A reunion deer hunt
Feb. 9, 2001
It was my old buddy Tom Crowe on the phone.
A deer hunt at Union Springs, Ala., would mean my first time to hunt a fabulous acreage managed by Tom's brothers for big bucks. Tom had told me about the property for many years. What an opportunity!
Excitement built as I readied my gear. Here was a chance to get a shot at a trophy buck. But as the time neared for the trip, I began to realize the real reason for my excitement. It was that I would be in camp again with my cherished friend.
Here is hoping that every reader has a Tom Crowe for a friend. This guy does a lot of things differently from me, so each of us has to overlook the other's "shortcomings." But we both have a passion for serious hunting and fishing, the word serious being perhaps too mild here.
I met Tom at work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Mississippi almost 30 years ago. He could call wild turkeys with his natural voice and I was just learning to turkey hunt. We hunted turkeys a couple of times and our families seemed to hit it off. Work assignments separated us but we stayed in touch.
Years later Tom was working insect programs for USDA in Utah and I was giving insect training to field officials in Maryland. A job at Denver came open and I applied for it. Tom recommended me to the boss in charge and I got the position, though there were many applicants. My dream of working the western mountains had come to pass.
During eight years in the Rocky Mountains, Tom and I hunted together and our families visited. He took my son and me on a duck hunt at the edge of the Great Salt Lake with his two sons. We climbed the Colorado rock slides for bugling bull elk, glassed the sagebrush flats of Utah for mule deer and called Merriams gobblers from the ponderosa pine ridges of Wyoming.
Then, late in my career, it was Tom who suggested that I apply for a promotion to Washington D.C., which led to many good things in my career with USDA.
I took a plane from Washington once and met Tom in Colorado for a mule deer hunt. His son, Ben, and I set up camp in the mountains a day before Tom would arrive. Snow fell on our camp that night and the next morning Ben was gone from the pop-up camper. He had driven off some 80 yards in the truck and was sleeping under a snow-covered tarp in its bed to flee my snoring.
Thereafter, Tom would pitch his tent 80 yards from mine on our various hunts.
When I arrived in Union Springs a few days ago, Tom assigned me a bed in a separate house on the property.
By the way, we both saw huge bucks that we didn't bag. But the main purpose of the hunt was realized.
A little of Tom Crowe has rubbed off on me, and I am better for it. It would be gratifying to know some of me had rubbed off on Tom and … Nah! I think I prefer him just like he is.
Otha Barham is Outdoors Editor of The Meridian Star.
E-mail him at email@example.com.