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Smoke School Stories

MY MOMMA AND DEER HUNTING DECEMBER 9, 2010

The Christmas holiday season makes this a slow time of the year for Whitlow Smoke School Nation. Jason, Wendell, Dave, and Adam are handling the schools we have remaining for the year. Tracy, Wendy, and Pete are keeping the books up and answering the phones. Angie and Aaron are busy with student of the year plans. Basically, I am retired for now. I have had more time for deer hunting than I have ever had in my life. I have been deer hunting nearly every day since my birthday on November 4. I think I have seen 6 deer all season long. Seeing deer is not the only reason you go deer hunting, although it makes it more interesting when you do see deer. I use a platform deer stand about 15 feet high and a wooden box stand on the ground. Sometimes I take a camouflage net and wrap it around my Mule and sit on a LSU swivel barstool in the back of the Mule. I take a thermos of coffee and a good novel. What is the smartest thing on earth? A thermos bottle, because it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. How do it know? I read the book The Blind Side. Now I am working on a murder mystery. Perhaps I should read my own novel Blue Bayou Days, The Summer of 61, that I wrote about my family, baseball, fishing, and deer hunting.

We are doing most of our hunting on our new lease located in Caldwell Parish near the junction of Louisiana Highway 846 at Tin Top Road. Map it. We are hunting in a section of the woods with too many hallows and hills for logging. Therefore we have a lot of beautiful old growth hardwood timber with white oak, red oak, and pin oak. We are not seeing that many deer, so we are looking for a new place to hunt. I would love to try some ground around Castor Creek or in the marsh area around Dodson, Louisiana. Attention all Weyerhaeuser personnel. Let us know if you have a place where we can hunt ducks or deer. Have gun, will travel anywhere to find deer.

I have been watching quite a few fox squirrels, armadillo, wild turkeys, and ivory billed woodpeckers. Basically, I read a page or two. Light up a Winston, and drink some hot coffee, then look around every once in a while. I learned this habit from my Momma, Johnnie Clare White Whitlow. Momma would always sit on the ground against a big white oak tree. She would build a blazing pine knot fire; rub out all of the dried leaves, and sit down to a thermos of hot coffee, a good historical romance novel, and a bag of peanut butter logs. Momma took more deer than anyone I have ever known. She was a qualified marksman and she never missed. She could quick draw a 38, and she hunted deer with a Browning Sweet 16 Gauge Shotgun.

My earliest memories of my Momma involved deer hunting. My grandfather, Roddy White, was a logger and he worked in the forest south of Vidalia Louisiana near Glasscock Island. He used his bull dozer to cut all of the roads to haul logs out. He built a large 3 room tin logging camp with a dirt floor and used a model T engine for a electrical generator. We used the camp for deer hunting. Deer were abundant. I remember as a small child walking down a logging road and seeing over 100 deer in a feeding frenzy in a pin oak flat. Most of the deer were 10 points or better. I had an old 410/22 over and under that Roddy gave me, but my fingers were too cold to pull the trigger. I was 9 years old then and I am 62 now, but it seems just like yesterday.

I remember my Momma took her first deer about this time. All of the hunters had formed a convoy and took deer stands on the logging roads. Momma was hunting on the old levee built by the CCC. Roddy was driving a pack of about 20 long legged Walker Dogs. It had just broken daylight on Thanksgiving week. It was a lot colder in Louisiana then than it is now (Maybe something to this global warming after all). I was riding horseback behind Roddy holding on for dear life. Ole Foots stuck his cold nose to the ground and howled out. The chase was on. There is nothing like the sound of a good dog/ deer chase. I was wearing rubber boots and they fell off. Roddy stopped his quarter horse and tied my boots on. Then we were off again, just 20 yards behind the yelping dogs. Ahead of us I saw the deer jump up out of a thicket. There was nothing but horns. Within minutes Pop Walker fired the first shot of the day. Roddy and I galloped up to Pop. Pop was suffering from a case of buck fever. His face was red and he was breathing heavy as he talked. “It was a huge buck, a thurdy pointer. I shot him in the front shoulder with this 30-06. He went down over there. Then he got up and ran that away.”

Roddy got off the horse and started trailing the blood trial. He walked about 75 yards and then Momma shot 3 times about 200 yards further in the woods. Roddy said that Johnnie Clare done shot your deer. Roddy and I galloped off and found Momma and Doris (Roddy’s third wife) standing on the levee by a big pine knot fire. I stood by the fire and listened to Momma’s story. “I was drinking a cup of coffee here by this tree when the deer jumps up on the levee. I put down my cup and fired 3 shots. I had bullets in every pocket but I could not find my pockets. The deer just stood there looking at me. I screamed out, Hold him Doris, and Hold him. Eventually the deer just yawned and walked off on across the levee and into the woods. Soon a little doggie walked up. I got down on my knees and picked up a bloody leaf. I sniffed the leaf and barked like a dog. Then I held the leaf up to the dog's nose and said sic him. The dog just wagged his tail and grinned. Then Governor John McKeithan (Momma and McKeithan grew up together and attended a one room school in Clarks Louisiana) rode up on a white horse.   He said Johnnie Claire, you can’t trail that deer, smiled and rode away. The deer was a thurdy pointer.” Momma was obviously suffering from buck fever. The deer was actually a little box rack 8 point and he is now mounted on the wall at Momma’s old hose on Woolen Lake in Hebert Louisiana.

When I was 12, we moved our hunting camp into Caldwell Parish near the junction of Five Points Road and Castor Creek 7 runs road near Vixen Louisiana. Map it. Momma had a lot of humorous stories in these virgin oak and cypress tree forest near Castor Creek. One day she said she saw Bigfoot wading across Castor Creek. Floyd Slim Hodges , Momma’s close personal friend since childhood, and the high sheriff of Caldwell Parish came down to the creek to make a plaster cast of Bigfoot’s foot print.  As far as I know the foot print is still in the locker at the sheriff office. About 20 years later I was hunting with Momma along Castor Creek. I hiked with her to her tree and scrapped out a place for her to sit and read her book. It was cold and there was a light rain. I walked about 100 yards further along the creek and found a place to sit. After about an hour it started to rain harder, so I walked back down to Momma. She was as white as a ghost. She said that some man walked up past her in a yellow rain jacket. She spoke to him but he could not talk because he had no head. He was a ghost in a yellow rain suit. He walked over there and sat down on a log. He is still there and he has not said a word. I sat down on the ground beside her remembering Bigfoot. I followed her pointing finger with my eyes. About 30 yards away, I saw a ghost in a yellow rain suit sure nuff sitting on a log. I watched him for a long time, not believing my own eyes. He was moving with the wind. He had no head. I got up my courage and walked over to the ghost. I spoke to him but he had no head. When I got closer, I realized it was small bush with yellow leaves blowing in the wind. There are so many stories, too many to type out here. Read my novel and read them all.

Today it is December 9, 2010. It is the Christmas season. I have been hunting a lot, so I have been thinking about Momma. Yesterday I drove over to 7 Runs Road to find our old camp site, near Johnnie Marie Washer Waggoner’s house out in the woods. Our camp was across Louisiana Highway 4 from the Waggoner house. Johnnie Marie was at home so we sat and talked a spell. She told me a few stories about my parents. One night they all had supper at the camp. Johnnie Marie had brought a bag of fresh sweet potatoes with her. Momma had to use the outhouse out back. She took a flashlight and walked outside into the darkness. Johnnie Marie, a very devout Southern Baptist, waited a while and asked her younger brother Eloy Washer to take a big sweet potato and walk outside and throw it at the outhouse. When the potato hit the wall, mother screamed and ran outside with her pants down. That story reminded me of an earlier time when we were camped out by Glascock Island. Roddy had warned us the bears were in the woods. Momma was washing the dishes in an old pot. She walked into the darkness to dump out the dishwater. The giant old Walker Dog Foots, was sitting on a table out by the back door of the camp. When Momma came outside the dog stood up, yawned, and put his cold nose on Momma’s face. Momma screamed and dumped the dishwater on Foots.

Johnnie Marie told another story about my daddy. Johnnie Marie came down to the camp and Daddy asked her to go hunting with us. Johnnie Marie said she did not have any hunting clothes. Daddy said he had an old set of coveralls she could wear. Johnnie Marie thought about it and walked outside to discuss it with her Daddy, Claude Washer, and her husband, Tom Waggoner. They asked her what she was up to and she replied that she was thinking about getting into George’s pants. That drew a shocked look from Tom’s face. She said that she needs to rephrase that.  

It ain't over until the fat cat sings

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