"I wish I could just implant what I have learned in 50 years of asking why an animal did what he did." -- David Whitefish, veteran elk guide.
We sit around the campfire, the three of us, Mickey, Russ and me. It is a cold, bleak night at the end of a cold bleak day on the 2,100 acres we had leased. We walked a lot that day, saw a lot, made notes and maps. February is often a bleak month. But it is month to gather information. We stretch our legs to the fire, swirl the bourbon in our glasses. It is February, 1980.
It is strange, I have so few pictures of the place. It was one of my favorite places of all time.
Despite the fact, some thought it was haunted and I know for a fact, UFO's visited regularly, I often camped there alone.
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.
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.
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