Time to cut state’s crappie limit

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is accepting comments and suggestions from fishermen to take into consideration when regulations are set this summer, and I’ve submitted mine:

Cut the daily crappie limit from 30 to 20 in Middle Tennessee waters.

That reduction has already been made on Kentucky Lake and is expected to pay future dividends in terms of allowing more fishermen to catch fish.

“I totally support it,” says nationally prominent crappie authority Steve McCadams, who has guided on Kentucky Lake for almost a half-century.

With big crappie like these, is keeping 30 a day too many?

“A 30-fish limit allows too many crappie to be taken out of the lake,” McCadams says. “In recent years we have started seeing a population decline.”

It would be wise to follow suit on heavily fished lakes like Percy Priest and Old Hickory for the same reason: over-fishing. During the prime spring months you can practically walk across many coves on jam-packed crappie boats.

Veteran Lebanon guide and retired fisheries biologist Jim Duckworth favors lowering the limit for the same reasons as McCadams.

“Nowadays there are not only a lot more crappie fishermen, but they are also better crappie fishermen,” McCadams explains. “Electronics can find the fish when they’re deep, and other modern gear give fishermen advantages that didn’t once exist. And nowadays, serious crappie fishermen fish year round. It used to be that most crappie were caught in the spring, but that’s not the case anymore; big catches of crappie are made year round by fishermen who know how to do it.”

That combination – a lot more fishermen catching a lot more fish – is taking a toll on the crappie population in heavily fished lakes. Even with the TWRA stocking fish to supplement natural reproduction, the crappie can’t keep up.

Since the number of fishermen is going to keep growing, the only solution is to reduce the number of fish they keep.

Most crappie fishermen fish two to a boat, so a 20-fish limit would allow them to bring in 40 fish per trip. Forty keeper-sized crappie is plenty. When fishing with a guide, the guide can also keep a limit. And they can go back the next day and catch more.

The possession limit is twice the daily limit, so even with a 20-fish limit two fishermen could stock 80 crappie in their freezers – plenty for a fish fry. They can always add a few cats, stripe or spots.

Nobody likes to eat crappie more than I, but the days of subsistence fishing are over. Bringing home enough fresh fish for a few delicious meals should be the goal, not loading up a freezer.

That’s my suggestion to the TWRA. Yours can be mailed to:

Fisheries Division-Comments

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

P.O. Box 40747

Nashville, TN 37204

Or emailed to: FishingReg.Comments@tn.gov

Deadline for submissions is April 23.

Jackets down Eagleville in baseball opener

The Trousdale County Yellow Jackets opened their 2017 baseball season last week, coming away with one win in four games.

The Jackets used a seven-run fifth inning to pull away from Eagleville for an 11-6 home win on March 14 in the opener.

Senior Wiley Barton paced the hosts with two hits, while scoring three runs and driving in another. Barton also earned the win on the mound, striking out nine Eagles.

Sophomore Houston Stafford and junior Logan Calhoun each had two hits, while seniors Colton Gammons and Tanner Lannom, junior Logan Hewitt and freshman Ben Chumley each added hits as well.

On March 16, the Jackets dropped both ends of a home doubleheader with DeKalb County, falling 11-0 and 3-2.

In the first game, the Jackets gave up eight runs in the first inning, while Ole Miss signee Steven Jennings tossed four-innings of no-hit ball and struck out 10 batters for DeKalb.

In the second game, Hewitt had two of the Jackets’ four hits, with the other two coming from senior Dylan Coker and Calhoun, who also drove in a run.

On Saturday at Eagleville, the Jackets recorded eight hits but could not push a run across the plate in a 10-0 defeat.

Stafford had three hits and Barton two, while Calhoun, Coker and Hewitt each had one hit.

The Jackets are scheduled to play in the Wilson County Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

Softball: The Lady Jackets got their 2017 softball season under way last week with a pair of losses.

The Lady Jackets lost 12-2 at Smith County on March 14 and fell 9-0 at Westmoreland on March 16.

TCHS will have two home games next week, against Smith County on Monday and Goodpasture on Tuesday. Both games will start at 5:30 p.m.

JSMS softball off to 3-1 start

The Jim B. Satterfield Jr. Lady Jackets are off to a 3-1 start in their 2017 softball season.

Coach Blake Satterfield’s girls started the season off with a 3-0 victory at Smith County on March 6.

Faith Winter, Kirsten Eversole and Makayla Crook each had hits for JSMS, while Eversole allowed just three hits on the mound while striking out 11 batters.

On March 14, the Jr. Lady Jackets banged out 10 hits in a 9-3 home win over Westmoreland.

Winter, Crook and Kinley Brown each had a pair of hits, while Eversole, Katie Crowder, Rebecca Chapman and Sidney Gregory each had hits for JSMS.

Eversole took the mound and earned her second win of the season.

On March 16, the Jr. Lady Jackets traveled to Walter J. Baird and came away with a 6-4 win.

JSMS scored two runs in the third inning and four in the fourth to secure the win. Erin Hix went 2-for-2 and scored two runs, while Eversole and Hannah Hailey had the other two hits for the Jr. Lady Jackets. Hailey drove in two runs, while Crowdrer and Crook each had RBIs.

Hailey recorded six strikeouts, with Eversole adding two more.

The Jr. Lady Jackets suffered their only defeat so far on March 9, falling 8-2 to Macon County.

Eversole and Crook each had two hits, with Winter and Brown adding one apiece.

JSMS is scheduled to play at Carroll-Oakland on Monday at 5 p.m. and at Tucker’s Crossroads on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

Baseball: JSMS opened its baseball season on March 16 with an 8-2 loss at Gordonsville.

The Jr. Jackets are scheduled to play at Carroll-Oakland on Monday.

Satterfield family honored for coaching achievements

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Clint Satterfield and his mother, Eleanor, display the plaques they received from the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation. Clint and his late father, Jim, jointly received the Roy Kramer Contribution to Football Award.

Hartsville’s First Family of football was celebrated last week by the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

Former Trousdale County football coaches Jim Satterfield and Clint Satterfield were jointly presented with the Roy Kramer Contribution to Football Award, one of the organization’s highest honors. Jim’s widow, Eleanor, accepted on his behalf.

Presented annually since 1972, the Roy Kramer Award is named for the former commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and recognizes local individuals who have been instrumental in promoting the game of football, with the highest level of leadership, integrity and participation.

“Coach Jim Satterfield established a football program that could compete with anybody,” said former Tennessean sports editor Larry Taft, who presented the award. “What the Satterfields did set the tone for the community for a number of years.

“When Clint came back and started coaching there, he continued a legacy that has established that program as the top small-school program in the state.”

Jim Satterfield won over 200 games, including the 1972 Class AA state championship, while Clint won 239 games and five state titles. Both men also served as Trousdale County’s director or schools, a position Clint continues to hold today.

Both are also members of the TSSAA Hall of Fame, with Jim being inducted in 1987 and Clint joining him last year.

“On behalf of my mother and our family, I want to say thank you to the Football Foundation for this prestigious award,” Clint said in his acceptance remarks.

“This is a great game, and I don’t think I, or anybody else, can give back what the game has given to us. My father always said, ‘I’m not here to teach you football. I’m here about teaching you the game of life.’ Those are the ideals that we pass on to those we lead.”

Among other award winners were former Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2014, and Baylor Bramble, the Siegel High player who suffered a severe brain injury during a game in 2015.

Both honorees received multiple standing ovations from the audience while sharing their stories.

Trousdale County’s Tanner Lannom receives a Scholar-Athlete Award from former MTSU quarterback Kelly Holcomb.

Each of the 61 Middle Tennessee high schools and seven universities represented also had a student presented with a scholar-athlete award. Trousdale County’s award went to outgoing senior Tanner Lannom.

Lannom, a four-year player, was a three-time All-District selection and the 2015 District 5-A Special Teams MVP.

“Tanner overcame tremendous obstacles to lead our program over the last two years,” said TCHS assistant principal Ben Johnson. “His determination and drive to be the best allowed him to overcome multiple ankle surgeries on his way to becoming 2015 District Special Teams MVP and team captain. Traits of dependability and hard work will make Tanner successful at whatever he pursues.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Life jacket can prevent tragedy on the water

As I read the account of the recent drowning on Percy Priest Lake it sent a shudder down my spine, because my fishing buddy barely survived an identical accident.

The Percy Priest fisherman drowned after he was pitched out of his boat when it suddenly spun as he tinkered with the motor. Minutes before, he dropped his partner off at the dock to get the trailer.

A few years ago, my longtime fishing buddy Bob Sherborne came within a heartbeat of drowning after an identical incident on Old Hickory Lake.

It was a chilly, early spring day and we had motored back to the boat ramp after a morning of fishing. I hopped out get the truck and back the trailer down to load the boat.

As I walked up the ramp, Sherborne puttered back out into the cove and started fiddling with the motor to make some adjustments.

Suddenly the motor revved, the boat lurched and spun, and Sherborne was thrown overboard. The boat puttered away, leaving Sherborne floundering in its wake.

According to the TWRA report, that’s exactly what happened to the fisherman at Percy Priest. Like Sherborne, he wasn’t wearing a life jacket when he fell overboard.

Sherborne was about 100 yards out from the ramp, in deep water, bundled in heavy, waterlogged clothing. There was no way I could have swam out in time to rescue him.

By a stroke of pure luck – or divine miracle – one other boat happened to be in the otherwise-empty cove. That boater saw what happened and immediately rushed over, grabbed Sherborne just as he was going under, and hauled him aboard.

Unfortunately the boater on Priest wasn’t so lucky. There was no nearby boat to come to his rescue, and he drowned.

There is absolutely no question that Sherborne would have shared that same fate if not for the nearby, fast-thinking Good Samaritan.

We learned a couple of lessons from our near-fatal experience. First, always keep your life jacket on as long as you’re in the boat. Like many fishermen, we used to shuck off our jackets as we coasted up to the ramp, but not any more.

If you think about it, climbing in and out of the boat at the dock is one of the most risky times on the water. One stumble or slip and you can be in the water, perhaps hitting your head on the boat or dock in the process.

Keep your life jacket on until your feet are firmly on dry land.

Also, never get careless in a boat. In just a split-second – the time it takes to lean over to adjust a running motor, for example – an accident can occur.

Years ago a friend of mine was launching his boat when the bowline got coiled around a finger just as the heavy boat chugged off the trailer. The line snapped taunt and he lost a finger.

He was a veteran fisherman who had launched boats hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the years without a problem. But he got careless for just one second, and that was all it took. In a way, he was lucky – all he lost was a finger.

Another fishing buddy, Sherborne, was luckier still. He came within seconds of losing his life.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so fortunate. Some don’t get a second chance after making a first-time mistake.

Lady Jackets chasing softball success

The 2017 Trousdale County Lady Jackets softball team is off and running under the direction of first-year coach Kyle Gregory.

“I’m excited for the start of the season!” Gregory said. “The girls have worked extremely hard this offseason and I look forward to seeing how much we can improve as the season goes on.”

Gregory will look for leadership from five seniors: Tyrisha Burnley, Makenzee Dixon, Ally Gregory, Taylor Simmons and Callie White. The Lady Jackets will be out to improve from last year’s record of 1-20.

The Lady Jackets were scheduled to open their season Tuesday at Smith County, and then play at Westmoreland on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Their first home game will be on Monday, March 27 against Smith County.

Baseball: The Yellow Jackets baseball team had its scheduled season opener against Westmoreland rained out on Monday.

The Jackets were to host Eagleville on Tuesday and then host DeKalb County on Thursday at 6 p.m. They will then travel to Eagleville on Saturday for a 2 p.m. start.

Atwood wins AAU state wrestling title

Hartsville’s Rob Atwood recently brought home an AAU wrestling state championship.

Atwood, the son of Robbie and Beverly Atwood, won the juniors (ages 10-11) 140-pound weight class title at the Williamson County Agricultural Complex in Franklin on Feb. 25.

Hartsville’s Rob Atwood, third from right, won the 140-pound state AAU wrestling championship last month.

Atwood, a fifth-grader better known as ‘Twinkie,’ won four consecutive matches in the 16-man tournament bracket to win the title, defeating wrestlers from across the state.

Atwood has been wrestling since age 5 and currently travels to Wilson Central for practice four nights each week. He compiled a 22-1 record this season and is currently recognized as one of the Top 100 wrestlers in the state from middle school and down.

In his career, Atwood has traveled to national tournaments in Indiana, Georgia, Virginia and Alabama.

Yellow Jackets ready for baseball season

The Trousdale County Yellow Jackets are scheduled to start their 2017 baseball season next week with a trip to Westmoreland on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets will then have home games against Eagleville on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and Thursday against DeKalb County at 6 p.m.

Trousdale County went 13-17 in 2016, going 3-5 in District 8-A before finishing fourth in the district tournament.

Courtesy of trousdalecountyathletics.com
Coach Travis Humes

The Jackets have five seniors, two of whom are returning starters in Wiley Barton and Dylan Coker. Other seniors are Colton Gammons, Tanner Lannom and Jordan White.

Barton and Coker are each three-year starters, and along with junior Hunter Ford are among the top returning hitters for Trousdale County. Others expected to be major contributors at the plate are junior transfer Logan Hewitt, junior Logan Calhoun, sophomores Houston Stafford and Jake Gregory, along with freshmen Kobe Pridemore, Will Holder and Ben Chumley.

The Yellow Jackets look to be solid on the mound with starters Barton, Hewitt, Coker and Pridemore. Adding depth to the bullpen will be sophomore Keyvont Baines, Stafford, Ford, Calhoun and sophomore Stetson White.

The outfield will be a rotation of Calhoun, Baines, Lannom, White, Barton and sophomore Will Barksdale.

“This team’s greatest strength is the love and passion they have for each other,” said third-year coach Travis Humes. “They are willing to make great sacrifices to help each other and the team be successful.

“Many players will be called on in many different roles this season, and for this team to be successful each player has to do his job.”

Larry Woody: I’d forgotten how fun quail hunt can be

Despite the record-breaking 80-degree heat, Duke the bird dog was frozen stiff.

His tail stuck straight out, one paw was poised in mid-air, and his quivering nose was pointed toward a thick patch of weeds and grass.

I eased up behind him, shotgun at port arms.

Suddenly a half-dozen quail came whirring out of the thatch.

Unnerved – despite Duke’s here-they-are signal – I threw up my gun and fired.

Enjoying a late-season quail hunt, from left to right: Bill Bryson, Jim Goodall and Phil Neal.

And missed. It was due to (a) the sun in my eyes, (b) the wind was gusting, or (c) the manufacturer neglected put any shot in my shell. Probably all of the above.

A few feet to my left, Phil Neal shot twice and two quail went tumbling in a shower of feathers. Phil was kind enough to suggest that maybe I hit one of them, but I assured him that my bird by then had crossed the county line.

That shot was the first one I’d taken at a quail in some three decades. I was hunting with Phil and a couple of his buddies, Bill Bryson and Jim Goodall, on Jim’s Wilson County farm. Ken Beck, an old newspaper crony and a nephew of Bill, joined us.

I met Bill at last year’s wild-game supper in Lebanon, where he was grilling mouth-watering, bacon-wrapped quail. We struck up a conversation, I told him I hadn’t hunted quail in years, and he invited me to join him on an outing.

We finally got together five days before the end of the season, on the hottest Feb. 24 on record.

Even though the conditions couldn’t have been more adverse – hot, dry and windy – Duke and his partners (Tex, Harlan and Princess) managed to find several birds. Ten were bagged.

Despite the hot weather it was an enjoyable day afield, and brought back a lot of memories. As a kid, I hunted quail by simply stomping through overgrown fields and along fence rows where I knew coveys were located.

Back then the sun wasn’t as bright, the wind didn’t blow as hard and my shells always had shot in them. I could usually drop at least one on the covey rise and pick off one or two singles.

Although my quail-shooting eye has dimmed over the decades, the heart-stopping thrill of an exploding covey remains as keen as ever.

And watching well-trained bird dogs work is pure pleasure. They held steady, backed up each other’s points and retrieved every bird that fell, no matter how thick the tangle.

The quail weren’t wild. There were among 600 pen-raised birds released annually by Bill and Phil. They hunt a dozen or so wild coveys, but toward the end of the season those birds are thinned out. Quail hunters are careful not to take too many from a covey.

Despite such prudent stewardship, quail numbers continue to decline in Tennessee and across the Southeast. Wildlife experts aren’t sure why. Bill’s theory is that it’s due to a number of factors, including shrinking habitat and expanding predators.

Even if they weren’t wild, the pen-raised birds were challenging to hunt – sometimes TOO challenging for me – and tasted delicious.

The dogs were on their game; the companionship couldn’t have been more enjoyable and watching quail whirr through the air after all these years brought back a flood of memories.

I don’t want to wait 30 years to go again.

Stripe run makes for some easy fishing

Tennessee’s annual stripe run means fishing fun.

Stripe – technically white bass – spawn in late winter and early spring, congregating below dams, in creek mouths and slow moving eddies along the banks of rivers.

The Cumberland River has some of the best stripe fishing in the state. An example of the numbers of stripe in the river: three years ago four fishermen caught (and kept) 420 stripe in one day below Cheatham Dam.

That was considerably over the 15 fish-per-person limit. They were nabbed by the game warden and were slapped with a hefty fine.

When the stripe are running, catching a limit is easy.

It was one of the most egregious fish-poaching incidents in recent history and the violators got what they deserved. But it is an example of how fast the action can be when the stripe are running. (After a fisherman has put his limit on ice he can keep fishing; he just has to release any additional stripe that he catches.)

At the start of the late-winter run, most of the stripe caught are smaller males, averaging around a pound. As the run progresses, bigger females move in, weighing twice as much. (The state-record stripe weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces.)

No fish fights harder than a stripe on light tackle. Last spring I fished a stretch of the Cumberland near Carthage with Lebanon’s Jim Duckworth and his grandson, Logan Sandlin. We found a school of big stripe in a calm eddy in 3-5 feet of water, and caught them until our wrists ached.

One of my favorite stripe spots is below Cheatham Dam, from the fast tailwaters immediately below the dam to a couple of miles downriver. The further down you go, the slower the current becomes, and the easier the fishing.

Fishing buddy Bob Sherborne and I like to find a creek mouth off the main channel, pull in and anchor, and cast out into the current. We have sat in one spot and caught stripe by the dozens, releasing them after filling the cooler with two limits. The challenge, during the peak period, is to find an unoccupied creek mouth.

Bank fishing is also productive, especially below dams. On downriver, there are usually some accessible spots, such as boat ramps.

In lakes like Percy Priest, stripe often school in coves where they chase baitfish. They can be located by looking for minnows skipping on the surface amid the splats and splashes of feeding stripe. Sometimes flocks of diving birds also serve as a signal.

What’s a good stripe lure? Anything that flashes or flutters, wobbles or wiggles. When stripe are running, they’ll hit anything that moves. My favorite lure is a Road Runner spinner decorated with a plastic fail. The flashing blade and fluttering tail are irresistible.

I prefer a lure with a single hook. When a stripe hits, it hits hard, and you don’t need sets of treble hooks to hook it. Treble hooks are a pain – literally – to remove from the tough jaw of a thrashing, flopping bristling with sharp-pointed dorsal and pectoral fins.

Contrary to popular opinion, stripe are delicious to eat. The key is to slice away the reddish-brown membrane from each fillet, and soak overnight in salt water. (Duckworth uses buttermilk.) That removes the oily, strong fishy taste.

Another great thing about stripe: you don’t feel guilty about keeping a limit. There’s plenty more where those came from.

Jackets’ seasons end in region tournament

Both Trousdale County basketball teams saw their respective 2016-17 seasons come to an end last weekend with road losses in the Region 4-A quarterfinals.

The Lady Jackets had to travel to Byrdstown, where they fell 69-34 on Friday to Pickett County (27-2), ranked fourth in Class A.

“We never stopped playing against a really good team,” Coach Jeremy Wilhelm said. “I’m proud of our team this season.”

Senior Makenzee Dixon paced the Lady Jackets with 16 points, ending her career with 984 points. Junior Kaylynn Dalton had six points, junior Haylee Holder had five, senior Jamey McKoin four, freshman Chloe Donoho two and junior Katelyn Fergusson one.

The Lady Jackets ended the season with a 9-18 overall record, having lost four of their last five games. The girls also went 4-4 in district games during the regular season.

On Saturday, the Jackets traveled to Celina to face fourth-ranked Clay County (27-4).

Trousdale County quickly fell behind 36-15 in the first quarter and went on to lose 102-61. It was the 11th straight loss for the Jackets vs. Clay County, and the two teams will find themselves in the same district beginning next season.

“Clay County shot very well in the first quarter,” Coach Chip Sparkman said. “We did not have an answer for the shooting onslaught.

“I am proud of our guys and the growth we have experienced this year. It was great to go to district and region this year, and we look forward to further growth in the future.”

Senior Austin Ford scored 20 points in his last game for the purple and gold. Three other Jackets reached double figures as junior Braison Raney had 13 points, junior Trace McGuire 12 and sophomore Keyvont Baines 11. Senior Trysten McGuire added five points.

Mr. Basketball finalist and Indiana State signee Tyreke Key pumped in 38 points to lead the Bulldogs, including a basket late in the second quarter that put him at 3,000 career points.

The Jackets finished the season at 11-19, but that is the team’s best record since going 16-9 in 2009. Trousdale County was also 6-4 in district play, the first winning record there since going 9-3 also in 2009.

Trousdale County has experienced years of frustration in regional play, as the Lady Jackets’ last win was over Clarkrange in 2011. The Jackets’ last region win was also over Clarkrange in 2007.

However, both Trousdale teams reached the regionals, something that had not occurred since 2013.

In addition to  the previously listed seniors, the Jackets will also bid farewell to seniors Colton Gammons and Jacob Woodard.

CORRECTION: It was reported in last week’s issue of The Vidette that Trousdale County’s last district basketball tournament championship came in 1993. The boys won consecutive District 8-A titles in 2003-04.

In 2003, Coach Mike Potts’ boys beat Westmoreland 47-43 in overtime to claim the title. Jonathan Ford was Tournament MVP, with Quinn Hogan and Namiah Wilson named to the all-tournament team.

In 2004, the Jackets defended their title with a 58-56 win over then No. 1-ranked Gordonsville, which entered with a 27-game winning streak.

Jesse Sullins was named Tournament MVP, with Corey Pryor, Nelson Harper and Daniel Kemp making the all-tournament team.

The Vidette regrets the error.

Hartsville teen racing toward his future

Fresh off winning Rookie of the Year honors last season at Highland Rim Speedway, young Hartsville racer Garrett Dies is preparing to take another stride in his fledgling career.

Garrett plans to make a major jump this season from the lower-level Pro 4s division in which he raced last year, into the Late Model big leagues.

“I’m excited about it,” said Garrett, a freshman at Trousdale County High School.

“I’ll be racing against some great drivers that I’ve grown up following. The competition will be tough, but I believe the only way to get better is to race against the best. You’re only as good as your competition.”

Hartsville’s Garrett Dies is earning a reputation as one of the area’s top young racers.

“I think he’s ready,” said Garrett’s dad Roy, who raced for several years at Highland Rim, Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway, and Beech Bend, Ky., before retiring in 2001.

“He did more last year than I did in 17 years,” Roy added with a chuckle.

Last season Garrett won three features and eight qualifying races, and finished second in the championship standings.

“We had a good season and I’m pretty happy with it, but I would like to have done better,” he said. “As a racer you’re never satisfied. I’d liked to have won the championship.”

Preseason practice will be vital in preparation for his big jump.

“There’s a big difference in racing Late Models and what he’s been racing,” Roy said. “The cars are different and the speeds are higher. It’s going to take some getting used to. That’s why we want to get in as much practice time as possible.”

“I’ll probably be a little nervous at the start,” Garrett said, “but I won’t feel intimidated. Once the race starts, you’re so focused on driving the car that you don’t have time to think about anything else.”

Mt. Juliet’s Roger Cunningham, co-owner of Highland Rim Speedway, said talented young local racers like Garrett and defending Legends Series champ Dylan Fetcho of Lebanon represent the future of the track.

“Not only are they good racers, but since they come from the area they generate a lot of local interest and fan following,” Cunningham said. “Local drivers are great for local racing. We’ll also have several drivers coming in from other areas – including some from out of state – and that makes for some good rivalries.”

In addition to racing in the Rim’s premier division, Garrett also plans to run a number of races this summer in a regional series in North Carolina.

“It will be fun,” he said. “It’ll be exciting to race on a new track against some different drivers.”

Racing in North Carolina will also give Garrett a chance to make a name for himself outside the confines of Ridgetop. Such exposure is vital for young racers who aspire to someday race professionally.

“Hopefully we’ll get some sponsors’ attention,” Roy said. “Like every other race team, we can use all the sponsorship help we can get.”

Garrett is polite, poised and personable – what sponsors look for in a representative – and last season he added performance to his resume. That was a big step in his racing career. Now he’s ready to take an even bigger one.

Jackets teams place fourth in district tournament

The District 8-A Basketball Tournament was held last week at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, but both Trousdale County teams had to settle for fourth-place finishes.

The Yellow Jackets started their tournament run with a home play-in game against Red Boiling Springs on Feb. 14. After a regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs (6-24), the Jackets made it three in a row with a 59-47 win.

The game did have some drama as the Jackets saw their 15-point halftime lead get cut to five at 46-41 in the fourth quarter.

“Red Boiling came out and played very hard and gave us some problems early,” Coach Chip Sparkman said. “We were able to settle in and grind out a district tourney win for the first time in several years.”

Sophomore Keyvont Baines paced the hosts with 18 points, while senior Austin Ford and junior Trace McGuire were also in double figures with 10 apiece.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Trousdale County’s Tarvaris Claiborne (33) tries to block a shot against Red Boiling Springs.

Senior Trysten McGuire and junior Braison Raney followed with seven points each. Senior Jacob Woodard added five points and sophomore Houston Stafford two.

In the district semifinals at Merrol Hyde, the Jackets fell 75-62 to eventual champion Watertown on Feb. 16. The Jackets did make it interesting as they got to within one point of the Purple Tigers (22-6) in the third quarter after trailing by 16 at halftime. It was the Jackets’ 16th consecutive loss to the Purple Tigers.

“Our guys came out ready to play against Watertown and fought the whole game,” Sparkman said. “We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. I am very pleased with their effort and hate it for them that we were unable to find a way to win.”

Raney poured in a game-high 25 points and Trace McGuire had 17. Ford netted seven points, Trysten McGuire six, Baines five and Woodard two.

With the loss, the Jackets moved into the consolation game on Feb. 18 to face Gordonsville.

Early on, it was apparent that the Jackets were not ready to play as they trailed 30-15 in the second quarter and trailed by 14 at 51-37 entering the fourth. But the Jackets’ reserves ignited a rally that finally tied the game at 64 with 16 seconds left in regulation. The two teams headed to overtime, where the Jackets came up short in a 72-71 loss.

The Jackets lost the game at the free-throw line, making just four of 15 attempts while the Tigers (14-16) converted 15 of 29 tries.

“Gordonsville came ready to play and jumped on us from the get-go,” Sparkman said. “I am very proud of our reserve players. They came in and got us back in the game.

“Although we lost in overtime, I am very proud of all of our guys for fighting back and getting us to overtime. Our guys have not experienced a tournament setting in many years and I am proud of how they have handled it, and the knowledge they are learning from being there.”

Raney came off the bench and tossed in 20 points, while Baines had 16. Trace McGuire added 12 points while Trysten McGuire had eight and Ford seven. Woodard and freshman Kobe Ford each had three points, while freshman Tarvarius Claiborne had two.

The Jackets will take an 11-18 record into Saturday’s region quarterfinal, which will be played at 7 p.m. at either Clay County or Pickett County.


Lady Jackets

The Lady Jackets faced Goodpasture in the district semifinals. The two teams split during the regular season, but it was the Lady Cougars (15-9) who seized the momentum and won 35-24 to reach the championship game.

It was an error-plagued contest as the two teams combined for over 40 turnovers.

“We came up short,” Coach Jeremy Wilhelm said.

The Lady Jackets are now 1-6 all time against Goodpasture.

Senior Jamey McKoin led the Lady Jackets with nine points while senior Makenzee Dixon and freshman Chloe Donoho each had six. Junior Kaylynn Dalton had two points before fouling out with 2:52 to play, and junior Katelyn Fergusson had one point before she too fouled out with 2:32 remaining.

In the consolation game, the Lady Jackets suffered their third loss of the season to Red Boiling Springs (17-12) in a 45-35 defeat. Trousdale County is now 0-3 in postseason play vs. the Lady Bulldogs since 2010, when the two teams both became members of District 8-A.

Both teams hade 13 made field goals and two 3-pointers, but the Lady Bulldogs converted 17 free throws while the Lady Jackets had seven.

Donoho, Fergusson and Dalton all fouled out of the game.

McKoin and Fergusson each had nine points to lead the Lady Jackets. Dalton added eight points, Dixon had five, and Donoho and freshman Karissa Goss tossed in two each.

The Lady Jackets will take a 9-17 record into Friday’s region quarterfinal game, which will be at 7 p.m. at Pickett County.

In the girls’ championship, Goodpasture repeated as 8-A’s top team with a 58-54 win over Watertown.

Previous tournament champions include Watertown (2015), Goodpasture (2014), Gordonsville (2012-13), Red Boiling Springs (2010-11) and Friendship Christian (2009).

On the boys’ side, Watertown upset Goodpasture 65-61 in the finals, ending the Cougars’ three-year run of tournament titles.

Other winners include Watertown (2012-13), Friendship (2009, 2011) and Gordonsville (2010).

Trousdale County’s girls have not won a district tournament championship since 1993, when the Lady Jackets won under the direction of Coach Jeff Rippy. The boys last won district titles in 2003 and 2004.

Bow-fishing tournament scheduled for April

It’s part hunting and part fishing, and is perhaps the country’s fastest-growing outdoors sport.

It’s bow-fishing, and area enthusiasts will get a chance to test their skills in an upcoming tournament and perhaps qualify for national championship competition.

The Muzzy Bow-fishing Classic is scheduled for April 29-30. First place pays $10,000, and the top 20 finishers will qualify for the Ultimate Bow-Fishing Championship later in the summer in Springfield, Mo.

“We’re anticipating a big turnout,” said John Paul Morris, son of Bass Pro Shops founder and owner Johnny Morris, who is overseeing the tournament. “Bow-fishing has exploded in popularity in Tennessee, just as it has all around the country.”

John Paul Morris, holding a giant buffalo he collected while bow-fishing, will host an area tournament in April.

Entries can be filed online at webboutdoors.com.

The competition will be held on any waterway on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers that is accessible by a public boat ramp.

At the conclusion of the final day on April 30, competitors will present their 20 biggest fish at a weigh-in at Bass Pro Shops at the Opryland Gaylord Center, and the winners will punch their ticket to the national tournament.

Only rough fish – crap, gar and buffalo – are allowed to be taken by bow-fishing.

Although they are generally considered inedible, the harvested fish will not go to waste. They will be loaded into a refrigerated truck on-site and transported to a plant in Illinois to be processed into liquid fertilizer.

Morris notes that such ecological recycling is not new – early American Indians frequently used fish to fertilize their crops during planting.

Removing some of the rough fish, particularly crap, is beneficial to the fisheries. In recent years invasive carp species have become a major concern in Tennessee and other Southeastern states. Biologists fear it will grow worse because there is no effective means of reducing the carp’s rapidly increasing numbers.

“Bow-fishing will barely put a dent in the carp population, but at least it’s a dent,” Morris says.

Morris believes the tournament will also help educate bow-fishermen about the proper way to dispose of their catch. Since the fish aren’t eaten and can’t be released, disposing of them can be a problem. Last year in Wilson County some bow-fishermen dumped their catch at a public boat ramp at the end of a trip, and several hundred pounds of rotting fish created obvious problems. The boat ramp became virtually unusable during the hot summer months.

Morris urges bow-fishermen to dispose of their fish in a responsible manner, away from boat ramps and other public areas. He says education and awareness is the key to correcting the problem.

In response to bow-fishing’s popularity, Bass Pro Shops had added a special line of Muzzy bow-fishing gear.

Morris believes the growth will continue.

“It’s enjoyable and challenging and helps reduce invasive species that are neglected by sport fishermen,” he said. “Bow-fishing is a great outdoors opportunity that more and more people are discovering.”

Jackets named to All-District teams

Trousdale County had six players named to the 8-A All-District team.

For the Lady Jackets, Katelyn Fergusson, Makenzee Dixon and Chloe Donoho were honored. For the Jackets, Keyvont Baines, Austin Ford and Braison Raney earned honors.

Two players were named to the district’s All-Tournament team: Jamey McKoin and Raney.

Submitted photos

Lady Jackets win on Senior Night

Trousdale County concluded its regular season last week with two nights of home basketball action, but only one win resulted.

On Feb. 6, Goodpasture was the opponent as both teams concluded their district schedules.

The Lady Jackets came in looking for a regular-season sweep of the Lady Cougars (13-8, 5-3 8-A) and to take some momentum into postseason play. But Trousdale County had its lowest offensive output of the season in a 44-20 loss, the Lady Jackets’ worst loss in district play this season.

The outcome was even more puzzling considering that the Lady Jackets had won 34-28 at Goodpasture just two weeks earlier.

“We didn’t play well and had a bad offensive game,” Coach Jeremy Wilhelm said. “There are things we saw Goodpasture do that will help us prepare for them in the district semifinals. We know we are better than what we played on Monday night against Goodpasture.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Makenzee Dixon goes up for two of her 22 points in Trousdale County’s win over East Robertson.

Freshman Chloe Donoho scored six points to lead the Lady Jackets and junior Katelyn Fergusson had four. Junior Kaylynn Dalton and freshman Karissa Goss added three points apiece, while seniors Makenzee Dixon and Jamey McKoin each had two.

The Lady Jackets are now 1-5 all time against the Lady Cougars.

In the boys’ game, the Jackets remained winless in six tries against the Cougars (21-2, 10-0) as they lost 69-33. The hosts trailed 24-7 at the end of the first quarter and went on to finish with their second-lowest number of points on the season.

“Goodpasture came out, shot well and we just could not answer them,” Coach Chip Sparkman said. “Our guys fought, but just did not have what it took to win.”

Seven Jackets got into the scoring column, but senior Austin Ford was the only one in double figures with 10 points. Senior Trysten McGuire followed with seven points while junior Trace McGuire, junior Braison Raney and sophomore Keyvont Baines each had four. Freshmen Tarvarius Claiborne and Kobe Ford each had two.

On Feb. 9, Trousdale County held its Senior Night and the Lady Jackets played a Pink-Out game against East Robertson.

The Lady Jackets (9-15) got off to an 8-0 start, led 30-19 at halftime and went on to down the Lady Indians (11-13) 56-35.

“Good way to end the regular season on Pink-Out/Senior Night and build on our team going into the district tournament,” Wilhelm said. “Really proud of our team and the way they responded from Monday’s game.”

Dixon poured in a game-high 22 points, including three 3-pointers. Dalton raised her game with a career-high 16 points. McKoin and Donoho added seven points each while Fergusson had four.

Meanwhile, the Jackets juggled their starting lineup and quickly trailed 13-0 in their game. The hosts trailed 51-27 at halftime and went on to lose 88-61 to the Indians (15-8).

“East Robertson shot the best they have all year in the first quarter, and we did not play as well as we can on defense,” Sparkman noted.

Austin Ford and Raney paced the Jackets with 17 points each. Baines scored nine points, Trysten McGuire eight, Trace McGuire six, senior Jacob Woodard three and Claiborne one.

Both teams begin play in this week’s District 8-A Tournament, which is being held at Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville.

The Lady Jackets, seeded third, faced No. 2 Goodpasture on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Jackets, also seeded third, were to host No. 4 Red Boiling Springs on Tuesday at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to face No. 2 seed Watertown on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Canada geese becoming local problem in parks

It’s like a scene from the old Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds,” only instead of swarms of crows, it’s flocks of geese.

Canada geese are invading city parks, boat docks and other recreational areas across Middle Tennessee.

They are more than a honking, squawking nuisance; their droppings are a health hazard.

Like the deer and coyotes that are proliferating in Middle Tennessee’s rapidly expanding suburbs, wild geese are becoming a major problem.

And like deer and coyotes, nobody seems to know what to do about it.

Canada geese are magnificent birds, but can cause problems in parks.

Flocks of nuisance geese would be relatively easy to control in many areas by hunting, but animal-rights advocates won’t stand for it. They propose trapping the geese and transplanting them to new areas. That’s similar to the way they try to deal with huge swarms of starlings that invade every fall. They use loud noises to shoo them off.

Off to where?

Off to another area, where they become someone else’s problem.

City and suburban parks are particularly attractive to Canada geese because of the lush grass and clover on which they feed, along with picnic scraps and other goodies deposited by park visitors.

Most parks and boat docks have signs posted warning the public not to feed the geese and ducks, but the signs don’t do much good. Even if visitors don’t intentionally feed the birds, there are usually enough leftovers scattered around picnic benches and garbage cans to provide a bountiful goose buffet.

At one city park on Old Hickory Lake, youngsters are cautioned about playing around the shore due to goose droppings. Hikers on trails and users of boat docks have to watch their step. The water in the cove is so fouled by fowl that nobody would dare wade in.

And like the deer and coyote problem, the goose situation will get worse. The suburbs are wildlife havens, offering an abundance of food and shelter – two main requisites – along with protection from hunters.

In rural areas the deer population can be controlled by hunting, as can the coyote population to some extent. (Coyotes are so cunning and prolific that hunting can’t totally control them.)  Likewise in rural settings, geese aren’t a problem because they are not congested in cramped quarters and can be safely hunted in most areas.

But in city parks, geese can’t be shot. It wouldn’t be safe, even if the animal-rights folks would stand for it – which, of course, they won’t.

That leaves trapping as the only solution, but it’s labor-intensive, which makes it expensive. And catch-and-release is not a long-term cure, just a temporary reprieve.

Canada geese are magnificent, fascinating birds. They are intriguing to watch and photograph.

But like anything else, there can be too much of a good thing, and too many geese in a city park is a problem. It’s a growing challenge suburbs are going to have to deal with.

Lady Jackets top Watertown to secure regional spot

Trousdale County had two nights of district basketball action last week as both Yellow Jacket teams looked to improve their seedings for next week’s district tournament.

On Friday night at home against Watertown, the Lady Jackets came in needing a win to secure a spot in the district semifinals, and a win was exactly what they got. The Lady Jackets (8-14, 4-3 8-A) downed the Lady Purple Tigers (10-13, 2-5) 51-41 to guarantee themselves no worse than a third-place finish in the district and an automatic trip to the region tournament.

The victory also broke an eight-game losing streak to the Lady Purple Tigers.

“It feels good to finally beat them in awhile,” Coach Jeremy Wilhelm said. “The ladies are playing hard now before we head into the district tournament. Our goal all year is to win the district tournament.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette Trousdale County's Jamey McKoin (3) tries to block a shot during the Lady Jackets' 51-41 win over Watertown.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Trousdale County’s Jamey McKoin (3) tries to block a shot during the Lady Jackets’ 51-41 win over Watertown.

Senior Makenzee Dixon poured in a game-high 19 points to lead the Lady Jackets. Freshman Chloe Donoho followed with 14 points and senior Jamey McKoin added eight before fouling out with 1:04 to play. Junior Katelyn Fergusson scored five points, junior Kaylynn Dalton three and freshman Josie Garrett two.

In the boys’ game, the Jackets (10-14, 6-3) fell 89-62 to the Purple Tigers (21-4, 7-2). It was the Jackets 15th consecutive loss to the boys from Watertown.

“Watertown is a tough matchup for us, and not having rest really hurt us,” Coach Chip Sparkman said. “We were not able to score the way we are used to and it cost us. We will see them again and know we will do a better job scoring. Our guys fought but just ran out of gas.”

Junior Trace McGuire led all scorers with his 23 points and classmate Braison Raney had seven. Senior Trysten McGuire and sophomore Keyvont Baines each had six points, freshman Kobe Ford had five off the bench and senior Austin Ford, freshman Tarvarius Claiborne and sophomore Hayden Clark each had four. Sophomore Houston Stafford finished with two points and senior Colton Gammons had one.

At Red Boiling Springs on Jan. 31, the Lady Jackets had their lowest offensive output of the season to date as they lost 30-24 to the Lady Bulldogs (14-10, 7-0). The Lady Jackets have now lost in their last four trips to RBS.

“Just got to put some more points on the board,” Wilhelm said.

Dixon and Donoho each scored eight points, while Fergusson had six and Dalton two.

Meanwhile, the Jackets quickly took the lead over the Bulldogs (6-20, 1-8) and pushed their advantage to over 20 in the third quarter before holding on for a 72-66 victory. The win completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs.

“W came out fast and were able to hang on,” Sparkman said. “We did not sub like we should have and gave up some points due to being tired. I am proud of our guys for finishing the game.”

Baines poured in a game-high 24 points, while Austin Ford and Raney each had 13. Trysten McGuire followed with eight points and Trace McGuire had seven. Gammons added three points while senior Jacob Woodard and Claiborne each had two.

On Feb. 2, Trousdale County played host to Westmoreland but came up short in both games.

The Lady Eagles (21-2) had three starters out because of sickness, but still had enough to hand the Lady Jackets a 45-37 defeat. Westmoreland has won 30 straight games in the girls’ series.

“We got better in areas against a good team,” Wilhelm said.

“The Lady Jackets took a 13-5 lead after the first quarter, but went into a double-digit hole after getting outscored 16-5 in the third quarter.

Dixon paced the hosts with 17 points and Donoho had eight. Fergusson had five, Dalton three, and McKoin and Garrett each had two.

In the boys’ game, the Jackets led 25-22 at halftime but could not maintain momentum in the second half and lost 56-50. The Eagles (11-11) hit five more 3-pointers and nine more free throws than the Jackets to secure the win.

“Westmoreland is one of those games that is tough to play,” Sparkman said. “I believe if we play them any other night, we win. Our guys were tired and not being a district game, the urgency was just not there. We played okay, but just could not score like we can.”

The District 8-A Tournament will be held next week at Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville.

Schools recognize Athletes of Winter

Submitted photos

Submitted photos

Trousdale County High School and Jim Satterfield Middle School proudly announce their Athletes of the Winter.

Three students from each sport of the respective season were chosen based on statistics, leadership and overall character. A poll was then taken in which the community voted for their top athlete.

Winners from TCHS (top photo) were: Boys basketball, Trace McGuire; CheerleAthletesJSMSading, Cortney Burris; Girls basketball, Jamey McKoin.

Winners from JSMS were: Girls basketball, Claire Belcher; Boys basketball, Kasen Payne; Cheerleading, Erin Hix; Band, Mallory Leduc (not pictured).

Will more coyotes mean fewer deer?

As Tennessee’s coyote population grows, so does the debate on what impact it will have on the state’s future deer population.

Nobody can dispute that coyotes kill deer. The only question is, how many?

A story in the current issue of American Hunter Magazine presents some grim statistics: a survey conducted in South Carolina found that coyotes killed at least 65 percent of all fawns born in the study area.

That was the confirmed percent. The actual number killed might have been as high as 85 percent, since the cause of death for some of the fawns could not be determined. In some cases coyotes fed on a dead fawn, but it could not be verified that they killed it.

Submitted Lebanon’s Roy Denney killed this coyote during deer season.

Lebanon’s Roy Denney killed this coyote during deer season.

While the numbers of the South Carolina study may seem high, surveys in other parts of the Southeast have concluded that coyotes kill at least 50 percent of all fawns.

Most of the predation occurs on fawns less than three months old. As they become older they are better able to avoid predators.

The studies found that coyotes don’t take much of a toll on mature deer. However, if 50 percent of the fawn crop is decimated annually, that obviously will impact the future deer population.

Compounding concerns is the fact that the coyote population is rapidly expanding across the Southeast. Thirty years ago, few Tennesseans had ever seen a coyote; today they are common sights everywhere, including urban centers and residential areas.

Once they move in, they are usually there to stay. The only effective way to remove coyotes is to shoot them, and that’s not feasible – or legal – in most residential areas.

Catching coyotes in “humane” live-traps is almost impossible because the animals are too crafty. They can be caught in leg-hold traps, but setting such traps in residential communities where pets roam is risky, and can lead to a lawsuit if a pet is injured.

In rural areas hunters kill a number of coyotes during deer season, and predator hunting is growing in popularity, but not enough coyotes are taken to make a serious dent in the population.

Coyotes are so prolific that biologists say 75 percent of them have to be removed from an area in order to decrease the population for over a year. Females breed when a year old and produce litters of 5-7 pups – and sometimes as many as nine.

They can adapt to any environment, and have no natural enemies other than man.

In addition to the growing coyote concern is an equally expanding problem with free-roaming dogs, especially in sprawling residential areas that encroach on deer habitat. Like coyotes, domestic dogs take a toll on newborn fawns.

Unlike coyotes, which are driven by hunger, well-fed domestic dogs seldom feed on the deer they chase and kill. They chase deer by instinct, responding to their ingrained wolf genes. The owners of free-roaming dogs, not the dogs themselves, are at fault.

As for the coyote menace, so far wildlife officials don’t seem overly concerned. They note that the state’s deer population has remained fairly stable for the past decade, despite the large increase in coyotes during that period.

But if the current coyote population is killing 50 percent of newborn deer, what happens as the coyote population doubles? Then doubles again?

It could be a coyote catastrophe in the making.