Floyd doctor finds nature is the best medicine
FLOYD – When Will Morris exited his doctor’s appointment last month, a glimpse of another physician’s office caught his attention.
With the permission of a nurse, the patient ventured into the confines of Dr. Wayne Horney’s headquarters to further investigate.
“When I walked in I said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe what I’m looking at,’” Morris said.
For more than three decades, humans have sought out Horney in hopes of enhancing their health, but for far longer, many other creatures have avoided the 62-year-old doctor as though their lives depended on it.
“How long have I been a hunter? As long as I can remember,” said Horney, as he sat in his office at Carilion Family Medicine – Floyd, surrounded by walls which provide both housing for his profession and a testament to his confession.
From the six stuffed bucks dangling above his desk to the wall full of turkey fans and one fully-mounted gobbler, Horney’s display of trophies likely leaves visitors with little doubt of where to find the doctor in the fall on his days off.
“I start a half hour before daylight the first Saturday in October with a bow, and I finish a half hour after sundown the first Saturday in January when the late muzzle loader season goes out,” Horney said.
Since the early 1980s, Horney’s passion for hunting has been on display in his workplace and has often served as both a showcase for admirers and bonding material for his outdoors-loving patients in southwest Virginia.
“Certainly, if I was in an inner city, yuppie neighborhood, I would probably be criticized, but around here hunting is very acceptable and most people get a kick out of it,” Horney said.
Horney grew up on a Wythe County dairy farm between Speedway and Cripple Creek among a neighborhood of hunters. After his 1969 graduation from Rural Retreat High School, Horney attended Hampden-Sydney College and the Medical College of Virginia before beginning a practice in Wytheville in 1980.
It was there, Horney said, that he started to showcase his hunting milestones to patients, beginning with a very large elk.
“I barely had room to turn around in my office in Wytheville,” he said.
When Horney relocated to his current practice in Floyd, the elk was moved to his home in Riner and his collection of smaller animals began to fill up his office space.
Horney said the main purpose of the display is to share the beauty of nature with others, but it’s clear the collection also serves as a nostalgic reminder of one of the collector’s most treasured places.
“There’s no better place to be when the sun comes up than the woods. Love the smell, the feel of the woods, I’m at peace when I’m in the woods,” Horney said. “It’s just a great time to be in God’s creation, plain and simple.”
His love for the early morning hours of the hunt cater well to his work schedule, especially during the spring turkey season when Horney said he often hunts in the hours prior to heading to the office.
“Two of the three gobblers I killed this spring, I killed before work and was in here at 8 o’clock,” Horney said.
Though passionate about the sport and proud of his trophies, Horney said he also makes sure that everything he kills is put to use on a dinner table, whether it be his own, a co-worker’s, or by donating to causes such as Hunters For The Hungry.
Perhaps capitalizing on the scalpel skills learned in medical school, Horney also serves as the butcher for all his kills, while his wife, Belinda Horney, often takes on the role of chef.
“My wife is an excellent cook,” Horney said. “Behind every guy that hunts, is a wife that tolerates it.”
Horney admits not everyone is so tolerant of hunting or of his office display.
“Some people look you dead in the eye and say, ‘Why do you hunt, why do you kill those animals?’ ” he said. “I tell them, ‘I’ve been a hunter all my life. If you look at the history of mankind, man is a hunter and a gatherer. So I’m doing what men and human beings have been doing since the creation of time.’”
Horney said the confrontational reactions are far outnumbered by reactions more akin to those of Morris and his wife, Sue.
“It’s unusual to walk into a doctor’s office and see all that stuff on the wall, but it was beautiful,” Sue Morris said.
A former hunter, Will Morris, said he was also very impressed to hear of the doctor’s dedication to the sport, particularly spending early hours in the woods before coming in to work an entire day.
The curiosity sparked by Will Morris’ pacing glance is something many of the staff at the practice have become accustomed to.
“I think we need to charge admission,” said Julie McKinney, who has severed as Horney’s nurse for 11 years.
The staff has also become accustomed to the perks of working with an avid sportsman, especially when he finds himself with more meat than he can use.
“I put it in the refrigerator, in plastic bags, and say, ‘The deer meat’s in the refrigerator,’ and when everyone leaves that evening, the deer meat is gone,” Horney said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643