KEVIN TATE: Work or play, enjoyment often depends on companions

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

It was the hottest day of the year when a buddy and I had been hoodwinked by another into helping clear roads at his hunting camp, but there was nowhere else we’d have rather been.
Early August in south Mississippi isn’t a time and place known for cool breezes but, along the deep sand roads that run among the tall pines of Greene County, they were in especially short supply. We’d come with the promise of fishing the Chickasawhay River, shooting clay pigeons, grilling large quantities of assorted meats and generally hanging out and having a good time.
“We just need to cut limbs back on a few roads first,” the friend, who we’ll call “John,” said that morning. We’d noticed a limb or two grown out into the path as we’d driven the quarter mile in from the highway, and we’d been on all the land’s other roads at one time or another during previous visits. No problem, we thought, this’ll be done in 30 minutes, an hour at most.
Ages later, as the sun arched high into the sky, my fellow victim, who we’ll call “Trey,” helped me weigh the likelihood of staging a successful mutiny. The roads were where we’d left them, yes, but plenty of the timber was where the last logging operation had left it. Scattered here and there about the land’s access paths, whole sections of logging trash, still green and running with viscous sap, blocked all travel. As the chainsaw was tortured to life for what seemed like the hundredth time that day and its chain again leapt from the bar to embark upon a new life of its own, we cursed our friend and our own good nature in equal measure. Trey and I had enjoyed a number of leisurely trips to the camp in the past, and we continued to weigh how much the hospitality had been worth with every log we moved.
Eventually we called the work done via unanimous decree before any serious ill will was created, and we’d had a lot of fun picking on each other throughout the effort. It’s still something Trey and I get a kick out of harassing John about. By contrast, I’ve been on plenty of otherwise exceptional adventures without my friends along and not had remotely as good a time as I did that day spent heaving green pine limbs into the bushes. This summer, no matter how hot it gets, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the friends whose company makes it fun no matter what. First, though, clarify what they mean by “a few.”
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.