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Walk out music for the outdoors

  • Outdoor columnist Ben Smith says being Mississippians, it’s hard not to incorporate music into our outdoor adventures.

Have you ever been to a college, or big league, baseball game and noticed the music when hitters come to the plate? Or, how about when a new pitcher comes into the game? Every player designates a song of his choice as their walk-out, or walk-up, music. Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright unusual. One of my all-time favorites was Yankee closer Mariano Rivera’s. He’d come out of the bullpen to “Enter Sandman” by Metallica and it was absolutely electric. For the record, I grew up a Red Sox fan and would rather stick my hand in the garbage disposal than cheer for anything from New York, but Rivera’s entrance was the best. 

By now, you might be wondering, “What in the heck is this guy talking about? Isn’t this an outdoor column?” Yes, it’s still an outdoor column. But music plays a big part in just about everything that I do. When I drive down the road, I listen to music. When I cut the grass, I’m jamming. A long, long time ago I used to have my own “walk-out” song when I was playing. I was on a big Jimi Hendrix kick at the time so “All Along the Watchtower” was my song of choice. And even though my playing days are far behind me, I still have certain types of music that I listen to before I hunt and fish. My very own “walk-out” music, if you will. 

Some of you guys are laughing at this, and some of you are probably like, “Shoot, I do the same thing.” So, for the sake of having a lighthearted week where I don’t offend an entire group of outdoorsmen resulting in hate mail, let’s dive into the music that puts me in the mood to kill deer and catch fish. 

Picture a cool fall evening in late bow season. The sun is out, and a gentle breeze is blowing. I’m almost to the woods, so it’s time to get my mind right. Being bow season, it’s highly likely that I haven’t killed anything yet, so my bloodlust is through the roof. I turn on Audioslave’s “Show Me How to Live” and turn the dial dang near as high as it will go. I want to be semi-deaf when I leave the truck with my adrenaline running so high that I can climb a tree without even using a stand. The next songs depend on whether, or not, I kill anything. If I don’t, I will take a more mellow approach heading home. Something light and easy like Jason Isbell. But if I do kill something, I’ll be geeked out. I’m gonna crank “Never Gonna Stop Me” by Rob Zombie all the way to the taxidermist. 

The cold winter months require something different. The last thing I want to do is get my blood pumping enough to break a sweat before sitting in the freezing cold. That said, something that moves, but not quite as much as bow season music. I usually opt for anything ZZ Top, or Alice Cooper, during these months. And that works out pretty well because it’s not so bad having any of their music stuck in your head for a long morning sit. Speaking of cold morning sits, I have been known to quietly sing the lyrics to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles through chattering teeth while awaiting the sun’s warmth. 

“Is rock music all you listen to before, or after, a hunt?”, you might ask. Absolutely not. If the mood strikes, much to the disappointment of my father, I’ll sling some rap like you wouldn’t believe. “Gator boots and a pimped-out Gucci suit” …boy I will break it down! Can’t you just imagine me doing a burnout leaving the woods blaring “Roll Out” by Ludacris with a deer in the back of the truck? Don’t think it’s happened before? Think again!

Since I’ve covered my music for deer season, let’s move on to fishing. Some of y’all are waiting for the country music, so here it is. I think of country music as more laid back and relaxed, which is exactly what I want to feel when I’m fishing. The type of country music that I’ll listen to depends on the type of fishing that I’m doing. If I’m running trot lines on the river, I’ll go with pretty much anything Hank Williams Jr. or Garth Brooks. It’s hard to beat “Country Boy Can Survive” or “That Summer” while running up and down the river. Alan Jackson and George Strait are also a couple of favorites for river fishing. Some people call that “beer drinking” music, I just call it fishing music. One genre of music that you can bet your rear-end you won’t catch me listening to is this new “bro country” junk on the radio now. If you play Florida-Georgia Line around me while we are fishing, I’ll throw you out of the boat.

If I’m saltwater fishing, I’ll go with a little more upbeat mix of country, blues, and rock. I’ve loved blues music all of my life. Hauling in red snapper with a little Muddy Waters and BB King on the radio makes me happy. Another one of my saltwater go-to artists is JJ Grey. It’s a mixture of blues and rock with a little bit of Louisiana swamp music added, making catching specks and reds in the marsh all that much better.

I know this column isn’t what you all have become accustomed to from me, but I wanted to show a lighter side that a lot of you can probably relate to. I’d love to hear from some of you on what songs you listen to before a hunt, or during a fishing trip. Being Mississippians, it’s hard not to incorporate music into our outdoor adventures. I mean, we are considered the birthplace of America’s music, and if there’s one thing we do better than the outdoors in this state it’s definitely music.

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