Frog hunting takes both patience, skill

There’s a great story by Tim White in the current edition of Tennessee Wildlife Magazine about frog hunting. Reading it brought back some fond froggy memories.

Growing up in the country, there were numerous ponds and lakes within walking distance, and warm summer nights would throb with bass-singing bullfrogs along the marshy banks.

Hunting them required a certain amount of skill. One hunter would shine a light on the frog while another eased within striking distance with a pronged gig. The gigger had to be fast and accurate – he got only one chance.

Hunting bullfrogs can be a challenge.

Froggers also had to keep a lookout for snakes. The swampy banks were teeming with them – they liked to dine on frogs too – and there’s nothing like having a big, ugly water moccasin slither between your feet to liven things up.

A summer night is an enchanting time to be outdoors in the countryside. The smell of new-mown hay drifts in the air, along with the trill of whip-poor-wills, the hooting of owls and the mournful call of a distant train whistle.

Being out on a star-sprinkled night with your boyhood buddies gives you a chance to contemplate the mysteries of the cosmos, as well as the mystery of Mary Jane Wattenbarger in Algebra class.

On a good night we might bring home a couple dozen bullfrogs. Actually we brought home only their legs, which are delicious fried. I haven’t frog-hunted in a half-century, but I still enjoy a platter of fried legs when I find them on a restaurant menu.

Contrary to legend, frog legs don’t jump out of a hot skillet, although when fresh, the muscles sometimes twitch.

Frog hunting made the news a couple of years ago when PETA mounted a publicity-stunt protest over a frog hunt in DeKalb County. The hunt was organized by a civic club for youngsters in the community.

PETA said it was cruel to hunt frogs. Of course, PETA considers it cruel to hunt anything. It believes we should subsist on leaves and sprouts. Sometimes I think PETA has confused humans with hamsters.

Anyway, PETA managed to ignite a frog furor and as far as I know, no other hunts were scheduled.

That’s unfortunate. I’d much prefer youngsters be out at night hunting frogs, getting some fresh air and exercise, than hanging out on a street corner, lounging in front of a TV, or turning into an iPad zombie (I think that’s what those gadgets are called). I’ve never heard of a kid getting in trouble while frog hunting.

As for PETA, judging from the malnourished appearance of some of its models, they ought to dig into a big platter of crispy fried frogs legs. Maybe it would improve their disposition and stop their incessant croaking.

Tennessee Wildlife Magazine subscription: Speaking of the Tennessee Wildlife Magazine, subscriptions are available through the Tennessee Wildlife Agency. The magazine is mailed free to holders of a Sportsman License or Lifetime License.

A one-year subscription costs $10, and includes the TWRA calendar. It’s a great gift for every hunter, fisherman, conservationist or wildlife enthusiast.

Jackets come up short against Goodpasture

The Trousdale County Yellow Jackets played their home-and-home regular-season series with Goodpasture last week, coming out on the short end of both games.

The Jackets traveled to Madison on April 10 for the first game and held a 3-2 lead with two outs in the sixth inning before giving up four runs to the Cougars. The Jackets loaded the bases in the top of the seventh before falling 6-3.

The Jackets had five hits but committed three costly errors.

Senior Wiley Barton was 3-for-3 and scored two runs, while classmate Dylan Coker had two hits and drove in a run.

The following day in Hartsville, the Jackets and Cougars were tied 5-5 after three innings, but Goodpasture scored seven runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and 11 in the seventh to take a 26-7 victory.

Trousdale County is still looking for its first victory over Goodpasture, which moved into District 8-A four years ago.

Coker went 3-for-3 with an RBI and scored two runs. Barton and freshman Kobe Pridemore added two hits each for Coach Travis Humes’ squad.

The Jackets returned to action later in the week at the East Robertson Classic, where they won two of three games.

They opened on April 13 with a 12-1 loss to Jo Byrns in which the Jackets had just four hits while committing three errors. Barton and junior Logan Calhoun each had hits, as did sophomores Will Barksdale and Houston Stafford.

The next day, the Jackets came up with five runs off five hits in a 5-1 victory over Portland.

Stafford, Coker, Pridemore, senior Colton Gammons and freshman Ben Chumley had hits for the Jackets. Gammons and senior Tanner Lannom each stole two bases in the win.

Calhoun got the win on the mound, going five innings while allowing one run on four hits while recording four strikeouts.

On Saturday, Trousdale County put up a season high in runs during a 14-2 pounding of White House.

The Jackets recorded 13 hits, with two each from Coker, Pridemore and sophomore Dyson Satterfield. Stafford, junior Hunter Ford, junior Logan Hewitt, Gammons, sophomore Jake Gregory, Chumley and junior Brice Butler each had hits for TCHS.

Chumley earned the win, pitching 3-1/3 innings and giving up one run on three hits with six strikeouts.

Softball: The Lady Jackets’ lone game last week was an 11-6 loss at Clay County on April 13 in which they gave up nine runs in the first inning.

JSMS softball routs Smith County

The Jim Satterfield Jr. Lady Jackets picked up their seventh win of the season on April 10 with a 15-1 victory at Smith County.

Hannah Hailey, Rebecca Chapman, Crista Shockley, Makayla Crook and Kinley Brown all had hits for Coach Blake Satterfield’s team.

Hailey was also the winning pitcher, allowing two hits while recording seven strikeouts.

At home against Walter J. Baird on April 14, the Jr. Lady Jackets lost 5-3 as Crook and Katie Crowder had the team’s only hits.

Baseball: The JSMS Jr. Jackets played twice on the baseball diamond last week, going 1-1 in those outings.

The Jr. Jackets lost 12-2 at Winfree Bryant on April 11 and won 11-0 at Tucker’s Crossroads on April 13.

Crappie season is welcome sign of spring

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no fishing like crappie fishing, and springtime is prime time.

Part of the charm of crappie fishing is that it comes at a perfect time of year, signaling the end to a dark and dreary winter. Dogwoods are blooming, birds are singing and a bright sun warms our pale and puckered epidermis.

It’s a great time to be outdoors.

Crappie are fun to catch and good to eat.

But that doesn’t explain it entirely. After all, other freshwater species of game fish also become active about the same time as crappie. And I have to admit an average-sized largemouth, white bass or channel cat puts up a harder fight on sporting tackle than does an average-sized crappie.

The great thing is that we don’t have to choose. In Middle Tennessee we can fish for all those species, even on the same trip if we wish.

But if I had to choose one – just one – I’d choose crappie.

I don’t base my decision on the fact that crappie are the best-tasting fish this side of a wintertime walleye, although that’s part of it.

In my case, part of it is nostalgic. Crappie was the first big-league game fish I caught as a kid. Almost from the time I could walk I started catching bluegills and bullheads in local farm ponds, and graduated to an occasional stunted largemouth bass.

I came to crappie relatively late in life, around 12.

That was about the age at which I began to accompany my Uncle Bud to Watts Bar Lake in quest of crappie. Watts Bar was a sprawling, massive body of water created by a dam on the Tennessee River. It’s an awesome fishing spot for a kid accustomed to muddy farm ponds and foot-deep creeks.

Watts Bar Lake held crappie. Big, slab-sided crappie that sometimes tipped the scales at two pounds – a far cry from my normal haul of five-inch bluegills and runty catfish. Crappie were an exotic species, and I was fishing for them in an exotic setting in the company of grownups.

That’s when I became hooked on bobber fishing. As a kid there was nothing more exciting than watching a bobber riding the ripple of the lake surface, holding my breath while waiting for it to twitch and go under. When it did, I’d set the hook and on the other end of my line and big crappie would come splashing to the surface.

Today, a half-century later, there’s nothing more enchanting than watching a bouncing bobber.

Fishing jigs is fun too – and at times more productive than dunking minnows beneath a bobber. When a crappie hits a jig it doesn’t hit hard – usually just a slight tap or bump – but there’s something exciting about it.

In the spring crappie move into the shallows to spawn, ready to pounce on any bait or lure that comes their way. Whether it’s watching a bobber take a dive or anticipating a tap on a slow-moving jig, to me no other fishing beats crappie fishing.

It’s kinda hard to explain. Guess you have to be there.

Jackets baseball opens district play with sweep of RBS

The Trousdale County Yellow Jackets started the District 8-A portion of their baseball schedule last week with two home wins over Red Boiling Springs.

The Jackets took the first game 13-1 and used a five-run effort in the top of the seventh inning to win the second game 6-1 on April 4.

The Jackets now have a 15-game winning streak against the Bulldogs.

Junior Logan Calhoun went 7-for-7 in the two games, while classmate Logan Hewitt recorded 12 strikeouts in the latter game.

The Jackets also played in the Jackson County Tournament later in the week, coming away with one win in three games.

That win came Saturday against Westmoreland by a 3-2 score.

Senior Wiley Barton was 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Junior Hunter Ford had a hit and RBI, and freshman Ben Chumley had a hit and scored a run.

Calhoun earned the win on the mound as Trousdale County earned its sixth win of the season.

Earlier in the day, the Jackets lost 14-3 to host Jackson County, pounding out four hits but committing six errors.

Hewitt, seniors Colton Gammons and Tanner Lannom and sophomore Houston Stafford had hits for Coach Travis Humes’ team.

On Friday, the Jackets outhit Smith County 9-8, but lost the game 13-5 as the defense suffered another letdown with six errors.

Calhoun went 3-for-3, scored two runs and had an RBI. Ford added two hits and an RBI, Gammons had two hits while Hewitt and Stafford had one hit each.

The Jackets are scheduled to play in the East Robertson Classic this weekend.

Softball: The Lady Jackets were able to play just one game last week, an 18-4 home loss to Red Boiling Springs on April 4.

It was the Lady Jackets’ fourth straight loss to the Lady Bulldogs.

JSMS softball wins twice last week

The Jim Satterfield Jr. Lady Jackets won two of their three games last week.

JSMS turned three hits and two Gordonsville errors into a 4-2 home victory on April 6. Hannah Hailey had two hits for the hosts and Rebecca Chapman had the other hit. Hailey also struck out 10 batters while pitching to record the win

On Friday at home against Carroll-Oakland, the Jr. Lady Jackets got two hits each from Hailey and Kinley Brown in their 9-6 victory.

Chapman and Makayla Crook each had a hot and two RBIs for JSMS. Hailey pitched three innings while Katie Crowder picked up two innings in relief.

On April 4, JSMS lost 6-1 to Macon County. Kyla Zachary and Chapman had the Jr. Lady Jackets’ only two hits.

Baseball: The Jr. Jackets swept a doubleheader against Carroll-Oakland on Friday, winning 6-2 and 2-0.

Larry Woody: Record musky catch brings back memories

News of a state-record musky caught in Melton Hill Lake last month brought back memories of one I caught over a half-century ago in Daddy’s Creek on the Cumberland Plateau.

Musky – short for muskellunge and sometimes spelled as “muskie” – are known as jackfish in parts of Tennessee, where they are native to some of the region’s streams.

They are elusive and hard to catch. Up North musky are called “the Fish of 10,000 Casts” because that’s about how many casts have to be made to get a strike.

Steven Paul hoists his state-record musky.

Back when we fished for jackfish in streams like Daddy’s Creek and the Obey River, we didn’t do a lot of casting. Our technique consisted of catching a bucket of creek minnows in the shallows, putting one on a hook, and casting it into a deep pool in which jackfish often lurked.

You cast out your bait, then sat down and waited.

Sometimes a smallmouth would take the minnow. Or a rock bass. I once caught an ugly, two-foot-long salamander known as a mud dog or hellbender. Occasionally – perhaps once every half-dozen trips if you were lucky – a jackfish would bite.

I learned how to fish for jackfish from my Uncle Bud. He was an expert fisherman who could catch anything with fins. His photo would periodically appear in our hometown newspaper: Bud Hedgecoth holding another big jackfish.

I started tagging along with him about the time I could walk. I had about as much fun catching the bait as I did sitting quietly on the creek bank staring at Uncle Bud’s heavy bait-casting line disappearing into in a deep, dark pool.

By my early teens I was fishing alone or with boyhood buddy Tom Thurman. On my memorable jackfish trip I was fishing with Thurman, Nashville’s recently retired Deputy Attorney General.

It was a sparkling spring morning when we arrived at Daddy’s Creek. We caught a dozen creek chubs in the rippling shallows; then waded upstream to a deep hole of water which had produced several jackfish over the years.

We baited up and cast out, then propped up our bait-casting rods and sat down to wait.

It was a short wait. Within minutes something picked up my minnow and swam away with it.

I grabbed the rod, set the hook, and the pool exploded.

A three-foot-long jackfish came rocketing out of the water, toothy jaws agape, then plunged back into the depths. The strength of a musky is incredible. I hung onto my bowed rod, reel screeching, not sure who had caught whom.

I fought the fish for what seemed like an hour – but was probably only minutes – as it splashed and thrashed up and down the pool. Finally it began to tire and I led it to the bank where Thurman slipped a net under it. I had to wait for my hands to stop shaking before I could unhook it.

That week a photo of Thurman and me appeared in The Crossville Chronicle – a pair of skinny, squinting teenagers hoisting a big jackfish.

My fish was 37 inches long and weighed perhaps 15 pounds – far from the recently caught 43-pound state record. But it was the biggest fish I’d ever caught, a monster compared to my usual stringers of bluegills and farm-pond bass.

Over the years the streams I fished as a kid have gradually shrunk, their deep, emerald pools filling with sediment. I haven’t heard of a jackfish being caught in decades. I doubt there’s any left, other than some stocked hatchery fish.

It’s sad to think there are no more wild jackfish. But I will always remember the one I caught and the day I caught it – the thrill as vivid as if it happened yesterday.

Time can dry up streams, but it can’t dry up memories.

JSMS softball goes 1-3 at Columbia tournament

The Jim Satterfield Jr. Lady Jackets played last week in the MidTN Classic in Columbia, where they went 1-3 in the tournament.

In pool play, the Jr. Lady Jackets beat White House 6-5 on Friday. Later that day, Coach Blake Satterfield’s girls suffered a couple of key injuries and lost 10-2 to Davidson Academy.

On Saturday, JSMS lost 15-0 to Coopertown and 7-1 to Greenbrier.

JSMS is scheduled to host Gordonsville on Thursday, then travel to Smith County on Monday. Both games are scheduled for 5 p.m.

Larry Woody: It’s turkey time in Tennessee

It’s a turkey hunter’s sound of music: deep-throated gobbles and high-pitched yelps echoing through the dogwood-blossomed hills and hollows of Tennessee.

Turkey season opens April 1 and runs through May 14, and during those magical early spring days, thousands of hunters will be hunkered in blinds and bushes clucking like lovesick hens, trying to lure in a gullible gobbler.

Watching a long-beard come strutting across a field, tail feathers fanned, crimson head glowing, black-and-bronze plumage glistening in the morning sun, is one of the most spectacular, pulse-pounding experiences in all outdoors.

A sight like this is what turkey hunters dream about.

Despite a mysterious decline in turkeys in some areas of the state, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency predicts a spring harvest of more than 30,000 birds for a 15th consecutive year.

The limit on gobblers is four per season, but only one per day. The one-per-day limit is intended to keep an over-anxious hunter from shooting at a turkey in a closely bunched flock and killing or wounding others by accident.

Hens are protected, unlike during the fall season.

Actually the TWRA definition is not “hens” and “gobblers,” but rather “bearded” and “beardless,” because an occasional hen has a beard. A bearded hen is legal.

Also legal are white and partially white gobblers. Biologists encourage the harvesting of white turkeys to extract domestic genes from the wild flock. A white gobbler counts the same as a naturally colored gobbler in terms of the daily and season limit.

Live decoys and electronic calling devices are not allowed.

When a hunter has killed a daily and/or season limit, he or she can still accompany another hunter and assist with calling but cannot carry a gun.

Each bagged bird must be checked in the day it is killed, either at a traditional TWRA checking station, on a social media app, or online at the TWRA website (tnwildlife.org)

For details about regulations and license requirements, consult the TWRA website or the Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide, available for free at most outdoors outlets.

As turkey hunting becomes more and more popular, so does the risk of hunters encountering each other. Turkey hunting is more prone to accidental shootings than deer hunting because, unlike the latter, no highly visible florescent clothing is required by law. In fact, it’s just the contrary – turkey hunters go to great length to thoroughly camouflage themselves.

Add to that the fact that the camo-concealed hunter mimics the call of a turkey, and it’s easy to see how another excited, trigger-happy hunter might shoot at movement in the bushes.

The first rule of hunting is that no shot should ever be taken until the target is positively identified. In turkey hunting, that includes being able to see a beard on the bird.

The head and wattles of a hen-happy gobbler’s head often glow bright red, white and blue, and wearing any of those colors should be avoided – including white socks that can flash when pants legs ride up.

One of the most thrilling moments in the outdoors can be turned into one of the most tragic by one careless mistake.

Every turkey hunter should keep that in mind.

Jackets win 2 of 3 at Wilson Co. tournament

The Trousdale County Yellow Jackets took part in the Wilson County Invitational last week, winning two of their three games.

The Jackets defeated Mt. Juliet Christian 8-1 and held off BGA 7-5 before losing 19-0 to Station Camp.

The Jackets are scheduled to host Mt. Juliet Christian on Friday at 4:30 p.m. before opening District 8-A play on Monday at Red Boiling Springs at 4:30 p.m. Trousdale County will then host RBS on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Softball: The Lady Jackets were set to open district play on Tuesday at home against Goodpasture before traveling to Mt. Juliet Christian on Thursday.

Middle school: JSMS will host a baseball play day on Saturday.

The Jr. Jackets will play Macon County at 10 a.m., followed by a Macon-Westmoreland matchup at 12:15 p.m. JSMS will then play Westmoreland at 2:30 p.m.

Admission will be $5.

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.