Buffalo Thompson

| April 07, 2005

Carpenter, who drives team (with wife Karen) in a new Freightliner Columbia as a senior driver for Covenant Transport of Chattanooga, lives in a new home set on 81/2 acres in Gilbertsville, off I-24 in western Kentucky. From his front porch he can see his large front yard and trees, no other houses, no other people. He has 177,000 acres of public land to hunt plus access to private farm hunting nearby, and he can fish Kentucky Lake or the Tennessee River. He’s allowed one buck and one doe, but he can buy more doe tags for $10 because the area has a doe overpopulation. His deer are processed locally into a variety of meals for his table, and the table of friends and people at Covenant who get occasional care packages. “I get it made into roasts, steaks, hamburger, summer sausage, jerky, breakfast sausage, even kielbasa with jalapenos and cheese,” he says.

So why is this one of his favorite outdoors photos?

“We’d just bought the house, and a buddy was driving me home. I remember saying, ‘Hey it’s gun season again, I’ve got to get out there and fill the freezer.’ I like to make people laugh so I told him, straight-faced, ‘There’s probably one waiting for me now on my front lawn.’ Well, when we got to the house there was this six-point standing in the driveway just looking at me. I jumped out and ran to get my gun, and the buck ran down the hill in our front yard and turned to look back. I came out with my seven millimeter Remington, still in my shorts and T-shirt, and he’s looking at me from 150 yards away. My buddy thought I’d missed him, but he’d just dropped out of our sight. I’d hit him in the heart. Now that’s my kind of hunting. I didn’t have to get dressed or travel anywhere or sit up in a tree stand in the freezing cold and rain to fill up my freezer.”

Carpenter has some competition in the woods now. Karen learned to hunt because both her husband and her father seemed to enjoy themselves so much, and she was left hearing their stories when they came home. She’s good at it, too. We may call her Karen “Two Shots Two Deer” Carpenter because indeed her first two shots each bagged a deer, one of them the biggest doe taken in the county.

But Karen Carpenter hasn’t shot a deer in her in her front yard, and she never will. And neither will her husband any more. “She’s put it off limits now. She says the ones in the yard are pets. Once they’re there they’re safe. So now we have does and new baby deer running and playing in the yard.”

Off-Duty Destinations
Follow the Leaders
When you think about it, St. Louis to Portland, Ore., and back again is not such a difficult OTR route. But 200 years ago when OTR meant over-the-river, it was.

A wide range of destinations along the 3,700-mile Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail can leave you in awe at what two heroic American explorers and their party achieved. The extraordinary Meriwether Lewis, 28, and William Clark, 32, with 45 men and a dog left St. Louis in the spring of 1804 in a 55-foot long keelboat and two smaller boats called pirogues. They would spend almost three years opening the new nation of the United States to the West. Their epic journey took them up the Missouri River, over the Rockies and down the Columbia River to the Pacific. The explorers had been charged by President Jefferson to map a new route to the Pacific Ocean, make contact with the American Indian tribes, obtain specimens for further study and keep a full record of activities during their expedition.

Lewis had left Washington, D.C., in 1803 and went to Philadelphia and on to Pittsburgh to oversee boat building. Then he went down the Ohio River to meet Clark and camp at Wood River, Ill., near St. Louis, on the Mississippi River opposite the entrance to the Missouri, until winter was over. After they left St. Louis, the explorers traveled through what are today parts of Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. They spent the winter of 1805 at the mouth of the Columbia River and headed back, landing triumphantly in St. Louis.

As drivers who know the modern-day difficulties of hauling supplies half way across the continent in all weathers, you may have one of the best appreciations of the hardships and courage of the exploration party. Today you can pull your tractor into some of the places they went and stand where they stood, see sites in some cases unchanged from what they saw, and meet peoples descended from the American Indians they met. As a bonus, a lot of these places are near an interstate and usually aren’t crowded enough to make parking a hassle.

There are memorials, parks, replicas, trails, interpretative centers, historic sites, visitor centers, recreation areas and overlooks all along their route and the official Trail, which is kept by the National Park Service. Websites can pinpoint the expedition’s historic locations, access, cost (if any) and detail for you what you can expect to see and experience.

Go to www.lewisandclarktrail.com or the National Park Service sites www.lewisandclark.org or www.nps.gov/lecl to find all of the possible places you can go to get better acquainted with the Trail. If you want to get better educated on Lewis and Clark, try www.pbs.org/lewisandclark or www.lewis-clark.org. Of course, in the cold months, do your checking before you decide to park the rig; not all of the Trail’s sites are open year round.

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