Each episode of Tennessee Uncharted documents the experiences of Erick and his crew across the State of Tennessee. This is the full text of the short story that resulted from their adventure in Franklin.
Spring is in the air, and as the promise of warmer weather starts calling, so too does the unmistakable call of one of TN’s favorite feathered friends…the turkey. I want to start by saying that I am a BIG fan of turkey. I know almost all there is to know about the delightfully large frozen bird that takes up half of my freezer around the holidays. Many times I’ve taken part in the turkey’s journey from deep freezer to deep fryer. However, when it comes to turkey of the wild variety, I have to say, I’m a bit of a Jake. So, on this episode of TN Uncharted, the crew and I have flocked to the city of Franklin for the Tennessee Governor's One Shot Turkey Hunt to help kick-off the state’s Spring turkey season. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the country have come to participate in this exciting two-day event of hunting and fellowship, and I’m here to find out what it really means to feel like a turkey.
The City of Franklin/Franklin Theatre:
A photograph is a perfect act of preservation. The images captured in our photographs are forever protected from change, harm, or decay. Behind the dusty glass and old wooden frames, life, as we knew it, remains intact. Sadly though, life is not a photograph.
But for the people of Franklin, their photographs aren’t images of the way things used to be, but of what is and what can be again. With it’s busy Main Street of stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants, it’s easy to see why Franklin has been called a “Southern Dream Town”. Here you can discover years of Southern history and heritage or just one great night on the town. However, only a few decades ago, this bustling boulevard was more like a ghost town, lined with condemned buildings, abandoned storefronts, and empty streets. Home to the Battle of Franklin, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War, where 10,000 soldiers lost their lives, Franklin was close to becoming a casualty itself until the 1970’s when a group of locals began a new battle, one of preservation. Now it's some of those old wounds of the past that are helping to heal the town. Since 1980, Franklin has expanded more than fivefold, making it the seventh largest city in the state. Long known as a suburb of Nashville, the city of Franklin found a future in preserving the story of its past, and now Music City’s neighbor is singing a beautiful melody all on its own.
The Turkey Hunt:
Tennessee has a rich history of hunting and fishing, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation is working diligently to maintain this heritage by generating proceeds to benefit Tennessee Wildlife Resources.
For a $1,000 tax deductible donation, participants in the Tennessee Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt are provided with private land access, an experienced guide, and a premium gift bag. The event hosts a reception, banquet dinner, and silent as well as live auctions.
All additional proceeds go to advance the mission of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF), which, as they say, includes "Promoting habitat conservation and, responsible land stewardship.” More specifically, the Foundation assists TWRA with youth education programs as well as strategic land acquisition to ensure that hunting, fishing and the resources those sports require continue to be a part of Tennessee’s history.
Now I must say, that I feel very honored to be a participant in this year’s hunt and do my part to help support TWRF’s mission. But all I’ve got to say is 2:30am…That’s right 2:30 am!!! I had to get up at 2:30 am for this hunt. Our earliest TNU wake-up call to date. We had a long hike in and quite a bit of stalking to do before we landed at the perfect spot. By the time we got settled, the sun was starting to creep up and the birds were coming off the roost. Now, remember when I mentioned that hunters were provided with an experienced guide? I’m not just “talking turkey”. In no time, we had several birds gobbling all around us meaning me, our guide Scott Davis, and two of our cameramen that were piled into that little blind and did our best to compose ourselves while Scott set to the task of calling one in… 25 minutes later, we had a bird closing in. With tense whispered breath my guide kept repeating, “Oh, that’s a big bird. Oh, that’s a trophy right there.” My breath was literally choked because my heart was pounding so high in my chest. I heard it before I saw it. It was strutting around and doing its dance. I felt like I could feel the sound. When I saw it for the first time I could barely believe my eyes. It didn’t look even real. He slowly walked out into the middle of our decoys but. It was just a few seconds later that he figured out something wasn’t right and he made a run for it. Scott yelled, “Shoot, Shoot, Shoot” and that’s just what I did… FINALLY, I got something on this show!!! I’ll be the first to admit, I was beginning to worry that my job might be in jeopardy because I’d yet to actually kill or catch much of anything so far on the show. It was a poignant reminder that there’s a reason they call it “hunting” instead of “killing.” Now I’ve just got to figure out where to put the feathers up in my house.
I’ve never given so many high fives in my life!
Other than an occasional bottle of Wild Turkey, I don’t know much about turkey hunting.
Long Hollow Leather:
Some things shouldn’t change. Sometimes you just get it right the first time and from then on you do your best not to mess it up. The family of Long Hollow Leather has been working with leather since the 1890s, and since then, not much has changed from their focus on quality, comfort, and classic design.
In the world of modern day manufacturing, “hand made” is becoming harder and harder to find.
LHL makes guitar straps the old fashioned way…not because it’s cool or part of some newly revitalized movement…They make straps the way they do because that’s how they’ve always done it. And they believe that’s how it should always be done.
I have a very close relationship with my guitar. It knows more about me than most. It helps bring out my emotions. It helps me get my words out into song. Surprisingly, I’ve never really thought much about my guitar strap. But now that I’m making one, I realize that this piece of leather is what connects me to one of the things I hold the dearest. How have I not seen the importance of the strap before? By making great guitar straps, LHL is a very important facilitator of music. Partners in song. By helping hungry kids with a dream and something to say strap on a wood box with six strings, they are contributing to the art and preservation of music.
I love the potent smell of new leather.
They are making guitar straps for musicians all over the world. The world sounds a little better because of LHL.
Carnivore Meat Market:
The hunt has made me hungry, so I’m eager to check out some meat that pretty much any Tom.. or Dick or Harry can strut in, order up, and enjoy. And luckily, the days of the local butcher are another historical staple making a coming back here in Franklin. And while the folks at Carnivore are busy preserving a savory Southern snack, they’re bringing a tradition to the process that originates even further south than you may be thinking—a South African specialty known as Biltong.
This is not your dad’s truck stop jerky. No, this is the filet of finger foods. A melt-in-your-mouth magic that I’m not sure can be matched.
But the bounty here isn’t limited to the back wall and dangling drying racks. Instead, every nook and cranny of this shop presents another tasty treat and disappearing delicacy. Like head cheese. But, before you’re scared by the name, I’ll start by saying that I remember My mom and dad eating liver cheese when I was a kid…and the two are quite similar. But, in all honesty, this increasingly rare offering is like the happy marriage of a holiday ham and a spectacular spam.
I think it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t name our food. Like most meat-loving Americans, it is a Baker tradition to have Turkey on Thanksgiving. I’ve had turkey just about every way that you can imagine. But last year we did something different. Last year, my daughter named our turkey. His name was Herman. During Herman’s journey from deep freeze to deep fried, he quickly became part of the family. And in the end, when your food has a name like Herman, ultimately, he didn’t taste as good.
The idea of preserving the past is far from the novel here on Tennessee Uncharted. In fact, it’s one of the principles we value most on the show. But, so often, the story of “saving” is one of struggle. It means living with intention, setting aside modern conveniences, and creating opportunities to connect with those who carved a path to what we know as life today. Over the past few days, however, I’ve seen an entirely different perspective frame the picture of preservation.
For the folks of Franklin, TN, the past is very much a part of the present. It peppers their city streets, grounds their giving spirits, and binds their hopes and dreams with the timeless wisdom of those that came before. Instead of dimming over time, the history baked into the brick, balconies and back alleys of this quaint community is more vibrant than ever, lending depth and direction to not only who this city is today, but who they hope to be. It’s a beautiful balance and I feel blessed to have been a part of it. And as the crew and I pack up from another adventure, I can’t help but be inspired—by making the past a living, breathing part of my present, I’m creating a whole new batch of memories to cherish and protect.