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Old dogs, turkeys & women make us whine

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.

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A day alone

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.

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Fishing the Dr. Pepper Lake

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.

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The paltry poultry of Macon County, Ala.

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.

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Oh, those ideas of March

Beautiful.

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.

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Okay. March. Catch fish. Repeat.

March can be one hot month for catching fish, especially smallmouth.

It can be a great month on Center Hill, Percy Priest and Old Hickory. IF...

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Are you scouting yet?

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.

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The times they are a changin'

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.

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It's crappie time -- almost

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

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They use to call it Bentleys

Remember when the boat ramp at Misty Cove was a going concern? It's at the end of Ramsey Road . . . or whatever that road is now called.

You know, just past where Chuck Keel's mother had the old trailer house. Not only was the ramp in good shape, Hank Bentley had a dock and even a sorta restaurant there. He bought it from J.R. Ramsey long time ago. Great place for breakfast.

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Raisinettes and Werisesteria

It is a great day for a werisesteria. I never knew it was called that. Heck, maybe there really isn't such a word. Fellow that told it to me could have just made it up but I've not known him to lie. Well, not bad anyway.

I leaned against the side of the big maple. It is naked now, my ladder stand does just that. It stands out with no leaves to hide it. In the fall, that stand is surrounded by the reds and golds of turning leaves. Now, the whole patch of woods is sepia or just drab. Not much color. Great for a werisesteria.

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Doll Fly, Slap Happy and Rippin Rap

Cold.

I have the wool facemask covering everything but my eyes. Harold has a motorcycle helmet on so he is in better shape. I shut my eyes as the wind whips the tears across my face and they freeze. Harold is driving. He best keep his eyes open. The drab bank with naked trees and bare rocks flies by

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Ice in the guides, not me

You can catch fish in cold weather. You can catch varied species in cold weather. I put emphasis on the YOU. Cause see, I aint fishin in cold weather ever again. I have done that and I ain agonna do it anymore!

I have caught walleye, sauger, trout, bass, striper, catfish, bream, and crappie and most likely, some I have forgotten; some like ling. At the time, before I was on blood thinner and stayed cold all the time, I reckon I enjoyed it. I must have cause I did a lot of it.

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Pre-spring & other things about which to rant

This pre-spring time of year always baffles me. I am never sure just what I should be doing. If we have a tolerable day, there is a chance D. Earl Durham and I might go try and catch some sauger or something. Other than that, there is not a lot I need to do.

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What a fortunate life

Just got to thinking about this. Thought I'd share it with you as we calm down from deer season. Man, have I ever had a fortunate life.

Just think, for over 20-years, I made a living in professional rodeo, a life I loved. Riding bucking horses and bulls put me through college on a great scholarship and gave me a doctorate in U.S. Geography.

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A Spring day in pictures, it won't be long

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.

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What's up for next year?

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.

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Here Comes Santa Claus

"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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Seven days of sun, or eat your heart out

The boiling sun had just begun to melt the blue-green water of the Gulf into a copper spill. A gull wheeled and screed at Jason. He cast the sand flea far out into the surf and began to wait.

I peeled off my shirt and sat back to watch. I don't have to fish every time I go fishing. I was still full of shrimp and stuff and a solid eight hours sleep still had me slightly groggy. I sipped my iced orange juice and watched Jason fish.

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Shiver the rivets out

It was not that cold, maybe 45 above. I was 18-feet up a slender tree and shivering so hard the entire tree was shaking. Time to unclimb the tree. I was about to shiver the rivets out of my treestand. I was lucky to get down with no injuries and warm up. I had made some serious mistakes.

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It's not all about whitetails

Although we are in the heart of our deer season and amidst the best days of hunting isn't all about deer...or even hunting for that matter. There are a lot of outdoor activities besides hunting deer.

For example, the retired Judges, David Earl Durham and Bob "Backwards Tent" Hamilton snuck onto some land probably owned by my very former in-laws and went after antelope.

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A new Thanksgiving tradition

It has long been a Thanksgiving tradition for me to hunt a few hours, early Thanksgiving morning. Oddly for some reason, I have been quite lucky on these short hunts.

On one occasion, I killed an eight-point that measures just over 130-inches. That is good buck for Wilson County.

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The excitment of opening day

It is a cold November night in the Saline Swamp. There are seven of us in the camp house, 12-feet above the ground-Uncle Lester, Uncle Alphus, Uncle Lloyd, Uncle Bobby with Miss Jessie, Miss Lilly and myself. I am related to none of them but they raised me. It is the night before opening day of the Louisiana deer season.

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A different sort of day

I have no idea why this day is different. Dawn is slowly turning into sunrise. The two owls are right on schedule. They gargle and whoo about four every afternoon and again about 5:30 in the morning. It is a beautiful morning, cold, 32-degrees with not much wind. But this morning, is slightly different.

I have picked this stand for one reason. The tree leans slightly backwards, making it more comfortable on my bad back.

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This business of the rut

It should be starting right about now. Depending on where you hunt, the pre-rut should be going on now. This is the time the bucks are actively looking for and chasing does.

This is not the peak of the rut. This is not when the largest percentage of does get bred. This is the best time to hunt a mature buck. The peak is not the best time. That should happen just before Thanksgiving.

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