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Whitlow Enterprises Smoke School Weather.

Please come to smoke school even if it is raining or snowing. We will work around the weather. In most cases we have school at covered pavilions to keep you dry. If it starts lightening, I will be the first one to the truck. In 20 years, I have never canceled smoke school due to weather. Well, just one time --A blizzard in Boston. Sometimes, due too severe icing and freezing roads, we may delay the start of smoke school on short notice. We will call or email you with these last minute changes. Please keep your email address current in our files. Click here to be added to our email list. You can Contact us for last minute information about weather delays. Please call us if you hear about severe weather for your travel route.

Remember to dress appropriately for the weather. During the winter, you should wear warm insulated coveralls or hunting clothes. Dress in layers. During the summer, unless the school is at an industrial plant, you may wear shorts and tee-shirts. If the school is at an industrial plant, you should keep routine safety clothing and safety equipment in mind within the plant gates. Always bring raingear. We usually either have the school at a covered picnic pavilion or we bring a temporary shelter. However you may get wet going from your vehicle to the shelter or to the restroom.

We may build a fire to keep you warm. We will hold smoke school field-testing again the second day if we get prolonged severe weather. Please bring raingear, a coat, gloves, hat, sunscreen, and mosquito repellant. You will also need a yard chair, pen, clipboard, and note paper. The weather report for each smoke school is posted on the link for the smoke school. Click the schedule, Click the location, Click weather report.
                                                       

 

I did move smoke school back a couple of days. During Hurricane Rita, I called my little  brother Ricky back in Columbia, Louisiana near the Arkansas line. He said he was standing out in his front yard and the winds were blowing 80 miles an hour, there was hail, thunder, lightening and it was raining so hard a cat fell from the sky. Ricky said they were expecting the hurricane to stall over his house and dump 20 feet of water or something. We had a smoke school scheduled for Shreveport Louisiana in two days, so I postponed it. The next day the hurricane was in my front yard here in Indiana. It rained about 3 inches in Shreveport and everyone was mad!!

 

 

I could just hear the conversation now:

"Noah!"

"Whose that?"

"God"

"Right"

"Its gonna rain for 40 days and 40 nights"

"Right"

"And the sewers are going to back up"

"Right"

"Build an arc"

"Right, UH what is an arc?"

"A Boat- Build it 40 cubits by 40 cubits"

'Right- What's a cubit"

"The distance from your elbow to your fingers"

"Right"

"Bring all the animals- 2 X 2 into the arc"

"Snakes too?"

"Right"

"Forget it"

"Noah!"

"OK"

 

I found an old civil war letter in a footlocker in my momma's junk second hand store in Columbia Louisiana. In the letter I read that the Johnny Rebs were marching down an old railroad tram near Chatom Louisiana. The were trying to cross Castor Creek at flood stage. A cannon stuck in the mud and sank. They left the cannon there. To my knowledge no one has found the cannon and it is still there today.  Johnny, grab your metal detector. We gonna strike it rich.

When I was 12 years old, our family joined a hunting club ran by Uncle Hippolite Ferrand. He always said that his mother was the only one who could go shopping and leave her Hip at home. Uncle Hip was my favorite person of all, ever.  He was about 65 and he had brown tobacco stains along his stubby graying beard. He was tall and slim. Hip always wore overhauls with all the side buttons undone except for the ones on the bottom. He drove an old beat-up rusty Ford picking up truck with a screwdriver stuck in a hole on the floorboard that he used for a gearshift knob. He always kept a pint of Old Crow whiskey under the seat with a stick of peppermint candy dissolved in it. He would take a sip and say it was his cough medicine. Once in a while he would give me a swig and it would curl my tongue

I was Hip's favorite. I always got to ride in the cab with him when he would go down the gravel road to turn the walker dogs loose. He would pull over to the side, back into the edge of the woods, in the direction where we had dropped off the deer standers. I would walk around to the bed of the truck and open the tailgate and the dogs would rush out. Hip would walk a few feet into the woods and the dogs would strike the deer and away they went, howling with every strep. Then we would hop in the truck and go chase them in case they got by all the standers.

We believed in giving the deer a fighting chance. Turn loose about 30 walker hound dogs on them and let her rip. I have heard people say that hunting with dogs is not fair. Boy let me tell you this. Imagine standing on the side of a log road, hearing the dogs come right at you from a mile away. The blood starts pumping in your veins, your adrenaline kicks in. You get buck fever.  Then you see the deer flying leaping across the 6 foot wide road at 90 miles an hour. You have a split second to see if the deer has horns, take the safety off, aim, and fire. One year I missed about 900 deer. And once in a while, I got lucky. Uncle Hip used to say, "Heck, you cant eat the horns anyways."

 

If everyone missed the deer and the deer got by the standers, Uncle Hip and I had to go find the dogs. They were like his children. He loved those dogs. But let me tell you what, they stunk to high heaven. Some nights we would drive down the gravel road for miles and miles listening and trying to catch lost dogs. Just me and Hip. Watching the moon and the stars, and telling stories. And sometimes it would rain.

Uncle Hip would take out an old cow horn and blow into it. He was hard of hearing and I think that was one of the reasons he liked to take me along. He would always blow the cow horn and whisper, "Listen." Sometimes I could hear the dogs calling back. But most of the time all I could hear was Hip breathing, the pickup motor clicking cooling down, or an ole hoot owl.

Momma, daddy, my little brother Ricky, Uncle Hip, and I spent the nights in a small one roomed 10 X 10 camp that we shared with about 5 other people with prison cots bunk beds jammed into every spot. If someone farted we all laughed.  "Who fired that shot." "I don't know but I smell the powder." We cooked fried deer tenderloin or possum if we did not have any camp meat. We had turnip greens and cornbread, rice and redeye gravy. Mother cooked on an old cast-iron wood burning stove. And she made the best homemade biscuits you ever tasted. UMM-MMMMM, country churned butter, and pure cane maple syrup. I would wake up before daylight and smell the bacon and eggs cooking. I still like mine sunny side up.

The camp was off Louisiana Highway 4, about halfway between Columbia and Chatom. It was on the main gravel road that ran to Hickory Springs, which was what was left of an old CCC logging camp. Hickory Springs had an artesian well that the CCC had concreted in. The ice cold water was the best I ever drank. Hickory Springs is still there. You should go taste the water.

Our hunting camp was made of knotty pine wood that was covered by sheets of tarpaper and it had a tin roof. I loved to listen to the rain on the tin roof and hear the thunder and lightening in the distance. The camp was at a junction where five gravel roads crossed. We called it Five-points. At night we would sit by the campfire and tell lies and stories. My daddy used to say "More deer have been killed at this campfire than any other place in the world." In the morning before daylight people from miles around would show up at the campfire to tell stories and wait for Uncle Hip to start the hunt for the day. Every single time I go to smoke school and see people talking and having fun, I think about that campfire. I think of Uncle Hip, who was not really my uncle at all. He was everyone's uncle. And sincerely, from my heart is how I want everyone to remember me when I am gone. Uncle George, that would be nice.  Writing  this brings tears to my eyes. All the memories.

Other prominent  members of the camp were Bob Claunch, Lavelle Claunch, and Uncle Willie Ferrand- Uncle Willie Hip's brother, the other one with the overhauls, the moonshine still, and the thirty Walker hound dogs. These dogs barked continuously from the old air conditioner frame Uncle Willie had in the back of his old rusty Ford picking up truck. You could hear those hound dogs  barking for miles and miles. I took the safety of my old 22/ 410 gauge over and under many a times expecting the deer to jump out any second. Just to see Uncle Willie's old truck swerving around the bend, banging on every pothole in the road.

 

Seems like Uncle Hip and I were always in the woods. If deer season was closed, we would go cat fishing on Caster Creek or fox hunting at Five-points. Sometimes we would go down on caster creek and tie set lines to tree limbs and bait them with possum fat, chicken livers, or cut bait. Uncle Hip would build a blazing fire by piling  old pine knots inside an old dead holler tree. The flames would shoot up that tree and sparks and cinders would come out the top of the tree. It looked like the Fourth of July fireworks. We would sit by the fire and Uncle Hip would tell stories. One dark night, he told me the story of how he and his daddy had been cat fishing in that very spot some fifty years ago.  Hip said he accidentally dropped the kerosene lantern into Caster Creek. Fifteen years later Uncle Hip and his daddy were  fishing in the same spot and Uncle Hip caught an old yellow catfish that weighed 50 pounds. Uncle Hip cut he catfish open and the lantern was inside the catfish. It was still lit.

Sometimes Uncle Hip and I would go fox hunting. We would drive down to Five-points and Uncle Hip would make a blazing pine knot fire. Then he would open the bed of the picking up truck and the dogs would jump out. He would tell the dogs we were hunting fox now and they seemed to know the difference. They would hit the trail of a fox howling every single time their  nose would hit the ground. The sound took over the orchestra of crickets and filled my heart with memories I would never forget.

Most nights all the other fox hunters in Caldwell Parish would come join us by the fire. They would all turn their dogs out and the howling would light up the darkness of the night. There might be as many as 100 dogs running one or more foxes at the same time. Yet each hunter knew the sound of his own dog. "That ain't your dog, that  is Red. I been hunting Red for 15 years, I reckon I ought to know. "

 

One night we were foxhunting down on Castor Creek and a fellow drove up by our campfire in a Cadillac  that was long and black . Uncle Hip introduced me to the town banker. The banker looked a little out of place in his starched ironed kakis hunting clothes. Uncle Hip and I had on our traditional overhauls with the side buttons undone except for that last button. The hound dogs were barking and yelping chasing the fox. All of a sudden the woods got deafly quiet. Not a single sound. The dogs just quit barking. You could hear a pin drop. The banker asked what was wrong with the dogs. Uncle Hip said "Listen, listen."

After about 5 minutes the dogs started barking again. Uncle Hip said, "That's just what I thought. Old Red was hunting on posted ground."

When the hunting season closed for the year, I always felt depressed. The opening day of squirrel season was a favorite day for our family. My daddy always warned us not to hunt across Castor Creek. "When you are walking through the woods and you come to the first creek, then don't walk across it. You will get lost. "

I road a horse across the creek many a times, knowing that the horse knew where the barn was with all the hay. My little brother, Ricky,  was not so lucky. He crossed the creek one time at flood stage. During normal conditions Caster Creek has seven runs of creeks that mangle through the woods for many miles.  During flood stage these creeks all flood and it looks like an ocean. My brother tried to cross the creek at flood stage and got lost in the woods for 3 nights. We almost never got him out. And that is a true story from our childhood. And that is why I delayed smoke school in Shreveport.  Louisiana tends to flood easily.

 

 

I saw a news story one time on CNN about flooding in Louisiana.  I said, lookie here, they gonna show some redneck wading water up to his neck. And there he was, my brother- wading water up to his neck carrying an umbrella. That's my bloodline there.

If you enjoyed this story. It touched your heart. Made you chuckle or brought back memories, the you should read my other stories. smoke school stories and family stories See you at smoke school. Uncle George.

 

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