Music can set mood for hunt

Just like other sports, a good way to get ready for a big hunt is by listening to music that sets the mood. There are several songs out there that have a hunting theme, and this week I'm counting down my top 10 greatest hunting songs of all time.

10. "Old Rattler"

by Grandpa Jones

A well-known star on the now defunct show "Hee-Haw," Grandpa Jones is my favorite banjo picker of all time. He was also a vibrant entertainer and put a lot of character into his performances. The No. 10 spot was a close call between two Grandpa Jones songs -- "Old Towzer" and "Old Rattler." Both are about coon-hunting dogs that may not have been the best in the field, but were each well loved nevertheless.

9. "Tony Hill Hunting Club" by David Cooler

This song made it in the top 10 for its slow, cool rhythm and detailed description of the hunt. Some of the lyrics fall in line with what most hunts are like, while some of the lyrics seem to be dark humor meant for a specific type of listener. If you get offended easily when it comes to bagging animals, don't listen to this one.

8. "I Just Wanna Go Hunting" by Ted Nugent

If you're in the mood for a little metal, this song has it. "Uncle Ted," "The Nuge," "Captain Backstrap" ... whatever you want to call him, Nugent is an avid hunter and if anyone should be singing about outdoor adventures, it's him. And if you listen closely to the lyrics, there's a deeper message about how hunting serves as an outlet for many youngsters, helping them avoid drugs and other peer pressures.

7. "Old Rattler's Pup" by Grandpa Jones

It didn't take long for Grandpa Jones to come back, did it? This song serves as an excellent sequel to "Old Rattler" and has more wild descriptions of coon hunting.

6. "Fred Bear"

by Ted Nugent

Another meaningful song by The Nuge. Born in 1902, Fred Bear is one of the most renowned archery hunters of all time, and he's immortalized by this song in true Ted Nugent style. Bear died in 1988 about a month after I was born, but I get an idea of his character through a simple recording of him spliced in at the end of the song, talking about how if today's thrill-seeking teenagers want some excitement, they should go up to the northwest and tangle with a grizzly. This track really captures the emotion of what hunting is like and brought back memories of my own hunts. I have to admit, this one gives me chills.

5. "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams Jr.

Though this song isn't entirely about hunting, it revolves around the idea of being self-reliant. Hank Jr. makes it clear that no matter what part of the country outdoorsmen come from, the tools and knowledge gathered in the woods makes for a stronger person. "We can skin a buck, we can run a trotline, and a country boy can survive." And Hank Jr., a longtime hunter himself, knows about survival. While climbing Ajax Mountain in Montana, he fell about 500 feet down the mountain after the trail he was on gave way. A lesser man would have died, but Hank Jr. can survive.

4. "Ol' Slew Foot" by Johnny Horton/Porter Wagoner

This jingle has been recorded by several artists, but the two best versions come from Horton and Wagoner. The song deals with a supposed bear that's responsible for stealing honey and other goodies from town -- but bears always seem to get a bad wrap when it comes to stealing.

3. "Gonna Go Huntin' Tonight" by Hank Williams Jr.

In this tune, Hank Jr. goes after an animal with "long claws, long legs" and skin that's already been tanned in the sun. But he "ain't takin' no gun" when going after this animal. (By now, it should be obvious that he's chasing women.) For a creature that's "more dangerous than a big ol' grizzly bear," Bocephus seems to enjoy this kind of hunting.

2. "Shotgun Boogie" by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Most songs I download to my iTunes lose their hold on me after awhile, but not this one. I never click the "next" button when it comes around on a playlist. Though the song only deals with small game such as rabbits, squirrels and doves, it also has a love element with a funny twist at the end. The entertaining nature of the song is sure to better your mood.

1. "The Huntin's Over for Tonight" by Grandpa Jones

This list started with Grandpa Jones, and it's only fitting to end with Grandpa Jones in the No. 1 spot. This song has it all. From an accidental encounter with a grizzly bear, to an exploding shotgun, to an angry wife ... Grandpa Jones left nothing out in this epic tale. It might make you dance, laugh or want to go hunting ... possibly all three. Though Grandpa Jones died in 1998, you get the feeling that you know him just by listening to his music. That being the case, he sounded like a fun guy to be around. He'll always have a spot on every mix CD I keep in my truck.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsun-star.com.