PUNGO, Virginia – For more than five years, Bill Dixon has been serving up a delicious medley of recipes, outdoor adventures, and camping tips, sprinkled with a good dose of faith that has delighted fans of his video blogs.
"Today, I'm going to show you how to set up camp the "Pungo Prairie" way, so don't go nowhere 'cause you don't want to miss this!" Dixon proclaims on one of the videos called "Good Camp."
Dixon: "Bloom Where You're Planted"
Pungo is a rural area of Eastern Virginia and the last place Dixon thought he would end up after his marriage ended.
"She was the love of my life. We were married for almost 20 years and she just decided she wanted to do something different," Dixon said.
"I always thought I was going to be in the mountains at this stage in my life. God finally told me, 'Dixon, you're not going to be in the mountains, you can go to the mountains, but I'm giving you the Pungo Prairie so you've got to learn to bloom where you're planted,'" Dixon said.
Repeating Fifth Grade Has an Unexpected Benefit
Some of that planting happened after Dixon flunked the fifth grade and had to repeat it at a Christian school.
"And I got a really good exposure to the foundation of the Christian faith at an early stage in life by a mean 'ol teacher named Ms. Glazebrook.
"My mother, she kind of got worried about me; one day I was out in the yard and she was watching me and I came in the house and she said, 'Billy are you ok?'
"I said, 'yeah Mom, I'm fine, why?'
"She said, 'Who're you talking to out there? I'm a little bit worried. Every time I look out you're talking, your lips are moving.'
"'Oh Mom, I'm just praying!'
"She said, 'You're praying?'
"I said, 'yeah, Ms. Glazebrook told me the Bible says to pray without ceasing!'
"So that was good for her, at least she knew she didn't have to get me evaluated," Dixon recalled.
Bringing People to the Pungo Prairie by Video
For years, friends begged Dixon to share his delicious recipes in a cookbook, but Dixon thought he could reach more people by video.
"My very first video was called, 'Watcha got Chili' with what I had in the fridge and pantry; it wasn't planned at all. We shot a real quick impromptu video. They loved it and 100 videos later that's where it went." Dixon said.
In almost all of Dixon's videos where he's made an amazing dinner, he always makes sure to say a blessing over the meal.
"I thought, OK, if I'm going to be doing this, let me do this so that maybe people can see that you can have fun, you can hunt, you can fish, you can love the great outdoors and have a great time and you can still love the Lord and it's even better! So, you'll see off to the side in my videos, you'll usually see somewhere in there a Bible and sometimes there might be a gun sitting off to the side because I'm a big Second Amendment rights kind of person and by the subtleties of the Bible sitting there and the blessing at the end, maybe, just maybe, that will grab the attention of somebody," Dixon said.
Leukemia Patient's Reaction to Pungo Prairie "Makes It All Worth It"
Dixon says one of his videos did more than that – it helped save a life.
"This man from Northern California wrote to me and said, 'I just want to let you know that you really kept me going while I was laid up 100 and some odd days in the hospital battling two forms of leukemia,'" Dixon recalled.
"When he checked in, the cancer was already so aggressive, the doctor told him he had have about a month left and he and his six-year-old son, they watched my video 'Good Camp' – which is a time-lapse video of me setting up my hunting camp up in the mountains of Virginia. And he said, 'I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated being able to go to watch your videos while I was spending that time in the hospital,' and that really just blew me away."
"To think that here's a guy laying in a hospital bed, not knowing if he's going to live another month, that makes it all worth it – it's the answer to the question of why I do it – it's not for the money," Dixon added.
Dixon's home is a cozy cabin full of several dear heads and even a huge buffalo head mounted to the wall – all trophies of hunts gone by.
"Each one of these animals you see, I took and my Daddy taught me early on if you're going to kill something make sure you're going to eat it," Dixon said. "And I like knowing where my food comes from and one way I know where my food comes from is where I go out and harvest it myself," he explained.
"The first thing I do when I have one down is I get down on my knees and I thank the Lord for it, for the experience of it. I have a quote, that the venison taken by the successful hunter is sustenance for their body but all is gained in spirit from the hunt is sustenance for their soul," he said.
"Renaissance Redneck" Entertains Followers on Facebook and YouTube
Today, the man affectionately known as the "Renaissance Redneck" entertains his many followers on Facebook and YouTube and has no plans to stop sharing his adventures or his faith.
"To me, there are two verses in the Bible that is almost all you need and one is John 3:16; we know what that is and the other one is Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. So if you accept Jesus and you act on that faith and you believe Psalm 23:1 – the Lord is my Shepherd, everything else comes together," Dixon said.
Follow Bill Dixon's adventures at his website, The Pungo Prairie.
This story was originally published on July 16, 2019.