At 57 years old, Kenny Watkins of Rutledge has pretty much done it all when it comes to the outdoors. Since his childhood upbringing on a farm in the Brownwood Community, he’s hunted and fished all his life. His dad and brothers were all outdoorsmen. He doesn’t just hunt and fish. He kills, catches, and cooks up some of the meanest outdoor cuisine you can put in your mouth.
The father of four (Ken-38, Kellie-36, Brandon-28, and Tyler-27) said, “After teaching my own kids a love for the outdoors, I’m now teaching my grandson, John David (8), to crappie fish at Hard Labor Creek. That’s what I really enjoy.”
Watkins’ long list of accomplishments ranges from participating in three-day overnight fishing trips on the Gulf of Mexico (out of Dolphin Island, Alabama) to killing antelope in Wyoming, and from striper fishing on the Cumberland River in Kentucky to killing rattlesnakes and jugging for big catfish on numerous lakes in the area. Did we mention he’s also been to Homer, Alaska to bring in halibut and to Venice, Louisiana to take redfish and hunt ducks. Oh, yeah. He has also killed two 10-point mule deer and a cow elk near Salt Lake City with friend Ted Meadows. With a bow. Need we say more? This guy don’t play around when it comes to bringing home some meat for the table.
Watkins recalled some of his memories with these comments, “One of the best trips I’ve been on the last couple of years has been the overnight trips on the Gulf. We traveled about 100 miles offshore to some oil rigs that were loaded with fish. We fished 24 hours a day or until we couldn’t stand it anymore (he laughed). The fish we caught included yellowfin tuna up to 87 pounds, red snapper, grouper, sailfish, wahoo, blackfin tuna, mahi-mahi, black marlin, and beeliners. Brandon and Tyler went with me the first year, but it was pretty rough; maybe 5-6 footers. Last year the weather was a whole lot better. I wished they had been on that trip. It was much nicer and easier on the old guys like me.
The striper fishing trips and Venice trips we took were with Danny Bruce (of Rutledge) and Rob Bennett (of Madison). We caught huge stripers between 25 and 42 pounds, killed ducks in the bayous, and brought home a ton of redfish on those trips. Those trips were fun. We had a good time.
The antelope, mule deer, and elk hunts were also special. Taking a big elk or a mule deer with a bow requires a lot of walking and stalking. I shot the elk from about 45 yards out and hit her dead in the chest. It was awesome. When Gary Brockman asked if I wanted to tag along on the antelope hunt, I said ‘heck yea, I’ll go’.”
Speaking of meat for the table, his son Tyler told us that his Dad is also one of the best cooks around. One recipe he shared with us was for the blackfin and yellowfin tuna. It’s described as a South American dish of marinated raw fish or seafood, typically garnished and served as an appetizer. Here’s his take on the dish. “You just take the raw fish and chop it up very fine. Adding lemon and lime juice to it, the enzymes actually cook the fish in the refrigerator, so it’s not really raw anymore. I also add onions and avocadoes for flavor. It’s good stuff.” He also likes to take the tuna steaks and grill or blacken them in an iron skillet.
Watkins also prepares his own Brunswick stew, kills one or two deer per season and processes his own meat, cooks whole hogs in a pit, and uses his green egg to prepare Boston butts and chicken. If that don’t light your fire, then your kindling’s wet!
The former speedster attended Rutledge Academy where he starred in football as a tailback and cornerback. He returned punts and kickoffs and basically never came off the field for Coach Steve Blanton. He won the State Championship in track in the 880 and also pole vaulted, and high jumped.
Watkins has worked for AT&T for the past 20 years and was previously employed by Bell South as a contractor for 12 years. He says his hobbies now are gardening, fishing, hunting, riding his Polaris Ranger four-wheeler, and attending the Liars’ Club meetings at Rutledge Wings each month. He’s a founding member. Oh, did we mention he likes to cook? Yep, that’s also one of his past times as well.
Let’s just say that with everything Watkins has done, he’s no doubt a member of our Hall of Fame Local Outdoor Legends Club. Welcome to the club and congratulations on your lifetime achievements in sport hunting and fishing.