For quite a while I have been wishing for an event where I would have the opportunity to spend a day with the many friends and readers I have been blessed with through my 30 years as an outdoors writer; a place where we could spend time together telling tales and reminiscing a bit about the past and make plans for new outdoor adventures.
While sting on a deer stand a couple of months ago, my mind wandered to the annual mountain man Rendezvous that occurred back in the height of the fur trappers day in the early 1800’s. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a ‘modern day’ rendezvous held during the winter in an outdoor setting? An event where I could prepare a bunch of ‘vittles’ over an open fire and offer guests barbeque, freshly caught fish, Dutch kettle cobbler, etc. YES! This would a fun day and when I mentioned it to a couple of good friends, they were all in.
Randy Koon, who owns Henley Auto Supply and the adjacent 4 wooded acres in Greenville offered his place for the event. Frindlee, a well know personality that hosts his weekly podcasts on Facebook called “Frindlee Live and Frindlee News’ as well as Frindlee Radio that streams on the internet in real time offered to serve as Master of Ceremonies helped organize the event.
Preparations for this outdoor event slowly took place and last Saturday, I had my truck loaded with Dutch Kettles, a big cooler full of barbequed pork, the makings of a big blackberry cobbler, campfire grill and countless other items necessary to put on a ‘feed’ for a good number of people. My buddy Bill Carey with Striper on lake Texoma showed up with an ice cooler filled with freshly caught striper fillets. Jeff Rice and his wife Demi were on hand with all sorts of side dishes. Billy Kilpatrick, the well known retired crappie guide from Lake Lavon arrived with a big container of his famous ‘camp beans’. I soon had the campfire burning and a good bed of coals ready to supply heat to the Dutch kettles and cast iron skillets. By the appointed 10 a.m. opener, vendors with booths marketing everything from guided fishing trips to homemade wooden Christmas ornaments were ready to kick the day off.
I had my old enamel 20 cup coffee pot heating over the coals and folks began trickling by my ‘camp’ to talk about the outdoors with me. Several had stories about articles I had written decades ago about them and other simply wanted to put a name with a face. One older gentleman wearing suspenders and walking on a cane ambled up to me and shook hands, “Luke, you don’t look anything like I pictured you,” says he. I replied with something like, “Well who did you expect sir, Jeremiah Johnson? We both had a big laugh. Most were impressed at the flavor of my ‘camp coffee’. Many had never tasted coffee cooked over a campfire that was actually ‘boiled’ and not ‘perked’ in a modern coffee pot. I pointed out the fact that making camp coffee was very easy and it has much less acid that modern day brewing methods. Simply get the water boiling and toss in a handful or two (depending up on desired strength) of ground coffee. Let it boil for about 30 seconds and remove the pot from heat. Let it ‘steep’ about 5 minutes and then pour in a little cold water to settle the grounds. A little sugar tossed into the pot goes well with this strong coffee.
Thanks to music supplied by some expert local musicians, we were kept entertained throughout the event. I even saw some folks ‘sliding across the dance floor’ on the asphalt pavement adjacent our ‘camp’. A real highlight to the event for me was when I was presented with a copy of one of the first newspaper outdoor columns I penned way back in 1989. I might hold some sort of writing ‘first’ when it comes to columns. I’ve been writing this outdoor column that you read here each week, without interruption, for almost 31 years. During the course of the day, I had several hunting and fishing guides remind me of when I fished or hunted with ‘back in the day’. Yes, they appeared a bit longer in the tooth than when I spent time with them years ago but I’m positive I didn’t look like the budding young outdoors writer I once was either! The great thing is the fact that most of them are still enjoying, as am I, spending time in the great outdoors that has brought us all so much joy through the years. I even had the opportunity to meet a friend that I have written about and given reports from for years, Mr. Allan Ballard who guides up on Pat Mayse Lake. Allan and I had never met fact to fact until this event but we vowed to spent time together fishing his home waters soon.
I’m not sure where the art of writing about the outdoors will be thirty years from now. I know for a fact that you won’t be reading Ole’ Luke’s take on hunting and fishing then but I’m betting as longs as there are woods and waters and wild places, there will be those that love to share their experiences via the written word.
This day spent with a great number of fellow lovers of the outdoors served to inspire me and let me know that the words I write are appreciated and in this publication, eagerly awaited each week by many. I have no intentions of slowing down and continue to keep doing what I do for the foreseeable future, well maybe not 30 years longer but at least ten!
Thanks for allowing me to divert a bit this week from my normal ‘hook and bullet’ writing. I’ll be back next week telling you about a great fishing destination or possibly a spot where hog hunting is ‘off the chain’.
Contact Luke with outdoor news from your area via his website www.catfishradio.org.