The weather here in Atlanta and all over the South has been a bit nutty over the last few weeks. We celebrated Christmas around 70 degrees, then had an ice “storm” and highs in the 20s last weekend, and today is supposed to be 64, which will continue through the holiday weekend.
I love tweed jackets, and as David Coggins said: ‘you can’t have too many’. I completely agree. They are extremely versatile wardrobe staples. At their core, they are built to go with wool pants, a dress shirt, and a good earth-toned tie. Add a pair of cap toes and you are in business. On the other end of the spectrum, you can go Ivy: a pair of khakis, penny or tassel loafers, and a blue OCBD. Either is a classic look that will never go out of style. How I like to wear tweed jackets in the vein of a work coat. Pair it with a good pair of jeans, a solid dress shirt or OCBD, some double monks and an engine turned belt. It’s my winter uniform.
Beyond finding a jewel at Goodwill every now and then, there are some excellent tweed options out there. I would highly recommend sticking with a Harris Tweed in a good cut. Here are a few that are 100% RCS approved:
From top left:
1. Brooks Brothers Blue Harris Tweed Sport Coat: I’m really digging solid tweed jackets. Brooks Brothers does it as well as anyone, and this shade of blue is killer in the winter.
2. Ledbury Randolph Tweed Sport Coat: A good cut is as important as the color, hand, etc. The jacket has to fit, and Ledbury jackets fit GREAT off the rack. For the quality, the price is just right.
3. Southwick Rust Sport Coat from O’Connell’s: Solid rust, put this over a blue OCBD and navy trousers. Big business.
4. Beams Plus Slim Fit Houndstooth Harris Tweed Jacket: This is a bit of a lightweight, but that’s OK. You can wear this unlined jacket all day around the office and be comfortable.
5. Drake’s Harris Tweed Olive Tweed Jacket: Drake’s cuts these OTR as good as anyone. Olive is a strong choice for tweed. Like most Earthy colors, be sure the rest of your wardrobe palate follows suit.
6. Peter Millar Alpine Tweed Sport Coat: Or you can go with a bold color, like this deep purple option from Peter Millar. Be sure you’ve got the stones to pull this one off…
7. Harris Tweed Patrick Jacket: Plaid are always great, like an exploding jacket. The 70’s plaids are coming back, but not the 70’s cuts. You don’t want to look like a game show host.
8. Harrison Limited Olive Windowpane Tweed Jacket: Don’t forget to stop by your favorite men’s store and peruse their selection of tweeds, as they usually have some jewels, like this bad boy from Harrison LTD in Birmingham. Top shelf.
Do you have a favorite tweed jacket? Let’s see it…
In the spirit of refinement, I accepted an invitation from a very close friend to join him for a quail hunt. Full disclosure, this was my first quail hunt. My excitement outweighed my anxiety exponentially. I knew that an invitation like this was coming, so I had been studying up: reading as much as I could, watching YouTube videos, shooting clays, and talking to my friends who are experienced upland hunters.
We had a morning hunt scheduled at Piney Creek Plantation in Dawson, GA, about an hour south of Columbus. It happened to be the Saturday morning after a big ice storm was scheduled to hit Atlanta. The forecast for Saturday was cold, but dry, so Mrs. RCS and I agreed that I’d leave on Friday afternoon and get a hotel room below the freeze line in Columbus. My friend was already in southeast Alabama, so the hunt was on. I arrived in Columbus on Friday evening, stopped by Momma Goldberg’s for a Momma’s Love sandwich, and checked into the hotel. I fell asleep watching the Rhode Island vs. Dayton basketball game. 5:30AM couldn’t come soon enough.
The alarm rang, and I was packed, dressed, and on the road with an Egg McMuffin and a large coffee within 45 minutes.
I got to Dawson, and headed down a dirt road to the plantation. How appropriate.
After an hour, the sunrise came, as did this sign for Piney Creek:
The approach is a long gravel drive to a very homey lodge. The front porch was as welcoming as the staff. They were all very happy to see us.
The inside of the lodge was is nicely and appropriately appointed. Tons of taxidermy, and a rustic decor. The lodge has three bedrooms for those that are making a weekend of it. We were down for a half-day hunt, so they didn’t apply to us. I will say that the bedrooms were nice enough to bring down Mrs. RCS for a night. Pardon the images, it was still early morning, so the light wasn’t great:
Ready to jam:
Yep, add this to my list of taxidermy. You’ll understand why in a bit.
I’m on the hunt for one of these prints:
The back dining room had a great view of the lake and the back property, and is where they keep the logo’ed goodies:
After getting the lay of the land, we were all set. Guns and dogs were loaded up and we packed on as many layers of clothes as humanly possible. The crow’s nest of the truck was a bit chilly, but the view was outstanding.
On the dogs: Our truck was outfitted with six cages for GSPs under the crow’s nest, and two Cockers (below). Yeti (left) is an 8 year old, and Skeeter (standing), an 8 month old. Yeti pretty much ran the show, and Skeeter did really well. These two took the cake for ‘best attitude’.
We had our foursome on the truck with one guide. We hunted two at a time, with two plus the guide in the field, and two back at the truck. Each session lasted about 20 minutes, which went a lot quicker than the mid-30s temperatures should have allowed. It didn’t feel like there was any downtime. Bill, a Dawson native and our guide, was GREAT with the dogs, as well as keeping us on track. He was really personable, and had some stories…
After the first pair finished up, it was our turn to go. This was my first quail hunt, so I was a little anxious. Being that I’m a goal-oriented person, I level-set with myself that a goose egg on this trip was OK, as long as I learned as much as I could for future trips. Think about the first time you swung a driver on the tee box, or cast a fly into moving water. It was that same feeling. I usually score pretty well when shooting sporting clays, but this was the real deal.
We walked the first hundred yards, where the GSPs and Yeti flushed two coveys. I got off three shots, and didn’t hit a thing. No surprise there, I was all nerves and had to get settled in. The good news was that I didn’t shoot a dog, my partner, the guide, or myself. We reloaded and kept going. Then it happened. Jake, one of the GSPs, pointed about 20 yards directly ahead of me. Yeti the cocker followed suit and flushed three quail that all jumped straight up and caught the wind. I aimed, missed the first shot, but landed a direct hit with the second shot.
All of the prep I had done, all of the money I’d spent, the long drive down to Dawson, GA, and the near-freezing temperatures…all of that disappeared from my mind. I had just shot my first quail! I’ll ask all of you that have been shooting birds since you could walk to bear with me. The feeling was amazing. It was like I had conquered something. The fact that I hit a brown missile out of the sky with a 20 gauge shotgun is an accomplishment that I’ll never forget, and I’m grinning ear to ear as I write this. Yeti brought the quail to our guide, who walked it over to me:
He knew this was my first bird, and I think he was just as excited as I. My friend came over and congratulated me as well. It was a GREAT moment; a memory I’ll never forget. After I came back down to Earth, I knew that I had been bitten by the bird bug.
With my first bird coming less than 30 minutes into a half-day hunt, I began to feel comfortable with the process. We saw some huge coveys rise, one being around fifty birds. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. I apologize for the low number of action shots, but we were moving at pretty good clip and my focus was elsewhere. I did capture a couple good shots:
At the conclusion of the hunt, we all commented at how the time got away from us. All in all, we tallied 48 birds. I ended up shooting seven, and am ecstatic. WAY more than I expected. They rotate meat, so I was able to bring home a nice little stash for Mrs. RCS. She’s looking for recipes now.
Piney Creek served an outstanding meat and three lunch, where our foursome and the owner of the plantation shared stories, a few cups of hot coffee, and fellowship. The pecan pie was the perfect icing on the experience. After eating, we all got a couple t-shirts and hats, and settled up.
I can’t say enough nice things about the Piney Creek staff. They made my first hunt an excellent experience, and I know I’ll be back – probably this season. The price seemed VERY fair for all the birds we saw. I can’t thank them enough for making my first experience a great and memorable one, and I can’t thank my buddy enough for the invitation on the first of what will be many more hunting trips.
Do you still remember your first bird?
And then there were two. Except for one slip up against Pitt, these teams are perfect. Most honest pundits picked Alabama and Clemson to get back to the National Championship early in the season, and they were right. They both wiped the floor with their opponents in last week’s playoff games. Think about it: most of the bowl games were entertaining, except for the playoff games. They were both really boring. I do have a way to fix it, but I’ll get to that in a later post.
Honestly, I’m a little surprised that this game has such a David vs. Goliath feel. Sure, Alabama has been at the top of the mountain for the last eight years, but Clemson did play in the National Championship game last year. And let’s remember that they almost beat what was then touted as the best defense Alabama has ever put on the field. Clemson is an extremely talented team, and the players believe in each other, as well as their coach. They have a very ‘team’ focus, and Dabo is a master at motivation. More on motivation in a moment.
2017 National Championship
Clemson Tigers (13-1) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0)
When: Monday, January 9th at 8PM ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
Line: Bama -7 (O/U 51)
Alabama is loaded. Their offense has all the weapons they need to win. Their defense is the typical Crimson Tide defense we’ve come to know and love over the last few years. There isn’t anything else you can say about their team, except that they have a freshman QB, who didn’t play that well last week vs. Washington. Lane Kiffin was summarily dismissed from the team last week, and it exposes a huge unknown. There’s no doubt that Saban weighed the value proposition of keeping/dismissing/killing Kiffin prior to the game, and he obviously believes dismissal was the best move for his team. Let’s be honest- Lane Kiffin couldn’t last as long as undergrads are required to stay before declaring for the NFL. This guy needs a reality TV show. “Single in Boca.” I called it first, folks.
In the same vein, Clemson is also loaded. Watson is the best player in college football, and he has offensive talent across the field, each of which will play in the NFL. WR Mike Williams would start for the Browns. Clemson’s defense is fast, mean, and motivated. They shut out Ohio State last week and they are riding high. It’s fair to say that Alabama hasn’t seen a defense like this all year. Speaking of motivation, I believe that is the difference this week. This team has been living with last year’s loss against Alabama all year. Don’t think that hasn’t been the common denominator all year- at every practice, at every team meeting, and every press conference. The loss to Pitt only fortified that position. I would not want to play Clemson on this stage. At all.
I believe this game is going to be like a chess match. The first quarter will be slow. Two heavyweights trading jabs until one sees an opening. Clemson could have a hard time opening up their offense, but Alabama’s defense won’t be able to just lock Clemson down like they are used to doing. Expect a 17-13 halftime score. Then it gets interesting. Alabama’s offense isn’t used to scoring in the second half, because they don’t need to. They let their defense loose, and let them do the work, locking down their opponent. This won’t be enough to be successful against Clemson. Clemson tends to move the ball very well in the second half. It’s imperative that Clemson focuses on shutting down the Tide’s run game, and make Bama’s freshman QB beat them with his arm. On this stage, Hurts hurts. Clemson will force him to make mistakes, and they could have a hard time keeping up with Clemson’s high-powered offense on the scoreboard. By no means does Clemson run away with this one, but they win by a TD.
Official RCS Prediction: Clemson 41 Alabama 35
Let’s hear it…
I didn’t wear my tuxedo once in 2016. This is odd for me… we had six black tie occasions in 2015, and about that many the year prior. I actually miss wearing it. These parties are usually outstanding, and wearing a tuxedo always allows you to have one more drink, one more dance, or stay out one hour later… Need proof? Check out the Chairman of the Board below…Sinatra knew how to wear a tux. Enjoy:
Images: Google Image Search
I’m on a trajectory to burn a lot of gunpowder this year. With that, I’m going to need to add some equipment. We’ll talk quite a bit about this in the months ahead, but for now, I need to get a shell pouch.
After clay shooting at Garland Mountain, I’ve decided that I want one with two sections: one for a box of shells, and one for spent shells. I know you can get a nylon one for fifteen bucks, but I’d rather spend a little money on a good one that we can put some miles on. I’ll wear this on field hunts and clay shooting, some of which are some nice events, so I think it’s worth it. Here are six that I’ve found that I really like:
From top left:
1. Over Under Old School Camo Shell Pouch: The ‘old school’ camo is outstanding. Over Under also offers this in a solid khaki waxed cotton, but this camo choice gets our nod.
2. Canyon Outback Buckskin Gulch Shell Pouch: This one has a Barbour feel…probably because of the tartan lining. Very sharp…very English.
3. Redhead Classic Divided Shell Bag: The green is good here. The side pockets are nice for chokes and extra ear plugs.
4. Filson Belt Pouch: These aren’t offered on Filson’s site anymore, but there are a few places you can still find them.
5. Cabela’s Reserve Divided Shell Pouch: This option is a good price, but it actually might be too big.
6. Kevin’s Canvas & Leather Divided Shell Pouch: Right now this is the direction I’m leaning. I like the dedicated snap belt and the canvas/leather mix.
What do you think? Any I’m missing?
In refining 2017, I’m not letting any moss grow under my feet. A good buddy called me mid-last week and asked if I wanted to go shooting. I jumped at the chance. My Beretta A300 had been collecting too much dust, and I have been anxious to get out and pull the trigger.
We’ve got a few clay shooting places in the metro Atlanta area, but one that recently opened was getting good reviews. We agreed that Garland Mountain would be the place. We met in Canton and took his Tahoe up towards our spot. Garland Mountain is a sporting clay facility located in Waleska, GA, about an hour north of the city. It has a club-like, lodge feel, sitting on top of the mountain with excellent views. They have the capability to host events, and I’m left trying to find a reason to throw a party up there. I know they have plans for a restaurant, which will complete the circle. While it is new and shiny, it is not a costly couple hours of entertainment.
I paid about $100, which included 100 clays through 14 stations ($37.50), four boxes of shells at $7.50 each, half a golf cart ($10), ear plugs ($1), and a hat ($20). My buddy paid $50, which included his clays and his half of the golf cart.
Garland mountain has two courses, one being more advanced than the other. We chose the easier of the two, as it was our first time shooting at the facility. The stations were all outstanding – the majority of the stations are covered, which was nice when it started to drizzle. Everything is really clean and easily accessible. The staff is extremely friendly, and as I mentioned above, the views are outstanding.
Overall, it was a GREAT experience at Garland Mountain. Next time you are looking to burn some gunpowder, head on up and give it a go. Some images from our morning below.
A very large fireplace is the centerpiece of the clubhouse:
The view off the large back porch:
My buddy dusting some clays:
A Beretta A390 and my A300:
Me trying not to hurt myself:
Honorable mention: this vintage Cabela’s backpack. We dated this to be about thirty years old, and it is incredible. Filson-level canvas, and the old school duck hunt camo…I am currently scouring Ebay to find one.
2016 was a big year. There wasn’t one specific thing that stands out, but a lot of little things. We celebrated our first year in our new house and our second wedding anniversary, we both had good years at work, #FrankDawg continues to dominate, and the blog continues to see growth. As the year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect. Sure, I have a lot going on, but I don’t think that will change. What I have noticed is that I’ve gotten a little lazy, and I’ve got too much stuff. With so many moving swim lanes in my life, I’m going to focus on refininment in 2017. What started this? Well, it was a post I did on jeans. I usually go through the blog to look at it from a reader’s perspective, and when I came across a post talking about how many unworn pairs of jeans I had accumulated, it gave me pause.
Why do I have so many pairs? What benefit does it bring our life here at the Fort? It tells me a couple things: first, don’t buy things just because they are on sale, and second, I’ve got way too much “stuff.” There’s a complication that comes with over-abundance, inefficiency. It’s a want vs. need mentality: of course you want that new pair of jeans, but you don’t need them. I don’t want a complicated life. I want a simple(er) life. I want a more refined life.
I’ve come up with three specific areas I’d like to apply some refinement, along with hypotheses on the impact these changes will make. Here we go:
Refine the wardrobe. I have to do a better job of maintaining the personal value of my closet’s real estate. There is only so much space, and the occupants must sustain a minimum level of importance. I have some really nice stuff, but I also have a ton of fillers that ultimately dilute my wardrobe’s overall composition. This causes unneeded stress when getting dressed in the morning, or before a night out. Fewer, better, more refined choices will allow me a more satisfying experience, and quite frankly make the experience easier. I’d rather have less, GREAT shirts in lieu of a bunch of mish-mash. Not only that, but I want to focus on wearing the great stuff more often. That’s why they are there, and that’s what they were built to do. My hypothesis: less is more when it comes to a wardrobe.
Better mornings and better evenings. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of lazy mornings and even lazier nights. It’s as if I take a long time in the morning to warm up, and pack it in too early at night. I want to start exercising early in the morning to give the day a kick start. I want do a better job of utilizing evening hours for more productive endeavors, like (more) reading/writing, meal prep, and focusing on the honey-do list. It’s amazing what you can get done in an hour (or two!). My hypothesis: Work at dawn and dusk will better complete the day.
Be more sporty. I grew up as an athlete, playing just about every sport I had time for. What’s changed is that I don’t play team sports anymore, instead electing to be a spectator. I play golf as much as possible, and have been getting into fly fishing, and have a quail hunt lined up for January. Beyond the regular weekend rounds or casts, I want to take a couple vacations that including bringing golf clubs and fly rods. My hypothesis: By taking a proactive, vested interest in participating in a sporting life, I believe I will become a more well-rounded individual.
What’s most important? Well, Mrs. RCS is 100% on board, so that helps. It would be next to impossible to make these sorts of changes without her. I’ll give updates throughout the year, but for now, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Images: Google Image search