In the spirit of comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s famous “you might be a redneck” series, this goes out to the great citizens of the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever used your vehicle’s windshield wipers when it wasn’t raining but moisture from humidity was making it hard to see, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever started your day wearing a thick winter jacket and finished it wearing shorts and a T-shirt (or vice-versa), you might be from the Ozarks.

If you own five guns that use four different calibers of ammunition, and have only fired two of them in the past three years, you might be from the Ozarks.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

If your two favorite beers are a craft brew nobody has ever heard of and Bud Light, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve never seen the ocean but “go to the lake” at least once a year, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you rarely say the word “river” without also saying some variation of the word “float,” you might be from the Ozarks.

If you have three horses you call “pasture pets” and you haven’t been horseback riding in five years, you might be from the Ozarks.

If your driveway is a source of hard labor more than once a year because of water damage, you might be from the Ozarks.

If the water from your well gets cloudy because of both too little rain and too much rain in the same year, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you like reciting lines from the movie “The Outlaw Josie Wales” and you make sure to watch it at least once a year, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant where they throw rolls at you or serve “fresh water catfish,” you might be from the Ozarks.

If you know what a goggle-eye is, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever complained about hot and cold weather during the same month, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you enjoy going gigging in freezing cold winter weather, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve taken photos during the same year of your cocker spaniel up to its ears in snow, your daughter holding a golf ball-sized hailstone, your garden submerged in a foot of water and bone-dry cracked earth where the cow pond used to be, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you would never pay money to attend a figure skating competition or an opera, but you have paid to see a demolition derby, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you regularly use an analog radio and a smart phone, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you know someone who has had a deer in their house, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever plucked a tick from your arm while watching TV in your family room, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever said “y’all” and “y’uns” in the same conversation, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you’ve ever said “Missour-ee” and “Missour-uh” in the same conversation, you might be from the Ozarks.

If you live in one of the best places in the world that has nicer people and more natural beauty than just about anywhere else, you might be from the Ozarks.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

The Ozark Mountains region of the United States is a uniquely wonderful place.

It’s both rugged and rolling, with natural beauty abounding in many forms, including rivers, bluffs and huge expanses of forest. And an interesting reality is, there’s not really a mountain anywhere to be found.

The character of the region’s landscape, climate, history and people lends to many aspects that are undeniably Ozarks, and spur an exclusive variety of sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts. Basically, there are many things about the Ozarks that help you know you’re there.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

For example:

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when the spread between the highest high temperature and lowest low in less than a week’s time is more than 70 degrees, or more than 40 in a 24-hour period.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when your neighbor – who lives more than a mile away – stops by your house unannounced to give you a several freezer bags full of various cuts of pork from a recently butchered pig and sincerely expects nothing in return.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when a female customer leaving the local pawn shop turns to the owners on her way out the door and says, “Thanks for letting me use the bathroom. I put the toilet seat back up.”

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when you go to the local café on Monday and there’s more talk going on about the price of round bales than the big game that was played over the weekend.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when you go to the local café and the two tables in the “no smoking” area have ashtrays on them and they’re located in the same room as the “smoking area.”

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when there are four auctions in your community on the same Saturday, and over the course of the next week you hear at least one person who went to each one describe how crowded it was.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when you’re driving to town to get a gallon of milk and see a young bobcat bound across the dirt road a half-mile from your driveway, three deer standing next to the highway a mile-and-a-half from your house and a bald eagle sitting on a tree branch three miles from home.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when you step outside your house in the evening, do a double-take at a sundown featuring a spectacularly vibrant array of colors in the western sky, and then stand there for 12 minutes staring at it before it’s replaced by darkness.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when a cement walkway on your property is coated with ice by freezing rain on one day, covered by sleet the next day and then buried by snow the next day.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when – if you’re a man – three of your most important possessions are your truck, boots and pocketknife.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when – if you’re a woman – three of your most important possessions are your boots, chickens and .22.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks when rain can be both something you dread because it wreaks havoc on your driveway, or pray for because your cattle ponds are drying up.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks if your house is 89 miles from the closest mall.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks if you know someone who at times addresses others using each of the phrases, “y’all,” “y’uns” and “you guys.”

•You know you’re in the Ozarks if there isn’t enough cellular coverage at your home to make calls, but there is enough to text.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks if you own an ATV and haven’t used it in three years, own a horse and haven’t gone riding in four years, or own a canoe that you’ve only gone down the river in once, seven years ago.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks if you know how to skin a deer, run a trotline and are a regular user of Facebook.

•You know you’re in the Ozarks if you often tell people about how things “were better” many years ago and that “they don’t make stuff like they used to,” but you own a smart phone and pay for an expensive data plan.

There are many other aspects of the Ozarks that make knowing you’re here easier. I’m glad for all of them; there’s no better place to know you’re there.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

My wife’s 16-year-old nephew is making his annual visit from suburban O’Fallon, Ill., and has been hanging out at our remote Texas County outpost for two weeks now.

The kid loves the Ozarks, and enjoys doing all the outdoor stuff that goes along with being here, like fishing, swimming, shooting and lounging by a fire pit on a cool June evening.

Just for fun, I wrote a little song in honor of his latest trip to south-central Missouri. Its melody would be something like Gene Autrey’s classic “Back in the Saddle Again.”

Not surprisingly, it’s called “Back in the Ozarks Again.”

 

I’m back in the Ozarks again,

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Yes I’m back in the Ozarks again.

Oh a buzzard ate my sandwich,

and there’s crayfish in my shorts.

I’m back in the Ozarks again.

 

I’m back in the Ozarks again,

Yeah I’m back where the wild west begins.

I’ve got gravel in my nostrils,

and there’s seed ticks in my ears.

I’m back in the Ozarks again.

 

Oh there’s no place like the Ozarks

if you like the great outdoors,

And you just can’t beat Missouri

if you hate to do your chores.

So saddle up your donkey and grab your .22,

And let’s head out and find some great adventure.

 

I’m back in the Ozarks again.

Yes I’m back in the Ozarks again.

An oak branch crushed the well house,

and the driveway’s washed away.

I’m back in the Ozarks again.

 

I’m back in the Ozarks again,

Oh I’m back in the Ozarks again.

The cow dung smells like crazy,

and the cats tore up a bird.

I’m back in the Ozarks again.

 

Oh there’s no place like the Ozarks

if you like the great outdoors,

And you just can’t beat Missouri

if you hate to do your chores.

So fire up your pickup and throw the dog a bone,

And let’s head out and find some great adventure.

 

Aw, here we go…(solos: six-string guitar, followed by fiddle, wrapped up by banjo).

 

I’m back in the Ozarks again,

Oh I’m back in the Ozarks again.

The land of alligator snappers,

and grass that makes me sneeze.

I’m back in the Ozarks again.

 

I’m back in the Ozarks again,

Oh I’m back in the Ozarks again.

The barbed wire ripped my Wranglers,

And a snake is on the porch.

Yes I’m back in the Ozarks again.

 

And I love being here again.

 

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

 

Fishing and biking can go together

 

Gone fishing on a motorcycle lately?

In the sweltering summer heat you have to be creative in planning event rides and runs.  Staying cool while looking cool is a new challenge when the temperatures rise over 100 degrees.

Time your ride for morning or evening to enjoy the coolest temperatures.  A group of area bikers left out from Houston the morning of July 4 to participate in the 10 a.m. slated 4th of July parade in Willow Springs. Decorating their bikes with pinwheels, ribbons and pulling tin cans, they enjoyed the company of Abe Lincoln on a bicycle, Uncle Sam on foot as well as a host of vintage vehicles and floats from each branch of the military. Horse and goat drawn carts, Girl Scouts on bicycles, and dozens of clowns all donned old glory’s colors paying tribute to America. One biker from Raymondville even had a rider hop on his bike and enjoy the parade with him for a block or two.

Holiday spirit and an empty schedule led to an impromptu road trip west on Highway 76 toward Ozark County and Rockbridge, which is home of a privately owned trout ranch and resort featuring an 1800’s grist mill and top notch restaurant which sit just yards from the clean cold Spring Creek.

After cooling down and re-hydrating over lunch, the group enjoyed walking underneath the mill, watching the trout fisherman, and the cool air coming off the water. Several wet their doo-rags in the cool spring water and reapplied them. A couple of lady riders enjoyed a near dip in Spring Creek as a prankster attempted to push them in.  What a way to cool off in a hurry!

While admiring the finesse of the fly rod handlers, one biker noticed a lady fisherman appearing to have difficulties with her cast. Although we now kid him that he wrestled her to the gravel for her rod, he truly offered to help her with technique. She handed the rod over and with his first cast into the azure waters he had a strike and subsequently landed a five-pound rainbow trout!

Who says you can’t take a motorcycle fishing?

Avid motorcyclists can purchase evaporative cooling vests and bandanas that really help to keep the body’s core temperature down during a ride.  These items are available via Internet shopping pages or these can be ordered at our local bike shop. Prices range from $25-$100. Hydration is the key element however for surviving the heat, so consider investing in a cooler for your bike and freezing fluids to accompany you on your rides.

Wherever you ride, be safe my friends. Keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up. “Remember, it doesn’t matter what brand you ride, the air is all the same.”

Kerry York is a lady rider and resident of Houston, Mo., who coordinates monthly Houston Downtown Cruise-In events from spring to fall. Email kyorkrn@ymail.com.

We who live in the Ozarks of south-central Missouri (specifically Texas County) can potentially experience many things that folks who live in other places might not.

Because of this area’s largely rural nature and the proximity of fairly large to very large expanses of wilderness, stuff can and will take place here that would be foreign to folks living in places where there are fewer critters, changes in weather, or geologic oddities.

For example, you might find yourself standing outside your home listening to your dog howling in harmony with two separate packs of coyotes located no more than a third of a mile away in opposing directions, and then look up and see a large bat flying so closely overhead that you feel like you could reach out and touch it.

You could attend a horsemanship clinic, have a gelding tied up to a trailer shed its halter and run off, locate it a couple of miles away only to have it run away again, be assisted by a dozen people on horseback in an all-out search for it, see a granddaddy-sized bobcat during the search while driving your truck along what used to be a road but is now little more than a wide trail, and finally end up finding the horse inside a fenced corral owned by a woman who captured it simply by opening a gate to allow it to visit with her two mares.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

You might go swimming in a river at the point where a large spring branch converges with it, and stand in shoulder-deep water with astoundingly differing temperature layers where it seems like the bottom two-feet or so are cold enough to freeze your toes off while the top layer feels almost like warm bath water.

You could have cows show up in your yard after wandering out of the neighbor’s pasture through a damaged fence line, and then witness your small female dog fearlessly chase them back where they came from as if she weighed about 30 times her actual weight, and basically bark the bovine intruders half way to the next county before relenting.

You might hear that same small dog barking her head off outside your house one morning, go out to investigate, and find a mother possum with a baby inside one of the two dog houses that sit on your side porch.

You could see a pair of snow-white turkeys hanging out with four or five normal ones in a cow pasture not far from your home, and then a few months later have a neighbor confirm you aren’t crazy by telling you he saw some white turkeys the other day.

You might see a pair of ducks from a species rarely seen at this latitude frolicking in the waters of a seasonal creek that runs through the valley near your home.

You could learn to tolerate ticks, ­understand the value of house centipedes, or find the sound of millions of cicadas to be somewhat pleasant.

You might even have a storm rip dozens of shingles from the roof on the west side of your house and scatter them all over the yard on the east side as it blows through your property packing such strong winds you wonder if it was a tornado, but then find yourself feeling thankful that it wasn’t an EF5 that scattered your entire house all over the immediate area.

The reason I believe all of these things could happen to a resident of the south-central Missouri Ozarks (specifically Texas County) is because I know they have. They all happened to me or my wife  – within the past year.

Ah, yes, there’s no place like home.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.