I'm not sure that travesty is too strong a word.
Wildlife should be managed by trained, professional managers and biologists. Being a hunter or angler and a friend of the Governor, are not sufficient qualifications.
Once again, our wildlife commission, the TFWC, has changed existing regulations despite the recommendation of the trained professionals. And how they did it is the worse than what they did.
Fishing with Coleman Walker --
Five days a week, from 7-8 A.M., Coleman Walker visits with folks on the radio.
If you have lived here long, you have heard him on WANT (FM 98.9) and WCOR (AM 1490). To say he is a Wilson County fixture is a gross understatement.
It looked like a landscape of the Moon.
The parking lot was a misnomer. The approach to the ramp a sure-fire recipe for disaster. The boat ramp at Misty Cove was deplorable.
I took some pictures, wrote a column.
When David Earl Durham, now, better known as "Hula Popper" and I, went to White Oak Plantation May 9-11, our stated goal was to catch, keep, fillet and bring home, as many bass under 14 inches as we could.
It has been there a while, Paris Landing State Park. I have stayed there on a few occasions.
It is a great base for crappie fishing on KY Lake, holding a conference or just a family getaway. I stayed while crappie fishing with Dr. Jimmy Morris and his dad, I have stayed there for a couple meetings of Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association (TOWA).
Ask the old-timers. They'll tell you the best time to catch bedding bream, aka bluegills is the first full moon in May.
It may be true. Lot of them swear by it and it has been good for me. At any rate, I marked May 10, a week from today, on my calendar.
I'm heading for White Oak to put an assault on them.
1st & 2nd at TOWA Conference
BUCHANAN -- John L. Sloan recently added to his writing awards with a first and second place among members of the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association at the annual conference and competition held April 27-29 at Paris Landing State Park.
Sloan, who writes a weekly column for The Wilson Post, has over 120 writing awards to his credit.
I don't do it much anymore, at least not on purpose. Getting too old, I guess.
But fishing on a rainy, spring day can be super productive. Over the years, (the ones quite a ways in the past,), I learned that when it is raining enough to get the creeks and draws running fresh water into the lakes and streams, the fish tend to bite.
Hit reverse. Go back several years. Stop at the year the last tornado hit Lebanon.
While that was going on, the late Russ Jackson and I were staying at the lodge at Edgar Evins State Park and fishing Center Hill. We caught a lot of smallmouth. We had no idea what was going on, weather-wise.
I have said it many times. I am not a turkey hunter.
I have been, have killed some, a couple big ones. But I am not eat up with it. It may be, because I don't like to eat turkey, never have.
But as an outdoor writer and somewhat of a woodsman and hunter, when the season opens, I feel almost obligated to go.
The Wilson Post's award-winning outdoor writer John L. Sloan recently debuted a trio of books on Amazon Kindle. "The Empty Chair," "Memories in a Dying Fire" and "Leaving Saline" are all now available on the Amazon Kindle store.
According to my temperature measuring device, it was 17 degrees.
Fortunately, I own clothes that are designed to keep you warm, anyway. I had them on. You see, I was going fishing-crappie fishing-with a spider rig.
I may go this year. I have a place with a lot of them, a spot that does not require a lot of walking.
A spot I can set up a ground blind or two and probably kill one. The season opens this Saturday, April 1, and runs through May 14.
I may go try and call a gobbler in.
Turkey hunting often involves a lot of walking.
So, February, 17, Dave Durham and I started training. We started with a half-mile walk on level, paved ground.
That was from the parking lot to the building. It was the closest space we could find.
Turkey season opens April 1.
Story I heard, is this: James Jordan was walking down a railroad track in Wisconsin. It was in 1914. He saw a big deer, shot it. He had never seen it before. It was later proclaimed, the world record whitetail.
Many years later, 2014, I think, guy named Hansen is on a deer drive up in Saskatchewan. Sees a big buck running by him and shoots him. New world record.
They talk to you.
They leave you with memories and they create memories and, absolutely, they talk to you.
Campfires. In over six decades of staring into them, I have a compilation of the great ones.
That is the way Uncle Lloyd use to describe sac-a-lait fillets, properly fried with the correct trimmings. We call them crappie.
Fishing for crappie can be as difficult or as simple as you want to make, it. It requires minimal equipment and not a great deal of skill. Best of all, now is the time to start fishing for them. They are, or should be, moving up from deeper water to the shallower spawning areas. Let me begin with where to start looking.
It is cold this late-season, December morning. Twenty-two degrees.
The climb up the ridge has me sweating. Too many clothes on and too old. My glasses fog up from the excess body heat. Daylight is coming.
I'm not sure why I am even hunting this morning. My freezer is full of deer meat and I have filled the freezers of several other families.
It was not a big pond, maybe three acres.
It had been there a long time and had been carefully stocked.
It was 30-feet deep at the deep end and the shore was full of down timber and bushes.
They can't be far behind.
Quite some time ago, I reported that I was sure there were Mountain Lions in Tennessee.
Within a few weeks, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency had a couple confirmed sightings.
I said, they follow the river systems eastward and I still believe that.
Well, the sun has set on another deer season.
For me, it was season number, 62.
Sixty-two years is a long time to chase those ole things but I enjoyed every minute of it. For me, it was a great season. I killed several does and two bucks.
For quite some time, I have been getting reliable reports of folks catching coolers full of Tilapia.
The hot spot, pun intended, has been the waters of the Gallatin Steam Plant. That is logical since they, the Tilapia, do not survive well in waters below 70 degrees.
Nothing much happens in Rutledge. Once the bustling center of a small plantation community, it is now just the decaying remnants of time passing by.
Only the old, general store, itself, weathered and listing, showed signs of life. Rutledge is just a town the wind blows through on its' way somewhere else.
It is here, just in front of the store that the road to the hollow turns off. I parked near the neglected, weed grown cemetery.
I am sitting over a brown, greenfield at White Oak. They didn't get any rain, either. I'll tell you about this trip in a week or so and we will also look at his year's deer kill and crunch some numbers. In the meantime, maybe you will enjoy this.
Over 30 years ago, I wrote an article for my good friend, M.R. James, editor of Bowhunter Magazine. I called it, "The Magic Tree". It was about a tree on Cheatham, WMA from which other hunters and I had killed a total of 33 deer. That number included three, in one day, by three different bowhunters. It was a quite deceptive tree.
Thinking about buying some camouflage or scent killer "stuff" for Christmas? Or maybe something way out of the box. Give this some thought.
Ninety-five percent of the hunting camo made today, is made to fool human eyes. Three-percent, is designed to be drapes, curtains or seat covers.
The remainder, is designed to fool animal eyes. Animals do not see as human see. Most of the animals we are trying to fool, have diurnal vision.
We are about 70-plus days into our 2016/17 hunting season. For half of it, it was more like summer and a drought was building.
Hunting should have been slow. In some areas, I guess it was. Crazy Weather!
Is Al Gore to blame? What is it with the summer weather during bow season? But for that matter, what do I have to complain about?
When there is something beautiful in nature, I want to enjoy it and hold onto it. This fall, as I searched the roadsides for color among the trees, it was beginning to look as if everything was dried up - going from gray to brown instead of the beautiful colors of orange and red seen in falls past. Linda and I went on bike rides into the hills of Middle Tennessee trying to flush out some unusual trees hopefully holding on to their traditional fall plumage that would make us look up in delight.
Deer season is open. Of all the places I hunt and have hunted, by far, my favorite is an old, abandoned, decrepit homestead. That was the subject for the first magazine article I sold Bowhunter Magazine, over 30 years ago. Thanks to Chuck Denault for the idea, the pictures and superb paintings. JLS
Been some big deer killed this year. The one making a lot of news is the potential world record, non-typical buck, killed recently in Sumner County, during the muzzle loader season.
Young Stephen Tucker, killed the buck in outside Gallatin, with 47 points that is possibly a new world record. Big deer for sure, over 300 inches of antler.
Swap your smoke poles for your rifles. Our rifle season opens this Saturday, Nov. 19 and runs all the way through, until January 8.
Then, if you have access and permission to hunt private land, you get some more time to hunt does, Jan. 9-13. Remember, this year, for the first time, if a male deer has antlers that protrude above the hairline, you must check him in as a buck. The limit here, in Unit L, is two bucks for the entire year and three does per day.
As I got out my 10-point crossbow I wondered if I'd have enough strength to pull the string back this year and was surprised to find that I could. So I set up the target at 10 yards and pulled the trigger. The arrow, or bolt as they are correctly called, hit just a few inches from my aiming point which put me in business for the start of deer season.
I can't think of another facet of whitetail deer hunting about which more pure recycled pasture has been written than the rut. (Maybe the horse hockey about rubber boots and scent control is close?) Every year, I see countless articles written that are just flat wrong.
Most, designed to sell you a product.
Get the out your orange vests and hats, boys and girls, the best deer hunting of the year is about to open.
Our muzzleloading season opens this Saturday, Nov. 5 and runs through Friday, Nov. 18. This is the prime time to kill a mature buck. And by the way, this fall fishing is good now, too.
If the weather will cooperate, the bucks should be out during daylight hours, searching for that "special" doe.
The weather has been a big factor in our archery season, so far. By hunting the cold fronts, I have managed to kill three does but the hot weather that followed the cold fronts kept me from putting out a lot of effort.
BTW- I am a real fan of the Wasp Dueler broadheads. They are doing a great job out of the TenPoint crossbow.
Well the season has started. This column is not about what I or others are seeing or shooting. And it is important that you remember, this is just my personal opinion. This is about deer management in our unit, Unit L. And I am not PC. I do not harvest, I kill. Here is what I think.
Earlier this month, during the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) annual conference in Lakeland, FL., John L. Sloan's column, "Wish I Had Known", published March 30 in The Wilson Post was judged the best weekly newspaper column of the year, (June 1, 2016-May 30-2017).
SEOPA is the most prestigious and largest outdoor press association in the United States with over 500 members from across the country.
Since 1988, Sloan has won 13 first place awards and six second place finishes in newspaper writing and photography in SEOPA judging.
All you can eat Oct. 13.
I got three fat deer in the freezer, time to take a break for something important. Like a great meal after eating my own cooking while Jeanne and the family were in Gulf Shores.
Y'all like catfish and all the trimmins that go with a great catfish dinner? Shoot! Who doesn't? But just in case you are that un-American, you can eat some dead chicken. So tell whoever does the cookin at your place, they have tomorrow night off.
What is the best way to try to kill yourself on a hot September day? It may be to bike to Norene and back from Cedars of Lebanon State Park.
It has taken well over two years. Tremendous hurdles had to be overcome. Three separate government agencies had to cooperate.
But finally, not in a small part, through the efforts of Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, we have a new, state of the art, boat ramp at Misty Cove.
Formerly known as Bentley's Boat Dock, Misty Cove has been in deplorable condition for a long time.
Some of the little ones in strollers pushed by parents pointed their fingers at the colorful, iconic images in a childhood favorite "Little Critter" book called, "Just Me and My Bicycle," by author Mercer Mayer Sunday afternoon.
This Saturday, just three days from now, Lord willing and weather and health permitting, I shall enjoy my 61st opening day of deer season.
My great aunt Fannie! The changes I have seen in those years.
Lemme tell you about some of them and then, I'll bring you up to speed if need be on the changes here.
It had been a while. I had not shot doves in several years.
To say my aim was rusty is an understatement.
More accurately, I could not hit a bull in the butt with bass fiddle.
It is hot and going to get hotter. You can bet on that. It is not daylight and it is 75-degrees.
So, I slip on the fleece jacket to my jogging suit. It will feel good. No matter what the temperature, until the sun gets up, it is cold on the Caney Fork.
Dove season opens at noon tomorrow (Sept. 1st). The limit is 15 and you can't have more than that in possession.
That is the easy part, remembering that.
Remember also, they are migratory birds; your shotgun must be plugged, no more than three shells. And of course, make sure you have the proper license, including a Tennessee migratory bird permit.
It was many years ago. I was very young and had a broken ankle.
A bucking horse had kicked me as I got off on the pickup man at a rodeo in St.Paul, MN. I won third.
I had a total of $230 in my pocket, no way to get back to Texas and no prospects.
I was a strange kid. I grew to be a strange man.
For example, as a kid, I was a morning person. I hated sleeping late. Hated the thought I might miss something...like a sunrise.
I don't know how much I will deer hunt this year. The burning desire is gone.
The days when I counted the hours until opening morning are over. And too, there is the inherent danger that comes with my age and physical condition.
I know there are folks who specialize in fishing for catfish. I am not one of them. By far, the bulk of the catfish I have caught, were caught on trotlines or by accident.
But here I was, on a lake I had never fished, using a bait that seems ridiculous, fishing 30-feet down for catfish. It was after all, the dog days of August and the fishing here sucked ditch water.
The dog days are here way too early. The daytime fishing has slowed and is mostly a deep water bite.
It gets too hot too early in the morning and the storms bounce around late in the afternoon. Lake levels are up and down, some ramps almost unusable. Misty Cove is a mess but what's new about that?
Actually there is something new about the deplorable condition of the Misty Cove boat ramp.
I figured, if all you are going to catch are buffalo, I might as well tell some stories.
See, this is how it came about. I had some land leased in Hickman County 640 acres -- a section one mile square. It was rough, ridge and holler land, all hardwoods, no fields, one bad dirt road and a guy they called Rabbit. It was part of the land I leased for Buckhorn Guide Service.
One of the great things about being the sort of outdoor writer I am, is that you never run out of things to write about.
See, I don't usually write about outdoor or sports shows or stuff like that.
That is what daily papers and television are for -- more reporting than writing.
I'll answer this question I hear asked a lot, lately.
Those oddly painted and decorated bulls you see outside area businesses are to promote and show support for the National Junior High Rodeo Finals, coming to the James E. Ward Ag. Center June 19-25.
It's a big deal. This is for national titles.
By now, most of you deer hunters have heard about the change in the regulations concerning what is checked in as a buck. For many years, if the animal had antlers three-inches or more, it must be checked in as a buck. A deer with shorter antlers but still visible was classified as antlerless and checked in as something besides a buck.
From day one, I opposed that. My stance was and is, if it was a male animal, regardless of antler length, then it was a buck and should be checked in as one.
"It is all about the kids and getting the kids interested and involved."
Robert Pitman was talking about the new fishing package White Oak Plantation is offering.
But that focus isn't really new. White Oak, located just outside Tuskegee, AL exactly 342-miles from my driveway, has long been family and youth oriented.
I am a handicapped fisherman.
I do not know how to use the fancy electronic equipment that all tournament anglers and many weekend anglers rely on.
I have two fancy depth finders, as I call them. They provide me with a lot of information of which I have no clue.
I have resisted writing this column for quite some time. The reason being, I do not feel this is something that can be answered with a straight, yes or no answer. I'm not sure I can answer it in one column because there is no finite answer in my opinion. It is quite complicated.
However, it is news and it is in the news almost daily. I felt it needed to be addressed.
What is my stance on gun control? When I am asked that question, it opens a huge Pandora's Box.
What would happen if Bass Pro Shops-BP were to buy Cabela's? The truth is, we don't know. We can only speculate. It is almost a sure bet, such a merger would transform the hunting and fishing world somewhat for the consumer. But of major and in my opinion, of greater impact would be the effect on thousands of private lives.
Let us examine this a little closer.
Gotta be one of my favorite fish, both to catch and certainly to eat. Call 'em whatever you want -- bluegill, perch, sunnies, bream, shellcracker or chinquapin or redear -- they fight like crazy and when it comes to an eating fish, they make about as great a meal as you will eat.
For kids and learning -- best fish swimming.
6:45 a.m.-on the bank, as we launch my boat, two gobblers are trying to convince a half-dozen hens they are the real deal.
An osprey glides across a roseate sky. Atop the rock pile, a loon and a gander debate Trump's qualifications.
We glide to a stop across the silken surface of Percy Priest. The clouds are leaving, clearing. I haven't even put the trolling motor down.
Thought of something the other day. Have y'all noticed that now that everyone is carrying a cell phone that takes pictures like a camera, you don't hear quite so much about UFO's?
See, I was sitting, most likely in a nest of copperheads and ticks, waiting for it to get light enough for this gobbler to fly down.
I wasn't really exactly where I wanted to be. In fact, I was not 100% sure, where it was, I was.
It started March 26 and kicked off a continuation.
We that being the Judge and I, on 3-26, were fishing for bass in our secret hole that less than 1,915 people know about.
At that same time, some high-dollar crappie tournament was taking place out of Flipper's store/dock. Since we were not crappie fishing, we didn't care.
I wonder how many times I have been fishing in my life. Just a guess and probably a conservative one; I guess over 10,000 and probably quite a bit over that. I have been a member of F-F-F for many years.
Why? Why go fishing that much?
Tennessee State Parks will host its annual Camp Out - an event geared towards teaching families the basic skills necessary to go camping on their own - on April 9 and 10.
The mountains unfolded around me; a palette of colors. A light breeze from the north kissed the meadow grass in the basin. The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the golden grass in the mountain park was dappled. I scarcely gave it a glance.
I wish then, I knew what I know now.
Happens every year and I write about it every year. Some years I even go. Turkey season. That's what I'm talking about. It will happen this year. In fact, it will open April 2 and run through May 15. That's plenty long enough for me.
I'm worried about R.D. "The Reflector" Denny, though. He is running for office and he may have to cut his hunting short to campaign. So I'll vote for him and then, if I have to, I may even hunt for him.
I am going to have to try longlining for crappie. I got word from Richard Simms, the great fishing guide down in Chattanooga cceniccityfishingcharters.com.
He and his client caught over 50 crappie in one day and had 30, big keepers.
I have come to believe the most valuable piece of equipment you can have on your boat, (in terms of catching spring bass), is your thermometer. Transition bass, those just starting to move toward their regular spawning areas, react strongly to water temperature.
One or two degrees can make a huge difference in both where they are and if they will bite. As the water starts to warm, they begin to move progressively shallower, always keyed to something. It may be structure or deeper water or baitfish.
It was one of those cold, windy, bleak days that hit us this time of year. I picked that day to read, "The Bear Hunting Obsession of a Driven Man". It is book, co-authored by Bill Weisener and my good friend, Glenn Helgeland. Both have almost lifetimes of bear hunting experience.
Bill has been hunting and guiding for bear for most of his adult life, in several states and Canada. He is a much sought after seminar speaker at many outdoor shows. Glenn has hunted black bear in various locations for many years.
Two news stories -- both involve poaching and illegal practices. One is in Rutherford County and the other is in Alaska. The reasons for both are varied. The outcome different.
In one state, wildlife laws are taken seriously and punishment is accordingly. In the other, not as much.
It is pretty hard to predict, that day in the spring -- early spring -- when the fish are going to get hungry.
I have had some outstanding days in early February and even a few good days in a row in March. In fact, one of the best days I can recall was March 3, many years ago. We had five bass - largemouth and smallmouth - that would probably have weighed 25-pounds. In total, we probably caught 15-20 fish. You just never know when.
The reports are starting to trickle in. Not a lot of them, not the real big ones, but some crappie are being caught.
On the warmer days, some of the knowledgeable crappie anglers are beginning to pick up a few fish, especially on Percy Priest.
During the 20-year period when I was running or helping to run whitetail guide services, a great deal of my time was spent scouting.
Post season, spring, summer and pre-season. I was in the woods looking, learning, making notes. As many as 70-days a year were spent in scouting.
What an educational period that was.
Too cold and nasty to go fishing. Hunting season closed for anything I care to hunt.
Perfect day to just consider stuff over which I have no control and in many cases, little interest. Truth is, most of it confuses me.
I get a second chance at Christmas. When the one here is over, I go to White Oak Plantation for a second one.
We gather every year, the Pitman family and a couple adopted members like me to share three or four days of hunting, fishing, storytelling and just, kicking back with friends.
Always, the weather dictates what we do most.
This is a special column for me.
This column marks 40 continuous years of writing an outdoor column in Wilson County. I asked Lisa Snuggs, executive director of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) to do some research for me. As far as she could determine and the best we could tell, this is the longest continuously running outdoor column in the United States and maybe in the world.
Providing I survive another Christmas with the G-kids, I'll be leaving early Sunday morning. It is once again time for the Christmas gathering at White Oak Plantation, in AL. Just a few years ago, the lodge would be full of the Pitman family and a scattering of paying hunters.
Sometimes, I wish I was hi-tech. There are so many toys for outdoorsman that are super hi-tech and would make nice Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, hi-tech and I don't mix well. I still have no idea how you "share" on Facebook.
Well, the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful. And since we've no place to go... go outside, go outside, go outside! What, did you really think I'd mention snow? Pssh, not from me. I'd plant palm trees in my front yard, if they'd survive and if I had a front yard.
Hey, it is the season to be eatin, right? Just past Thanksgiving and quickly approaching Christmas, food is important.
It is around this time of year, as a boy and young adult, we would make excuses to go to the hunting camp and do some cookin and eatin. (Actually, we did it year-round.)
I got an email last week, like I get just about every year.
Guy has shot a deer, can't find it, could I help.
Unfortunately, not every deer that is shot, is recovered.
I was early. Early for me.
By the time I got my safety harness hooked up and settled in the ladder stand, it should have been near dawn. It wasn't quite there. In fact, it was still black dark. I could still see a piece of moon. Looked like maybe God had clipped his finger nails and one of the clippings was hanging in the sky, maybe flicking the stars around a little.
Our rifle season opens this Saturday. You know all that.
You know the limit is three does per day and no more than two bucks for the entire season. You know you have to have the right license and wear a minimum of 500-square inches of blaze orange on your head and upper body.
Was the sun ever going to get above the trees? I thought I was properly dressed. I broke a light sweat walking in.
But now, after 45 minutes sitting in the stand, I was chilly. My fingers were cold and I could have used one more layer on my legs.
My favorite big buck season is about to begin. When the TWRA set the muzzleloader season in early November, before the rifle season, I became a happy camper and had I known how, I would have done my happy dance. It is possible, I did it anyway.
I like shooting a front-stuffer, always have. My first one was a kit gun and was a genuine piece of recycled hay. I never knew where it would shoot or if it even would shoot.
When I first met Judge Bob Hamilton (ret.), he was an up and coming lawyer with a penchant for reloading rifle bullets and running good bird dogs. We hunted quail together and he reloaded some Nosler Partition bullets for my deer rifle. They shot great and now and then, we killed a few quail.
He stretched hugely, The Old Man, scratching a chigger bite on his left ankle with the nail of his right big toe.
He had scratched chigger bites that way for over 60-years. He stretched again, making the springs on the cot twang and his bad back, pop comfortably. He liked the sound.
Each year, as deer season progresses, hunters argue about and discuss the TWRA management plan for Wilson County and surrounding areas. The management of whitetail deer is not complicated or even difficult. In this column, I'll simplify it even more.
The first step is always to set a goal. Then, outline a feasible plan. So, let me start with that.
Sixty-three degrees and on the wet side of damp. My 61st opening day of deer season.
Not many people ride a lawnmower to the woods. But I do. Not many people throw up out of their treestand. But I do. Not many people quit the woods, after only three hours on opening day, because they are bored. But I do.
Not long ago, there was a tremendous hue and cry because a lion was killed in Africa. Not much was said about hundreds of humans that are killed there every month or the fact that not long before that, a lion jumped in a car and killed a woman.
Also, it was not mentioned that the natives were delighted a lion was killed.
I felt this was an appropriate time to talk about ethics. Our archery deer season opens next Tuesday (Sept. 29) and many youngsters will be hunting for the first time. You might suggest they read this or better yet, read it to them. Then, maybe discuss it. Start them off right. JLS --
This column may have little relevance to most readers. For some reason I can't fathom, I have been almost compelled to write it for quite some time.
Step back about 60-years with me. See if you can see what I see.
The moon was so full, looked so close, I thought I could hit it with an arrow.
Maybe before I die, I'll try. Could be, it just looked close because I am at 10,650 feet on the side of a mountain. There is just a touch of frost.
I adjust the pack and slide the bow sling over my head. There is just a touch of frost and the aspens have started to turn.
It is not as it once was. Times have changed and I, reluctantly, have changed with them. Glasses help tired eyes, ladder stands replace fixed position or climbing stands and the requirement of being prepared to hunt with the bow is a totally different deal.
It has been a quite a while since I caught a limit of smallmouth bass out of Percy Priest. It use to be common. Back when the limit was 10 and there was no size limit, it was pretty easy. I did not keep a limit this year; you would have a heck of a limit with five smallmouth over 18-inches.
Night birds, especially aquatic night birds, make strange sounds-like a kid puking. The small waves, as they break over the gravel/rocky shore, sounds like the incessant giggles of a gaggle of school girls. The croak of tree frog is reminiscent of a baby breaking wind. The plop-plop of my Jitterbug in four feet of dark water, 30-yards from the boat and just short of the bank, tells me the cast did not hit the bank. That is a good sound. All is well.
At sunrise, fog lays low on the water. It is too dangerous to run far, especially with the proliferation of kayaks. The little boats are so low profile, in fog or low light, it is easy to run up on one before you see it.
When I was a kid, they use to rib me and say I had a water mark on legs. It may have been partially true. I spent so much time wading the sloughs and bayous around Pineville, Louisiana, I probably did have a water mark. When I was not in the bateau, I was wading. I caught a lot of fish and only got snake bit once. I felt that was probably enough. I never have learned to really enjoy it.
Well, it finally happened. Yesterday, Tuesday, June 30 I became 71-years old.
That adds up to a heap of yesterdays. What a great life I have had and with God's will and a little luck, I'll be able to tout up a few more.
But think about it. I should never have lived this long, given the life I have had.
In early 2014 the staff at Long Hunter State Park decided the park needed a new patch.
Bundled up like an Eskimo on May 1, a drought that turned into a wet winter, then a few days of spring, return to rain then, a drought and heat wave to kill. No wonder the fish were confused.
It was a spring of crazy weather. It isn't just me, either. Several anglers commented on just how nuts this spring and the spring on into summer, fishing has been.
Two sunny side up, sausage, toast and plenty of hot coffee. It is just past five in the A of M and I meet the Judge (ret.) David Earl Durham, at the Waffle House. I wonder, just how many May mornings have I started that way?
For many years, it has been the usual meeting place for my fishing partners and me on days we headed for Center Hill. When I was not staying up there, I still fished as many as four days a week and the WH is where we met.
We were catching Oscars, me and Russ Jackson. We were on some canal down in Florida and they were nailing the half a night crawler we were fishing under a cork.
They fought like demons and ran a pound or more. Fantastic eating, too.
So this guy from Mt. Juliet says to me, "Have you heard about all the Tilapia they are catching at the steam plant? A friend of mine at work caught 75 in a half-day, last week."
Turkey season is winding down.
Maybe you are tagged out on turkeys. Maybe you are tired of not seeing turkeys. Maybe the bass have shut you out. Maybe the crappie have lockjaw. Maybe you are just bored.
You need a change.
Years ago, Tom T. Hall owned it, before the Scott's bought it and turned it into the Watertown Animal Sanctuary. The cabin where he wrote a lot of his songs still stands.
Now, deer, turkeys and horses roam the fields. It is a sanctuary for old and abused horses, sort of a retirement community just outside Watertown. I was there to try and shoot a turkey.
The turtles, maybe the most I have seen in one place, seemed to have about the same plan for the day that I did.
The water lapped lightly against their log and it lapped lightly against my boat. Both the turtles and I seemed calm and oblivious to everything except the warm sun.
Years ago, when I first started fishing Old Hickory, several times I heard it called the Dr. Pepper Lake.
The soft drink company had a slogan that implied it was good at 10-2 & 4, three times a day. That was when the "Old Timers" said Old Hickory was best for bass and crappie, 10-2 & 4.
If it were daylight, he would have been near the horizon.
That is how far away the coyote wailed. I shivered slightly in the pre-dawn cold and hunkered against the water oak in the fence row at my back.
Clear skies, bright sun and a light breeze. Finally, a day for fishing without being semi-miserable. So we went, Judge (ret.) Dave Durham and your "humble" outdoor writer. Yes we did. We launched my Grey Goose at the Hermitage Yacht Club ramp and away we went.
Carroll Whitener would be out looking for gobblers these cold, quiet mornings. Carroll's season on earth ended a few months ago. He will hunt better places this year.
I started bowhunting with a Fred Bear recurve bow and six aluminum arrows. I practiced all summer, shooting at hay bales in the backyard. Just 45-minutes into the opening morning of archery season, I shot and killed an 80-pound doe. She was the first deer at which I ever flung an arrow.
I hunted throughout the rest of archery season, missed several deer and wounded one which I did not recover. I was not what you may call completely happy with my equipment though there was nothing wrong with it.
Late February and March can be spotty when it comes to catching crappie in Middle Tennessee. So many factors are involved in the fish moving up and congregating in a pre-spawn pattern. But they can be caught.
The weather is a huge factor. We need a few warm, sunny day to bring the water temperature up and melt the ice off the boat ramps
It won't be long. The leaves will start greening, the honeysuckle blooming and them yeller flowers called forsythe or something will be sweetening the air. That is when an old man's fancy turns to thoughts of fish.
I concluded my deer season a few days ago, at White Oak Plantation down in Alabammy. Stick a fork in me I'm done and I'll relate all that in a future column.
Well, bada-bing-bada-boom. It is a new year. Seems like they come faster as each one passes. Wasn't too long ago, I believed you had to cut a deer's throat as soon as possible or the meat would not be tender. Heck, not all that long ago, there was no limit on bluegill or crappie and we could keep 10-bass of any length.
"There's a jolly fat man in a silly red suit, stuck in the smoke hole of my teepee."
That line from a Lakota Sioux parody on our Christmas songs has always made me laugh. Over a month ago, the hustle and bustle of Christmas for the G-kids started at our house. For a while, I thought Jeanne was going to finally fill the empty rooms with boxes of toys.
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