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Tag Archives: Tennessee

The past twenty-four hours or so has found me surrounded by beauty.  The beauty of some wonderful landscapes. The beauty of good weather. The beauty of good people. Not the least of which was the beauty of love.  In fact I believe I’ve witnessed more love than anytime in the recent past.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the wedding of two of the finest folks I know.  The setting was outside a home built in 1800 down in South Caroline. As you can imagine the architecture was amazing.  The surround fields and woods more than did their part as well.  Friends and family surrounded the couple to share their love as well.  Seeing how these families interacted with one another was refreshing.  In fact this couple’s love has endured the test of time and distance alike.  I can’t help but believe it will continue for a very long time to come.

I also had the great fortune to meet someone with an amazing smile.  A smile so brilliant that it sparkled much like a diamond would in the noontime sun.  A smile that immediately etched a permanent place deep within the hollowed out stone that once held my heart.  Have you ever met someone and immediately knew they would always have a place in your life?  This was one such person.

The inspiration I’ve gleaned from this weekend is so refreshing and appreciated.  In fact I jumped off the interstate down and Georgia and took back roads up to my home in Tennessee.  In doing so I was able so marinate my thoughts and soak in further beauty while admiring my beloved landscape of Tennessee.  My ole pickup truck may not be the same as riding a scooter on these scenic byways.  But I assure you that it filled my soul with much-needed rest and relaxation.

Take the time to look around and enjoy the journey,

Ronman

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Years of searching and indecision have come to an end.  Excuses as to why I shouldn’t. Reasons as to why I should. Hundreds if not thousands of I would but. This one would probably be okay, except. I really don’t have the time, because. All these along with thousand of other excuses have come to an end.

Along the way I’ve learned many things.  Lessons both difficult and fun. Finding out things buried deep within myself. Taking me as far back into my memory as I’ve ever journeyed. Many prayers and tearful questions have brought me to this.  There have been people who’ve turned their back on me. Most for their own personal reasons. Some for unknown reasons.  In fact I’ve had to turn away from people as well.  A select few could possible be welcomed back.

Conversations with strangers have brought back memories.  Reminders of wonderful people, places and times. Speaking to who I am.  Telling myself what I needed to do.  Knowing the answer yet not wanting to listen to my heart.  It has always been the answer throughout my life.  The teamwork required of man and beast.  The challenge of both terrain and darkness willingly accepted. The elements mother nature throws your way. The game and it’s many tactics and tricks in which it tries to outwit man and hound.

At long last I am once again a full fledged coonhunter.  That’s who I am. That’s what I am.  Joined with the breed of hound I so love.  How many steps have I followed a Bluetick coonhound? How many more will I take? I doubt I could enumerate those steps.  I wouldn’t dare try.

My health, my heart and my  mind will all be better  because of this. Once again my weary soul will be rejuvenated by the glorious song of a Bluetick coonhound chasing a wily old coon through the hills, hollows and bottomland of my beloved Tennessee.

Working our way through this journey we call life is thrilling, mundane and tiresome. We find ourselves in a rut at times.  In order to escape those ruts one must take whatever measures he deems necessary. In doing so you will ruffle the feathers of others around you. In the end we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. We control the choices that we make. In doing so we control our happiness.

It has taken me many trying years to learn this valuable lesson.  Sure, we can share our happiness with other likeminded people. But those people are not required for happiness.  Once you wrap your head around this little morsel of information you can begin down such a better pathway through life.

Over the weekend I was finally able to contact an old hunting buddy. It has been between twelve and fifteen years since we’ve spoke. Honestly I cannot remember why we stopped talking other than the fact that I stopped Coon hunting. Through the years I’ve wondered if he was still following those bawling hounds around the hills and hollers of Tennessee.  Much like myself he had taken some time off.  We spent a time catching up over the phone and treeing a few. It was good.

The struggle for me has been to fill a void.  Yes, motorcycles served that purpose for many years.  Although there was always something missing that I couldn’t put a finger on. Camping and fishing have and will always be a part of who I am.  A couple years ago I started Deer hunting again.  Still something was missing. I’ve known all along what it was. I simply didn’t want to admit it. I even bought a couple of Mountain Feist and started working with them Squirrel hunting.  This only compounded the emptiness.

You see, what’s been missing for far too many years, well it is Coon hunting. Following the melody of a hound as it works the track of a Coon.  I wasn’t ready yet. I didn’t have a kennel. I didn’t have the time. I didn’t have anywhere to hunt. All of these were the excuses I told myself. All are both true and false statements.

But now, now I have a kennel. Now I realize I have as much time as my old man had to hunt. Now I understand that my old hunting partner basically only hunts the two nights a week that I could hunt. Granted I don’t have all the places to hunt that I once did.  But I do have places to hunt.  In time and with some effort I feel as though I can come up with additional places to hunt.  If not I’ll enjoy what I do have.

My journey is far from over. At least I hope it is.  We never truly know how much time we have.  Realistically I don’t have as much time as has already past. So it’s up to me to use the time that remains wisely.  My search for a hound is on.  Yes I have some Mountain Feist. Yes, I have a litter of puppies due in about a month. I’ll continue to enjoy these dogs.  But I’ll also enjoy seeking out another Coonhound to bring me back full circle to my roots.  In doing so I’ll honor the traditions passed down from my Daddy and Uncle. I’ll honor those old men who took the time to let me hunt with them. I’ll honor our Almighty Creator by soaking in the beauty of nature that He has laid before us.

This life is a continual learning process. My thirst and hunger for learning is peaked.  My classroom is the outdoors. I’m ready for school to continue.

 

Ronman

Driving home tonight took me back to those cool spring nights from when I was a boy. I covered some backroads that aren’t so backroad anymore. Riding with my window down listening to WSM on my radio felt right. The cool night air filling my lungs with good ole Tennessee countryside. I think of when we could pull off the road and drop the tail gait to exercise the hounds. 

Hearing the clear crisp sound of Jack echoing throughout the rolling hills of middle Tennessee was oh so therapeutic. Now the memories are every bit as therapeutic. It wasn’t lost that the dog box I was carrying in the bed of my pickup truck was the same dog box used all those many years before. Magnum, Jack, Blaze, Utah and Reble are but a few of the many hounds that traveled to and from the woods in that old dog box. 

Now days I don’t have time to hunt coons with a bawl mouthed Bluetick Coonhound. My new four legged friends are the Mountain Feist. It’s been a learning experience for sure. Second guessing myself causes me to wonder if I doing things the right way. Visiting with a well versed Mountain Feist man over the weekend has reassured me that I’m on the right track. Now it’s up to me to put in the time and effort to help my two Mountain Feist reach their full potential. 

Along the way hopefully I’ll get some exercise. Not to mention enjoying the beauty of my beloved Tennessee natural resources. The companionship and love shown by these little Mountain Feist is addictive. They certainly take a hold of you. 

Many a year has passed since I followed my hounds through the woods. Although not a hound, Jordan is a hunting dog. That pretty little Treeing Mountain Feist is breathing new life into me.  Nothing like walking through the woods accompanied by your dog. Jordan's First SquirrelI took advantage of a nice cool morning to enjoy nature. I went complete old school and carried my old 20 gauge single shot. I’ve had that gun since I was 9 years of age. Many a squirrel has given up the ghost to the boom of that old gun. It seemed fitting that it should bring down the first squirrel that Jordan treed.

It wasn’t pretty, mind you. I saw the squirrel before she did. She was smelling it though. She tracked it perfectly. Retracing every step the squirrel had made to the tree. That did my old heart much good. As soon as she started treeing I brought him down.

This may not seem like much to you. What you don’t know is that this was only the third time Jordan has been in the woods.  I did see another squirrel on our short little trip. It was tough to let it walk. Had Jordan been able to locate it, that would have been a different story.

She’s using her nose good. Now she will get the hang of looking in the trees for movement and listening in time. It’s up to me to keep putting her in the timber.

Dust on the bumper. Mud in the fender wells. Gravel county roads that lead to old dirt logging roads. Hardwood ridges filled with Hickories and Oaks.  The peace and quiet is rarely interrupted. The sounds of nature. Songbirds and leaves soothe my soul.

Searching for deer sign I look within. I draw from those who took the time to get me lost in the woods. Little did I know all those many years past, getting lost would allow me to find myself. I can never repay in full the debt I owe these wonderful men.

The hope I have is that they are looking down upon me as I explore my beloved Tennessee backwoods.  I envision a smile on their faces. I pay homage in the weapons I use. I pay homage in the equipment that gets me “out there”. I pay homage in the ethical way I spend time in the outdoors.

To all those who took the time, I salute you.

 

Ronman

The other night there was a bad wreck on the interstate. So bad, in fact that it was shut down going east. Having grown up traveling back and forth across I-40 it was nothing new for me to know a way around. However, I didn’t realize where this little detour was going to take me.

By the time I made my drop and swap in Memphis the state had started forcing people around the accident. A county deputy had my route of choice blocked. That’s okay. Soon I was traveling on the two lane backroads of Tennessee. I’ve always loved the backroads. Oh the memories. Back before the turn of the century I often took the backroads. In those days I was dodging scales and always running hot on my logs.

By the way the driver of the truck in front of me was acting I’d say he hasn’t spent much time trucking on two lane roads. Driving through this West Tennessee bottom land in the middle of the night was my kind of trucking. What happened next slipped up on me. I was at Gallaway. Not much more than a wide spot in the road.

In 1923 Gallaway must have really been small. That’s the year my old man was born there. My love of Tennessee grows deep. Much like the roots of the stately old Oak and Hickory trees that grow along the roadway. I’ve fished her waters. From wading her creeks to floating her rivers via canoe to boating her lakes. I’ve hunted her wildlife from the flat fertile land of West Tennessee through the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee all the way to the mountains of East Tennessee.

This land is a major part of who I am. It’s taught me lessons. It’s showed me the beauty of nature. Not all the lessons have been good ones. I’ve traveled near and far around this great country.  Though there are some places that hold a special place in my heart. None will ever uproot Tennessee as my beloved homeland.

This detour only took me four miles out of route.  In my mind it took me back generations.

Ronman

Ten long years is what it’s been. I won’t get into the why of it being so long since I’ve hunted. I finally decided that it was time to get back into the outdoors.  Let me just say that I’m really glad I did.

There’s just something about easing into the woods before daylight that gets your heart pumping. Well, duh, the walk in.  The sights and sounds. The challenge to be as quiet as possible. The smells of nature filling your lungs.

Having hunting all my life, I still got excited heading out to the woods. In fact so much that I had to return to the house before I could get going good. This caused me to decided to not hunt from my tree stand. I didn’t want to get up there and have an accident from being so excited.

I can’t help but think back to the very first deer hunt I went on as a kid. It helps me appreciate how far I’ve come. I use the skills learned all those years ago each and every time I go hunting. Today was no different. I settled into my spot between two trees. Cleared all the leaves and branches away so that I wouldn’t make any noise. Then I sat back and enjoyed the sounds of the dawning day. I truly enjoy seeing wildlife. There’s just something about viewing them in their natural environment that soothes the soul. I must have seen 20 squirrels on this morning. Those little creatures sure can make lots of noise. Deer are way more quiet in the woods than squirrels.

The first deer I spotted were four does.  You cannot imagine how this gets your heart pumping. I played a little game of hide and seek with these four ladies. Loved seeing them. Never did get a good shot so I just admired their beauty and watched them walk away.About an hour after those does left, something caught my eye. It was some movement. I could see the sun reflecting of a rack. Remember that heart pounding? Well it happened again. This buck was just enjoying eating his way through the woods. He was beautiful. At first I didn’t have a good shot. I don’t like to make a questionable shot. The animals deserve more respect than that.  Patience paid off yet again. Soon he moved and presented me with a nice shot.  BOOM! Then the smoke-filled the area in front of me. Smoke poles get their name honest. That’s when my heart went into overdrive. I was breathing like I had run up the capital steps. I calmed down and reloaded the muzzleloader. Then I went over to where the buck had been. There was no doubt I had a solid hit on him. About 15 yards away he was down.  After some work I had him loaded up and ready to be checked in. Soon he was at the butcher. I can’t wait to enjoy all the meals this wonderful animal will give me.

It took ten years to get back at it. I’m going to do my best to enjoy as much time hunting as I can over these coming years. I know the day is coming when I won’t be able to do such. That’s when I’ll rely on all the memories to pass the time. Hopefully the journey never ends in the hollows of my mind.

Ronman

Bear Creek Church

I couldn’t help but get some stuff done today when I got up. Having done that I rewarded myself with a ride. The temps were in the 80’s here today in Tennessee. Gorgeous would be an understatement. I left out with a general idea in mind of where I wanted to ride. Nothing in stone though. I love riding like that. Just take whatever road the spirit points ya down.  Today was such a day.

I started on some familiar paths. With the temps this high I wanted to see if some of the local scenery was out and about. I soon came to a road I normally take. Today I decided to keep going. Sort of shake things up a bit.  I needed to do things differently. I needed to refresh myself. To clear my mind. To see some new sights.  I needed to get lost in the wonderful rolling hills of Middle Tennessee. It’s when I’m lost that I find myself. Soon I found the sort of thing that stops me in my tracks. Here it was. Someone’s collection of old signs and memories.  A cold drink bottle rack hanging on the wall full of old glass bottles. Man oh man did those drinks ever taste good from those glass bottles. Remember when you found a place that kept their machine so cold they would have slush in them. Now that was good stuff!

Traveling these new paths I’d found my mind was in overdrive. My sensory intake was at high alert. The sights. The sounds. The scents. Everything was flooding in and being processed.  Somewhere between the smell of chicken shit and fresh-cut grass a light bulb went off. There it was plain as day.

We’ve all seen the beautiful white blooms on a Bradford Pear tree. We’ve also all seen a Cedar tree.  These two trees are like people. First you have the outward beauty of the Bradford Pear. Although decorative and pleasant to the eye, that’s about all it’s good for. The wood is soft and doesn’t withstand any pressure.  A moderate wind can topple or break it. Not to mention they stink.

Some people are like the Bradford Pear.  Outwardly they are beautiful. You enjoy looking at them. They seem to be wonderful. However when you get a little closer to them you come to realize they stink.  Let the storms of life blow in and see how soon they break. They can’t take it.  They leave you with nothing but broken pieces. In fact the fire from a Bradford Pear is fast and doesn’t put off much heat. Just like these people.

Now take the Cedar tree. It’s just an evergreen. It grows mainly in the worst ground. It will grow where no other tree will grow. It’s not a flashy tree. It doesn’t grown into the huge stature of say an Oak. But the Cedar thrives where no other tree will.  If you need shelter you can use the Cedar. It’s green branches when placed together will block the wind. It will conceal you from the view of others.

Let’s look at the wood of the Cedar. Outwardly it’s sort of fuzzy. Not very smooth. Peel some of it off and it makes an excellent fire starter. Fire that can save your life.  Cut into the cedar and you’ll find beauty. The red wood is some of the most beautiful on earth. The fragrance of the Cedar is wonderful too.  Go to any town square and I  bet you’ll find old men sitting around whittling on Cedar.  How many times have you seen a hope chest made of Cedar? How many times have you seen fence posts made of Cedar?

If you want something that can protect you from the storms of life. If you want something to build a lasting place to store your valuables. If you want something to be pleasant on the eyes and your sense of smell. If you want something to relax you and give you pleasure choose Cedar.

Now I ask you, Which person are you? Are you the Bradford Pear with its outer beauty and pungent odor that can’t stand up to life’s pressures? Or, are you the meager Cedar that can thrive in less than ideal ground. That although outwardly less appealing, inwardly you bring strength, beauty, hope, longevity and pleasantries to the senses?

Ride Safe

Ronman