A Good Guy

One measure of a man’s character, is how he regards his family, and my friend, Guy, held his family in the utmost regard.

Early Army photo of CWO3 Guy Giella

A small conversation about meatloaf is a good example of his affection.   During our last visit, a couple of months ago in Georgia, I told Guy that I make the best meatloaf. He debated my claim saying, “No, Shirley (his wife) makes the world’s best meatloaf.” I told him, “We’ll see.”

Brenda, my wife, prepared the meatloaf. Then, I cooked it over several hours in a smoker. It is my opinion, that is the best way to cook meatloaf.

Shirley, I have no doubt, makes a delicious Southern style meatloaf in the same manner as did my Grandmothers, my mother, and my wife – before I started smoking them. That is, baked in the oven with a ketchup glazed across the top surface of the meat. It’s good.  However, a smoked meatloaf is, in my liberated Southern cuisine, amazing.

Hours after the challenge, of whose meatloaf is the best, mine or Shirley’s, we sat down to eat dinner. The main course smoked, glaze-free, meatloaf.

To get a fair measure for objective analysis Guy ate half the meatloaf. After the meal I asked, “So, Guy, which meatloaf is better?”

He responsed, “Well, your’s is different, but Shirley’s wins; her’s is the best.”

Shirley and Guy

There was no way, whether he believed it or not, would Guy have ever admitted any meatloaf might exceed the treat of his wife’s. He was just that kind character.

Guy passed away unexpectedly May 30th.

I’ve known Guy for 37 years, there was simply no condition where his family wasn’t number one. Whether it be meatloaf or something more relevant. This applies to wife and children.

I have always stated, you can gauge how good a job parents do easily, just take a look at the children. Guy and Shirley’s two boys are among the finest men I have ever known. Those men, Steve and Chris, have families of their own, and their children are the type people that anyone would enjoy meeting.

Chris Giella, Guy, and Steve Giella

After spending any time with Guy’s sons or grand children, you leave feeling good. All of them have a knack for making others feel good about themselves. That is a gift. A gift taught by parents, beginning with Guy and Shirley.

Shirley, Guy, Steve and the tall fella in the background Guy’s grandson and Clemson Tiger lineman, Zack Giella

I met Guy through my father-in-law, Ray. He and Guy, both retired Army, had been friends 50 years. Their camaraderie is impossible to capture in the space and time allotted.  Let’s just say, it was boundless, fraught with bickering, but connected by mutual respect and love.

This isn’t the first time Guy has been mentioned on this site. There’s are article about “Old Lions” that highlights a little about Guy and Ray. Some readers will know Guy personally, some of you don’t. But, what all should know is that Guy Giella was a real bona fide American Hero. You never know it by talkling to him.

Ray and Guy

So, here is a little I’d like to share in memory of one of those true Americans. Read this and you’ll agree that in his case the term Hero is not an over statement:

Guy was born October 6, 1939, in Mount Vernon, New York, and retired from the Army in Savannah, Georgia, in 1976 after 20 years of active service which included tours overseas in Germany, Korea and two tours in Vietnam. His duties included paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, drill sergeant and he attended flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, to become a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

He then went on to become a Rotary Wing Examiner and Supply Officer, with the 120th Aviation Company, 222nd Aviation Battalion, Fort Richardson, Alaska. His comprehensive knowledge of Army Aviation instruments and flying procedures contributed immeasurably to the operation efficiency and combat readiness of the U.S. Army. In addition, he was instrumental in developing and teaching flight techniques and doctrine for helicopter operations in an Artic environment. His outstanding performance resulted in him receiving the Meritorious Service Medal. During his career, he received these other following citations: the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal,  Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Aviator Badge, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/ Palm. From 1983 to 2003, he was in the civil service as a helicopter flight instructor at Hunter Army Airfield.

Guy was an avid hunter and bass fisherman and passed on his love for the outdoors to his sons and grandchildren.

Guy’s affection extended to Brenda and myself, and I’m going to miss coming back to the “Lake House” in Georgia and sharing some aspect of archery, hunting or fishing with him. But his love for his children, my father-in-law, and Shirley exceeded all others.

Venison burgers

Many of you have grilled and eaten ground venison. Probably some of you are excellent chefs of wild game. From those of you that have another or considered better way to grill please share your recipes. Yesterday, I grilled venison burgers and this is how I cooked them.

I used deer with a 4 to 1 ratio of bacon. The bacon adds fat to the deer. Brenda formed the venison into patties and seasoned with salt and pepper. Real simple.The patties were cooked over lump coal and wood. The fire was started using a chimney starter – no lighter fluid. Something else I do is clean the grill and grate between each use. I don’t mean only removing the coal ash, I thoroughly wipe down the interior, exterior and wash the cooking grate.

Once the coals were ready, I spread them over the coal rack, and then replaced the cooking grate. The grate I’d coated with a non-stick cooking spray. The spray burns off a bit, but helps to keep the meat from sticking – an infrequent problem. (Don’t apply the spray over the burning coals. Non-stick cooking sprays are flammable)

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After the grate has gotten very hot I placed the burgers on it to sear the meat. Once seared I lowered the flame. When cooking with coals this is accomplished by physically lowering the flame using an adjustable coal rack. Lowering the flame means cooking more slowly allowing the wood smoke flavor to saturate the meat.

I prefer grilling over lump coal and wood. When I have enough, I use wood only.   The flavor meat takes from wood and lump coal is excellent. These burgers were no exception.

In trouble, again

The time Ray, 86, tripped and fell while hauling a deer to toss onto a Bad Boy Buggy was funny. He and I laughed then finished loading the deer. When we got back to the house in Tignall, wanting to share a good laugh, he told Brenda. She, imagining her Octavian plus father crashing to the ground and breaking something important, gave us both a lecture (lecturing is a skill retired middle school teachers never lose). Coming in from hunting on New Year’s Eve, we once again faced the wrath of Brenda.

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Brenda, when I am not in trouble

First, let me point that Ray is 86 and I am 60 (soon). We are grown men and can handle ourselves. We don’t need a wife or daughter managing our manly adventures. Nevertheless, before Ray and I took to the woods we got the “lecture”.

“Daddy, don’t climb the tree stands,” Brenda

“I won’t,” Ray

“Carry your cell phones,” Brenda

“We will” Ray and I.

“Take those radios,” Brenda

“We will” Ray and I.

“When will you be back,” Brenda

“Around dark,” Me

“Be specific,” Brenda

“Around 6,” Ray

“Don’t get hurt, “ Brenda

“We won’t,” Ray and me.

Brenda headed over to Athens to meet Heather, our oldest, and shop. Ray watched Star Trek, the 2009 version; I practiced shooting long shots on the range. After Star Trek, we headed out to the woods.

On the drive out, Ray said, “I forgot my phone.” I added, “We also forgot the radios.”

Again, we’d have no way to communicate in the woods. Barring an accident, we don’t need to talk to each other while we’re hunting. Like I said, we’re grown men, we don’t need to talk to each other while hunting.

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The hunt was not successful; neither of us saw anything. But, I could sense animals in the woods all around me. You know that feeling you get when you just know. I waited as long as possible and nothing came into view. To make matters worse, it was cold.

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Getting cold, now

Now, I’m not talking Michigan cold. What I mean is the wet cold of Georgia. I’ve lived in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I’ve worked and traveled to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Canada in the winter. The coldest I’ve ever been has been in Georgia. On this hunt, despite 2 pairs of pants, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, sweater vest, hoodie, jacket, hunting vest, hat and a knit cap over it, and gloves, I was freezing. Yet, I hoped and remained in my stand to no avail.

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Packed up and heading home

The result was we’d get back home about 30 minutes later than usual. When we got home Ray and I got that look from Brenda. My first thought was “We’re in trouble for something.”

“Why didn’t you answer your phone!” Brenda.

“It was in my backpack, I didn’t hear it.” Me.

She just stared at her Dad.

“I forgot mine.” Ray.

Trying to make light, I added, “Yea, we forgot the radios, too.” (That didn’t help)

“I was fixin’ to call Steve to get him to go look for you. “Brenda still apparently not relieved that Ray and I were fine.

“I was worried, what took you so long? Why didn’t you have your phone? Why didn’t you answer yours? If something happened, I couldn’t have found you! That was not responsible!”

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You are in so much trouble

I was happy that Ray was with me, he buffered the trouble. Having another guy to share the trouble reduces the direct assault facing a single individual.

Yes, I should have called after we loaded the truck and began heading home. Honestly, I do most of the time. On this day, however, I was so frozen all I could think about was getting warm. Being married to an ex-middle schoolteacher, I should be used to conducting proper and polite behavior. But, like any middle-schooler, sometimes I forget.

We’re not going hunting today. Best bet; enjoy the games on TV, grill, and keep a low profile.

Tracks in the mud

When it rains, and it has rained a lot, here in the red clay capital of the world, Georgia, the clay makes a wonderful medium for tracks. We didn’t hunt today. We scouted for tomorrow’s hunt.

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Driving a Polaris Ranger along firebreaks we stopped to check for tracks. There is little doubt these woods are filled with animals. Deer, raccoon, coyote, pigs and turkey seemed to have been moving along an “Animal Expressway” during the previous night.

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We’ve found a pig stronghold or two and will be picking them tomorrow. Deer season, for archery, is over soon. Pigs, on the other hand, aside from being tasty are a year round game.

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Tomorrow’s weather is forecasted to be sunny, 53°, with a zero chance of rain. Looking good.

Deer Number 5 for Ray

Brenda wanted to meet our daughter, Heather, in Lexington, GA. Lexington, incorporated in 1806, has a population of 228. There are a number of antique shops along Main Street and the town has two restaurants. We driven through Lexington dozens of times and never stopped. On Saturday morning, we drove over from Tignall to visit the little town. We’d go hunting in the afternoon.

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Main St, Lexington, GA

 

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Court House

Lexington, a total area of 0.5 square miles, did not take long to explore. We’d finished our tour by 11:00 am, about 30 minutes after we arrived. The excursion might have lasted longer but several of the little shops were closed.

Eleven in the morning was time to start thinking about the two restaurants in town. We’d eaten breakfast around 6:00 and we were starting to get hungry. We chose Paul’s Barbeque and walked over for lunch.

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Paul’s Bar-B-Q

Our party, Brenda, Heather, Ray and I, were the first of the day’s customers. Paul’s serves a North Carolina vinegar base sauce, odd for Georgia. We ordered and enjoyed our meals as the dining room was beginning to fill.

Our party, Brenda, Heather, Ray and I, were the first of the day’s customers. Paul’s serves a North Carolina vinegar base sauce, odd for Georgia. We ordered and enjoyed our meals as the dining room was beginning to fill.

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I mentioned to an employee, a middle aged man, that I’d noticed Paul’s while driving through Lexington for many years. I wondered how long Paul’s had been in operation.

The fellow said the Paul’s had been around for a while, but it was never going to make it and was doomed to fail from the day the doors opened.

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“So, how long has it been in business, “ I asked

“Eighty-five years, but it’s not going to make it, “ he replied. I suppose in some books a barbeque hut hasn’t made it until the century marked is reached.

After lunch we returned to Tignall gathered our gear and headed to the woods. The temperature was in the low 60’s with clear sky for a change. The gear included a Polaris Ranger – high style.

I dropped Ray off at his blind by 3:00 PM and was in my stand by 3:15 PM. At 4:05 PM I heard a shot. It sounded like Ray had fired and he’d probably have another deer. It would be dark at 5:38 PM, so I climbed down the stand at 5:15 PM, loaded my gear onto the Polaris and drove it to pick up Ray. I should have left at 4:05 PM when I heard his shot.

Reaching Ray at around 5:30 PM, I learned he had shot a 6-point buck. Great, but I didn’t see it anywhere. Ray had a solid shot on the deer, he said. But, it ran about 150 to 200 yards before dropping. “It took me a hour of hiking around to find it,” he said. He pointed out, “There was initially a lot of blood then it just stopped.”

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The under brush was thick, but Ray had found the deer. He tied orange tape to trees to lead us to the deer. The tape worked, guiding us right to the deer – down a steep slope and laying in an even steeper gulley. The gulley washed in rainwater from the past several days. Perfect.

The buck looked to weight about 150 pounds. I weight about 150 pounds. Ray is 86 and there is no way he’s climbing down the ravine and into the gulley. There wasn’t an easy solution – I was clambered down and hauled the deer up and out. Much easier said than done. Clearly, I’d had been spoiled by the past three easy to retrieve deer.

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You can see where the pigs have been rooting

 

Ray had gotten this deer – I’d been in an areas were hogs have been rooting. None come out before I had to leave. We’ll head back out to hunt again on Tuesday. In the meantime, this buck is being processed and we’ll enjoy it in the near future.

Rain, rain, rain…..

A little rain isn’t bad, hard rain for days isn’t the optimal weather for hunting. The land here in Georgia has a lot of red clay. This red clay, when soaked after days of rain is a mess. Four-wheel trucks get stuck and ATVs bog down in the crimson mire. So, we’ve been stuck indoors. (click the video to get an idea of the rain)

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The rain is going to last for several more days. We’re here for another twelve days. As soon as the rain eases and some of the water runs off we’ll be headed back into the woods.

Until then, I’ll set up a target on the covered deck and practice shooting at 20 yards.

In Georgia to: hunt, run, bike, kayak, and shoot 3D

Brenda and I made it to Tignall, GA. With us we brought two mountain bikes – we both ride and the land we hunt, 679 acres, has great trails for bikes. I brought two bows, my Mathews Apex 7 and Mathews ZXT, one for a tournament and one for hunting. Our two dogs, River and Nixie, of course made the trip.

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“Are we there, yet?”

Upon arrival, I unpacked, while Brenda helped her dad, Ray, prepare an early dinner. It was too late to shoot, and dark, so after dinner River and I headed out for a run.

Here the terrain is rolling hills. We’d not gone 100 yards when River tore out after deer. The deer are everywhere, here. But, my hunt objective is wild pigs. The pigs that run wild here are abundant. What I am hoping to get is a couple of small gilts, which I think are best for eating.

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Trail cam from October

The after dinner run felt great after being stuck in the truck for eight hours. A bonus was that it was not cold. A friend, Chris back in Maryland, who is an archer and runner had posted that the temperature was 28° F. It was 52°F when I ran this evening.

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We’re here for the next few weeks. I am looking forward to hunting, running, cycling and kayaking. The trip will be topped off spending Christmas with our oldest daughter and her family in Winder. Then off to Social Circle, Georgia for the Buckeye 3D tournament.

Good month down South, cold here in Maryland

During the past month I’ve completed two three 5K races and 2 archery tournaments. I raced in Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland and placed 3rd twice and 2nd once. The archery tournaments were in Georgia and North Carolina. The temperature during the race in Maryland was 29 degrees F.  Yuck!

Georgia’s shoot was a USA Archery event, 18 meters, indoors on a 3-spot and I was second in the masters’ class. In North Carolina the shoot was an indoor 3D event and I placed 2nd in the bow hunters’ group.

We also had some success hunts in Georgia and we are stocked on venison.

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Man, it is cold and windy here in Maryland

Currently, I am in Maryland. We’ll stay here until early December. After that Brenda, the dogs, and I will be heading to North Carolina to check the progress on our house renovations. Then, back to Georgia where I hope to thaw out, hunt and compete in a tournament in Conyers, GA.

Leaving Georgia for now

Hunting is done for a few weeks. We’re going to miss the warm days and Georgia Whitetail. The woods were spectacular and filled with turkey. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t see them. In December we’ll be here for pigs. Once the end of March arrives those turkey we’ve been watching will be on the docket.

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Not a bad haul for a short trip