Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Role model?

Ah, pop culture! You’ve gotta love it.

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — In schools and backyards, for their birthdays and out with their dads, kids are gaga for archery four weeks into the box office run of “The Hunger Games” and less than 100 days before the London Olympics.
“All of a sudden sales of bows have, like, tripled,” said Paul Haines, a salesman at the Ramsey Outdoor store in Paramus, N.J.
A manager there made a sign for the hunting department: “Quality bows for serious archers and girls who saw the movie,” he said.
Archery ranges around the country have enjoyed a steady uptick among kids of both sexes since the movie began cleaning up at the box office March 23, though heroine Katniss — a deadly shot with an arrow — seems to resonate more with girls.
“Katniss is so inspiring,” said Gabby Lee, who asked for archery lessons for her 12th birthday in February after reading the wildly popular book trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
“I’m not very sportsy,” she offers, but now she belongs to a youth archery league near her Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., home. “It feels really good because I’m usually the girl who sits and reads.”
While some young archers have been doing it for years, motivated by generations of hunters in their families, the parents of others love it for its focus, independence and because they, too, have kids not drawn to more typical team or contact sports.
At 7, Christa Mattessich is too young for the gruesome dystopian world that thrusts 16-year-old Katniss and her fellow child tributes into the arena for a battle to the death, a battle Katniss wins thanks to the archery skills she honed while hunting game in the woods of her native District 12.
But Christa loves archery just as much and has been shooting for about two years at the same range as Gabby, Targeteers Archery in Saddle Brook, N.J., said dad Anthony Mattessich in Oakland.
“I’m an avid bow hunter,” he said. “At her age, with other sports, they’re just running with each other and chasing a ball, then the ice cream truck comes and that’s that. For archery, they’re a little bit more dedicated.”
Abbey Fitzpatrick in Sandy Creek, N.Y., turned 11 on April 10. She also asked for and received her own bow and arrows for her birthday. “It’s black. It really looks like Katniss’s bow,” Abbey said. “She was so brave and very heroic in the games.”
Like more than 2 million kids in nearly every state and several other countries, Abbey did archery in gym class this year as part of the decade-old National Archery in the Schools Program that trains teachers in the sport and offers discounts on equipment.
“There’s a lot of buzz among young people about archery right now. They want to shoot bows and arrows so badly they’re willing to follow the rules,” said Roy Grimes, the organization’s president.
In Hartland, Mich., enthusiast Robert Jellison teaches seventh-grade science and has incorporated archery through NASP into his lessons on kinetic and potential energy, eye-hand coordination and the properties of pulleys and levers.
Jellison was invited in March with some of his students to perform a demonstration at the local library as part of a “Hunger Games” reading.
“Some of the kids there went out that day and signed up for archery,” he said. “A lot of people look at archery as, ‘Oh, you know, is it a real sport?’ All of a sudden there’s all this excitement.”
Bobbi Bowles owns archery shop K.C.’s Outdoors with her husband in Spicewood, Texas, outside Austin. Sales of equipment have doubled in the last few weeks, she said, and they’re adding beginner classes to accommodate more new recruits young and older.
At the Austin Archery Club, “The movie is sending a lot of people our way who are interested in archery, the crossbow and survival skills,” said a director, Roy Wenmohs. “At a recent tournament we had about 10 young people, from ages 10 to 15,” he said. “About half were new. Last year we had three.”
Games of a different sort are hoping for a “Hunger Games” bump come July, though kids in North America looking to catch Olympic archery will likely be sleeping during live competition.
“We’re thrilled with the awareness and the excitement that ‘The Hunger Games’ has brought to the sport of archery,” said Denise Parker, CEO of USA Archery, the U.S. training and selection body for the Olympics, Paralympics, Pan American Games and other world events.
“We’re already receiving feedback from our youth clubs that interest in archery programs in their areas is up significantly,” she said.
Alexis Fleming, 14, in Manor, Pa., has Olympic dreams. She shot last fall as part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development program after first picking up a bow through 4H.
“I like the fact you can ignore the world around you and just focus on where the arrow is going to go,” she said.
Nicole Donzella, 15, may not be Olympic bound, but she knows her way around a bull’s-eye and plans to DVR archery from London.
Her dad, hunter Bart Donzella, got her started in the sport at age 5, and later her younger sister, leaving “girly girl things” to their mother while he bonded with them through kayaking and other outdoor activities.
“I had a little mini-bow. It was really cute. I shot from five yards back then,” Nicole said.
Now up to 20 yards with a top score of 298 out of 300, she shoots weekly in the same youth league as Gabby at Targeteers in northern New Jersey.
“I like that it’s an individual sport but at the same time there’s other people around you so you can still socialize,” said Nicole, from nearby Fair Lawn. “It’s the only thing I’m good at and it’s really nice to do with my dad.”
She’s a Katniss fan, too. “I like that she’s making archery cool.”
Targeteers owner Rob Cerone said he averages five or six archery birthday parties a month, up from about half that six months ago. He’s filling up early for weeklong summer camps, where he teaches kids how to shoot, make their own arrows and put a bow together.
“The Hunger Games have helped, especially with the girls,” Cerone said.
Richard Johnson in Manchester, Conn., has archery in his blood. His dad, Butch Johnson, is hoping to qualify for the London Games and become one of just a few Americans to compete in six Olympiads. He brought home gold in 1996 and team bronze in 2000.
At Hall’s Arrow Indoor Archery Range, where the younger Johnson is business manager, the Katniss bump is alive and well. “We’ve had a lot of parents saying, ‘Hey, little Johnny has seen this movie, what do I have to do to get him into archery?'”
The Johnsons are looking ahead to summer, hoping the profile will be higher for Olympic archery this time around and anticipating the Pixar-produced “Brave.” The fantasy in 3-D computer animation features another young, headstrong archer, Merida, who brings chaos to her kingdom in Scotland.
“We had such a good boost after ‘Hunger Games,'” Richard Johnson said. “The same thing could happen.”
Know the laws, Ted

Once again, bowhunter Ted Nugent has run afoul of the law because he and his television show staff failed to familiarize themselves with the law of the land. This time the oversight will result in a misdemeanor conviction in federal court.

From the Associated Press:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Rocker and wildlife hunter Ted Nugent has agreed to plead guilty to transporting a black bear he illegally killed in southeast Alaska.
Nugent made the admission in signing a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that was filed Friday in U.S. District Court.
Calls seeking comment from Nugent, his Anchorage attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, and assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt were not immediately returned.
The plea agreement says Nugent illegally shot and killed the bear in May 2009 on Sukkwan Island days after wounding a bear in a bow hunt, which counted toward a state seasonal limit of one bear.
According to the agreement, first reported by the Anchorage Daily News, the six-day hunt was filmed for his Outdoor Channel television show, “Spirit of the Wild.” In the hunt, Nugent used a number of bear-baiting sites on U.S. Forest Service property, according to the agreement.
The document says Nugent knowingly possessed and transported the bear in misdemeanor violation of the federal Lacey Act.
Nugent, identified in the agreement as Theodore A. Nugent, agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, according to the agreement, which says he also agreed with a two-year probation, including a special condition that he not hunt or fish in Alaska or Forest Service properties for one year. He also agreed to create a public service announcement that would be broadcast on his show every second week for one year, the document states.
“This PSA will discuss the importance of a hunter’s responsibility in knowing the rules and regulations of the hunting activities that they engage in, which is subject to the review and final approval, prior to any broadcast, by a representative of the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Alaska,” the agreement says.
Nugent, who signed the document April 14, also agreed to pay the state $600 for the bear that was taken illegally, according to the agreement. He would still need to enter the plea in court and have the plea be approved by a judge.
Nugent — a conservative activist famed for his 1977 hit “Cat Scratch Fever” — drew the attention of the Secret Service after he rallied support last weekend for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and said of the Obama administration: “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” His comments were made during a National Rifle Association meeting in St. Louis.
Nugent said on his website Thursday that he discussed the matter with two agents on Thursday while in Oklahoma.
“The meeting could not have gone better,” he said. “I thanked them for their service, we shook hands and went about our business. God bless the good federal agents wherever they may be.”
Nugent said he was just speaking figuratively and that he didn’t threaten anyone’s life or advocate violence.
“Metaphors needn’t be explained to educated people,” he said.
A Secret Service spokesman has said the issue has been resolved.
With hunting, Nugent has run afoul of the law before.
In August 2010, California revoked Nugent’s deer hunting license after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of deer-baiting and not having a properly signed tag.
Nugent’s loss of that deer hunting license through June 2012 allows 34 other states to revoke the same privilege under the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Each state, however, can interpret and enforce the agreement differently.

W.Va. hunters get a new place to play

My colleague Rick Steelhammer has a story guaranteed to appeal to West Virginia’s hunters.

The state Division of Natural Resources is acquiring 3,070 acres of land in the northern end of Tucker County’s Canaan Valley, and will manage the tract for public hunting, fishing, hiking and mountain biking.

Want to know more? Read Rick’s article.

Bison leaving Yellowstone via the Gardiner entrance (AP Photo)

I’m not exactly a Luddite, but I must admit that the proliferation of smart-phone apps is simply stunning. There’s an app for this, an app for that, and even an app for finding wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

From the Associated Press:

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — For wildlife enthusiasts hoping to catch a glimpse of wolves, grizzly bears and bison at Yellowstone National Park, the best place to be on the lookout may soon be a cellphone.
New smartphone apps enable people to pinpoint where they’ve recently seen critters in Yellowstone. People who drive to those locations can — at least in theory — improve their odds of seeing wildlife compared to the typical tourist’s dumb luck.
One app called Where’s a Bear promises “up to the second” animal sightings in Yellowstone. Recently a website called Yellowstone Wildlife began offering a similar app.
Websites long have kept track of animal sightings in Yellowstone. Already this spring the Yellowstone Wildlife site shows signs of life: Mule deer near park headquarters at Mammoth, bison in the area of a landmark petrified tree.
A message on the site warns of grizzlies feeding on a bison carcass near the Yellowstone River Trail. The statement relayed from the National Park Service could save a life. Grizzly attacks killed two tourists in Yellowstone last summer.
But not everybody thinks that making a lot of wildlife sighting information readily retrievable by phone is a hot idea. As it is, the crowds that stop to gawk at roadside wildlife in Yellowstone can grow to hundreds of people, pointed out Vicky Kraft, of Pine Mountain, Calif., who maintains a Facebook group about Yellowstone.
Grizzlies are especially challenging for park rangers who have to both direct traffic and keep people a safe distance away.
“It’s crazy. There’s no parking. People sideswipe each other because they’re looking at the bear,” Kraft said Monday.
Wildlife becoming too comfortable around people is another concern. A grizzly habituated to people is even more dangerous than your average bear.
“I think there’s a responsibility that a person should have if they really like Yellowstone to say, ‘Gee, is this going to be bad for the animals? Is it bad for the ranger? Is it bad for the park?’ And I think when you look at a situation with that app, the answer would have to be yes,” Kraft said.
Attempts to reach the app developers through their websites Monday and Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Yellowstone officials said the apps could become a problem depending on their popularity.
“If it did take off it would be a concern. It’s got other applications but at its worst core it would send more people to wildlife jams,” Yellowstone spokesman Dan Hottle said.
Though there’s no app for Grand Teton National Park, officials there share the concern. Two mother bears and their cubs already draw crowds and stop traffic at the park without any tech help.
“It could add to an already congested situation we’re experiencing with roadside bears,” Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.
One technical problem with the apps is the vast majority of Yellowstone doesn’t have cellphone coverage. Also, it’s not like anybody is going to persuade a moose, elk, or bald eagle to wait around for the next tourist to show up.
On the other hand, a pack of wolves seen killing a bison might stick around for days while they fed on the meat, suggested Tom Mangelsen, a wildlife photographer who lives in Jackson Hole, just south of Yellowstone.
“I imagine it would be helpful, certainly for tourists or people who aren’t familiar with Yellowstone, and I suppose for people like me, too,” Mangelsen said.
Mangelsen counts himself among the many photographers and tourists who have been watching a popular grizzly in Grand Teton over the past few years. The grizzly recently emerged from hibernation with her three cubs — big news in Jackson Hole.
Mangelsen said he didn’t rush off to share the news online.
“I haven’t been on one of those websites more than three times in my life to see what’s going on in Yellowstone,” he said. “But I know people live by it.”

Who says guns and schools don’t mix?

Trap shooting is alive and well in Minnesota

Students in Minnesota high schools are flocking a new interscholastic sport — clay target shooting.

Teams in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League aren’t officially sanctioned by state authorities, but that hasn’t prevented the sport from growing like wildfire. Two years ago the league had 13 teams and 243 shooters; this year it has 57 teams with 1,500 shooters representing 100 schools.

And get this — students on the teams pay their own expenses.

Doug Smith has the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.

When is enough deer too many?

Jekyll Island deer (AP photo)

West Virginians aren’t the only folks who can’t decide whether to kill deer or love them to death. People who live on Jekyll Island, Ga., are debating that very topic right now.

From the Associated Press:

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Tourists on Jekyll Island pull over to snap photos of them grazing by the roads, while island residents leave corn for the four-legged whitetails in their yards. As the sun goes down over the Georgia coast, golfers often see does and their fawns watching from the trees along the fairways.
“I went to dinner for Easter at a friend’s house, and I looked out the window and said, ‘You have seven deer in your backyard,'” said Bonnie Newell, a nurse and longtime resident of the island that doubles as a state park. “And he said, ‘Yes, I feed them.'”
Nobody on Jekyll Island disputes that it has an abundance of white-tailed deer. But a recent study by the state Department of Natural Resources has raised a pair of troubling questions: Does the 7-mile island near Brunswick have too many? And if so, should hunters be allowed to thin the herd?
The Jekyll Island Authority, which governs the state-owned island, in early April ordered its new conservation manager to take a closer look after a DNR survey estimated its total deer population at 712 — or 80 per square mile. The agency’s report suggested a sustainable number would be about 30 deer per square mile.
But what’s troubled residents most is the report’s recommendation that Jekyll Island consider allowing bow hunters to deal with the problem, or hire professional sharpshooters if hunting is deemed unsafe.
“We got a ton of feedback from people opposed to the possibility of having even regulated hunting on the island,” said David Egan, a resident and leader of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island. “The deer are like one of the amenities on the island. People drive around at night trying to spot them and bring their kids out to look for them.”
Egan said he doubts the accuracy of the DNR survey, though he sees plenty of deer like everybody else. When playing golf in the late afternoons, he said, he’ll often spot between 20 and 40 whitetails in the woods near the edge of the fairways.
Hunting has long been banned on Jekyll Island, once a getaway owned by wealthy American industrialists before the state of Georgia bought it in 1947. As a state park, the island is beloved for its commitment to conservation. State law dictates that 65 percent of its land remain undeveloped. The island has a hospital for sick and injured sea turtles and a program using radio-transmitting tags to study rattlesnakes rather than kill them.
Deer can be a problem if their numbers swell beyond their habitat’s ability to support them. They can wipe out plants they depend on for food, and grow thin and sickly from not getting enough to eat. In populated areas, they can be a traffic hazard to drivers.
Hunters and sharpshooters are a common means of culling deer populations. Last year, both were dispatched in southeast Minnesota to hunt 900 deer after state officials feared an outbreak of a fatal brain disease. The city of Jackson, Mich., brought in sharp shooters in January to kill 80 deer at a city park and golf course after residents complained the animals were damaging property and causing car wrecks.
Ben Carswell, who became Jekyll Island’s conservation manager in March, said more detailed studies need to be done before anybody can say for sure that the island has too many deer.
He plans to try to replicate the DNR’s survey, which estimated the population by counting deer using a spotlight while driving at slow speeds during three nights last fall, while doing additional studies to determine if the island’s deer are unhealthy and if plants they use for food are being consumed at unsustainable rates.
“It’s not like all of a sudden we have too many deer out here. The population has probably built slowly over time,” Carswell said. “We want to make sure we do a thorough job and take our time rather than make a gut decision.”
If he finds Jekyll Island does have too many deer, there aren’t many non-lethal options for reducing the population.
Georgia law prohibits trapping deer and transporting them elsewhere. There is a drug that works as deer birth control that’s been approved by state agencies for use in New Jersey and Maryland, but it has to be given to female deer as an injection — making it a costly option that’s difficult to administer to large populations.
Will Ricks, the DNR wildlife biologist who conducted the Jekyll Island survey, said he suggested bow hunting because “it’s quieter, safer, less invasive, just better for situations where there are a lot of people around” compared to hunting with rifles.
The U.S. Department Agriculture also offers state wildlife agencies literal guns for hire — trained sharpshooters capable of thinning overabundant deer herds within a few days.
“I presented those potential options. At the end of the day that’s not for me to decide,” Ricks said. “I certainly wasn’t telling anybody what to do.”
After Ricks presented his recommendations to the Jekyll Island Authority last November, Newell told its board members to expect protesters “with arrows through their heads and ketchup on them” if they authorized deer hunting.
“I don’t see bloody carcasses coming off the island as something we want to do,” Newell said.
Jekyll Island spokesman Eric Garvey said the board wants to wait for the second round of studies, which may not come until next year, before ruling out any options for controlling the deer population.
“The reaction to the hunting, both gun and bow hunting, was negative both from our board and from the public,” Garvey said. “I think we would look at other options besides hunting first.”

Note to governor: Leave bears alone

Beware the bear

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has learned the hard way not to mess with black bears when they’re hungry. He came dangerously close to being bitten.

From the Associated Press:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A late-night encounter with four bears trying to snack from backyard birdfeeders gave Vermont’s governor a lesson in what not to do in bear country.
One of the bears chased Peter Shumlin and nearly caught the governor while he was trying to shoo the animals away, he said Friday.
“I had a close encounter with a bear, four bears to be exact,” Shumlin said.
Shumlin said he had just gone to bed inside his rented home on the edge of Montpelier late Wednesday when the bears woke him up. He looked out the window and saw the bears in a tree about five feet from the house trying to get food from his four birdfeeders.
“I open up the window and yell at them to get away from the birdfeeders. They kind of trot off,” Shumlin said Friday. “I go around to the kitchen to turn the lights on and look from the other side and they’re back in the birdfeeders. So I figure I’ve got to get the birdfeeders out of there or they’re going to make this a habit.”
He said he then ran out and first grabbed two of the feeders. As he grabbed the other two and made his escape, “one of the bigger bears was interested in me.”
“It was probably six feet from me before I slammed the door and it ran the other way,” Shumlin said.
Shumlin said he didn’t stop to get dressed, though he didn’t reveal exactly how little he was wearing.
“I sleep like many Vermont boys, without too much clothing at night. I’m not a big pajama person,” he said. “The bottom line is: The bears were dressed better than I and they could have done some real damage.”
Shumlin, 56, a first term Democratic governor from Putney, said he had part of the encounter on video, which he refused to release. He first described the wild encounter in an interview with the editorial board of the Valley News newspaper of Lebanon, N.H. He told the newspaper he was within “three feet of getting ‘arrrh.'”
“The lesson is as a Vermonter who grew up in this state and should know better, if you’re going to feed birds at this time of year, bring your birdfeeders in at night,” he said.
But Col. David LeCours, Vermont’s chief game warden, said bringing feeders in at night won’t make a difference because the bears will return to eat the birdfeed on the ground. The Department of Fish and Wildlife urges homeowners to remove birdfeeders in the spring.
While homeowners like to watch the birds, they don’t need to be fed once the snow melts, LeCours said.
In certain circumstances, such as if someone is deliberately trying to attract bears, people can be fined for keeping feeders out, but that wouldn’t apply in the governor’s case.
“If someone does it inadvertently, there’s no violation of law,” LeCours said.
LeCours said it was likely Shumlin was dealing with a sow with three cubs. He said he’d never heard of a bear chasing after a person with food, but mother bears will protect their young.
“She most likely felt her cubs were being threatened,” LeCours said.

Moral of story: If you’re a felon, you probably shouldn’t be doing public gunfight reenactments.

From the Associated Press:

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — An Old West gun battle re-enactor who wounded three onlookers when he fired live rounds instead of blanks at a South Dakota show was sentenced Monday to seven and a half years in prison.
Paul Doering, 49, of Summerset made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a tampering charge in January. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the original charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He had faced up to 20 years in prison for the tampering charge.
Doering and other re-enactors were supposed to feign a shootout by firing blanks during the June 17 mock Old West battle in Hill City. Investigators said Doering somehow ended up firing live ammunition.
The bullets shattered a leg bone of Carrol Knutson, 65, of Minnesota; hit the forearm and elbow of John Ellis, 48, of Pennsylvania; and caused minor injuries to Jose Pruneda, 53, of Nebraska.
Federal public defender Neil Fulton, who represented Doering, had said the shooting was an accident and that Doering was sorry.
Doering wasn’t supposed to have firearms because he has previously been convicted of a felony. He had served several prison stints on assault, burglary and escape charges.
Federal law prevents felons convicted of crimes punishable by more than one year in prison from possessing any firearm or ammunition unless the person has had their civil rights restored by the state where they were convicted. Doering’s convictions were in Minnesota.
Fulton said that after the shootout, Doering hid the weapons and ammunition, resulting in the tampering charge.
The mock shootouts between lawmen and outlaws have been held for decades in the rural town near the Black Hills. The event is sponsored by the Hill City Chamber of Commerce.
The Dakota Wild Bunch had been performing the show for about four years. The show has since been suspended.

EPA: Keep lead in ammunition

Well, how about that? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to kowtow to environmental lobbyists seeking a ban on lead ammunition.

From the Associated Press:

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has denied a petition from environmental groups asking it to regulate the lead used in some ammunition.
The agency told the groups Monday that it has no authority to ban or regulate lead in ammunition.
The Center for Biological Diversity and more than 100 other groups submitted the petition last month, asking that the lead be regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act. They contend the lead is responsible for poisoning millions of birds and other animals every year.
Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity told the Lewiston Tribune that he felt the EPA’s decision was shameful.
Many hunting groups and ammunition makers say lead alternatives are too expensive, and that bullets containing lead don’t pose a threat to animal populations.

Truth be told, the decision was kind of a no-brainer for EPA officials. Many years ago, Congress specifically exempted ammunition from being banned under federal pollution laws.

Denying the petition will probably cost the EPA political capital with its more vociferous constituents, but it will keep the agency out of a protracted court fight that likely would end up in the Supreme Court.

96-year-old hunter limits out on turkeys

I absolutely love stories like this. From the Associated Press:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Ninety-six-year-old Bill Tanner can’t hunt turkeys any more this season. He’s bagged his limit.
The spring season ends May 1. But Tanner, of Jackson, got his third gobbler Thursday, about a week after his birthday.
He started hunting at the age of 8, he told The Clarion-Ledger. “My dad let me take a .410 shotgun and hunt squirrel in a small swamp in Smith County about a mile wide and a few miles long.”
He hunted turkey before there was a state wildlife department, let alone a turkey season.
“Get the limit every year,” he said. “Well, back in the days when I started turkey hunting I may not have gotten the limit. That’s because we didn’t have many turkey. There were years I didn’t see or hear a turkey. It’s not like it is now.”
Tanner estimates he was 21 or 22 when he got his first turkey. Squirrel hunting helped him pay for his first gun — a single-shot Southern Arms 12 gauge shotgun with a 32-inch barrel. He says he sold dressed squirrels for 15 cents each to raise $4 for the gun.
Tanner has taken good of care of that gun, just as he has himself.
“He’s very active,” said his wife, Kathryn Tanner. “He rides his 4-wheelers, gardens and all. I don’t worry about him going hunting and doing all that stuff, but I don’t like him out in bad weather because of pneumonia.
“But he’s tough. He came from Smith County and that makes him tough.”
Tanner says the secret to his longevity is “good dirt and good genes” — Smith County roots and a father who lived to be “98 years and one day.”