ben was faithful to fulfill. Now Ben also has a dream for his son Michael and grandson Reed.

In order to fulfill that dream, Ben is planting a 40-acre section of his land in a valuable tree species. If Ben's dream comes true, that small tract of land will someday make his grandson a fine inheritance. Then Ben hopes that Reed not only inherits the land but his grandfather and great grandfather's love for this pleasant neck of the woods and its peaceful cabin that have been passed on from generation to generation.

I can't help but believe that whenever Uncle Frank looks down from heaven to see what's going on at his old land, he smiles when he sees all the wholesome activities that occur there, especially when he reads the words etched on an old wooden sign on the wall that reads: "Happiness is a Log Cabin."

Amen, Uncle Frank!

For autographed copies of Mississippi Hunting Camps ($81) or Tales of Old Rocky Hill ($18), mail check/money order to Bill R. Lea, P. O. Box 321023, Jackson, MS 39232

To schedule a visit to your camp, call 601-502-4720 or email