Knoxville News Sentinel

 

Information Super Highway No Place For Deer To Cross

February, 18 2001

By Bob Hodge, Knoxville News-Sentinel Outdoors Editor

The mental image of all travelers on the Information Super Highway as being bespectacled geeks might have died a week ago Saturday. It was buried in camouflage.

In a convergence of deer hunting and the Internet, the third annual Tndeer.com Rendezvous was held at Henry Horton State Park. Nearly 100 deer hunters from all across the state and as far away as Hattiesburg, Miss., got together to talk deer, eat deer and listen to ideas about how to hunt deer.

More importantly they got together to put names with faces and personalities with people they might have known only as nicknames at a Web site.

Dennis Goldsby created Tndeer.com in 1998 because he was a deer hunter who also liked fooling around on the Internet. His Web site, which is dedicated to all aspects of deer hunting in Tennessee, quickly drew a loyal following of hunters who exchanged ideas and opinions on the site's forum. He never envisioned what it has grown into.

"When we started we didn't even have a forum for people to talk," said Goldsby, who lives in Memphis. "The forum is where it (the Web site) got its life. It brought people together and made it a community."

Unlike a chat room where the posts are more conversational and often hard to keep up with, the forum is a bulletin board area where users post comments and others respond. Like the citizen band radio handles of old, the posters use nicknames such as Hogguide, Crow Terminator, Brushhog or the more gender specific Tndoe.

Topics can be about politics, families, or what someone has seen on television. Some topics are questions that get quick and concise answers while others spark discussions that can rage for days.

And, not surprisingly, there are lots and lots of posts about deer and deer hunting.

Todd Harris of Athens, Tennessee Todd at Tndeer.com, came up with the idea of the forum and contacted Goldsby. Since then he has been the organizer of the three Tndeer get-togethers and has watched them grow from 15 people in 1999 to more than 100 this year.

"I go there every day and it's become a part of my life," Harris said of the Web site and its forum. "I think it's a big part of the lives of everyone that's here at this get-together. It can almost be like an addiction."

The site also boasts news, trophy rooms where users can post pictures, statistics on the state's deer harvest, tips and more. But the hunters gathered at Henry Horton because of the friendships developed over the forums.

"You have 100 people here and I guarantee you that you can ask a question and get 100 different opinions and answers," Goldsby said. "That's what makes it so unique,"

David Jolly, David J to the Tndeer crowd, looks like your average Good Old Boy, but is a self-described computer geek. He writes software for a living and often lends Goldsby technical support.

"We're a family, there's no doubt about it," Jolly said. "It's an interesting mix of ideas and people."

Jolly lives in Chattanooga, but when Goldsby needs his help he's able to provide it via the World Wide Web. He's able to talk computerese with the best of them, but he was doing it while wearing camouflage overalls and a pair of panty hose around his neck.

Welcome to the Information Super Highway.

The Knoxville News Sentinel