09/06/04 — OPINION -- A visit from 'PETA'

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OPINION -- A visit from 'PETA'

By Gene Price
Published in News on September 6, 2004 1:56 PM

On a recent weekday, I stopped by Four Seasons Sports to observe the regulars eating peanuts, telling ribald stories and swapping exaggerations about their hunting and fishing experiences.

But I was stopped short at the sight of a big trailer parked out front behind a super-size sports utility vehicle.

Emblazoned on the side of the trailer was "P E T A."

My impression was that Four Seasons proprietor Ben Sauls might be in imminent danger of being confronted by an unfriendly visitor not interested in a purchase: Like a hostile representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

But inside, I found Ben surrounded by the regulars, plus a fellow I didn't recognize who was testing the heft and swing of a fine shotgun.

In a few minutes the prospective shotgun customer was discussing the merits of the weapon with the regulars and I managed to motion Ben outside. I pointed to the trailer.

Ben did a doubletake and then blurted: "PETA! What's this all about?"

Back inside, we mentioned the PETA trailer to the folks there. And you could sense the backs collectively bowing up.

"That's my trailer," interrupted the fellow hefting the shotgun.

"You're shopping for a shotgun and you're a member of PETA?" I asked in bewilderment.

"Not just a member," corrected the fellow, "I'm the founder!"

"Of P.E.T.A.?" demanded the regulars.

"Yeah," responded the customer -- who turned out to be Ernie Wilkerson of Atlantic Beach: "People Eating Tasty Animals!"

He said he has a sign proclaiming that he also is for Freedom of Choice: "And I choose to hunt and fish, eat meat and wear leather shoes, belts and fur-trimmed hoods."

"A man after my own heart," grinned one of the regulars. The others nodded in agreement, adding, "Here, fellow, help yourself to some free peanuts."