Latest Issue

The Roving Sportsman: The North versus the South

There are many times that people draw references to the differences between the North and the South. History points out some of the cultural differences and certainly the Civil War brought to head the clash of diverse ideals held by the Confederate soldiers and the Union soldiers, as well as those who supported one side or the other. Those things are pretty well relegated now to history books. Today, when someone is referred to as a “Yankee” or as a “Rebel,” it is most often said in jest – in a light hearted manner, with no ill intentions. In reality, as I have traveled throughout the South over the years, I can truly say that Southerners and Northerners have common core values and senses of humor. There are good folks everywhere.

However, that is not really what I wanted to talk about. What I truly want to point out are the opportunities that about and the differences that exist. Growing up in north central Pennsylvania provided an excellent backdrop for the formative years of youth and there was an abundance of outside activities to keep a budding explorer and outdoor enthusiast quite busy. But, there was a point at which I became aware of a group of individuals and families that were known in both the North and the South as “Snowbirds.” At the time, it just didn’t make sense to me. “Why, for Heaven’s sake would anyone want to run away from all of the fun winter time activities that the cool temperatures and frequent snowfalls provided?” I thought.

Then, as time slipped by – decade after decade – it slowly became clear to me. One’s blood does not seem to flow as well, joints tend to ache in the colder temperatures and the joy of chipping ice and shoveling snow just wasn’t as much fun as it once was. In fact, it had evolved into nothing less and nothing more than a chore! Suddenly, being a “Snowbird” made all the sense in the world!

To the fishermen in the North who were restricted to fishing for their prey through a hole in the ice, there was a true cornucopia of fishing in fresh and salt water that was available by merely heading south to a warmer climate! Throughout the South, there exists world-class fishing for bass, tarpon, bonefish, snook, sharks, cobia, and mahi-mahi – and on and on…

Hunters in the north country who have had their fill of snow, mud, ice and freezing temperatures can travel to many locations throughout the southern states to take up hunting for feral hogs (truly an exciting time – and the meat they provide is excellent table fare), quail hunting, hunting for numerous exotic species on many large ranches and begin the spring gobbler season in several states where the season starts well ahead of ours in Pennsylvania.

As to the shooting sports, whether handguns, rifles or shotguns, the places to shoot and the opportunities to participate in competitions are abundant. For shotgunners, trap and skeet are available and the continued growth and interest in sporting clays flourishes throughout the South.

Then there is the weather. Up North, one is continually subjected to more inches of snow, the occasional ice storm and the constant overcast skies and sometimes bone-chilling temperatures. Throughout most of Florida and along the saltwater beaches throughout the South, nighttime temperatures often sink to a pleasant mid-60s and daytime temperatures rise to the high 70s and low 80s – usually under “bluebird” skies.

Oh, yes, there is also all of that fresh-daily seafood! Fish of every imaginable variety, shrimp, lobsters, scallops, and lots of oysters! And it is not hard to find a large number of great restaurants that serve up your favorite dishes. Don’t forget Southern-fried chicken, and fried chicken livers and fried chicken gizzards – they really are tasty! Rinse it all down with what some call “The National Drink of the South” – sweet tea.

I truly hope I have piqued your interest a bit, and you seriously consider a jaunt to the South to enjoy all that it offers. A week here and a week there, and who knows, maybe you too will someday be called a “Snowbird!”