There’s always an open seat at the campfire Under the Big Pine. To decide if you want to set with us a spell, you’ll want an idea of the conversations that go on here. These are the kinds of stories, banter, lore, and whoppers we’ll share:
Advice of the Elders
Hunting is not new—not by a long shot. It’s rich in tradition and heritage. We are stewards of that heritage. It’s our responsibility to preserve and protect it, and to pass it on better and stronger than it was left to us. All of us were guided to hunting, and through its stages by one or more mentors. Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, family friends–and yes, even mothers. They laid the foundation on which we built the lifetime passion for hunting. They knew things. They gave good advice. Pa taught me, “At the end of a day of hunting you take care of your dogs, your game, your guns and gear … then yourself … in that order.” Advice like this is precious and meant to be shared.
We started hunting, we kept hunting, and we reached this stage in hunting … BECAUSE IT’S FUN. If it weren’t fun, why would we keep coming back? Why would we commit the time, money, and energy it takes if we didn’t enjoy it? When I see these stoic, tough-guy hunters in the TV promos, I scream at the television, “Lighten up buddy! Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Who are you mad at?” If hunting and hunting camp makes you so mad, then don’t go there … please, don’t go there. We … at least I … don’t want you there! Under the big pine we laugh; we smile; we tell jokes on ourselves! We don’t laugh at adversity “someday”, we enjoy it now! Under the big pine the humor shared will be appropriate to anyone. If I wouldn’t tell a story to my wife or to my church friends, then it doesn’t belong under the big pine either.
Some of the most relished memories hunters collect are recollections of great hunting camp meals whether the ingredients included the day’s bag or just what could be whipped up from the camp’s cache. UndertheBigPine.com will offer and seek recipes and camp cooking advice. We’ll certainly talk about cooking wild game, but man doesn’t live by wild game alone—these days anyway—so we plan to cover all of that other great stuff we get to eat in hunting camps, too. We’ll also recommend the best cookbooks and resources to put you in demand as THE camp cook … which should go a long way to get you out of having to do dishes! It may start out small, but perhaps we’ll actually become a big time on-line archive of camp cooking knowledge and resources.
Hunting this trail as I have, I’ve been blessed to meet some wonderful people and count them as friends. Some have even become hunting, career and lifetime mentors. Folks like J. Wayne Fears, Larry Weishuhn, Johnny Hudman, John Wooters, Hal Swiggett, Jack Hume, Dawn Charging, CW “Butch” Welch, Mark Kayser, Ron Spomer, Paul Burke, Steve Burke, Steve Pennaz, Brenda Valentine, Bobby Cole, Kristine Houtman, Kevin Tate, Laurie Lee Dovey, and more have shared some inspiring stories and advice with me over the years. I’m going to try to convince them to share their wonderful stories under the big pine, now and then, as well.
By this time in our hunting careers, the crew under the big pine is mostly beyond reading about the tactics to take bigger deer or shoot more ducks. In informational reading, we’re seeking advice on better ways to manage hunting land, how to get the most enjoyment from the precious time we can spend hunting with friends and family, and maybe travel advice if we can see our way clear to make a once in a lifetime kind of hunting trip. And, of course, great camp cookbooks. Most of all, though, we’re looking for a good story—old or new. UndertheBigPine.com will serve up excerpts from great tales about hunting and the outdoors. Some will be new ones we uncover and some will be great classics you may somehow have missed along the way. But we’ll always try to give you a recommendation or two for books to take to the stand to help pass the time during those long waits or to enjoy at the cabin by a crackling fire on a rainy afternoon. We’ll also recommend books you’d be proud to have your kids or grandkids read as they take on stewardship of the hunting heritage.
You don’t spend much time under the big pine without realizing the natural world, the animals we hunt, and the bond we share with family and friends are all miraculous things. The more you see and experience, the less possible it seems this amazing world just happened by chance. And they mean even more to those of us who value them so highly, supported with the belief that an infinite, all-knowing entity put them here specifically to make our finite time on earth bountiful, thrilling, and meaningful. Matured hunters have seen things in the field and shared moments in camp that convince us this is all part of God’s divine plan. As we see those connections, we’ll share them and perhaps even relate them to what the Good Book says to us. I’m convinced God is everywhere—most definitely in the woods, mountains, marshes, fields, and hunting camps of the world. We hope to post meditations that go to the hunter’s heart and that you’ll want to share with the same people with whom you’re sharing all your other hunting traditions.
We Love Our Dogs
By this stage many bird hunters will tell you what keeps them hunting is “… just shooting a few for the dog.” Without that companionship and relationship hunting wouldn’t be nearly what it is. You have enjoyed the fieldwork and companionship of some good hunting dogs whether hounds, retrievers or bird dogs. We’ll share stories and recollections of times afield with great dogs and the importance they play in our lives every day.
Those of us camped under the big pine are still interested in keeping up on gear and advancements, but not whiz-bang gadgets touted to help get you a bigger buck or bag your limit faster. We’re interested in “lifetime” hunting gear—firearms, optics, even clothing we’ll only buy once more in a lifetime because the quality is so high and the service they provide so complete, there will be no need to ever replace it. Friendly debates are frequent and welcomed under the big pine. On occasion we may take a stand on a particular cartridge, pair of boots, shotgun, or pedigree of dog as the best. Yet there will always be sincere acknowledgement everyone has a right to an opinion. Because when the fire’s embers fade, we’re all hunters who recognize a united front to protect, preserve, and enhance our heritage is the only way to ensure the future of that which we cherish.
Outdoor Travel Tips
There’s a big, wide world of hunting out there beyond the sheltering limbs of the big pine. And since this stage of hunting is about the collection of experiences, memories and stories, it’s fun to dream and plan adventures in exotic locations. Some of us are blessed to be able to travel to actually make those dreams happen. These trips are even more enjoyable and produce even more good memories when you can avoid the hassles and headaches of traveling with guns, bows, dogs, and the rest. UndertheBigPine.com will offer school-of-hard-knocks advice on avoiding pitfalls of travel and enjoying every minute of the adventure to the fullest so you can bring back more stories to share under the big pine.
So pull up a stump or a stool. The storytelling is already rolling. Sit back and listen, or jump in with your own when you’re ready. You’re among friends.