by Ronnie "Cuz" Strickland
Several years ago while entertaining some of my wife’s relatives, I was put into a bit of an awkward situation. Seeing how she was born in Wisconsin and her relatives still live up there that meant I was basically surrounded by Yankees. During their visit, I took the one male Yankee (her uncle) under my wing and did what I thought was a great job of southern hospitality. He was an outdoor guy and was by his own accounts an accomplished hunter and fisherman. He told me, and I quote, “I’m comfortable with any and all aspects of the outdoors.”
Since it was July and I was doing my best to stay in good graces with my wife, we did some bass fishing, a little bream fishing, and a couple of rounds of golf, not to mention introducing him to the boys. I cleaned and fried the fish, barbecued some ribs and really put my best size thirteen forward to make a good impression.
Back to the awkward moment. One evening while cooking for this northern crowd and having some pleasant conversation, my new Yankee buddy leaned forward in his lawn chair and exclaimed, “You southern boys really think you’re something.” At first I thought he was joking, then his wife spoke up, “why Lloyd whatever to do mean?”
He then went on to say “these old boys hunt and fish all the time. They play golf and have fun and never take anything serious. Fishing and hunting is serious and should be approached with more dedication and research.”
My mind conjured the perfect response instantly to his outburst, which was: “Well excuse me for showing your stuffy, frowning, complaining Yankee butt how to relax and have a little fun.” Instead of making the situation worse, I just looked at Yankee Lloyd and said, “Guilty as charged.”
I then went on to politely enlighten him on other southern traditions that make life so special for us un-serious hunters and fisherman. Things like a four-month hunting season. Recipes for fish and wild game handed down for generations that are without question the best in the world and weather that will allow you to hunt whitetails in December without a snow plow and survival gear.
Since that first visit, Lloyd and his family have returned and he has learned to enjoy our idea of the outdoor lifestyle. I have many close friends that reside north of the Mason/Dixon and enjoy their company as much as any of my down home boys. For a time, I was convinced that deer hunting, or all hunting for that matter was a southern tradition and most likely invented down here. Being blessed to travel the country for Mossy Oak while filming TV shows has enabled me to get an inside look at other parts of the country and just how traditional hunting is in other areas.
For three straight years now I have gone to Wisconsin to bowhunt public land with Joel Schlader of RAM trucks. I was a bit hesitant at first but learned that the red plaid wearing, license on your back, cheese eating folks were not much different from the good ole boys down south. Sure the accents and camp cooking was a little different but the hunting traditions, the photo albums and the stories were the same.
I have returned each season not because of the big bucks (have not killed a thing there yet) but because it was a blast. We laughed at each other’s different ways of talking, cooking and hunting, and I now look forward to my Wisconsin trip each fall. It’s easy to think in regional or local terms when that is all you know, but hunting and especially deer hunting is nationwide and thank God for that. Sure I still feel I am blessed to live in a southern state with a 4 month deer season and no snow plows, but there’s a lot to be said for cheese curds and hunting in the snow.