Rugged Roy

Rugged Roy

“Rugged Roy all geared up for the hunt!”

Standing in my kitchen, I was just getting ready to go out and light an ultra-rugged campfire when my phone rang. “Well, it’s got a lot miles on ‘er… it was my mom’s vehicle and she didn’t want to mess with it so she asked me to sell it for her. But, it’s in pretty decent shape.” Enter classic Jamaican accent, “Okay, mon, no big deal, everyt’ing alright, mon. I’ll come by and ‘ave a look. I must ax you, what did you say your name was again, mon?”

Okay, one of the weird things about having a name like “Rugged Dude” is having to explain to people that your name really is Rugged Dude. “My name is Rugged Dude. But, just call me RD. It’s easier that way.” What else could he say? “Okay, mon, no problem, no big deal.”

Rugged Roy

“Roy’s brother Paul, with a juicy smallmouth bass”

A few hours later, Paul showed up to take a look at the vehicle I had for sale. A nice guy, he was too. I liked him right away. When we came back from test-driving the vehicle he came in the house, for a bit. He wanted to buy the vehicle so I had to write up a receipt. As soon as he walked in though, he looked around the living room in awe. He was impressed with my taxidermy mounts, my furs that hung in various places on the walls, my old antiques, the kerosene lamps and the old Singer sewing machine. He was impressed by my wood stove too. Paul began to tell me about his childhood in Jamaica and how they also used kerosene lamps and how his mom cooked on an old wood stove, or just as often, outside on an open fire.

Then, he saw my gun case and his eyes lit up light like a pair of mini-mag flashlights. “You like un-tin’?” (I soon found out that the word un-tin’ is Jamaican for hunting.) “Ya, I love it. Been hunting all my life.” Well, in about 1/100th of a second, the conversation went from the vehicle he came to look at to “un-tin’.” When I asked if he liked to hunt, he told me he hadn’t started yet, but his brother just bought a .22 and a 12 gauge shotgun. He added that his brother had just passed his hunter education course a couple of weeks before. Paul had plans to take the hunting course the following year.

Now, I have to admit… and why this next thought suddenly came into my thick skull, I’ll never know. But, I realized then that I had never, ever, seen a black dude in the bush or in a duck blind, hunting. I guess that would be sort of like seeing a very uncool white guy, ahem… like me… dancing on a Jamaican beach with a couple of smokin’ hot black chicks. That’s also something you don’t see every day… or ever.

For the purpose of actually getting this story started, I’ll say that Paul bought my mom’s vehicle. And, on the invitation I extended, he returned with his brother, Roy, the next day. All the guns came out, mine and Roy’s, and we blasted off a bunch of rounds in my back field. And, what a blast it was! Now, you must understand, Roy is not your average dude. He is highly intelligent, a scientist, in fact, and he knew that although he passed his hunting exam with flying colours, he still had a lot to learn.

Since Roy had just recently passed his hunting course and the small game season was not open for another couple weeks, he hadn’t been hunting yet. And, I could tell by the way he was handling his shotgun (head down slightly and leaning into the stock) that he could use some pointers. “Roy, bring the stock up to your face, rather than bringing your face to the stock.” He knew exactly what I was talking about. Both Roy and Paul were shooting a thousand times better with that one single tip.

I invited the boys in for some coffee and ultra-rugged bannock and right away, I knew I had made some new friends… some new rugged friends! Before long, Paul had to return to his family in Jamaica, but “Rugged Roy” had gone out and broken his hunting cherry on a ruffed grouse. In fact, he got a limit of “partridge,” as many people call them, on his second outing. I remember the phone call. “Hellooooooooo, RD, this is Roy.” Every time he calls me, even to this day, he says the same thing. “Ya, Rugged Roy, I know who it is. You’re the only guy with a Jamaican accent who calls me.” He would always laugh… “RD, I was out partridge un-tin’ today and I got five! We’re going to cook them for supper tonight.” One thing I really like about Rugged Roy is that he eats everything he kills and wouldn’t have it any other way. And, I’ve eaten his food a few times, and let me tell you, the dude can cook! His jerk chicken is so good it should almost be illegal… yes, it’s that good! I just love that hot stuff! One time, when he was on holiday “back home,” he brought me back a couple bottles of Grace hot sauce. Time to fry up some wings!

Rugged Roy really wanted to tag his first deer that fall and the firearms season opened in a few weeks. So, he came over to my house a couple more times and I got him “all trained up” for hunting safely from a tree stand. Even though deer season wasn’t open yet, he put on a hunter orange vest and “un-tin’” hat while we were behind my house working with the stand. He told me, “RD, if I am going to be rugged, I must look rugged!”

After a good hour of training, Rugged Roy was fifteen feet up in the tree and sitting in the stand, all harnessed in. And, I couldn’t help but laugh. “What’s so funny, RD?” Still laughing, “Rugged Roy, I gotta tell you, Bro, this is the first time in my entire life I have ever seen a black dude sitting in a tree wearing an orange vest and hunting hat!” And, then he started laughing too. It was true. I’d never seen a black guy hunting before. Nor, had he… I’ve seen black guys doing many things (including dancing because black dudes just automatically know how to dance whereas we white dudes suck at it!) but never hunting. I told him that I should have taken a picture… Bummer, no camera!

A few weeks later, I got him set up in one of my old stands that I wasn’t using any more. There were always deer in that area and I knew he’d have a good chance of nailing one. Now, please understand this part… Roy lived most of his life in the Caribbean, in “de islands, mon.” So, imagine this – Rugged Roy – sitting 15 feet up in a tree stand, in minus 20 C! Do you see now why I call him, “Rugged Roy?” He spent many hours checking his trail camera and bringing out corn and apples. After a few uneventful hunts, he was in his tree stand one cool morning when… it finally happened.

Rugged Roy

“A very happy hunter!”

Even though it was a good six years ago, I remember the phone call just like it was yesterday. He always said the same thing when he called me, “Helloooooooo RD, this is Roy!” Only this time he was almost yelling. “Ya, Roy, I know it’s you, you’re the only guy with a Jamaican accent who… Then, he cut me off, excitedly. “RD, I got him! I got him! I got my deer!” Man, talk about a thrill to hear this… “Dude, are you calling me from your tree stand? From your cell phone?” Indeed he was. I could only imagine at this point, just HOW excited he was because I can remember quite vividly shooting my first deer. “Yes, I got him, I got him!” Later I found that the “him” was a doe, a female deer. But, I thought “him” sounded cooler. And, rugged.

At this point, I was actually a little afraid that Rugged Roy would be too wound up to get down from that stand without going down the fast way… on his head! “Hey, right on, Rugged Roy! Way to go, man!” I swear to you, I could hear his heart beating through the phone. “Now, Roy, take a deep breath, calm down and stay in your stand for at least ten minutes, otherwise you might end up in trouble, dude!” In my Guide Pro Training program I always teach the new guides that many tree stand accidents occur immediately after an animal has been shot because the hunter is so excited and in a hurry to get down from their stand and see their deer, bear or what-have-you. It’s always a good idea to sit… take a deep breath and calm down for at least ten minutes, even if you can see your deer lying there, dead as a stump.

Rugged Roy

“Rugged Roy skinning out his first deer.  ‘Time to crank out the Jamaican jerk sauce!'”

When I got to Rugged Roy’s house the next day, he was skinning the deer and preparing to butcher it, wrap it and freeze it for the winter. Along with that first deer, Rugged Roy bagged plenty of ruffed grouse and rabbits (snowshoe hare if you want to “start gettin’ all technical” on me) all of which found their way to his family dinner table. And, a devout Christian that he is, Rugged Roy always says a few words of thanks before digging in. Roy was engaged to be married to Jamie by this time and she too became rugged because, even though she had been a city girl all her life, new to guns and hunting, she would gladly dine on the healthy and delicious wild game that was brought home from the woods… courtesy of Rugged Roy.

There are plenty of things I miss about northwestern Ontario. After all, I lived there for 25 years. The hunting and fishing is some of the best in Canada. But, it’s the people, especially the rugged people, like Rugged Roy, that I miss the most!

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  1. […] Officially Rugged developed a niche following, with a fan club composed of other camouflage-clad rugged dudes, geese-hammerin’ rugged dudettes and even young “rudlettes” with Barbie-themed tackle […]

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