The Closing Chapter for Outdoors Down South

Jim boat river

Writing this column and the associated blog has been on of the more interesting things I’ve ever done, even in the context of a life that has been pretty doggone interesting. Though I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words for publication during my career, most were under someone else’s byline. Outdoors Down South is different because it was my own creation, for better or worse, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing it for three years now.

The problem is that I need to refill my reservoir. I need to be out doing more of the things I’ve written about because I’ve all but exhausted my supply of stories (the ones I can tell, anyway). The last thing I want to do is write just for the sake of putting words on a page.

I’d much rather leave you than bore you. Which is why this will be my last column/blog entry – at least for a while. I plan on taking an extended break to hunt, fish and live up to my commitment to spending as much of my life as possible out of doors. Given the people I spend time with, it shouldn’t take too long to develop another large collection of adventures and misadventures to write about.

Before I sign off, however, I need to thank Teresa Eubanks for giving me this opportunity and for being patient with me as we figured out how to turn this blog into a newspaper feature. In all, I think we did somewhere around 120 columns. (And I met her deadline on about a third of them.)

I also want to thank my family members and friends for being good sports when they were the subjects of my stories. I’ve tried to keep the stories clean and honest, and as long as you define those terms loosely enough, I think I’ve pretty much held to it.

One of the great, unexpected things that came from this experience was a book. I doubt Patrick McManus has anything to worry about, but it has been a lot of fun to reminisce with folks about the stories in it. And I am very grateful that I had a chance to spend some time with Hayes Leonard before he passed away. He very graciously shared with me lots of his stories and memories. That alone made the book a worthwhile project for me.

Most of all, I want to thank everyone who read the column and encouraged me over the past couple of years. What a wonderful experience it has been to hear from old friends and relive the good times gone by. It has really made me appreciate what a special experience it was to grow up in Calhoun County.

My hope is that someone else will pick up where I’m leaving off. I know there are plenty more stories out there and lots of people who can tell them. All it takes is someone to write them down.

I’m certainly proud that I’ve had that privilege.

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