I think we set out to bag some turkey. But I ended up bagging omelets. It was during a trip to North Carolina; it had to be the best Christmas present anyone has given me since my folks gave me a little Arvin AM radio nearly 70 years ago.
My old fishing and hunting buddy, Greg Foster, lives on a farm bordering the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida. He called me last Christmas and told me he was giving me a trip to Yellow Creek, NC. We had been there back in 2006; I had bagged a nice Tennessee Eastern Turkey and caught a ton of smallmouth bass with local guide and outfitter Jerry Crawford.
This time it was Greg’s turn to turkey hunt. I thought I might get in a little fishing, but the weather turned a bit sour on us. So I simply spent a few days enjoying the big porch around the Crawford’s Yellow Creek Lodge — with an occasional foray into the adjoining woods to stalk a deer or two and polish up on my turkey calling.
Crawford, Foster and I have all been bank officers at one time or another in our careers. So when we run out of hunting and fishing tales we swap banking stories, many of which are not suitable for prime time. We simply have a lot of fun together on these great escapes from the real world.
Crawford’s Yellow Creek Outfitters sits along and straddles part of Yellow Creek, a prime smallmouth bass fishing river in the hills of Tennessee about 50 miles west of Nashville. After three and a half decades as a bank executive in Nashville, Crawford retired and built a second home in Houston County. It is now the center of his Yellow Creek Outfitters operation that includes several hundred acres of farms and timberland in the area.
He is an extraordinary hunter and angler and the trophies on the walls of his lodge attest to his skill at both.
In addition to the main lodge, with sleeping accommodations for six or seven in addition to Crawford, he has a small getaway cottage for two not far away on Little Creek that flows down through the hills to Yellow Creek down in the bottomland. It is often rented, complete with its new Taj Mahal of an outhouse, to people who really want to get away from it all.
Personally I like the bigger Yellow Creek Lodge with its wrap-around porch and majestic fireplace, both of which I used extensively on our latest trip.
I was fighting some phlebitis in my bad leg, so spent a lot of time on the porch reading from my Kindle, smoking my pipe, and squeezing off a call or two from my turkey caller which was answered from time to time by birds moving about in the adjacent woods.
I did take a few walks in the woods wearing moccasins to silently camera stalk some deer in the area. I surprised Crawford when I got within 20 yards of a doe before she noticed me, stuck out her tongue and went bounding off into the nearby wilderness.
To me, trips to Yellow Creek are the ultimate getaway from today’s faster-paced world. My cell phone and computer do not work up there. My occasional nap is never interrupted.
Foster spent the better part of three days in one or another of the various turkey blinds scattered across Crawford’s properties, before finally bagging his Tennessee Tom on the last morning we were there.
The days in camp are pure leisure. You are on your own for breakfast before going out on a hunt, fishing trip or hike in the woods. Everyone gathers back at the lodge around 11 a.m. for brunch and it is anyone’s guess what Crawford will put on the table.
The next to last day, Crawford and I were picking through the refrigerator to see what was there. He started handing me onions, tomatoes, cheese and other odds and ends.
“Start chopping,” he said. “We’ll make some bag omelets.”
“Yeah, we’ll boil them in locking plastic freezer bags. They come out perfect every time,” he said.
I had never heard of boiling an omelet and told Crawford. He laughed and started giving me instructions.
You put a big pot about half full of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Then you ask everyone how many eggs they want in their omelet. You break the eggs and, after stirring with a fork to mix them well, put the beaten whites and yolk into a quart-size locking plastic freezer bag, hand it to the person who ordered it and instruct them to put in the bag whatever they want from what is available.
Then you tell them to lock the bag and squish it all up to mix everything well. When it is all mixed drop the bag in the boiling water and let it boil 15 minutes, about the time it takes to bake a pan of biscuits in the oven.
Voila! Everyone gets the omelet they want — and a heaping pile of hot biscuits — not burned or crumbled up omelets, but perfect ones that slip right out of the plastic bags onto the plate. Add a little bacon on the side and there are never any complaints.
So, Foster bagged his turkey and I bagged omelets, one of the many great lessons I have learned from hanging out around Crawford.
When I got home I emailed my daughter in Tampa and told her how to boil an omelet. A couple of hours later I got back an email with a photo attached of her first boiled omelet.
“The first one I have ever made in my 42 years that wasn’t burned or broken up,” she said. “Perfect!“
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