Love Of The Land

By Ann Cipperly

Terry and Melisa both enjoyed the outdoors growing up. Terry rode his bike on mountain trails in Monte Sano near Huntsville. In grammar school, he began trapping and making maps on bike trails. His father, who worked for NASA, began teaching him about firearms at age 4. By the time Terry was 8 years old, he was carrying a gun, hunting deer. In the fourth grade, the school principal asked him to teach firearm safety to the class.

Terry attended Samford University for a year then transferred to the School of Forestry at Auburn University. During the summer months one year, he took a job at Yellowstone Park and hiked on his off days, including a climb to the top of The Grand Teton. “That cemented knowing I wanted to work outdoors,” he says.

Melisa’s family spent every vacation out- doors camping, hiking and traveling. When thinking about a college major, she selected forestry. She visited Clemson University to check into enrolling in the forestry school. The forestry dean told her that she would be unemployable as a female in forestry as it was “a man’s world.” Melisa was not deterred and attended Virginia Tech, graduating with honors. Her first job was as a procurement forester with Georgia Kraft in Waverly. She supervised three wood yards and won the company-wide award for enrolling landowners in their Private Land Management program. She later received her master’s degree at Auburn University.

After graduating, Terry worked for Georgia Pacific at the veneer mill in Warm Springs, Ga. He first met Melisa in 1980. He was buying logs for the company, while Melisa was buying pulp wood for Georgia Kraft. When Terry’s father died in 1982, he moved home to help his mother. He was working timber cruising during the week, while assisting his mother on weekends with her antique business. In 1984, he was offered a job at Mead Corporation where he ran a chip mill in Dalton, Ga., and then later bought timber in Tennessee. Meanwhile, Melisa had founded Forestry Consultants, Inc. and was leading a team of foresters, managing forestland for private landowners, and doing consulting work across the southeastern states. They met again when Terry was working on a project for his employer, and Melisa’s company was hired to do the timber inventory and assessment. After renewing their friendship, they married, and Terry moved to Opelika, joining Melisa’s business.

Melisa had not hunted until after she and Terry married.

“It is Terry’s passion,” she says, “so if I wanted to see him during deer season, I started hunting. We have gone on wilderness hunts in the Colorado Mountains for elk, and bear hunts in remote wilderness in Alaska, as well as deer, turkey and squirrel hunts.”

Terry’s enjoyment of hunting has extended to teaching hunter education for 27 years. He was first accredited to teach in Georgia where some of his classes held over 300 youth and adults. When he moved to Tennessee and then Alabama, he continued teaching.

“In Alabama they call the class survival skills,” says Terry, “I call it wilderness skills. It is not surviving if you are enjoying being outdoors.”

In 2008, he won the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award for Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year. Terry also received the President’s Award for Outstanding Field Forester in 2012. The Society of American Foresters recognized his lifelong excellence as a woodsman and his consummate professionalism as a forester. Melisa’s achievements have been more on the business side of forestry. She has served terms both as an Alabama Forestry Commissioner and as a member of the Alabama Board of Registration for Foresters. Family is important to the Loves. Terry’s brother Tim lives with them. Together Terry and Melisa have four children and four grandchildren.

Forestry Consultants, Inc. has been in business for over 35 years, serving many forest landowners in east central Alabama and beyond. While a forestry dean didn’t think Melisa would make it in “a man’s world,” he might be surprised to know she has excelled in her work. Terry is semi-retired now, but still takes on specialty projects and continues to work with some of his long-time forestry clients.

“We are blessed in our business and to be able to enjoy life,” says Terry.

Whether they are camping and fishing in Alaska, camping and hunting on their farm in Society Hill or their property in the Tennessee Mountains, Terry and Melisa are living their dream since childhood to savor life outdoors.

Terry Love’s Tips For Beginner Campers

Camping can range from backpacking wilderness, camping the trails or leisurely camping in a large RV. If you have not been camping, but would like to enjoy time outdoors with your family, Terry offers the following suggestions. Chewacla Park in Auburn is a good place to start. The park has campsites, trails to hike and a lake for swimming and canoeing. Another option close by is Callaway Gardens. State parks throughout the state are great with campsite facilities with showers.

Terry feels it is important to start with a good tent and comfortable sleeping bags. “If you don’t have a good night’s sleep,” he says, “you are not going to enjoy camping.” When hiking, wear long pants, as there are poison ivy and oak, ticks and mosquitoes. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. For serious hiking, wear hiking boots for support. State parks have trail maps for hiking. Beginners should stay on trails, have maps and a compass. It is important to know where you are in the forest and how to get back to camp. Terry teaches classes on how to build a “squirrel’s nest” against a tree or rock if you can’t get back to camp at night. Basically, it is a structure of sticks with leaves on the outside. This “nest” can be built with a simple knife and dental floss used for roping to tie the sticks together or weave them together. A pack of dental floss offers 100 yards of roping and is small to carry.

He suggests learning canoeing or boating for fishing Then you can cook the fish you catch. If you are around water, look for cat- tails. You can cook the tubers’ roots in a discarded beer can with water placed in the fi e. While hiking, he looks for muscadines, wild blackberries and blueberries. He avoids any white berries. Dandelions and clover are safe for making a salad. Terry doesn’t recommend forging for wild mushrooms. He has seen experts on forging get fooled and
end up in the hospital. The easiest food to prepare while camping is canned beef stew. Simply open the can and sit it in the fire to heat.

For cooking, he rakes a few coals on the side of the fi e and places two rocks or logs on each side of the coals. Then, he places a skillet or rack on the rocks or logs for cooking, or just uses a flat rock as a skillet. When cooking fish Terry puts a little butter and brown sugar in the fish then wraps it in bacon. It is then wrapped in foil and placed in the fi e to cook four or fi e minutes on each side. Two of his favorite campfire recipes are White Ash Bread and Green Turtles. For the bread, he mixes pancake mix and pours it into the fi e. When it is cooked, he brushes off the ashes. Green Turtles are made by hollowing out a bell pepper and stuffing with ground beef, and corn can be added. Put the top back on and place it in the fi e to cook. It won’t burn all the way through.

Food can be wrapped in foil and cooked in the fire. Sometimes Terry will make a “skillet” by folding the foil over a couple of times to form a bowl that you can sit on top of the coals or fire to cook. For light skillets and equipment for camping, he recommends military or Boy Scouts’ mess kits. Terry also takes cotton balls, Band-Aids, alcohol to pour on a cut, bottled water and large trash bags. If it is raining, you can turn trash bags upside down, cut a hole for your head and wear it.

For those interested in camping, Terry suggests to get out and try it. If you don’t want to sleep in a tent, you can rent a small mobile home. “It is better than sitting home in front of the television,” he says. “Get the kids off the computer and keep them active. Get out and discover this wonderful world.”