Monday, November 29, 2010

Men who were Giants!

The older I get the more I value the relationships that I have had with some very great men.  It is only later in life that I realize just how lucky I was to be able to spend time with my grandfathers or men who were like one of my grandfather's.  I just wish that when I was younger that I would have cherished the time spent with them more than I did.  I was reminded of just how little time we have with each other today as one of my favorite people passed away.  He was a friend of mine who attended our church and Grandfather to one of my close friends.  He was one of those men who can be considered "Giants" among those people who knew him.  His giving nature and overall great attitude is what I will miss most.  He always took the time to stop me and talk to me and ask me if I was "looking out" for his Grandson.  I promised him that I was doing my best!  As I reflect on my many conversations that I had with Mr. Ed, I am reminded of all of the "Grandfathers" that I have had in my life and even though they are no longer with us, their memory will last a lifetime.

Grand Daddy-  My Grand Daddy was a farmer and drove a tractor.  He was a strong man that worked hard and enjoyed his play time also.  He is where the family hunting tradition comes from and the reason my father is a hunter and I am too!  I have too many stories to tell about this man and what he meant to my life and I miss him very much to this day.  I think he would be proud of me for the way that I am teaching Reid to love hunting and fishing.  I have a little 20 gauge over and under that he gave to me.  It is the pride of my gun collection!  I am honored to carry his name!

PaPa- Papa was the Grandfather that every little boy wanted to have.  He was the fire chief!!!!  Yep, I got to ride the fire trucks and even wear the Chief's hat.  How cool is that??????  He was also very good with his hands and liked to do wood working projects.  I have several pieces in my house that he made for me and my sister.  I will cherish them always!  I remember that he was just the most gentle and kind man that you could ever be around.  He was my PaPa!

Mr. Leroy-  Since both of my grandfather's lived out of town, neither one of them got to see me play much baseball.  This is where Mr. Leroy comes in.  He was a family friend who sort of made me one of his grand children.  He came to every baseball game that I played in in high school.  He would sit right behind home plate and shout words of encouragement in my direction.  I would always make sure to go up to the fence and talk to him before the games.  All the guys on the team just assumed that he was my "real" grandfather.  He wasn't, but neither of us seemed to mind!

Big Jim-  I'm not really sure what started off the special relationship that I had with Mr. Jimmy.  I think he approached me at church when I was just a young teenager and told me that he was the Grandfather of one of my buddies.  He liked my singing and I liked the way he said a prayer.  We would find each other every Sunday to make sure that we spoke.  As I got older and became great friends with all of his Grandsons, he would proudly say that I was his 4th grandson!  I was the one that was proud!  Mr. Jimmy was a great man and I loved him very much.  I served as a pallbearer  at his funeral.

Mr. Ed- He always had a smile on his face.  I met Mr. Ed through Mr. Jimmy.  They were great friends.  When I went to visit Mr. Ed in the hospital two weeks ago, we spent our time together talking about Big Jim and all of us boys.  He asked me if I was "looking out" for his Grandson and I told him I was doing my best.  I told him to get better and that I would see him at church when he got home.  He went home last night.  Heaven just got a little brighter!

I can only hope that those of you that read this will take some time to reflect on some of those "Giant" men that you have met in your life!  I consider myself very lucky to have had the time that I had with my giants!

Councilor, your Grandfather was a great man!  I will miss him!  And even though I know that you don't need it, I'm going to keep "looking out" for you........ just for Ed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kansas 2010!

I really enjoy the traditions that Hunting in the outdoors brings.  Whether they be family traditions, or historical traditions it really doesn't matter to me as long as it feels like you are carrying on something passed down to you by someone in your past.  Upland hunting carries a long history of traditions and I think that is why I enjoy it so.  Now you may ask yourself how a South Georgia boy knows anything about upland hunting?  The truth is that I really do not know all that much about "true" upland hunting, but I think blaze orange is a beautiful color and love to put it on as I chase bobwhite quail through the Georgia pines and brier patches.  For "true" upland hunting, I go to Kansas!

Daddy and I flew out to Kansas on Friday morning.  The weather was beautiful and the long range forecast promised sunny days with the high in the upper 50's.  Perfect for chasing ring necks!  We arrived in Beloit, Kansas Friday afternoon and was able to attend the local Pheasants Forever banquet.  Daddy and I are probably the only two PF members in this part of the state of Georgia.  After catching up with old friends and hunting partners, we went back to the motel to rest up for the next days hunt.

It was cold!  I was prepared for the weather and had all of the correct gear, but it was cold and you could tell that there would be no sunshine that morning.  Even though it was a little chilly, I couldn't wait to hit that first patch of CRP grass and flush some roosters.  It did not disappoint.  We killed a good many birds as we pushed this field and I killed my limit in the first hour of the hunt.  Even with my limit reached, you keep hunting to try and help your neighbor reach his limit.  I helped him too as I killed two more before lunch.  It was a good day so far.  The afternoon was not as productive as the weather held true and the sun never made an appearance.  The temperature never rose above 34 for the day and birds did not seem to be very active as we were having trouble finding birds in feed.  We headed in with 46 roosters for the day!

The weather man said it would be in the 60's on Sunday with plenty of sunshine!  He is smoking crack!!  We woke up on Sunday morning to wet conditions and no sunshine.  It was also cold!  The days hunt did not produce as many birds.  We tried to stick to CRP grass, but we just couldn't find many birds.  I think the final count was 27.  We did get to see two Boone and Crockett white-tails though.  They were massive!

Monday morning promised warmer weather and sunshine!  Wrong!  What we got was rain!  We made a group decision and decided against hunting our third day.  We were only hunting a half day anyway, so we decided to change our flight plans and fly out that afternoon instead of Tuesday morning.  Instead of traveling all day yesterday, I was able to put out all of the Christmas decorations while the kids were at school.  No small task as we are now up to six Christmas trees at out house!!

I have often wondered if my South Georgia buddies would enjoy this trip.  It can be an awful lot of walking with not much shooting if the birds are not cooperating.  I like the trip for several reasons.  Reason number one is that I get to spend time with my Dad.  Not everyone gets to chase Pheasants with their Dad!  The other reasons are time spent with new friends, watching the dogs work, the beautiful landscapes, the huge farms that feed the heartland, the deer that you flush as you walk a field, the beating of wings as your instincts kick in and you swing on the bird as you determine rooster or hen, and carrying that rooster out of the field as his tail feathers stick out of your blaze orange vest!

Here's to looking forward to next year!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I graduated from Georgia Southern University in the summer of 1995.  I began my career in the real world that same summer and I am very happy to say that I have never stopped working since.  My job paths may have changed a little in the past 16 years, but not my desire to stay employed and enjoy doing what I do.  I consider myself very lucky to say that I enjoy going to work each day!  I really like my job and get great satisfaction from helping my clients, but everyone needs a break from time to time and right now is MY TIME!  I'M ON VACATION!!

As a single man, it was very easy to plan my vacation.  I had no one to think about but myself so I always planned my vacation for this time of year.  Why wait and take vacation time in late November?  Very simple!  Thanksgiving is the mecca of all things hunting!!!  The deer season should be hot and heavy, duck season is in, dove season opens back up and quail hunting opens too!  Most of your friends are off work due to the holidays, so there is always something to hunt and always someone to go with!  How could you not want to be free of your employment obligations at a time like this!?!?

I got married, had kids and things changed a bit.  I now have to plan summer vacations for the wife and kids.  I don't mind, but it cut down on my Thanksgiving hunting plans a bit.  I always had room for my Kansas trip, but sometimes I would not have many days left for a Wednesday dove shoot or the day after Thanksgiving traditional Luckie family quail hunt.  This year is different however.  The wife and I decided not to take a summer vacation this year.  We are saving our money to help pay for a Disney cruise that we are taking this coming up May.  This means that I had most of my vacation days left for the end of the year!  I am off the rest of this week and all of next week!  Let the hunting begin!!

What will I do?  For those of you that know me, you know that I have a list of things that I want to get done!  This morning I told myself that I would be lazy and watch it rain.  So much for that as I am currently on my third load of laundry.  I have plans to go to the grocery store and gather supplies for Hump Day tomorrow.  I'm hosting the festivities and making my famous vegetable soup for the boys.  I have to clean the shop, get my Jeep serviced, put some more ice on my deer meat in the cooler, see about getting my lawn mower fixed, shop for my wife's Christmas present, attend school events for my kids, find time to do a little hunting, and start packing for Kansas!  I would also like to find some time to do nothing!  Maybe read a book or take a few naps!

Yes I am on vacation!  I plan on enjoying the next two weeks and hopefully I will allow myself time to relax!  I think I deserve it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I have been Blessed!

The 2010 deer hunting season can be called a success for this little blogger.  Tonight was a good night for me and my Browning 30.06!  The deer you see before you has been chased pretty hard for the last couple of weeks.  That is when he showed up on my trail camera as well as the trail camera of my brother-n-law's who hunts on the same hunting lease with us.  It was a race to see who would take this buck and a race that I am glad to say that I won.  I have to admit that I thought that this deer was much larger than this.  If you look at his trail camera pictures you would have thought that he would score in the 150's.  Now that I have him in my hands he is more like a 140 class.  He will score less than that though because he has broken off two tines within the last couple of days.  I guess I will now be after the buck that was man enough to tie into this one!

I have to say that prayer works!  Ever since I saw this buck on my trail camera I have asked the Lord to bless me by giving me an opportunity to to at least have a shot at this deer.  Tonight he answered my prayers and I dropped him with one shot at 200 yards.  I would like to sit here and tell you that I made a perfect shot, but the truth is I almost missed him.  I hit him high right below the spine and the bullet was retrieved out of his opposite lung.  He dropped like you had hit him in the head with a hammer.  God is good! 

Now I can relax and get ready for my trip to Kansas at the end of this week!  Daddy and I will be making our way to Beloit, Kansas on Friday for three days of Pheasant hunting fun!  I'm sure that I will continue to be blessed as I enjoy the outdoors with my Dad!

Happy Hunting!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Squirrel Hunting Raptor Style!

Meet Ruby!  Ruby is a South Georgia Red Tailed Hawk.  She was our hunting partner today as Reid and I got to experience a little squirrel hunting fun raptor style!!

Bill from the Hump Day crowd has a brother named Bob.  Bob is retired and has recently taken up a new hobby.  Apparently all you have to do in the state of Georgia is take a class to be certified to own a fine feathered hunting partner.  They take it pretty seriously though as Bob had to join an organization and have his habitat approved before they would issue him a licence.  Once he had a licence all he needed was a bird.  Now you don't just go by your local pet shop and pick up a bird of prey, you have to go out and catch your own.  Bob rode around for a while until he spotted a lone hawk sitting on the edge of a field on the side of the road.  He set up his snare trap with two mice and moved a safe distance away.  The hawk sailed down within a matter of minutes and was caught in the snare.  The bird is unharmed during the process.  Ruby now has a new home and has been extremely spoiled for the last month.  She is very mild mannered and loves to be stroked on top of her head.  Bob tails me that the good thing about Red Tailed Hawks is that they are easily trained and should be able to hunt freely within 4 to 6 weeks.  Today was Ruby's first free hunt.

Reid and I have been shooting squirrels for Ruby for the past couple of weeks.  Bob feeds them to her once a week.  The idea is to make sure that the squirrel becomes Ruby's favorite food.  She did not get a squirrel this week and should be getting hungry, therefore she should want to hunt.  We took Ruby to a local pecan orchard where we spotted a few squirrels right off the bat.  Bob took Ruby close to one of the trees and when he thought that Ruby had a fix on one of the fury little critters, he let her go.  Up in the tree she went.  We just knew we were about to witness something very cool.  Ruby bounced to a couple of trees until she decided to settle in one place and just sit there.  And sit, and sit, and sit.  I guess Ruby was not quite ready to hunt.  All of Bob's material that he has studied has given him a lot of patience with this bird.  He understands that it takes time to effectively train Ruby.  I can not say the same thing for Reid.  He wanted to see some action.  We waited for almost an hour and we started to wonder if Ruby was ever going to come back to us or just fly off into the wild blue yonder.  Upon Bob's request, Reid and I loaded up to go hunt for a squirrel for Ruby so that we could get her down from the tree. 

It only took me about 5 minutes before I was back with a squirrel for Ruby.  Bob tied the squirrel to the end of a line and took it into the orchard with him.  He called to Ruby and began to pull the squirrel on the line.  That was all it took.  That big hawk dove out of that tree in a split second and hit the squirrel with both talons.  Bob then secured Ruby to a leader and let her enjoy her dinner.  Reid was amazed as he watched her eat.  All I could think about was how much fun this was going to be once Ruby figures this whole thing out.  

I had planned to go deer hunting this afternoon but we were having a lot of fun watching Ruby and I could tell that Reid was having a good time.  It didn't hurt me none that I missed an afternoon in the stand.  Besides, I was still hunting!  Just Raptor Style!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Come back to me Good Old FCC!

Fitzgerald Country Club, or FCC will always hold a special place in my heart.  It is there that I formed many great friendships and grew to love the game of golf.  It is where I converted myself from a baseball player into a golfer through years of practice and hard work eventually winning two Club Championships in 2005 and 2006.  I spent a good part of my twenties playing golf at FCC and hanging out at the club with a great group of guys of all ages.  You could always find a good match with golfers of all calibers and you could even feed your gambling side if need be on most days.  Sadly, that time has passed and FCC is no longer here.  The doors closed two years ago and a void has been created in the lives of us that so enjoyed what FCC had to offer.

I am NOT a Country Club pretty boy.  In fact FCC could hardly even be called a Country Club by most people's standards.  More than one person referred to FCC as a bar with 9 holes posing as a country club.  It is hard to argue with them because for the most part, that is what we were.  Sure we tried to have an occasional family event, but most of those were not successful due to lack of participation.  FCC was a golfers club where the most important things to most members were golf, gambling, and cold beer in the cooler.  Little did we know that this was a recipe for disaster.  As the times changed and more and more families were leaving the Country Club scene, FCC found itself hanging on by a thread for a number of years until one day the doors had to be closed due to lack of funds to keep paying the bills.  That was a very sad day!  No longer do the boys gather at 12:00 on Saturday to divide up teams and make their bets.  No longer do the boys play an emergency nine that ends with the last player putting on the last green with car headlights lighting the surface.  No longer do the boys hang out in the snack bar watching football games and telling lies about the day's round.  No longer does the laughter ring out through the tall Georgia Pines that lined the fairways of Old FCC.  But there is hope!!!!

I was on the board of directors of FCC when the decision was made to close the doors.  I was also a stock holder in FCC Inc.  We had an unusual situation where we could no longer generate the cash flow needed to run the business, but we were very heavy in assets.  We sold the property to a private investor whom we were sure would turn our beloved golf course into some type of commercial development.  He sat on the property for a while and then decided to step way out on a limb.  He is bringing FCC back!  His plans include a totally renovated club house and improvements to the existing golf course.  The new clubhouse is almost complete and looks incredible.  The town is buzzing with the thought of an upscale restaurant and modern entertainment venue.  All of us golfers are just excited to have a place to play again.  He has made a huge investment in our community and I hope the community will reinvest in this new club.  I think the community has taken one step to insure its success already.  Yesterday we passed a referendum that allows for liquor to be bought by the drink.  You may remember me writing about it here.  This will be a nice revenue source for a new club and may encourage people to join a new club knowing that they will have a nice restaurant and bar in which they can enjoy a cocktail.  Fitzgerald deserves a nice place and I think they are getting one with this new venture!

This will not be the old FCC!  In fact I understand that the new owner is going with a completely new name for the place.  He wants this to be a family club and intends to have tennis courts and swimming pools as well as host all civic clubs and social functions.  He has built this club for the people of Fitzgerald and I hope that it will be well received and well used.  I know I look forward to playing a little more golf and having a place to take my son to learn the game.  I'm sure all of my friends feel the same way.

The clubhouse and restaurant is set to open after the first of the year.  The golf course will hopefully open in the spring.  It can't get here soon enough for me.  I'm ready to get back into golf,  find my game again and have some fun with the boys.  It is my goal to win another club championship or have a dang good time trying!

So I wish the best for the new FCC, even though it will never be the old FCC!  That is a good thing!