1. Your first pair of boots must be Justin Cowboy Boots or a worn-looking pair of brown hunting boots with a gold buckle from Muck Boots. You must wear them at least four times a week with light wash denim jeans marked with small holes in the back pockets to show that you help out on the farm or work in the woods.
2. If you are to be considered a “man,” you have to have a pickup truck with four-wheel drive and a fully equipped gun rack stocked with .22 rifles and a Beretta shotgun, preferably a double barrel.
3. Before you are 15, you must have won at least 10 gun-cleaning competitions and know both how to jump off a horse and how to tie a goat to be prepared for the next rodeo.
4. Follow the advice of our local redneck teens: “Your truck can’t just be a new truck off the Ford lot.” The bigger the truck, the better. If you want to get a girl, you have to make sure you have an LED light bar (Gotta be able to see the deer at night that you wanna kill in the mornin’.) You have to get your truck lifted high enough that you have to help your woman get in and out. (If you want to be a gentleman like your mama taught you, get a step stool. My dad got one for my mom when she went to the hospital to give birth to me.) You have to have at least one hunting sticker, the Browning logo, on the back window. Cut your muffler. There ain’t nothin’ sexy about a quiet truck. Gotta have a Yeti cooler filled to the brim with Natty Light in the bed. You need a spit cup for dip in the front seat and an empty Gatorade bottle to spit your sunflower seeds in. Make sure your fishin’ rod is in the backseat with your tackle box. Bonus points for mud caked in the tires.
5. You have to like mud bogging, or “muddin’” as we call it. Can’t be afraid of a little dirt. Muddin’ is the only thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. And the dirtiest truck wins.
6. When you kill your first deer, you must smear the blood on your face and post about it on Instagram.
7. If you want to be cool, you have a buck head in your room as a coat rack. If it’s a 10-point or 12-point, it’s a prize worthy set of antlers.
8. If you don’t have bacon at least once a day, you can’t expect to be accepted in this town.
9. If you are a girl looking for a social life, you have to rush the high school sorority. If you get in, you are a socialite in training. If you can make it through having fish guts slung onto you, cow eyeballs hung around your neck, rotten milk clumped in your hair and smelling like the mixture of rotten food your “sisters” throw on you during the final initiation, then you can get through anything.
10. If someone asks you for a tea, never ask whether they mean sweet tea. They always mean sweet tea.
11. You must know how to fry chicken and okra, and you better clean the bones of any chicken you eat. Wringin’ the chicken’s neck qualifies you as a true local.
12. By the age of 10, you should be proficient at operating any and all farm machinery. You should be able to do flips on a dirt bike, race a Kawasaki mule or ATV through the Georgia pines, drive a big pickup truck with a trailer on the hitch, drive a tractor, and steer a golf cart with your eyes closed. The only traffic you will ever see is a line of cars behind a tractor moseying down the dirt roads.
13. You have to wear a Mossy Oak camo hunting jacket as soon as the temperature drops below 80 degrees.
14. If you aren’t on the high school football team or aren’t a cheerleader, then you are a “nobody” in the eyes of many, especially the alumni who buy season tickets to their alma mater’s games. High school football for life.
15. You must either be able to shoot a bow and arrow or throw knives. This is for sport, not hunting.
16. You must have opening day for each hunting season marked in your calendar. School will get cancelled on opening day for deer season. We have hunting days, not snow days.
17. You have to be able to ride a horse, both English-style and Western-style. Riding bareback is a rite of passage.
18. You have to watch every Georgia football game, and you have to hate ‘Bama Crimson Tide.
19. You always have to be sweet and polite, and if you want to say, “F*** you,” remember what your mama taught you. Smile and say, “Oh, bless your heart.”
20. If you don’t follow at least 19 of these, they kick you out. Can you guess which three of these rules I followed before getting exiled to Baltimore?