Anthony Jewell, known as "A.J.," is an avid outdoorsman who lives for the weekend when he can go fishing with friends.
He works at Sportsman's Corner in town five days a week starting at 7 a.m. and never leaves before 6 p.m. A.J. runs the store by himself until his boss, Matt Kennedy, arrives in the late afternoon to inventory and close everything up.
According to A.J., he has no specialty, per se, but instead does it all. In effect, everything has become his specialty. “Most guys know guns but don’t know bows," says A.J., "and then there’s people who only get into fishing. It’s hard to get a guy who does all three.”
A.J.'s first exposure to hunting came when his father took him squirrel hunting when he was 6 years old. His father never deer-hunted and was more of a bank fisherman. “He wouldn’t go out on a boat because he couldn’t swim," A.J. recalls.
A.J. says he learned to hunt mainly by “trial and error, the hard way.” Error meaning "trying and buying things," even if he knew or was told they wouldn’t work. “I’m stubborn," says A.J. "If I think something’s not gonna work, I’m gonna try it anyway.”
"I’m not so much into hunting anymore," says A.J. "It's not like when I was younger when I would deer hunt only, and with just a bow.” He doesn’t deer hunt these days. He doesn’t know anyone to give a deer to if he were to kill one, and he isn’t into hunting for the thrill of the kill anymore. “Why shoot a deer if I gotta give it away?” A.J. says.
His wife, Lori, refuses to eat deer, “She says it stinks up the house, won’t eat it or have anything to do with it.”
A.J. likes fishing because it’s challenging, rewarding and relaxing. “I don’t like fishing; I like catching,” says A.J. "One thing about fishing is that at the end of the day, you can put them back. It’s kind of hard to catch a deer and release it.” There needs to be a purpose behind killing an animal for A.J. “A lot of older guys go back to fishing. We just don’t feel the need to kill deer like we did 20 years ago.”
A.J. Jewell chats with Lisa Griffin (left), the Rev. Keith Hurt (right), and his son, Joshua Hurt (far right), at Sportsman's Corner while he looks up parts for pistols on the Internet.
A.J. Jewell inspects the sights of Adam Newcomb's muzzleloader on Friday. Muzzleloading season was set to start the following morning.
Customers can find a wide array of handguns at Sportsman's Corner, which are a major attraction. Many stop for a few minutes to examine them. The most popular is the Taurus 738 TCP 380. "It's the only gun that’ll fit in your pocket," A.J. Jewell says. "Everyone is getting a conceal-and-carry license and buying these."
A.J. Jewell tests the tension on a newly strung bow for Troy Buchanan, who came into the shop to tune the youth bow belonging to his son, Jacob, 17. Instead, he bought a larger bow.
A.J. Jewell works his way through taking the used peep sight out of one fishing bow to move it to another. "I wish people would stop using dental floss," A.J. says. "Tastes like mint though, I bet." Troy Buchanan, 48, came into the shop to tune the bow of his son, Jacob, 17, but because he's become too big, they're getting him a larger bow.
A.J. and Lori Jewell eat dinner together and relax in the living room of their home watching "Modern Family." They have been married for 27 years and live in Lori's childhood home. He describes his wife as a "homebody," while she sometimes calls him "Daniel Boone."
Sam Slaughter unloads his fishing gear from his truck after arriving at Sportman's Corner at 5:10 a.m. on Saturday. Rising hours before dawn for Sam and A.J. Jewell is routine for the two who always meet at the shop before they load up A.J.'s boat to go out onto the water.
A.J. Jewell and Sam Slaughter reel their lines in at John T. Myers Lock and Dam located along the Ohio River. "These rock ledges are where you get your line hung up, but it's also where the fish are," A.J. says. Although the pair went to one of their most reliable spots, they ran into trouble snagging many fish. "This is what we call 'fishin'," A.J. says. "We intended to go 'catchin'. Anybody can go fishin'."