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Speaks the truth about “hick-hop”



Brush up on whitetail hunting tactics PAGE 54




THE SIG P320 XFIVE LEGION gives the gift of accuracy. Page 41

You might be a redneck if...

JEFF FOXWORTHY your grandma really was ran over by a reindeer.


42 48 54 02


YOU MIGHT BE JEFF FOXWORTHY IF... The comedian on his career, his farm, and the family that has kept him grounded by alec harvey


The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation


The great outdoors


CALLING ALL TURKEYS The craft of turkey calls and calling by billie cooper

The latest gear and wear for modern outdoorsmen


The Garmont T8 Extreme GTX Boot


WHITETAIL TACTICS Thinking like a buck by jeff johnston



Down home holiday drinks


Great culinary tidings of joy



Colt Ford reveals new layers on his seventh album




Matt Morgan


Jill Christiansen COPY EDITOR


Claire Cormany PHOTO EDITOR


Natalie Radzwilla EDITORIAL OFFICE 1012 W. Eldorado Parkway P.O. Box 183 Little Elm, Texas 75068 214.997.1118

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Lone Star Law’s Texas Game Warden Randolph McGee puts dealing with people first


Proudly Printed in America

An Ozark Mountain Christmas



Gifts for the outdoorsman who has it all

Sig Sauer’s XFIVE Legion 9mm


Allie Butler travels the world hunting but holds firm to her Kentucky roots


When it was too cold to fish

Santa arrives Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. at all Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. He will be there to meet all the boys and girls until Christmas Eve. Then he’s off to deliver toys!



Foxworthy defines redneck as “having a glorious absence of sophistication.” Photo by Andrew Eccles/NBC



EDITOR’S NOTE left: My wife, Natalie, and I after Christmas service. below: My family gathers around our dining room table for Christmas Eve dinner. right: Oplatki, a traditional Polish Christmas wafer.


ife seems to slow down for me during this time of year. Maybe because I stop being distracted by every form of electronic communication known to man and instead opt for true communication with friends and family. We gather together at holiday parties, eat around the dining room table, lounge on the couch and chat, or all pile into the car to go “look at the lights.” It takes me back to a simpler time. A time long before cell phones, email, Facebook, Instagram, Snap-Whatever, and any other denomination of social-skill-diminishing technology. A time when a knock on the door was a good thing and not a time to pretend you aren’t home. It is a brief moment when we put aside our differences and welcome unexpected guests, family members we haven’t seen in a year, and maybe even the occasional kid from the neighborhood caroling. The holidays are also a time of tradition for me, some cultural, some unique to our family. My family is Polish and my wife’s Italian. So as you might imagine there is a lot of food involved. The holiday season is kicked off with a bang on Thanksgiving when my father-in-law, Gary, and I rekindle what has been an ongoing cold war of turkey cooking prowess that has been smoldering for years. To win, we pit family member against family member to vote for the best Thanksgiving turkey. Of course, I always win, but he still claims he was the winner. In reality, we are all winners due to the impressive amount of food generated by the cook-off, which has now spread to sides. Barring any political debates, we then retire to the couch for our annual viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where we all repeat the lines of every scene and laugh until we pass out from the turkey and wine. Only to awaken and make turkey sandwiches from the leftovers and repeat the pass-out phase of the celebration. Christmas is a more formal time in my family, steeped in cultural traditions, and yes, even more food. My mother has instilled these traditions in me, which have been passed down in my family for generations. This year will be extra special for us as we share these traditions with my new baby boy, Jack. Jack was born in late August of this year and will be now seated at the table, and one day he will pass these traditions on to his family.



Christmas begins Christmas Eve for our family, and we try to begin dinner at first star (which, traditionally, we miss because church runs long). Both sides of the family were raised Catholic, and for us Christmas Eve marks the end of Advent. Traditionally, that means the last day of fasting, so in Polish and Italian families, the dinner is typically meatless. We break out our finest china and feast on a combo of the Italian side’s tradition of 7-fishes and my Polish grandmother’s tradition of lobster (She didn’t care for the traditional Polish pickled herring, and for that I am thankful…) The most important of the Polish tradition comes before the feast and is known as Oplatki. Nothing says Christmas, at least in my family, quite like the sharing of this thin, flat, tasteless wafer. The Italians are catching on, but they still wonder why this “bread” doesn’t include garlic… Before sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner, many families with roots in Poland and Eastern Europe take part in this tradition, which dates back hundreds of years. The wafer is typically a rectangle and embossed with a Christmas scene, such as the Nativity. It is made of flour and water pressed between two engraved pieces of metal and is similar to the bread wafer used in Holy Communion. Each family member has a piece, which they share with the other members of the family around the table. As we share, piece by piece, we make our well wishes to each other for good health and hope in the New Year. I guess what you can take from all of this is that during this holiday season, make sure you take a moment and truly savor what makes us all a family. Put down the technology and embrace conversation and each other. Put aside your differences, welcome others into your home, pass on and create new traditions, and realize, just like my family, we are all a melting pot of cultures. If we can get back to that, every day would be like Christmas. May God bless you all during this holiday season, may He bring comfort to all who may be alone during this time, and may He bless the men and women in uniform who serve us to protect our rights as Americans to celebrate any tradition we want to. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas y’all!

John J. Radzwilla editor-in-chief

SOME CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS GROW BRIGHTER EVERY YEAR. In Branson, we believe in a few things. And the only way to experience a Christmas vacation is to be here with us. Branson. You won’t believe it, until you do. 877- BR ANS O N

G I V I N G BAC K At Hook & Barrel, we are firm believers in giving back to the greater good. In each issue, we showcase a business, group, or organization that gives back. Conservation is a team effort and takes many forms: from habitat and species conservation to preserving hunting and fishing rights or growing the sports by introducing new folks to the joys of the outdoors. Some of our key focuses are kids in the outdoors, habitat and wildlife, and veterans who protect our rights as Americans to live the lifestyle we all enjoy.

The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation


have always considered it a blessing to have been mentored and raised by veterans. My grandfathers both served in the Army during World War II as did several of my uncles, and my father served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. Heck, my great grandfather helped fight against Pancho Villa’s raids in a small town called Columbus, New Mexico, where I trace my roots. These men were not only my mentors but my heroes as well. I joined the U.S. Army at 17, eventually serving as a Special Forces Green Beret

we have a duty to honor all those whom have served. Through the construction of this memorial we truly will honor, heal, empower, and unite our entire nation. The World War II Memorial serves as a place of healing and unification for the Greatest Generation—I only wish my grandfathers would have been able to visit it before their passing. The same is true of the Vietnam Memorial and my father’s generation. Nearly 18 years after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, we are still engaged in a war to diminish terrorist operations globally. We rightfully honored those like my father and grandfathers through memorials on the National Mall; it is now upon us to provide the same level of honor and respect the current generation so truly deserves. I have a profound respect for all who have served, and this respect extends to the spouses, children, and family members who have supported their loved ones from afar. I can honestly share with you all that the most difficult deployments for me were not the nine that I participated in but those where my loved ones did. The multi-

Consistent with its mission, the Foundation will recognize and salute the service and sacrifices of all who served in defense of the nation in this conflict, as well as their families and friends. sniper and medic. I was medically retired for wounds received in combat after 21 years, and the mother of my children retired after 21 years of service in the Army as a combat medic. We are immensely proud that our eldest son is currently serving as an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division. We have deployed 16 times for this great nation of ours, but our story is not unique, there are countless families just like mine. I am humbled to continue my service as president and CEO of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation (GWOT), an organization committed to building the National GWOT Memorial in our nation’s capital to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served in support of our nation’s longest war, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Consistent with its mission, the Foundation will recognize and salute the service and sacrifices of all who served in defense of the nation in this conflict, as well as their families and friends. We have American patriots fighting terrorism in a multitude of ways, and we are still losing lives, in and out of uniform. This year alone, I lost three friends who were serving as government contractors. This speaks to the complexities of this conflict, and



generational component to this conflict is unlike any our country has faced. We understand the hardships this war puts on those who are directly and indirectly affected. The Foundation has made remarkable progress as we embark on our capital campaign to raise $50 million. We’re honored to have a personal friend of mine serve as our honorary chairman, a gentleman and true servant leader from Texas by the name of President George W. Bush. As the president and CEO, I am confident that with the continued help and support of American patriots like yourselves, we will achieve mission success. Respectfully,

Michael “Rod” Rodriguez President and Chief Executive Officer GWOT Memorial Foundation



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THE GUIDE This Christmas we should all thank our veterans who served or are serving our country. Those of us who love the great outdoors might not be able to enjoy the hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking, and other things we do today if it were not for their sacrifices. It was their gift to us. Merry Christmas to all of you and God bless America!


Researchers recently discovered that people who exercise outdoors are healthier and happier than those who do the equivalent exercise inside. Those of us who love the outdoors don’t need research to tell us that.




Ducks and geese won’t move in heavy fog, but they will fly in light fog. With the limited visibility they become very vulnerable to calling.

The great outdoors. by larry whiteley

HUNT NEAR DEER CROSSING SIGNS We see deer crossing signs all the time, but how many of us ever think to use them to find big bucks? They are always put up at locations of numerous car and deer collisions to tell people to slow down and watch for deer. If deer consistently cross at that location, shouldn’t you find out who owns the land on both sides of the road and seek permission to hunt? You should find heavily used trails since they are crossing so much they have to put up a sign.


It’s hunting season. Field and forest beckon us. As hunters, our meetings with wildlife are often limited to chance encounters. A flush of pheasant, a whitetail or wild turkey happening by our secret hiding places. As hunters and lovers of our sport, no one loves wildlife more than we do. No one is more thrilled by the beat of wings or the beauty of a doe than we are, and no one has done more to preserve our wildlife than we have. No hunter can fail to appreciate the sight of a bushy tailed red fox, the sound of geese high in the sky, a bobcat skimming along the forest edge, the chickadee that lands in the tree with us, or a squirrel rustling in the leaves on the forest floor. Hunters value these encounters with nature as much if not more, than a successful hunt.


“Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame, Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.” BLACK ELK, OGLALA LAKOTA SIOUX


The Gift of the Great Outdoors

In a world of commercialism, the real “reason for the season” is sometimes lost in an onslaught of Christmas sales. Escape the holiday traffic, commercials, computers, and smart phones. Escape for just a little while, and get out in the great outdoors. The sun rising over the water or an eagle flying in a bright blue sky is better than any TV show. The sounds of geese flying overhead or a loon’s haunting sound is better than the sounds of crowded stores. Under hard ice or flowing water, fish can still be caught. In most places deer and duck seasons are still going. Hiking trails and campsites await you. The outdoors is a natural stress reliever. Christmas is about gifts, and that all started when wise men brought them to a baby in a manger. Gifts don’t all have to be stuff the retail world says everybody wants for Christmas. You can give that same gift to a child, grandchild, or friend that someone gave to you long ago—the gift of the great outdoors.


Layer Up What to wear this whitetail season.



LAYER WITH KUIU The hunting industry has been saying it for years now—dress in layers. KUIU’s late founder, Jason Hairston, pioneered the industry’s layering concept by developing an ultra-light camouflage system utilizing revolutionary fabrics. Pulling from a heritage of hunting in the roughest mountain terrain, KUIU now offers solutions for any hunt, including long whitetail deer sits. If it can work 10,000 feet up on a mountain ridgeline during a blizzard, it should have you covered in your tree stand. Late fall and winter is when you will see the most erratic weather conditions. You can encounter rain, sleet, or snow. Your layering system will need to be more intensive and based on your expected conditions. The addition of insulation and multiple mid-layers will help with heat retention. Also, as cold fronts move in and temperatures plummet, the need for insulation pieces becomes crucial, as insulation traps the heat, making the below freezing temps tolerable.





Your base layer is the foundation of your layering system. As your nextto-skin layer, comfort is important. Keep in mind this layer is always on, hot or cold, so choose a fabric that wicks moisture and breathes well. Peloton 97 Top—$99.99 Peloton 97 Bottom—$89.99

Your mid layer is worn over your base layer and under your insulation and outer layer. It is typically a lightweight fleece or a light insulation piece. This is where extra warmth can be added. Hooded options are a nice addition to protect your head and neck from the wind. Before purchasing a hooded option though, make sure to count the number of hoods already in your system. Too many hoods can be cumbersome when all layers are on. Strong Fleece Hybrid 260 Hoodie—$149.99

The whole premise behind insulation is heat retention. KUIU’s Super Down options are constructed with a down-proof coating to keep the clusters from migrating through the fabric. That coating makes these pieces windproof and limits breathability, which in turn traps body heat inside the garment making them perfect for long tree stand sits. Super Down Pro Jacket $299.99 Super Down Pro Pants $249.99

Although on the heavier side, soft shells do have a place in your layering system. Known to be durable, they are a great outer layer in thick vegetation. Soft shells also perform exceptionally well in windy conditions and offer protection in snow and light rain. credit cards, and more. Axis Jacket—$269.99 Axis Pants—$229.99

Super Down Mitt—$119.99

Peloton 97 Neck Gaiter—$25.00

Strong Fleece Base Layer Glove—$39.99

Peloton 240 Beanie—$30.00



GEAR LAYER WITH SHE The days of buying men’s camo in smaller sizes are gone, and outdoorswomen are rejoicing. For far too long, women have been left behind searching for camouflage that fits correctly. SHE Camo is that solution and with proper tailoring, superior fabrics, and layering choices, the days of boxy cuts, cold air in all the wrong places, and traipsing through the woods like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story are finally over. The layering concepts still apply, though SHE is not exactly a system. In this round up, our female staff hit the racks at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s to create the perfect SHE Camo set up for late fall and winter whitetail hunting. Hand selecting pieces with technical fabrics, insulating layers, and anatomically correct cuts, we have created our own SHE system guaranteed to keep you warm.




Built for outdoorswomen with ice in their veins to match the frost on the ground. These base layers are a warm foundation even in the harshest conditions. This layer is highly breathable, fast drying, and moisture wicking. 4.0 Base Layer Pants—$69.99 4.0 Crew Neck Base Layer Top—$69.99

This layer is worn over your base layer for additional warmth. It is specifically cut for female hunters with tailoring details to fit the female form and keep you comfortable on the hunt. This is also the layer that you will use to regulate your temperature with ventilation and easy on/off capabilities. EXP Camo Hoodie—$69.99 Reversible Insulator Puffy Vest—$79.99

An insulation-centric layer, use this layer to trap heat in and keep moisture out. When you hike to your deer blind or treestand, and the air starts whipping snow around, you’ll be glad you chose the winter-defying insulation pieces with durable waterrepellent finishes to fend off late season conditions. C4 Jacket—$159.99 C2 Pants—$99.99

Fleece Gaiter—$19.99


Liner Gloves—$14.99


Insulated Waterproof Gloves—$29.99

Fleece Beanie—$19.99




These Boots are Made for Hunting The Garmont T8 Extreme GTX Boot


by john j. radzwilla, editor-in-chief

found myself on what seemed to be a never-ending red stag stalk in central Europe when I looked down at my boots while pausing for a break in the mud-soaked forest. My pack was weighing me down, and coupled with my rifle and ammunition, I was carrying nearly 35 pounds of gear. For days, we hiked in search of the perfect stag and averaged 10 to 15 miles per day. I was exhausted. All it would have taken was one loose rock or a slick wet protruding root to send me tumbling, both mentally and literally. I was thankful I was wearing my Garmont T8 Extreme GTX boots. The Garmont T8 series is Garmont’s flagship boot, and they are available in three different variations. The Garmont T8 Bifida is an uninsulated summer boot; the Garmont T8 NFS is a tactical boot/running shoe hybrid with a soft rubber sole for rapid movement; and the Garmont T8 Extreme GTX is similar to the Bifida but includes Gore-Tex insulation. At first, I was a little concerned packing a new boot and hauling it halfway around the globe untested, but I’m glad I did. Knowing that I would be traversing a wet forest floor in cooIer conditions, I opted for the T8 Extreme GTX with the added insulation. To break the boots in, I laced them up and headed to the airport.



The T8 Extreme GTX is designed to be a cold-weather boot and designed to provide support, warmth, and comfort on hunts requiring long periods of stalking or in demanding field conditions carrying heavy loads. The boot features a Vibram sole for maximum traction, stability, and shock reduction in nearly all environments and weather. Its durable compound ensures extended life and great grip on a variety of surfaces. I wore these boots all last season and then some. They quickly became my go-to boot for all applications. At home in Texas, they made short work of the rocky and sandy terrain, easily gripping rocks as I climbed outcroppings in West Texas. Later, they found themselves traveling the cobblestone streets of Rome on a family vacation. Next, they were on assignment with me in Mexico, punching the pedal of my racecar through the floorboard as I raced the Baja 1000 track for our May/June issue. On all levels, they stood up to the most extreme conditions. These boots, in all their mud-caked, bloodstained, worldtraveled glory, are still on the ready in my closet for my next adventure. There is no doubt they will be on my feet again through this deer season, hopefully with more blood stains to add to the already hard-earned stains from last year. $199.99,


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Down Home Holiday Drinks Taking the stress out of Egg Nog and more.

story and photo by jenny adams “The holidays are all about gathering. It’s a time to celebrate friendships and those you love. Part of that means entertaining, but I don’t think it should be overly complicated. You should be part of the party, not stuck in a kitchen,” says Laura Newman, bar manager/owner of Queen’s Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Newman left the Big Apple for Birmingham in 2017, and in 2018, she became the first American female to ever win Diageo’s international bartending competition. This holiday season, we asked her to help us recreate our favorite holiday cocktails at home—using things we would actually have in a fridge or pantry. And if you can, stop in Queen’s Park in December in Birmingham, too. Their bar’s Havana hotel vibe will be completely transformed into a wacky, winter wonderland.







Mulled wine does not call for fine wine. In fact, just the opposite. This tradition of warming a red in the winter and adding those lovely baking spices like cloves, cinnamon, and stone-fruit citrus, has become a holiday standard in America, as well as Europe. 1 oz. Southern Comfort 3 oz. light, juicy red wine (Think: California Pinot Noir) ¹/2 oz. Cocktail Artists Lavender Syrup (available at Walmart) 3/4 oz. lemon juice ¹/2 oz. orange juice method: Combine ingredients in a pan on stove and gently warm. Ladle into a mug, and garnish with lemon slices.



The Champagne Cocktail, hoisted at holiday and New Year parties around the world, dates back to the mid-1800s. For the original, you’d place a sugar cube doused in bitters in the bottom of a flute and top with a measure of Cognac, Champagne, and a lemon peel. “The Champagne of Beers” makes a delicious, conversation-starting down-home swap. 4 oz. Miller High Life 1 oz. lemon juice 3/4 oz. honey syrup* 6 dashes Angostura Bitters method: In a cocktail shaker, combine lemon, honey syrup, and Angostura Bitters. Add ice and shake. Pour Miller High Life into the shaker. Do not shake. Only strain into a glass. lazy man’s method: Combine all ingredients in a tumbler or single rocks glass & give everything a quick stir to combine *Honey syrup: combine 4 oz. honey with 4 oz. water in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture is combined; store refrigerated.


THE FRONT PORCH ’NOG historic moment:

Egg whites add a froth. The yolk adds a thick, creamy consistency, and Egg Nog is a fan favorite at every party. This drink hails from the 1700s, when nearly every American farmed chickens and rum wasn’t palatable without adding a lot of masking spices. We like to tinker with un-aged white whiskey or moonshine to bring a bit of fire to the party. 3/4 oz. Moonshine or white whiskey 3/4 oz. Jamaican rum (We like Appleton Signature) 3/4 oz. Cognac 2 oz. heavy cream 3/4 oz. vanilla syrup* 1 tsp. malted milk powder 1 whole egg Nutmeg, to top method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for about 10 seconds. Open shaker, add ice, and shake again. Strain cocktail into rocks glass. Garnish: generous dusting of nutmeg.


*Vanilla syrup: add 2 drops of vanilla extract to ¾ oz. simple syrup and swirl to combine.



GOOD GRUB Chef Bri Van Scotter brings her formal French culinary training from wilderness to table by creating recipes that keep outdoorsmen’s mouths watering.

Great Culinary Tidings of Joy Preparing your holiday feast from wilderness to table. story by brian mccombie


ith all the current interest in hunting as a route to natural, organic meats, even the successful hunt leaves one potential problem unanswered: what to do with that deer, turkey, or wild hog you just harvested? Here’s a solution: find someone experienced in processing and cooking wild game to show you—the hunter—the many ways



your family and friends can enjoy this healthful, wild meat. And with the holidays fast approaching, wouldn’t it be a fine thing to prepare some wild game for your gatherings? To use game meats to put an organic, healthy spin on what can, admittedly, be a tough time for our diets and our waistlines? Just such an education is possible through one of the Field-to-Table (F2T) courses

offered by Executive Outdoor Adventures (EOA) and taught by Chef Brianne (Bri) Van Scotter. Van Scotter, 37, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and The Art Institute and is classically trained in the French culinary arts. She’s also a hunter, a native of Georgia, and a very passionate advocate for people knowing where their food comes from, as well as harvesting and preparing that food. Once she was out of college and working as a chef, Van Scotter became increasingly focused on the sources of her foods and ingredients. She had the chance to visit several of the factory farming operations that provided her foods—and was appalled. “The factory-farming approach just doesn’t sit right with me,” Van Scotter says. “The chemicals and drugs used, the conditions, and just not really knowing where your food comes from, how it was raised? No, thank you! But with hunting, you have access to this great, organic protein, free of chemicals, and you can literally take this food source from the field into your kitchen and be involved in every step of the process.” “Bri is the perfect person to take you through the field-to-table experience,” says Andy Anderson, CEO at Executive Outdoor Adventures. “She is hands-on and really enthusiastic. And the meals she prepares? I’ve been a hunter and eating game meats since I was a little kid. And Bri has completely changed the way I look at game meat today!” Van Scotter grew up in California, in an outdoors-oriented family hooked on swimming, snorkeling, and horseback riding. But hunting wasn’t part of the mix. “Actually,” says Van Scotter, “my mom was kind of an animal rights activist growing up. Hunting would’ve been a huge problem when I was young. We’ve parted ways on some of those ideas, as you can imagine,” she adds with a laugh. At some point, she realized hunting could provide organic meat, and she took her first game animal seven years ago, a white-tailed deer, during an archery hunt in Georgia. Since then, she’s added bear, hog, and moose hunts to her resumé, and even successfully hunted big game on the African Plains. “I only hunt to eat,” she notes. “I don’t hunt animals I would not eat.” Van Scotter and Anderson met over a year ago. She was working with an air rifle company that had invited her on a hunt held at an EOA property. Anderson was not only impressed with Van Scotter as a hunter and

WILD TURKEY BRINE /4 gallon water /4 gallon ice 1 cup kosher salt 1 /4 cup honey or sorghum syrup (preferred) 12 bay leaves 2 heads of garlic, sliced in half with skin attached 3 1

2 Tbsp. black peppercorns 1 Tbsp. chili flakes 1 bunch of thyme 1 bunch of parsley 4 Sprigs of Rosemary Zest of 3 lemons, reserve lemons Zest of 1 orange, reserve orange

In a large pot add the water and all the ingredients except the ice. Bring the brine up to a low boil, and make sure the salt and sorghum is dissolved. Then remove from heat and add the ¼ gallon of ice, this will help it to cool down quickly. Store the brine in the refrigerator till the whole mixture is chilled and cool. Then pour into a large container and submerge the turkey. Brine the turkey in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. Drain the brine and pat dry with paper towels before cooking.

Chef Bri’s Favorite Holiday Wild Game Cooking Tips by chef bri van scotter BRINE—I can’t stress enough how important brining your wild turkey is. Wild turkey does not have the water content that domesticated turkeys do, so brining your turkey is the number one way to ensure you have a moist turkey. Brine early. Allow two to three days for a turkey to thaw in the refrigerator and allow one full day for the turkey to sit in the brine. This is the time you need to be planning ahead. Cut vegetables two to three days before the big day and store them in containers in the refrigerator. This will make life easier and quicker when you start cooking your dishes and allow more time with your family. Let it rest. I like to rest my turkey for at least two hours. As the meat relaxes, it reabsorbs its juices and becomes more tender. Zest it. If you think your dish is lacking in flavor and before you reach for the salt try zesting a lemon. Its acidic and bright flavor brings a whole new dimension to dishes. Dry them out. Mashed Potatoes are a must on any holiday menu, and yet people mess them up all the time. I dry mine out before I mash them. I remove my cubed potatoes from the boiling water and spread them on a sheet tray and bake them at 200° for about two to 30 minutes to make sure all the excess water has evaporated from them. Low and slow. When it comes to wild game, cooking at low temperatures and over a slower, longer period of time will ensure perfectly cooked wild game. What grows together goes together. A deer during

fall is most likely eating acorns, persimmons, and apples, and these items pair perfectly with venison. If it is growing in the same area as the wild game, the flavors will always pair best. So, think of serving your wild game with items that are in season and local.




“What grows together in the wild, goes together at the dinner table.” –bri van scotter

VENISON SWEET POTATO & SOURDOUGH STUFFING 2 large sweet potatoes, 3 cups diced 2 carrots, diced 3 celery stalks, diced 1 onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. ground black pepper 3 /4 lb. venison, ground 1 /4 lb. pork sausage 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds 1 tsp. cayenne pepper 1 tsp. coriander 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped 1 cup dried cranberries 4 cups sourdough bread, cubed 2 cups venison stock (or beef stock) 20

Pre-heat oven to 350°. In a large skillet add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Over medium heat, add the diced sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sauté till the onions are translucent and the sweet potatoes are almost cooked through. Then add the ground venison, ground pork sausage, kosher salt, black pepper, fennel seeds, cayenne, and rosemary to the pan. Cook till the venison and pork is cooked through and nicely browned. Then turn the heat off and add the cranberries, sourdough, and stock; mix well to combine. Transfer the stuffing to a baking tray, spread evenly and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.


butcher—he couldn’t get enough of her food! “I’ve never been a fan of blackbuck,” Anderson says. “But the hunt Bri was on was for blackbuck, and she cooked it for one of our dinners. It was the best game meat I’d ever had. Right then, I knew we had to work together.” One of Van Scotter’s guiding principles is, what grows together in the wild goes together at the dinner table. “Let’s say you’re doing a fall deer hunt, and the deer have been eating persimmons and chestnuts. I’d match the venison recipes to ones that used chestnuts or something similar and maybe a sweeter, deep fruit like plums. You bear hunt in the fall, and the bears have been eating raspberries? Raspberries in the recipe are going to make that bear meat taste awesome.” She admits, though, that a hurdle to her F2T work is being a woman in a male-centric tradition. When she started hunting seven years ago, she discovered firsthand that a good number of men didn’t take a woman seriously as a hunter. “You go into a gun store to look for a hunting rifle, and the guy behind the counter asks if you’re picking up something for your boyfriend. It can be pretty intimidating and, frankly, really exasperating. In some ways, it’s easier to just walk out the door.” But all that is changing, she adds, especially as more and more woman enter the hunting ranks. “And I think it’s a plus that, as a woman, I can be there to teach other women,” she says. “Women are more likely, in my experience, to ask another woman what might be considered a ‘dumb question’ to a guy. And the fact that I am hunter myself, makes a difference to the women who’ve attended the F2T events; it shows them this is all very possible in their lives, that hunting, and processing game isn’t a ‘guy thing.’” With the holidays approaching, Van Scotter suggests trying out a game recipe or two to show friends and family that game meat is a healthy and delicious choice. “Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about family,” she says. “What better way to show them you care than to prepare a meal made from meat you harvested, butchered, and cooked. It’s like a healthy gift from you to them—from the wild to your table!”

Cheers, to a Successful Season. AUTHENTIC TEXAS WHISKEY Distilled in Forney, Texas


A Man of Many Talents Colt Ford reveals new layers on his seventh album.

or most of his life, Jason Farris Brown’s biggest focus was on sports. At first it was baseball, then it was golf, which he played well enough to compete on the pro circuit for several years. But something else was nagging at Jason, a deeper passion calling him in a different direction. And so Jason Farris Brown became Colt Ford. Just like that, he put away the clubs to become a songwriter and country rapper and co-found a record label. “Music has always been my first love,” he says. Though commonplace today, the cross-pollination of country and hip-hop hardly existed back then. It was 10 years ago that Ford



made his life-changing transformation and became one of the first artists to successfully merge these musical styles. “I get it that from the outside looking in it might seem unusual, but it never seemed odd to me,” Ford says. “I have always been someone who was able to do a lot of different things.” Ford doesn’t care for descriptions like “country rap” or “hick-hop.” The burly entertainer with a quintessentially American stage name says what he does is simply a form of country music. “Recitations in country music and ‘spoken word’ and ‘talking blues’ songs have been around since before I was born—songs like ‘Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette),’



story by jim hannaford

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“It took me a minute to find my voice and also to find the right songs for it. The reaction has been great. Some people have been surprised—even some of my friends are saying, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’”–colt ford ‘Hot Rod Lincoln,’ ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ and ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ just to name a few.” Growing up, Ford liked the mainstream sounds of Journey, the Eagles, and Earth, Wind & Fire and was also drawn to his parents’ Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings records. About the time he entered high school, the groundbreaking Run-DMC spun his head around. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, what is that?’” he recalls. It was a dream come true (one of many for Ford) when, years later, he collaborated with them on a song called “Ride On, Ride Out.” “There are lots of people who have been successful in music but not that many who have moved the needle like they did,” Ford says of the rap pioneers from New York City. “They created such a movement.” That musical movement continues to gain new ground, such as when a young recording artist named Little Nas X recently struck viral gold with a homespun ditty called “Old Town Road.” With a cowboy theme, a banjo sample, and a hip-hop beat, the catchy tune became an internet sensation and lassoed onto the Billboard country charts before being removed for not being country enough. A subsequent version of the song featuring country crooner Billy Ray Cyrus raced to the top of Billboard’s pop chart and remained there for 19 weeks. The controversy sparked debate over what exactly is country— something that Ford has heard his entire career. But his attitude 24


The musician started out life as a promising athlete, and still likes to take part in celebrity and charity tournaments.


Fans can always expect an electrifying live performance from Colt Ford and his solid and versatile band.

NEW TUNES Ford says it was a “dream come true” to record with Run-DMC a few years back. Here, his crew celebrates with Darryl McDaniels of the pioneering group.

toward Little Nas X’s huge success is akin to the old saying about a rising tide lifting all boats. “I’m happy for the kid. Good for him,” Ford says. “Any time you can open more eyes, that’s a good thing.” Though Ford has sold millions of records in his career and has repeatedly placed on the Top 10 Country Albums Chart, a smash hit of his own has dangled just out of reach. He has written for and recorded with some of Nashville’s biggest stars (including Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, and Montgomery Gentry), but his greatest chart successes have been under other artists’ names. For instance, Jason Aldean’s remake of Ford’s “Dirt Road Anthem” (co-written with Brantley Gilbert) is a modern classic that has influenced many other artists and is considered to be one of the biggest country hits of the digital era. Since 2009, Ford has released seven albums of his own while 26


Average Joes Entertainment Group, the company he co-founded with Shannon Houchins, has built a strong roster of dozens of other country artists on its various imprints. This certified overachiever hopes his latest release, We the People, Volume 1, will mean even greater success. “I want to be on the radio because I was raised on the radio,” says Ford, who plays upwards of 125 shows a year with his six-piece band. “And I’m excited because I feel like this new music is the best music I’ve made.” He is doing more conventional singing these days. You can hear his rich baritone on “How to Lose a Woman,” a graceful and tender ballad on the new album. “It took me a minute to find my voice and also to find the right songs for it. The reaction has been great. Some people have been surprised—even some of my friends are saying, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’”


“There are lots of people who have been successful in music but not that many who have moved the needle like they did,” Ford says of Run DMC, the rap pioneers from New York City. “They created such a movement.”–colt ford



FIELD TRIP Texas Game Warden Randoph McGee is a cast member of Lone State Law on TV’s Animal Planet.

The Enforcer

To protect the state’s wild animals and wild places, Lone Star Law’s Texas Game Warden Randolph McGee puts dealing with people first. story by glenn hunter | photography by john j. radzwilla


e’re riding with Texas Game Warden Randolph McGee in his grey, 2016 Chevy Silverado half-ton pickup, headed east on U.S. Route 82 in Grayson County, Texas. McGee, a popular, 45-year-old cast member of the Lone Star Law reality show about Texas game wardens on TV’s Animal Planet, puts 35,000 miles a year on the four-door truck. He calls it his “office” for good reason. Wardens with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) work out of their vehicles, communicating by two-way radio as they enforce the state’s hunting and fishing laws, protect its natural resources, and oversee boating safety. McGee, a 16-year veteran of the agency whose regular assignment is Fannin County next door to Grayson, is explaining that, besides protecting 250,000 square miles of Texas lakes, deserts, plains, piney woods, bayous, and coastline, the state’s roughly 540 game wardens are police officers charged with enforcing all Texas



criminal laws. The Silverado says “State Police” on the back, and McGee carries a holstered, .40-caliber Glock pistol. “Ninety-five percent of our interaction with the public is compliance,” he says. Animal cruelty cases aren’t uncommon—he busted one guy who knocked a pig’s teeth out with a hammer—and he’s always on the lookout for hunting and fishing violations. Recently, he cited a woman for illegally catching and possessing a four-foot-long paddlefish, a threatened species in Texas. She’d been lying on a cot in a parking lot covered with blankets, McGee remembers. Once the covers were removed, he found the fish wrapped in a towel between her legs. We’re headed this morning for S&S Consolidated High School in Sadler. There, about 15 boys and six girls between the ages of nine and 17 have gathered in a classroom for a six-hour hunter’s education class. The class is being led by Game Warden Bryan Newman, McGee’s working partner for the last decade or so. Newman has been

Wardens McGee, left, and Bryan Newman drill students during a six-hour hunter’s education class in Sadler.

THE TOP WAYS TO BREAK TPWD LAW DURING DEER SEASON When it comes to getting on the wrong side of game wardens with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in general, it’s hard to beat the intoxicated guy who drove up behind Randolph McGee’s pickup one night with his high beams on. “Hey, buddy,” the drunk yelled out the window. “I’m pullin’ your a-- over!” Soon cited for his sixth DWI offense, the man had mistaken the game warden for a friend of his. While that was an outrageous instance, there are much more common mistakes people make that can get them in trouble with Texas game wardens during deer-hunting season. According to McGee, three of the top offenses then are::

Tagging violations. “They’re always No. 1,” McGee says. “Hunters will put a dead deer in the back of their pickup and say, ‘Let’s go eat breakfast’ before tagging them first. But that tag needs to go on immediately.” Failure to do so can bring citation for a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $25 to $500.

Failing to comply with the “13-Inch Rule.” McGee says this “popular violation” in North Texas, also a Class C misdemeanor, has hunters ignoring requirements in certain counties to take just one buck per county with antlers (or ear-tip to ear-tip) measuring 13 inches or more on the inside spread. “Some hunters will protest, ‘But, I was 300 yards away and couldn’t tell,’” McGee says. “Well, don’t shoot ’em at that distance.”

Trespassing violations. In Fannin County, for example, where there are many absentee landowners living and working in Dallas-Fort Worth, “the locals will go hunt their places during the week,” McGee says. Such violations are Class A misdemeanors, punishable by jail time as well as a fine.




Warden McGee spends hours in his “office”—a 2016 Chevy Silverado pickup.

“Our job is dealing with people. We’re in the people business.”–randolph mcgee telling the youngsters how and when to tag their deer—“immediately” after it’s shot, he stresses—when McGee enters the room. For the next hour or so, the two wardens take turns telling the students the difference between bolt-, lever-, and pump-action hunting rifles, the definition of a “waste of game” violation, and how to safely carry their firearms in the woods. McGee also recalls several stories illustrating the “dangerous things that can happen” while hunting, including the time a guy blew his hand off after firing a rifle whose barrel was caked in mud. “I don’t want to scare you, but I don’t want you to go out there and do something stupid,” McGee cautions the students. “Think before you act.” Back in the Silverado, the game warden takes a pinch of Longhorn snuff and heads north on F.M. 901 for Lake Texoma, a popular recreational reservoir that he calls “a magnet for our clients.” We pull off the main road there and begin inching along the Sherwood Shores area on the lake’s west side. Suddenly, McGee spots three or four people sitting under a canopy, with several fishing poles in the water. He stops the truck and, after exchanging pleasantries and inspecting a small-mouth bass they’ve caught, casually asks, “How you fixed for licenses?” One man in the group produces a combination hunting-and-fishing license, and McGee notices there’s a deer tag missing. “Did you kill 30


a deer?” he asks. The man says yes, adding that he’d just forgotten to fill out his “harvest log” on the license to reflect the kill. Although his failure to do so constitutes a violation of the law, the game warden decides to let him off with a written warning. “Our job is dealing with people,” McGee says back in the truck. “We’re in the people business.” That’s why his classes in speech communication in college were almost as valuable to him as his training in law enforcement, he says. It’s also why he makes it a point to frequent the area’s little cafés, getting to know the locals who gather there to sip coffee and chew the fat. Becoming a known quantity leads to trust and, often, valuable tips about who’s doing something they shouldn’t be doing, he says. Texas game wardens “get to pick our own hours,” McGee goes on. He’ll prove that today, when he won’t return to his family in Whitewright until 9:30 p.m. That’s because McGee also is a trained auctioneer and frequently plays that role for charity events in towns like Bonham and Anna. Tonight, he’s auctioning off items at the Tanglewood Resort in Pottsboro to raise money for a scholarship fund for Nathan Halfmann, a 16-year-old Pottsboro High School student who drowned in Lake Texoma in 2018. McGee’s participation in the effort is especially poignant, since he’s the one who found Nathan’s body.

HOLIDAY HOLIDAY SALES SALES EVENT EVENT November November 1-December 1-December 21 21

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Rudolph’s Holly JollyTM Christmas Light Parade at Silver Dollar City.

An Ozark Mountain Christmas “America’s Christmas Tree City,” Branson, Missouri, rolls out the red-and-green carpet to visitors looking to immerse themselves in cheer and goodwill.


story by patti verbanas

f Santa, the missus, and their band of merry elves weren’t so busy getting the sled ready, likely they’d be in Branson, Missouri. Starting on November 1, the town transforms into a winter wonderland with events, festivals, and a blanket of holiday décor so festive that the bright memories will carry you warmly through the impending winter’s chill. When it comes to this jolly holiday, Branson holds the crown. Cited as one of the best Christmas destinations in America by national media like The Today Show, the Travel Channel, and The Wall Street Journal, Branson also has been named “America’s Christmas Tree City” for four years straight, and for good reason: Last year, the community-wide event boasted more than 1,700 Christmas trees, some more than 25 feet tall. Miles of lights radiate out from the town center, beckoning travelers—come on, this way!—bringing the magic of the season to life with homespun charm. Following is our Christmas List of favorite events and places to visit:

December 8, when the Nativity scene, populated by 28-foot-tall figures on top of Mt. Branson, is lit. This non-commercial event recalls the true meaning of Christmas and gives participants a chance to reflect on the pure wonder and joy of the season.


Branson’s Gift of Lights drive-through Christmas light display features over 300 super-bright LED lights from November 1 to January 1. Hear the story of Christ’s birth set to synchronized

The holiday season in Branson includes the Adoration Celebration, now in its 71st year. The 2019 event occurs at dusk on




Branson is known for its blockbuster shows, and Christmas is an occasion for the stars to put out their best sparkle and shine. Book tickets to a holiday show from any one of Branson’s top-tier acts and entertaining families: Clay Cooper, Doug Gabriel, the Baldknobbers, Presleys, Osmonds, Lennons, Duttons, Haygoods, Bretts, The Petersens, SIX, and the Hughes Brothers. Want to go really big? The Hughes Family Christmas show stars not only the five guys, but their entire family of close to 50 people. Now, that’s a family reunion to remember!


Christmas Wonderland at Kings Castle Theatre.

Branson’s Adoration Parade.

Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train at Silver Dollar City.



D E ST I N AT I O N S left: Christmas in Midtown® at Silver Dollar City, featuring 1.5 million lights. below: The Garden Chapel at Big Cedar Lodge.

lights, embark on the Santa Safari, weave through a forest of Christmas trees, time-travel to prehistoric times, and see Noah’s Ark in a new light—literally. Promised Land Zoo transforms into a sparkling wonderland every night in the holiday season. Santa’s Safari Village is two miles of jaw-dropping light displays, and VIP admission allows you to travel on a climate-controlled tour bus and meet and feed the safari animals. The Trail of Lights, Branson’s original drive-through display, has been delighting families who have wound their way through the 160-acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead for 29 years. New this year is “The North Pole Adventure,” a walk-through experience that takes you through thousands of twinkling lights and past hot chocolate stands and artisan crafts.


Make Big Cedar Lodge your home for the holidays, and you’ll have a Christmas to remember. Starting on the night of November 29 through the holiday season, parents can arrange for elves or Santa to visit their children in their rooms at night to read them a story, take photos, and leave them goodies. Or bring the kids to the Elves’ Workshop, which features a Christmas movie, hot chocolate, and a ceramic ornament that guests can paint and keep. Feel nostalgic as you lace up your ice skates and circle around a large interactive Christmas tree on the synthetic ice rink, which is rimmed with glittery lights, or embark on a scavenger hunt seeking holiday ornaments, which you can then use to decorate a wreath to take home, or go on the hunt for the ubiquitous Elves on the Shelf— snap a picture of the mischievous creatures when you find them and receive a prize.



Other events include a Gingerbread Build-Off; tree lighting ceremonies; stocking decorating; storytime and baking with Mrs. Claus; a Kids’ Club Tree Decorating Pajama Party; and a celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas from December 13 to 24, with each day featuring a special activity. You can also soak in the season by joining fellow guests on a holiday light tour. Offered every day but Sunday from November 19 to December 30, the tour takes guests on a festive tram ride through twinkling lights, complete with Christmas carols, blankets and hot chocolate. Then, with Rudolph’s nose a twinkle on the horizon, you can usher Baby New Year in style with celebrations designed specifically for children, teens and adults.


Silver Dollar City rings in the season with its acclaimed holiday festival, an Old Time Christmas, which features the Christmas in Midtown Light Spectacular, Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade with musical, lighted floats accompanied by 33 costumed characters, an all-new towering 8-story video-motion Christmas tree, two Broadway-style Christmas productions, and 6.5 million lights, plus rides, handcrafted shopping, and holiday dining specialties. The 1880s-style theme park hosts two Broadway-style productions that complement dozens of star-filled Christmas music shows in Branson. During  An Old Time Christmas, Silver Dollar City is open Thursdays—Sundays beginning November 2, plus Wednesdays Nov. 20 through December 18, and open after Christmas Dec. 26-30. Hours, schedules, and more at


You’ll find Christmas trees everywhere: traditionally decorated trees, natural trees strung with holiday lights, and even “creative” trees formed from unusual objects, in unique shapes, or set in one-of-a-kind displays are sure to delight. Can you imagine the 25foot-tall tree created by Track Family Fun Parks with its 500 upcycled go-kart tires? One of the best selfie spots is in front of the tree in front of the Sight & Sound Theatre: It’s a breathtaking 46 feet tall, with a six-foot star on top, more than 4,300 LED lights, and 1,260 ornaments.

Christmas 2019

MERRY CHRISTMAS Y’ALL! Gifts for the Outdoorsman Who Has It All by john j. radzwilla

Christmas time is here, and it has us all out shopping for gifts. If you are like me, you probably have bought a 3 to 1 ratio of gifts for yourself versus gifts for others like you should be doing. Either way, here are my top picks for the holiday season, whether you are buying for yourself or others. HOOKANDBARREL.COM | @HOOKANDBARRELMAG


GIFT GUIDE DEER SANTA When it comes to making your list and checking it twice, here are a few items you can’t forget. These are some great gifts for your favorite hunter this season.

Tru-Fire Synapse Thumb Release, $199.99, Chama Chair & Travel Bag, $179.95, This rugged chair is thoughtfully designed to be extremely durable It is constructed of premium materials that make it lightweight as well. It quietly swivels 360 degrees, levels to any un-level terrain, and converts to a stool giving it versatility. Each chair includes a premium travel bag with accessory pockets.

This thumb release with true double-sear operation features a broad range of adjustments that allow it to be perfectly customized to any archer’s liking. The internal stainless-steel components are precision milled for exceptionally crisp operation and flawless cocking of the trigger activation lever. The thumb button is multi-position configurable, with lockable adjustments for trigger travel and trigger tension.

IQ Bowsight Define Pro Rangefinding 7-Pin Bow Sight, $499.99, A top-of-the-line bow sight with a built-in rangefinder, this sight helps you stay ready to shoot. Accurate up to 150 yards, the Define’s integrated rangefinder gives bowhunters true, angle-compensated yardage on targets as they sight in with the sight’s seven pins. Easy-to-use system activates with the simple push of a trigger button, making it easy to utilize the system’s scan mode.

Orca 58 qt. Red Cooler, $339.99, In the trunk of Santa’s sleigh lives a red cooler—perfect for icing down eggnog and peppermint Schnapps. This 58-quart cooler would look great in your truck too. With integrated insulation for maximum ice/cold retention and freshness of your stowed items for up to 10 days—it will keep all your holiday drinks as cold as the North Pole long after your in-laws leave.

Tru-Fire Eva Shockey Signature Release, $99.99, With up to 3/4” of length adjustment, the Eva Shockey Signature Release is perfect for smaller wrists and hands. Trap tab allows you to put the release on and take it off with just one hand. The fold-back feature moves the release head out of the way so you can focus on glassing or rattling.



Sig Sauer KILO2200BDX Range Finder, $299, Featuring Sig Sauer’s BDX technology, this rangefinder is one of the world’s most advanced laser rangefinders. Alone, it is a notch above the rest, but as a bonus, when paired with a Sig Sierra3BDX riflescope, it becomes a Christmas miracle. The onboard Applied Ballistics Ultralite calculator sends ballistic drop data via Bluetooth directly to the Sierra3BDX’s BDX-R1 reticle, providing an illuminated holdover dot and wind hold.

YOU’LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT I think we all would take an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, just like Ralphie wanted in a Christmas Story, but we all have to grow up at some point. This year, ask Santa for one of these guns. Here are three unique must-have firearms to find stashed under the tree. And, please, don’t shoot your eye out!

Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider Rancher Revolving Rifle, $297, This new revolving rifle combines the precision single-shot revolver technology with the romantic flair of the Old West revolving carbines. Chambered for .22 LR, the single-action, spurred hammer Rancher features a six-shot cylinder behind a 16-inch barrel topped with an adjustable buckhorn-style rear sight. Integrated into the trigger guard is a finger hook to assist in hand placement and optimal trigger finger positioning.

Taurus Raging Hunter, MSRP $919, Winner of the 2019 American Hunter Handgun of the Year Golden Bullseye Award, this gun is a nextgeneration, big-bore revolver that’s first in innovation and built to last. A fun and effective alternative for short- to medium-range hunting scenarios, this five-shot revolver is chambered in .454 Casull and is available in matte black or two-tone finish. Its revolutionary angular barrel design cuts down on overall weight, while its factory tuned porting and gas expansion chamber reduces muzzle lift for quicker target acquisition.

Rossi RS22M Semi Auto 22Mag MSRP $262, Built on a rugged and ergonomic polymer stock platform, this rifle combines free-float barrels and exceptional trigger performance for target shooting and small-game hunting in the potent .22 WMR caliber .22 LR is also available in semi-auto, and this line of rifles also includes a .22 LR, .22 WMR and .17 HMR in bolt action.chamber reduces muzzle lift for quicker target acquisition.



GIFT GUIDE THE FINER THINGS We all have that dad, brother, or father-in-law with “more discerning” taste. Here are two suggestions sure to impress.

Lone Elm Whiskey and John Wayne Decanter Set Lone Elm Single Barrel: $65.99, John Wayne Decanter: $75, Pair a bottle of authentic Texas whiskey with the honest words of John Wayne etched in the glass of this decanter set. One glass reads: “I never trust a man who doesn’t drink.” and the other, “I’m here to kick ass and drink whiskey and pilgrim, I’m all out of whiskey.” A perfect match up for the whiskey drinker in the family.

Dagga Boy/Ivory Skinner Knife by Arno Bernard, $399, This beautifully designed scimitar skinner combines black African Cape buffalo horn with creamy white warthog ivory in the handle for a striking contrast. Also, it incorporates a finger groove into the stainless-steel bolster to make sure your hand does not slip towards the blade during field dressing. Each knife comes with a high-quality, hand-made leather sheath that covers almost the entire knife.


Nockturnal Fit Universal Lighted Nock, $29.99, Outfitted with a patented Linear String-Activated Switch, the nock lights up instantly with shot inertia so you can track an arrow to the target and find it easily in after dark. Stays lit until you reset it. Made of clear plastic, it provides maximum light transmission and can be seen from a distance. Rage X-Treme Four-Blade Broadhead, $29.99, Combining cut-on-contact fixed blades with two 2.3” expandable blades that open a massive wound channel, Rage’s X-Treme Four-Blade Broadhead delivers lethal results and easy-to-follow trails. Slip Cam ensures blades deploy every time, while a shock collar ensures they don’t open too soon. Rage Hypodermic Trypan Broadheads—Mechanical Broadhead, $24.99, Packed with new features and design, these broadheads are Rage’s best yet. Led by a needle-like, streamlined titanium ferrule, the Hypodermic Trypan takes the popular Hypodermic broadhead design to the next level. Sweptback stainless-steel blades create a slap-cut entry hole more than 2” wide and penetrate swiftly and deeply to give hunters hearty blood trails after the shot.




Scan this QR code to watch a short video showcasing this amazing bike.


The Big Gift of the Season

t some point, it would be fair to say that, boy or girl, we asked Santa for a bike. It would also be fair to say, that even though we may grow older, sometimes we never grow up. This year, it’s time to ask Santa for a bike again—a QuietKat e-bike. Out of the box, quite literally, the bike makes a great first impression. When our staff first received the QuietKat APEX in the mail to demo, we braced for a long day of assembly. To the contrary, the bike arrived nearly complete with just a few parts to fasten down to the already assembled frame. QuietKat also included all the tools needed to complete the build, which was much appreciated. Securing the handlebars, installing the Explorer 900 lumen light (optional), screwing in the pedals, inserting the seat post, tightening down the wheels, and connecting a few control wires took us about 30 minutes. If assembly is not your thing, you’re in luck. QuietKats are also currently sold, assembled, at 66 Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. With the bike assembled, we inserted the pre-charged battery and took it for its first spin around the block. It was exhilarating as the 26” tall, 4½” wide “fat bike” tires effortlessly began to roll with the simple depression of the throttle lever. The bike was quiet, smooth, and had instantaneous pick-up driven by its 1,000-watt motor. Just out of curiosity, we Googled the power conversion and discovered that 1,000 electric watts is the equivalent to 1.34 mechanical horsepower. That may not seem like much, but given the bike weighs in at only 75 pounds and combines human pedal power with its motor, I was quickly motoring along at 25 mph. I couldn’t resist on a straightaway to see its full potential and reached a wind-whistling 40mph. All the neighborhood testing was great, but this bike isn’t intended to be some sort of urban green kind of deal. It is built for off road with a GT 100mm air suspension fork, 9-speed wide-range gearing, two piston hydraulic breaks paired with 203mm rotors, and added optional suspension seat post—so we headed to the deer lease. Our lease is mountainous, full of winding trails, and littered with rocks, all of which the tires ate up with ease. This was no

surprise to us given the reputation QuietKat has, but could it handle the climb to the highest point on the lease? How much battery would that climb eat up? And, how much additional effort would it take from pedaling to complete the climb to prime hunting areas? The answers: surprisingly positive. To create at a bit of a competition, I was challenged to a race against our Kawasaki MULE or “The Beast” as we call it. I was given a five-minute head start. With 2,200 feet of elevation change and grades ranging from 10 to 20 degrees stretching a mile in front of me, I gripped my handles tightly and pressed the soles of my hunting boots to the pedals. Starting off in a mid-range gear on level two of the bike’s five power settings, I quickly realized I may just beat my counterpart, Ryan, in the 812cc, three-cylinder engine UTV. Increasing to power five, I actually had to shift to a higher gear to make up for the lag in pedaling compared to the motor assist power that was being delivered. Looking down at the electronic display, I was moving along at 15+mph up the steep rocky trail. Nearly ¾ of the way to the finish line, I could hear the sound below of the UTV firing up its engine and throwing loose gravel from its tires. Pressing down the throttle, I gave it my all. I could hear Ryan gaining ground behind me but to no avail. I reached the summit first, hardly winded, and without burning a bit of fuel or making any loud engine noise. We were convinced that the QuietKat is a must have for the season. If it could handle that climb, we were sold. I pushed it to its limits, and it won only expending 19 percent of its total battery. But that led to one final question: how far could you go on a single charge with and without pedal assist? Again, the answer was positive. A rider could travel on flat ground on power level one, 23 miles without pedaling or double that to 46 miles combined with pedaling. Bottom line, it can go the distance nimbly threading trees that would stop its four-wheel counterparts allowing you to hunt deeper in the woods at a quarter of the price. Mix that with the stealth-like silence of the electric motor, there is no better vehicle to navigate the woods without spooking deer this season.





carbon steel bull barrel, and a full-size, Legion Grey Romeo1Pro optic-ready slide complete with front and rear side-serrations. Rounding out the XFIVE Legion, you’re sure to appreciate an integral M1913 picatinny rail, adjustable Dawson Precision fiber-optic sights, and a flat X Series match-grade trigger. The P320 XFIVE Legion’s overall dimensions are 8.5-in. (L) x 5.8-in. (H) x 1.6-in. (W).


Sig Sauer XFive Legion 9MM CALIBER: 9mm Luger ACTION TYPE: Semi-Automatic FRAME MATERIAL: Stainless Steel SLIDE MATERIAL: Stainless Steel BARREL MATERIAL: Carbon Steel ACCESSORY RAIL: M1913 TRIGGER: Striker TRIGGER TYPE: XSeries Straight BARREL LENGTH: 5 in (127 mm) OVERALL LENGTH: 8.5 in (216 mm) WEIGHT: 43.5 oz (1 kg) MSRP: $899.99

>> Many moons ago, as a corporal in my beloved Marine Corps, I had the good fortune of qualifying with a handgun. Even better, I qualified with an M1911 .45 ACP that had been in Marine Corps service for more than 80 years. The pistol still shot well, and I qualified as a Pistol Sharpshooter— thus, my affection for 1911 handguns was born, although I wouldn’t choose it over a striker-fired handgun for concealed carry. And while I did qualify with the M1911 in the early 1990s, I was also one of the last. Beretta had slipped in to score the U.S. military handgun contract in the mid-1980s and the transition from the M1911 to the Beretta M9 had been underway for years. Early in 2017, change came again. This time, the Beretta M9 was the victim. Sig Sauer had beat Beretta and other industry greats like Glock and FN to land a $580-million contract—enter the Sig Sauer P320. With the overwhelming theme of modularity as a primary premise for replacing the Beretta M9, the Sig P320 ruled the roost beginning in 2016 and was lauded by many, including myself, as a Lego gun of sorts. Using a Sig Sauer X-Change kit, shooters can transition their P320 handgun size from full, carry, compact, or sub-compact and their calibers from 9mm to .357 Sig and .40 S&W. Of course, a year after the P320’s initial SHOT Show unveiling, the competition Sig 320 X-Five was introduced in January 2017. Looking back between 2016 and the first half of 2019, I had limited experience with any P320, let alone the competition-specific XFIVE model. That said, when I was asked to give my $.02 on the latest, greatest P320, the XFIVE Legion, I was more than happy to oblige. THE WALK AROUND Touted as Sig Sauer’s newest flagship handgun, the XFIVE Legion definitely raises the bar for Sig’s own P320, as well as all other similarly classed striker-fired pistols. The feature-rich P320 XFIVE Legion is aggressively designed, and holding one, with the added weight (43.5-oz. total) and improved balance as a result of Sig Sauer’s Legion Grey TXG tungsten-infused grip module, complete with foursided grip stipling, assures that you’re holding something quite special. Even better, Sig’s P320 XFIVE full-size grip module accommodates a flared magazine funnel for faster, easier reloading and accommodates 17-round mags. It’s worth noting here that according to Sig Sauer, their tungsteninfused XFIVE Legion grip module reduces “muzzle flip by up to 50%.” More on that in a bit. The P320 XFIVE Legion boasts a stainless steel frame, solid steel guide rod, 14-lb. spring, 5-inch match-grade,

TRIGGER TIME Since its release, I had been chomping at the bit, so to speak, for some XFIVE Legion trigger time. For testing, I headed to my home range, Triple C in Cresson, Texas. Nestled in the heart of a 3,000-acre working ranch just south of Fort Worth, Triple C boasts 13 pistol and carbine bays, as well as zeroing ranges and shooting lanes ranging from 300 yards clear out to 2,000. As luck would have it, my testing was done just after a 3-gun match. The bays were still loaded with netting and targets and as such, offered a much more dynamic shooting experience. I ran the XFIVE multiple times through several stages, increasing my times each successive run. First (and lasting) impressions were that the XFIVE Legion is exceptionally comfortable to shoot. As Sig suggests, the added weight and incredibly well-balanced design made for truly mitigated muzzle flip, increased stability, and faster reacquisition of targets as I moved through the stages. The X Series trigger also was exquisite. The longer travel and reset did take a little getting used to, but I adapted to it quickly. Trigger pull was light, surprisingly comfortable, and I absolutely loved the crisp trigger break. Even with trigger travel and reset as they were, I had no issues with rapid fire hits and achieved impressive personal-defense-focused, balance-of-speed-andprecision grouping. Of course, more than the trigger, consistent rapid-fire hits were the result of precisely what Sig purports. Added weight and improved overall balance did make for dramatically reduced muzzle flip— something akin to shooting a compensated system but perhaps even more comfortable. As a final range performance note, I finished testing with a fairly moderate rate of fire, roughly one shot every three seconds. The result was an 8-shot, 1.5-in. group at 10 yards. FINAL SHOT Is it the lightest? Not by a long shot. If I can find a gripe, it’s weight. I would love to see it a tad lighter, but I also understand the benefit of a heavier, well-balanced system, especially for competition. To that end, if I was looking at compromising on any element of fit, form, or function, including shootability considerations like balance or muzzle flip, I’d boldly suggest that lightening it up might be counterproductive—“why fix it if it ain’t broke” comes to mind. Honestly, even as a writer, sometimes it’s tough to come up with the right word(s) to best define a shooting experience. As it relates to the Sig Sauer P320 XFIVE Legion 9mm, the only all-encompassing word I can come up with is exquisite; in fact, experiences like that of the XFIVE Legion remind me why I absolutely love my work.



Jeff Foxworthy spends as much time as he can at his farm. “I call it Beloved, because that’s the way I feel about it,” he says. “I guess people that would read this magazine would understand that, how you just come to just love a piece of land.”



JEFF FOXWORTHY if... You might be

The comedian on his career, his farm, and the family that has kept him grounded. story by alec harvey



ince 1984, when he first took to a comedy stage in Atlanta, Jeff Foxworthy has hardly stopped working. He has toured extensively—both solo and as part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour—and his comedy albums have earned him multiple Grammy nominations and, according to his website, made him the largest-selling comedy recording artist of all time. He’s hosted TV’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader and The American Bible Challenge, been a judge on this year’s Bring the Funny, starred in his own sitcom, appeared in or provided voices for a number of movies, and has his own comedy channel on satellite radio. Last year, he created Relative Insanity, a best-selling board game based on his comedy. Oh, and he’s written more than 25 books and created, by his count, more than 8,000 “You might be a redneck if …” jokes. But Foxworthy, now 61, is much more at home on his 3,000-acre farm in west central Georgia than jet-setting around the country. “Seinfeld and Leno and all of them buy Porsches and exotic cars, and I bought a farm and tractors,” Foxworthy says. “I made more

money than I ever thought I’d make in my life, and on the days I’m not working, I’ve got on jeans, boots, and a T-shirt, and I’m on a bulldozer or a tractor, and I’m happy as a pig.” Foxworthy found that happy place early on in life, hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather while growing up just outside of Atlanta in Hapeville, Georgia. “My granddaddy was a fireman, and when he wasn’t working, he was fishing,” Foxworthy recalls. “He always took me with him, so that made me love the outdoors. And my dad had grown up on a farm, and before my mom and dad divorced, when I was 5 or 6, he was taking me squirrel hunting and dove hunting and quail hunting. … My dad bought back the farm he grew up on when I was about 10 or 11, and that’s kind of where I got introduced to deer hunting. I could still take you to the place I saw the first deer track I ever saw in my life.” Similarly, Foxworthy can still recall the moment that launched his comedy career into the stratosphere. At the urging of some co-workers at IBM, he had entered and won the Great Southeastern Laugh-Off at the Punchline in Atlanta, and he was touring the country with his folksy, observational humor. “I always wore jeans HOOKANDBARREL.COM | @HOOKANDBARRELMAG


and boots, and I drove a truck, and people would always say, goodnaturedly, ‘Foxworthy, you’re nothing but a redneck from Georgia,’” he recalls. One night in 1986 at a club outside of Detroit, Foxworthy was getting kidded about his redneck ways. “The club we were playing in was attached to a bowling alley that had valet parking, and I said, ‘Listen, y’all don’t think you have rednecks in Michigan, but come look out the window—people are valet parking at the bowling alley,’” he says. “I went back to the hotel that night and I thought, ‘Heck, I know what I am, but apparently a lot of people don’t know what they are.’ I wrote 10 ways to tell you might be a redneck, and I went back to the club the next night, and I did them. Not only were people laughing, they were pointing at each other. I thought, ‘Heck, there’s something here.’” There definitely was something there. Those 10 jokes became 50, and then 300, and they were followed by best-selling calendars, albums, and books. Foxworthy’s redneck humor ran the gamut from hunting (“You might be a redneck if you’ve ever been involved in a custody fight over a hunting dog”) to religion (“… if you’ve ever made change in the offering plate”) to home décor (“… if you own a home with wheels on it and several cars without”). The jokes—along with Foxworthy’s more observational stand-up—became one of the centerpieces of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which also featured Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy. And whether the audience was in Alabama or Minnesota, people laughed at them. “What I found traveling the country was that if you get 20 or 30 minutes outside of any city, people are the same,” Foxworthy says. “The accents change, and the scenery changes, but we’ve got rednecks wall-to-wall in this country. That’s why I think it worked so well.” Foxworthy defines redneck as “having a glorious absence of sophistication” and says that has nothing to do with socio-economic status. “You think if you gave rednecks a million dollars, they wouldn’t be

I think there’s varying degrees of redneck, just like with athletes,” Foxworthy says. “You’ve got your regular ones, and then you’ve got your Hall of Famers. rednecks anymore, but all they would do is buy bigger trucks and nicer boats and go to every NASCAR race,” he says. “Lord, Elvis had a billion dollars, and he was putting carpet on the ceiling and shooting at the TV, so it didn’t have anything to do with money. It was just kind of a mindset.” And that mindset, Foxworthy found, was one of pride of belonging rather than taking offense at a comedian’s jokes. “I’ve had people bring the books for me to sign, and they’ve had check-marks by ones they’ve done, like a scoring system or something,” the comedian says. “I think the reason was I wasn’t laughing at somebody. I was laughing with them, because half of the dang jokes I’ve ever written were about my family and friends.”

Jeff Foxworthy, shown here at the Warner Theatre in Washington, has made millions telling his “You might be a redneck if …” jokes. “They’re one-liners, and probably nothing else I do in stand-up is one-liners, but because they’re easy to remember, they’re easy to retell,” he says.



At the center of that family is Foxworthy’s wife, Pamela, whom he met at the Punchline in Atlanta the same night he made his comedy debut. “That was a pretty good night,” he says. “I won the contest, and I won the girl the same night, so that was pretty cool.” They’ve been married 34 years and have two daughters, Jordan and Julianne, whom they raised in Atlanta shortly after the end of TV’s The Jeff Foxworthy Show. “That was about the time we started having kids, and I just wanted my kids to grow up around their family, so we moved back here in ’97 and kind of never looked back,” he says. “I had people in LA going, ‘You’re killing your career by moving back to Georgia,’ but apparently they were wrong because I’m still getting away with it.” The career never slowed down, but Foxworthy made sure that he was around for his family. “When they were growing up, I rented a plane to get to my gigs, and I’d come home every night, no matter where I was, and get up and take them to school,” he says. “Then I’d get back on a plane, fly to the next city and do another show. The result was it gave me 100 more days a year with my kids, and now that they’re grown, we have a fabulous relationship.” For Foxworthy, life is all about family. In addition to the farm, he and Pamela have a home in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb, next



Jeff Foxworthy says his wife was all for the purchase of the farm because he loved the farm, not because she shares his love of the outdoors. “She’s got an equal love for the mall, but I’ve converted her a little bit,” he says. “She doesn’t hunt or fish, but she loves the unplugging.”

door to Foxworthy’s brother and not far from his mother, mother-in-law, and two daughters, all of whom live nearby. Everyone will gather at the Foxworthy farm for Thanksgiving. “We’ll have 30 to 35 people there,” Foxworthy says. “I’m just a big family guy, and the fun thing for me is we started doing this when nobody had kids. And then we had kids—and now the kids are grown— and they all still come. That’s one thing I’ve loved about the farm, is it’s always served as a special place for my family and my extended family. There are just a lot of fabulous memories there.”



Foxworthy has had the farm, which he calls Beloved, for about 20 years. There, he helps tend to about 400 planted acres, hunts, and, mostly, relaxes. “I always feel like that when I drive through the gate, I go from being Jeff Foxworthy to just Jeff,” he says. “I get there, and my farm manager, Glenn Garner, gives me my marching orders for the day. He’s like, ‘Well, I need you to go plow this, this, and this,’ and I’m like, ‘Alright.’ So I work for him once I get on the farm.” Foxworthy has hunted all over the country, but he does most of it right at home, on the grounds of Beloved. For about 15 years, he has stuck mostly to bowhunting and bowfishing. “One of the perks of people knowing who you are was I got to do a lot of the hunting shows and got to go all over the country,” Foxworthy says. “I shot a lot of cool stuff, but it was kind of like, once I had done that, I thought, ‘Alright. I want to take it to the next level. I want to do it the hard way.’” “I kind of knew that I was going to be missing some good opportunities, because you go from a gun that could shoot 400 yards down to a bow,” he adds. “But the first time I ever shot a deer with a bow, I sat there and shook like I did when I was 15, and I said, ‘This is how I want to feel.’ Once I got into it, I just kind of never looked back.” Foxworthy is hard-pressed to single out a favorite hunting memory, but a 2017 hunt for moose in Alaska ranks right up there. “Being on the ground with a stick and a string and hunting something that’s 7 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs 2,000 pounds, only my laundry man knew for sure how excited I was on that little ride,” Foxworthy says with a laugh. But most of his hunting memories, he says, have nothing to do with the hunt itself. “It’s not so much where I’m hunting or what I’m hunting, it’s who I’m hunting with,” Foxworthy says. “I’ve had the same group of friends for forever. We get together every fall. This is probably our 25th year of doing it. We’ll cook out and sit there and tell the same old stories and laugh at them. … I’d pass up going somewhere exotic just to hang out with them. It’s such a great escape. It’s kind of that thing that keeps you grounded, I think.” That grounding has served Foxworthy well, even though he’s still a superstar in the comedy world, continuing to tour extensively and sell out comedy venues around the country. “I never took the celebrity thing seriously, and I so appreciate the gift that God gave me,” Foxworthy says. “I love the fact that I get to make a living making people laugh. That’s just a cool, cool thing. So I’ve tried to never take that for granted, and I’ve tried to never take success for granted.” When he’s not performing, Foxworthy lives what he says is a “relatively normal” life, working on the farm, conducting a weekly Bible study for the homeless and, recently, getting more into painting, mostly outdoor scenes. “I’ve always been artistic, and that’s probably what I would’ve done if I hadn’t become a comedian,” he says. “If this comedy thing doesn’t work out, we can still try that.”

You might be a redneck if... you’ve ever written your resumé on a cocktail napkin. your wife’s job requires her to wear an orange vest. the biggest sign on your place of business says “Minnows”. you list “beginner’s luck” as a skill on a job application. you spend 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart, but don’t work there. you were baptized on a boat ramp. you’ve ever missed work because of chigger bites. you’ve ever been paid in tomatoes. your lifetime goal is to own your own fireworks stand. you think the stock market has a fence around it. you think you are an entrepreneur because of the “Dirt for Sale” sign in the front yard. you’ve ever financed a tattoo. you’ve ever been involved in a custody fight over a hunting dog. you’ve ever spray-painted your girlfriend’s name on an overpass. you ever got too drunk to fish.






CALLING ALL TURKEYS The Craft of Turkey Calls and Calling

story by billie cooper



Eastern wild turkey gobbler in fall foliage





ampanoag Indians hunted eastern wild turkeys with bows and arrows while imitating the sounds the big birds made. Tribe members became so adept at calling the wild birds in close that they began hand grabbing them. Mankind’s fascination with wild turkeys spanned the ages, birthing a movement of artists, call crafters, collectors, and calling aficionados. The ancients could have never imagined a wing bone call worth $100,000. Archeologists discovered wing bone calls, made from the three wing bones of a wild turkey, at the Eva archaic site in Benton County, Tennessee, in 1940. The bones had been scraped, cut, and fitted together much like the wing bone calls of today. The Eva site wing-bone calls were carbon dated to 6,500 BC. The modern day turkey call making era is said to have begun in the 1880s when Charles Jordan began production of wing bone yelpers very similar to those found at the Eva site. Following close behind, Henry Gibson was awarded the patent for the box call in 1897. Jordan and Gibson became the first generation of modern day turkey call makers. Both Jordan’s productions, and articles in Forest and Stream magazine about wing bone yelpers, spanned the centuries between the early American Indians and today’s modern turkey hunters, and placed both calls and ancient history in their hands. One of the greatest names in turkey call-making history, Tom Turpin, was born a generation later. Turpin produced both yelpers and box calls. When he died in 1957, another great name in the up-and-coming turkey call industry, Roger Latham, bought Turpin’s business. Meanwhile, another pioneer of the modern call-making circle, Mike Lynch, had been producing calls in Birmingham, Alabama, since 1939. The Birmingham calls have remained as the higher valued calls of the Lynch line, often bringing hundreds of dollar at public auctions. By the early 1900s, turkey populations plummeted due to over harvest and habitat destruction. Less than 30,000 turkeys remained nationwide. Fortunately, forward-thinking individuals like Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell rallied conservation-minded supporters to start a movement to pass game laws and set aside protected areas for fish and game. Today seven million wild turkeys exist in the available habitat across the nation. The rebirth of wild turkey populations spurned new generations of turkey hunters. As a result, interest in collectible turkey calls, turkey call art, and turkey calling contests grew at a phenomenal rate. While turkey calls have not yet matched the astronomical values of duck decoys and calls—a set of mallard decoys carved by the legendary Caines brothers of Georgetown, South Carolina, brought an astounding $1,144,600 in 2017 at a Guyette and Deeter Auction House sale—interest continues to grow. Danny Ellis, a Charlotte, North Carolina, real estate developer, became the envy of turkey call collectors in 2016 when he purchased the Holy Grail of turkey calls, an 8-inch wing-bone-and-cane yelper made in 1888 by the famous Louisiana turkey hunter and writer Charles L. Jordan. Ellis dropped $50,000 on the famous call, making it the largest figure ever spent for a single turkey call. Rumors in the world of turkey call collectors insinuate, however, that Ellis may have later bought a Henry Davis scratch box call for $100,000. Turkey calling contests became a social phenomenon during the midto-late 20th Century, as turkey hunters became enamored with the

NWTF, Earl Mickel, 2019 Decorative call of the year. "The Boss" by Tim Oldham Jr.



vocabulary of wild turkeys. Speculation about where the first turkey calling contest was held range from bars to barns. No doubt, the contest involved a bunch of guys arguing about who could yelp the best. We’ll never know for sure. Contests sprang up almost simultaneously across the country, as interest in everything turkey grew by yelps and gobbles. Sportsman’s clubs and Chambers of Commerce hosted hundreds of small town events, while others attracted thousands of spectators. The World contest began in 1940 in Mobile, Alabama, followed by the Yellville, Arkansas, Nationals in 1946. By the 1970s, turkey calling contests had become a nationwide mania, with the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Annual Grand Nationals becoming the Super Bowl of turkey calling contests. Turkey calling contests spurned overnight turkey hunting heroes. Contest winners found themselves catapulted into the limelight as they founded call companies, became spokespersons and pro staffers for outdoor equipment companies, presented seminars, and  eventually broke into radio, TV, and video productions. Early successes included Ernie Callandrelli, Dick Kirby, Preston Pittman, and Ray Eye. Their services flamed the fires of thousands of turkey hunters across the country. Eye is still a keynote speaker at the National Wild Turkey Federations’s annual convention and is regarded as one of the greatest turkey hunting educators and personalities of all time.  Men dominated the turkey calling circuit until then 18-year-old Emily Oliver, of Crosett, Arkansas, made history by becoming the first female to win a world championship when she won the amateur division at the World Championship Turkey Calling Contest in Mobile, Alabama, in 2012. She credited her grandfather, Larry Linder, and her mother Jami Lindner, as being her most valuable hunting mentors.  Brenda Valentine,  the “First Lady of Hunting,” set the stage for more females becoming interested in hunting, particularly turkey hunting, when she was named the official spokeswoman for the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2008.  Perhaps no one has a clear handle on the history of turkey calls and calling quite like that of South Carolinian Rob Keck. A former high school art teacher, he joined the staff of the National Wild Turkey Federation in 1978 and soon rose to the CEO position of the fledgling organization. A natural leader, Keck lead the NWTF to notoriety as one the most successful single species conservation organizations of all time over his 27 year tenure. A student of turkey hunting and call history, Keck says that art is all in the mind of the beholder. “You can look at the oldest and crudest of turkey calls and appreciate them as works of art,” Keck says. “However, it was in the mid-to-late 1980s that turkey calls came to be better crafted. You could see the pride of the carvers as they explored using a variety of exotic woods and materials and creating 52


something that was not only functional, but beautiful works of art that someone would want to display.” Keck’s artistic background led the NWTF to begin a decorative turkey call competition. “Those competitions spawned the artistic culture of turkey calls that we see today,” Keck says. “Few would consider taking these works of art to the woods. None-the-less, these astounding pieces of craftsmanship exhibit the beauty, mystique, and greatest features of turkey hunting.” Neil “Gobbler” Cost became a great source of inspiration to other carvers when he introduced checkering to the lids and sides of his signature box calls in the early 1960s,” Keck says. “Later he began putting inlays into the lids of his calls, and many carvers followed suit. Additionally, he gave turkey hunters something they could carry in their turkey hunting vests with a sense of pride.” It was Earl  Mickel,  with the introduction of his three books on turkey callmakers, who brought turkey call collecting into the limelight. “In his last book, Turkey Callmakers Past and Present—The Rest of the Best, Mickel established values of calls,” Keck says.  “With those established values of calls, from a highly recognized authority, came a new sense of collectability.” Turkey hunters and collectors began searching for calls in earnest. Thousands of turkey  calls sat on the mantels of private homes, in hunting rooms, and garages. Those who dug the deepest, discovered early calls made by Gibson, Jordan, and Turpin. “When Earl Mickel’s private call collection was purchased by Bill Jones, of Sea Island, for an estimated two million dollars, collectors began to realize that turkey calls might someday approach the values associated with duck decoys and shore bird collectibles,” Keck says.    Regardless of growing values of turkey calls and the mania surrounding the whole turkey art culture, turkey hunters still cling to the core values of turkey hunting, including the art of calling. “I still go back to the basics of listening to real turkeys,” Keck says.  “You don’t have to be a great caller to harvest turkeys,” says Keck. “Delivering the calls with the same rhythm of a wild turkey is the key. I’ve listened to hundreds of people calling turkeys who weren’t particularly good at calling. However, with a little distance in the woods from the birds, and the correct rhythm, those hunters killed turkeys regularly. That is the art and beauty of turkey calling.” Having been a key figure in the world of all things turkey hunting for nearly a half century, Keck is often asked by turkey hunters what he carries in his turkey hunting vest. “What they are really asking, is what calls do I use,” Keck says. “My personal favorite is a long box call. Materials make the call, and I originally favored a cedar-on-cedar long box call. Then a friend in Pennsylvania designed a box call with an aluminum, curved lid. It produces a high pitched sound that makes turkeys gobble when nothing else will. It is about as turkey as turkey can get. However, I will forever search for the call that trips their trigger!”


Decorative Call by Bill Howard, Indian scene wood burnt on call.

Regardless of growing values of turkey calls and the mania surrounding the whole turkey art culture, turkey hunters still cling to the core values of turkey hunting, including the art of calling.





whIteTail tAcTICs Thinking like a buck story by jeff johnston



Identifying Cover Bucks get old and big by being wary. They stick close to terrain features that mask their movements as much as possible as they travel from point A—their bedding areas to point B—their food sources. So before and after the rut, don’t expect to see mature bucks out in the open, or even in food plots, before dark. That’s why during most times of year except for the rut, you should hunt thick cover and woody travel corridors to consistently take mature bucks. A natural funnel of oak woods that narrows like the waist of an hourglass is the perfect ambush spot; bucks are forced into this deadly funnel if they are to remain hidden as they move to feeding areas. Such a stand location is wonderful for the majority of deer season. Learn how to identify these areas by looking at aerial photographs, Google Earth, and other apps such as OnX.


Finding the Food Step number one is identifying food sources on the property you hunt. This requires walking the property and being able to identify various trees and plants. We all know deer love acorns and other hard mast such as pecans, but they’re called “ice-cream foods” by deer biologists because they’re a treat to deer whenever they can get them, but they disappear fast. Soft masts such as apples, pears, cherries, or plums are dynamite for deer as well, but they are also very seasonal. In reality, whitetails grow and survive on green forbes in the spring and browse blackberry, brambles, greenbrier, prickly pear, poison ivy—yes, poison ivy—and dozens more in the fall. The problem with browse, however, is that it’s too widespread to target specifically, so if you can scout and find a white oak tree that’s raining fresh green acorns, you should hunt near that tree until the ice cream is gone. It’s only a matter of time until deer—and bucks— find it. Finally, strongly consider installing food plots where legal. While deer don’t need supplemental food in spring and early fall, they’ll flock to crops when times get tough in winter. 56


Using Trail Cams After you find a good food source and/or copious deer sign, place a trail camera to learn for certain if deer are consistently gravitating to that place and at what time. A week later, sneak back in and check the cameras. If you see a good number of does— or perhaps a buck that trips your trigger—you’ll know where to hang your stand. Placing Stands Place a treestand downwind of a funnel’s center by factoring the predominant wind in your area. If the wind swirls or switches directions a lot in your area, consider placing two stands on either side of the funnel so you can make a game-day decision on which stand to hunt. If you hunt food plots, consider moving your stand to a subtle trail—often a buck trail—leading to the food plot—and not over the plot itself. Big bucks don’t often come out in the open plot until after dark or during the rut. Catch them as they stage in cover before dark.


Minding the Weather Bucks are programmed to alter their lifestyles when days get shorter and summer morphs in to fall. Bucks begin moving more, marking their territory, rubbing their antlers, sparring with rivals, and looking for does, all in an effort to begin the breeding process. During this time—often in late October or early November—any sudden drop in temperature or swing in moon phase can set bucks into motion. When this happens, you should be in the woods, waiting in ambush with your favorite gun or bow.   



ure, at some point during a hunt, you must be in the right spot at the right time to take a Booner buck, but the reality is, great deer hunters don’t consistently take big bucks because they are just lucky. Rather, they’re skilled hunters who have learned how to read the terrain, how to identify food sources, and how to think like a buck so they can better predict where one will be at a given moment in time. With time, dedication, and these down-anddirty deer hunting tactics, you can too.

Placing Boots on the Ground After studying maps, it’s time to get in the woods. Hopefully you scouted during the summer, but even if you can’t scout until just before the opener, it’s better than not scouting at all. One rub on a tree tells you a buck has been there once, but rub line, or several rubbed trees in succession—typically indicates the area is home-base for a buck. Look for deer tracks concentrated in muddy creek crossings and dirt roads (these reveal how many deer are using the crossing, if any of them are big, and the direction of travel), and try to find ground scrapes in late October and November. Fresh ground scrapes tell you two things: A buck is in the area, and he will likely come back to check it for scent.

OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW-SCHOOL QUICK TIPS: Learn Tree ID. Ancient hunters knew what plants attract deer and how to identify them. These days you can use the internet to learn what these trees and plants look like so you can find them to find deer. A great place to start is the Quality Deer Management Association website

Scout from Afar. In the old days, scouting always meant walking the property and looking for signs, but now we can use technology to do much of the legwork for us. Use satellite imagery such as Google Earth and OnX maps to locate potential food sources and buck-holding terrain features, then deploy cell-phonebased trail cams to scout deer as you live your daily life. Spypoint’s Link-Micro cellular trail cam is effective and affordable.

Try an Integral Rangefinder. Only 20 years ago, hunters preferred a “flat-shooting” rifle or bow to minimize mistakes made in range estimation. Now however, range finding devices are widespread and affordable so that the distance to the target should always be a known variable. Recently several companies such as Burris, IQ , and Garmin launched bowsights that have integral rangefinders built in, so hunters can quickly draw, range the target, pick the correct pin, and deliver one deadly arrow that kills your quarry quickly.  



Attracting Deer If you have no food plots, the oak trees aren’t producing, and you can’t find does concentrated in any one area, consider sweetening your stand location with corn—where legal—or other attractants such as Acorn Rage from Wildgame Innovations or any number of products from Big and J attractants (both sold at Bass Pro and Cabela’s). But before you do this, make sure you are where deer naturally want to be and not simply at a location that’s convenient for you. Considering Scent While deer can see clear across fields, possess great vision in low light conditions, and have a 270-degree field of view, they survive via their sense of smell. And the older a deer is, the more it trusts its sniffer. A 5-year-old buck doesn’t have to see you or hear you to bolt at the first whiff he gets of a human. So you must do everything you can to mitigate your scent. This means doing the obvious things like washing your clothes in scent-free soap, taking a scent-free shower the morning of the hunt, using non-perfumed deodorant, and not doing anything silly like pumping gas before you go hunting. Some 58


hunters even swear by scent-reducing devices such as Ozonics and the new Zero Trace machine from Wildgame Innovations. Playing the Wind Know that if you can smell something, you can bet a deer can smell it from a literal mile away. And because you can never fully mask your scent from a whitetail, your best bet is to always use the wind to your advantage. This means letting the wind choose your stand locations for you. Even if you’ve seen a big buck on camera and your stand is convenient and comfortable, resist the urge to hunt from it if the wind is blowing from behind your stand to the direction from which you expect the deer to come. It’s not worth the risk of spooking the buck when you can wait for a day when the wind is right.  Sneaking to Your Stand If deer are not used to trucks and automobiles where you hunt, park at least a half mile from your stand and silently walk in. If you can use terrain features such as creek bottoms, a two-track road, or a line of cedar trees to mask your entry, do so. Consider driving all the way around your property and walking in from another angle if it’s the quietest way to get to your stand. Fact is, getting in and out of your stand undetected is one of the biggest factors of success on a given day of hunting. Making the Shot If you’ve done everything right, being successful comes down to making a perfect shot under pressure, and the best way to accomplish this is by practicing long before the moment of truth arrives. Increase pressure during practice to better mimic the hunt by wagering small bets while shooting with friends or by participating in local 3D tournaments. Learn how to narrow your focus—aim small, miss small— so that you only focus on a deer’s vitals and not its entire body when you shoot. Then, just before the shot, tell yourself, pick a spot, squeeze the trigger, follow-through. If you’ve prepared well, there should soon be steaks in the freezer and a big buck on the wall. 


Hunting the Rut In most places in the southern U.S. (except extreme South Texas and South Florida where the rut happens around Christmas), the whitetail rut starts in late November and lasts until early to midDecember. During this time, hunters should hunt does to find big bucks. This means moving your treestand or groundblind out of deep cover to more open areas such as food plots and food-laden fields where does congregate. If you can find does, sooner or later bucks will show up. And if you find a hot doe—one that is obviously in estrous because it’s constantly being chased by bucks—continue hunting in that area. If there is a dominant buck around, he will eventually show up to claim his breeding rights. Bucks are programmed to breed, even if it means taking more risks and moving out of their sanctuaries to do so. The more time you spend in the woods during the rut, the better your chances of nailing him.

SO YOU GOT ONE, NOW WHAT? The Slay to Gourmet cookbook by Jon Wipfli helps you take your harvest to the next level. Chef Wipfli’s adventurous new recipes will inspire home cooks and gourmands alike. Raised in Wisconsin and based in Minnesota, outdoorsman and trained chef Wipfli knows a thing or two about venison. His book Venison: The Slay to Gourmet Field to Kitchen Cookbook takes you on an authentic journey from the hunt, through the mechanics of butchery, on to bold and delectable recipes that elevate this somewhat humble wild game to mouthwatering, restaurant-worthy dishes. In Venison, you’ll find more than 30 recipes with accompanying accoutrements and sides. Jon also takes readers through the process of ethical hunting, shares the importance of responsibly and locally sourced food, explains efficient processing with less waste and more for your table (Jon’s no-nonsense technique for field-dressing a deer is illustrated with step-by-step field photography), and of course, offers recipes for using the game in restaurant-worthy dishes, like Porcini Encrusted Loin, Meatballs with Cherry Barbecue Sauce, and a killer Leg Steak Sandwich with Bacon Jam and Blue Cheese. Whether you’re new to the hunt or a seasoned veteran, a home cook or gourmand, this fresh approach to venison cookery is a must-have kitchen companion.




Kentucky Woman Allie Butler travels the world hunting but holds firm to her Kentucky roots. story by barry wise smith

Allie with a prize turkey from a hunt in Texas.




N AS H V I L L E , T N



Allie Butler grew up in rural Hardinsburg, Kentucky, a small town of about 2,500 people, hunting and fishing with her father. Today, she’s an influencer with almost 150,000 Instagram followers and an outdoor brand ambassador who travels the world hunting.


ell me about growing up in Kentucky? My parents divorced when I was a year old. I didn’t have a choice but to be in the outdoors. When I was with my dad, it was just me and him. He would take me out hunting or put me on his shoulders and check his trap lines. He would pick me up after school, and we would go on some kind of adventure. It was always fun. And still is! So how did you start hunting? With my dad for sure. I killed my first deer at nine years old with an old muzzleloader. It was a little five-point buck. From there I was hooked. I grew up mainly whitetail hunting and pond fishing. I would do a little squirrel hunting and trapping. I actually got my dad into turkey hunting a few years back, and now he loves it. It’s always nice when I get home and do that with him. What’s your favorite thing to hunt for and why? Is there anything you haven’t hunted that you want to hunt? Whitetail will always be my favorite. That’s what I was raised on. Whitetail hunting with my dad will always be my dream hunt. But I also hunt hogs and turkey now. Elk hunting is on the top of my to-do list. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it. You are also a traveler. What’s the best place you’ve ever been and why? Hands down—New Zealand! I would recommend it to anyone who loves to hunt, loves adventure, and loves pretty scenery. We went to the North and South Islands, so we saw both sides of things. The North Island is super green, and the South Island is straight up and down mountains—you have to take a helicopter to get to the top of the mountains because you couldn’t do it otherwise. We hunted red stag and sheep on the North Island and tahr (a species of mountain goat) on the South Island. It is gorgeous country. My biggest fear is heights, and I went bungee jumping for the first time while we were there. I love to travel, I love adventure, and I love trying new things—anything that gives me a little thrill! Now when deer season comes around, from September through the end of the year, I like to be home. That’s my time to catch up with my family, and I’m pretty much in a tree stand every single day. I consider that



my down time even though I’m still hunting. The rest of the year, I’m traveling for turkey, hog hunting, fishing, and bow fishing. What’s your best one that got away story? I have lots of those. It would have to be a buck I missed with a bow on opening morning in Louisiana. I had a target buck, but I had a buck come out that morning that wasn’t my target. He was huge, and I was contemplating whether I should shoot him or not. I hemmed and hawed and made myself way too nervous, and I ended up shooting over his back. But that evening, I ended up getting my target buck after all. How do you encourage women and girls to try outdoor sports and activities? I encourage them to go with someone they trust, who knows what they’re doing. Go with another woman, someone you look up to, and just give it a try. You have almost 150,000 Instagram followers, ever get any strange comments? All the time. The strangest would probably have to be people asking me for pictures of my feet. I could make you a list! If you could plan out your perfect day, what would that look like? I would want to go on an elk hunt in the mountains with my dad— just us spending the whole day, without cell service, so we could just make memories. How does social media fit into your life and work? I like to document what I’m doing; I try to take people along for the journey. I work full time for Xtreme Concepts where I am Creative Director and a brand ambassador. I’m in front of the camera hosting shows. Currently I’m working on a show with Jeffrey Earnhardt, who is a NASCAR driver. I try to be consistent with my posting. Consistency is key. It can be stressful sometimes, but it’s a big part of my life. What do you like to do when you’re not hunting and fishing? I enjoy hanging out with friends, whether it’s at home or traveling. I love laying on the beach or floating on the river. Just something outdoors if I’m honest. I’m not much of a shopper or anything like that. I’d rather be outside with people I like—at cookouts or concerts. What are your future plans? I would love to live somewhere in Texas. Every time I go to Texas, it wins my heart over.


Allie Butler AGE: 28 HOMETOWN:

Hardinsburg, Kentucky INSTAGRAM:





When It Was Too Cold to Fish


by harold chambliss illustration by sam morton

hen our fishing club shut down for the fall and winter months, several of us turned our attention to rat season, which opened usually during the Thanksgiving holidays and lasted on and off through February. Rat season was not recognized by the State Game & Fish Commission, but we recognized it, and there was no rodent limit, until you ran out of .22 caliber ammunition. Instead of lakes, ponds, and creeks, we made our way to the killing fields of the city dump on Old Sandy Ridge Road about three miles north of the city limits. The dump was sort of like an old Indian mound being flat on top and connected to the road on one side and very steep down the other where the city trucks would unload an avalanche of trash, garbage, refrigerators, and old tires. At the bottom of this 50-foot mountain overflowing with rubbish were natural rat stands (as opposed to deer stands) of tree stumps where we rat hunters would get comfortable and off the ground to avoid any contact with irritated snakes. Facing the mountain of trash, we would become very quiet for an almost unbearable amount of time for teenagers (sometimes as long as nine minutes.) Rat hunting, as opposed to fishing, had a self-imposed limit of two maybe three boys at the most, because of gun safety concerns. The exception to this was if one or more of us had brought dates. Nothing more fulfilling or manly than firing rifles and killing rats at a garbage dump, in cold weather, with



smoke-like poison gas floating over the trenches of France in WWI… in front of your date. (See what you big city girls missed?) After being quiet and patient for whatever the unbearable wait was, you would hear a scratching among the tin cans and boxes about halfway up the mountain, but you couldn’t see anything. Wait 30 seconds and suddenly there was a rattling flash between a cardboard box and a Maxwell House coffee can. Game on. You adjusted your sights on the can and waited “patiently” until the rat, decided to return to the box…and he always did, sometimes like a flash, other times like a Sunday stroll, sometimes with a congregation in tow. That’s when you jerked the trigger even though you knew one of the major rules in shooting was to squeeeeze the trigger. Who had time for that? Especially when you were startled and you shot instead of screaming and embarrassing yourself in front of a date. If you hit your target the rat would roll down the mountain like a sniper casualty from a WWII war movie. If you didn’t, there would be 25 to 30 more rats to take his place within a matter of 45 minutes to an hour. But you really did have to get your kills in quickly as sometimes our dates had had enough within 20 minutes. Strange thing though, once a girl accompanied you to shoot rats, they seemed to lose interest in the sport and in you. Some of my buddies noticed that, too. The girls all ended up marrying guys who weren’t from around there. We never did quite figure out why though…



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