GameKeepers Magazine has quickly become one of my favorite magazines to read. I was thrilled when given the opportunity to write a column. When asking what they wanted me to write about, they simply responded, “just be yourself and do whatever you want.” So first off, I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you guys about some of my experiences that have influenced what has made me the outdoorsman that I am today and why I am happy to be known as a “gamekeeper.”
Things have certainly changed from when my best friend Larry and I were shooting doves on what is now an actual runway for Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. Our idea of managing the property was wasting an afternoon shooting doves without “managing” to get ourselves caught. Some of my favorite memories occurred in the outdoors with some of my best friends in the world. I have learned plenty of life lessons, like how to shoot and appreciate how important it is to leave things better than we found them. I also learned the hard way, to never think it is okay if one of our buddies says to us, “Let me do all the talking here.”
From the second that I bought my farm 10 years ago, I quickly realized that I got a lot more joy out of improving the property for wildlife than actually hunting animals. We have cleared land for food plots, planted hundreds of oak trees and acres upon acres of pine trees and native grasses for bedding and nesting cover. I’ve seen daunting projects turn out to be as gratifying as watching my first house get built. I met the Mossy Oak team several years ago and we immediately had a connection. My friends and I were around them for all of five minutes before we were sharing stories, laughing, and giving each other a hard time. We all came from different walks of life, but were brought together by a common thread which is the love of God’s great outdoors.
All of the guys at Mossy Oak are true conservationists and led by Toxey’s vision of helping people lead their best lives outdoors. That thought brings a smile to my face. He and I quickly spent way more time talking tractors and food plots, than the ups and downs of business.
Hunting season will be here before we know it and now is the time to prepare. I'll spend most of the summer on a tractor, making my neck a little redder while hoping my cell phone has no reception and that we get enough rain to make the summer crops grow.
Think about making your property better this summer. There is some aspect of your place you can improve. You don’t even have to own it, just get passionate about making your place better. Improving the habitat for all critters is time well spent and something that will pay off you in the long run. I'd also like to encourage you to share your place with your friends. There is so much enjoyment that can come from sharing with people that respect and enjoy the resource. There were big smiles around the morning my farm provided the backdrop for Bobby Cole to harvest a Georgia gobbler this spring. (That and my expert guiding skills!) That’s what I enjoy about my farm...making memories and smiles.