This year was truly a camping trip with the boys, we didn't do any hunting but it was still interesting. The cast this year included some original Heiskell Boys: Big Ron, Wild Bill, and Crazy Stacy. plus the builder of the above pictured home away from home Chris, James, and Josh the Eagle Scout. On Friday the boys had to clear fallen pines from the trail to the campsite , a regular event in East Tennessee in recent years since the beetles struck. Later at the Ranger Station near Bandy Creek a wild eyed employee of the national recreation area asked us how we got to the campsite since the trail was blocked. Why with a chainsaw of course.....WHAAAT a chainsaw....You can't have a chainsaw in the area. The boys were bewildered at this news, we have been camping here for a decade or better and had chainsaws every time. After taking a severe tongue lashing from the lady who sold us our camping permit, and calming Chris down since he was terribly upset by the women's bulging and twitchy left eye, we retired to our campsite. We stayed up late that night re-living greatness of the past, cooking large hunks of meat over the fire, Shooting our handguns, and basically being boys. Billy had brought pistols in most every caliber, Chris , and Stacy had sidearms as well and I brought my 380 acp. We attempted to out do each other in marksmanship way past dark and fell asleep without a care in the world (well except it only being 20 degrees F.)
We always bring deer meat to eat and make cooking utensils from the forest around us. This camp out had, by the next morning turned into a eating trip more than a hunting trip. I have not eaten that much meat and practically nothing else in my whole life, but it was so good.
All the campers had not even awoken on day two when a Federal officer walked into camp. It was apparent from the opening that the wild eyed woman had told on us for the chainsaws. What happened next was a little embarrassing since two of my fellow brothers tried to hide the bright orange chainsaw underneath the truck then we all acted natural. After a dressing down and orders to never bring chainsaws to Big South Fork again the officer made us show him our camping permit and carry permits for the pistols we had been shooting. Luckily the officer didn't push the chainsaw issue any further and we were not in violation of any other laws that I know of.
Undeterred by the authorities we still made a walk about into the wilderness were Billy with some eagle eyes spotted a nice shed (6 points on one side) and scouted out a pretty nice place to hunt next fall. A bottle neck occurs between a bluff and a thicket created by a abandoned field. I hope to be there next fall.
That night we passed the antler around the campfire and told tales of the animals we had killed or almost killed and consumed more fire cooked meat. This typified the activities at Big South Fork 09'
With a thin blanket of snow covering the camp we packed up and left our old faithful campsite for maybe the last time. While we do go to the Big South Fork to hunt wild hogs occasionally we really don't want to be harassed by a pig in camp. Now that the authorities have found our refuge we will probably find elsewhere to camp. While we didn't hunt, hike much, or almost kill ourselves this year I did have a good time with my pals and spending 72 hours outside gives you a appreciation for how far from nature we are in our daily lives and how much I yearn to live closer to it.