Hunting The Great Tombigbee River

"What determines the difference between a “Hunting Camp” and a “Hunting Resort”

Picture of Alex Thames

Alex Thames

Hunting Stories by Alex Thames

A little backround on my experiences growing up and hunting white tail deer in lower Alabama. My grand father helped start a club on the east bank of the Tombigbee river in the early 1950’s. “Laws Of The Club” There are several pictures of my father there circa 1955 holding, proudly I might add, a doe or a small rack 4 point. Back then there were no “Game Management” rules or “Laws of the Club” such as another “Camp” I’ve hunted where if you shoot an 8 or below they paddle you like you were pledging a fraternity. I shall keep its name out of this piece for several legal reasons but truth be told I’d like to be invited back! Anyway, back to the “Tombigbee Club,” (the must of put as much thought into the name as they did the infrastructure,) by the time I came along in the late 1980’s through the 1990’s not much had changed since its inception a half century earlier. I’ll give a brief description: upon approach to the camp house through a winding trail that was made 20 years prior you knew you were getting close because you would start to see empty beer cans which formed a sort of time line by the different style and condition of the can as they changed throughout the decades. Once you reach the living area which consisted of a covered detached porch and fire pit, followed by a One room wooden building whose center was marked by a card table and a dangling light bulb on a string. I must have failed to mention that there was no electricity or running water hence the detached Outhouse far off from the house it self. Oh the Out house, as a young man I would hold my breath as long as I could to be able to sneak a peek of the 1970’s editions of Hustlers and Penthouse Forum Magazines that it held, along with some of the most foul substances and smells one can imagine. Anyway back to the main house or what I like to call “Lodge,”

The Hunting Lodge

The perimeter of the building is lined by hat I believe to be surplus World War 2 Bunk Beds. Now if you were lucky enough to get first choice of beds obviously everyone tried to get the top bunk in the back right corner as taped to the ceiling was a nude picture of Cher of probably 1970. Once that “Iron Throne” was claimed you then would try to factor in certain less important factors in your decision to “set up shop” such as: was there a mattress, were there live rodents or at least fresh droppings covering it, snakes, etc, etc. If I were a gambling man, “and I am” some time probably around 1980 some managed to find half of an old single wide trailer (yes I said Half) as it seemed to have been cut in two with a chain saw and retro fitted (some 2 by 4’s, nails, and scrap vinyl siding) to the camp house. This would serve as our kitchen where many a great meals of pork and beans (if we had enough propane) were heated up along with a sink (provided we had collected enough rain water) and a small microwave as at some point in time a member graciously donated a half broken, probably stolen FEMA generator which we made good use of. Most of the cooking was done over the fire pit on the front porch. I’ll leave the description of

“The Tombigbee Club”

with this….Last but not Least was there was no road access to the camp or maybe there was once one that was lost in a pocket game but to get to the property you would have to park at Prader’s (later known as Lady’s LandIng) and ferry across in a John boat. Prader’s consisted of about 4 or 5 double wides (all family, all married to each other…., goats, old dogs, and probably 25 starlight dishes, non of which worked. Now over the years the river flooded and washed away their dock and naturally instead of using the insurance money to put another one up (yeah right like they had insurance) the operators at Prader’s installed what I am sure was a very safe pulley/crain system where they would pick you up with an old fork lift and lower you into the water (if the fork lift was working) if not they would just help you slide it down the mud hill into the water. Needless to say you better have had everything you needed because once you got on the boat you’ve past the point of no return (unless there was an emergency like all the Miller Light got drinken). Next I am going to describe some of the wonderful experiences had here, as well as describe what one might call a “Hunting Lodge” or “21st century version” of a game preserve, the do’s and don’ts, the likes and dislikes.

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