Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

April 25, 2012

Have you ever been out swarping around?

By Keith Kappes - Publisher
Journal-Times

April 25, 2012 — I mentioned this expression to a middle-aged friend and he smiled and said he hadn’t heard it since his grandmother used it to scold him as a teenager.

What exactly is “swarping around”?

I searched online dictionaries and actually found it in the Urban Dictionary with two different definitions.

The first has to do with a Southern tradition of family members climbing into an old car or pickup truck in the evening to go driving along back roads looking for bucks (male deer) just prior to the opening of deer season.

The logic of that custom is that bucks are the prized trophy deer for hunters and where you find bucks you generally find several female deer called does, which some hunters prefer for meat.

Each person who spotted a buck was excused from buying a treat, usually ice cream, for the other swarpers. The last person in the vehicle who not seen a buck had to pick up the tab.

It was written that getting lost out in the boondocks made it even more fun. Swarping was described as a bonding experience, enjoyable for all ages.

I didn’t come from a family of hunters so I quickly identified with the second definition of “swarping around” in the same dictionary.

The second version, like the first, said it was common among “Appalachian Americans.”

Some socially-conscious editor apparently decided that term was a politically correct alternative for redneck or hillbilly or whatever we country folks choose to call ourselves.

That second definition said swarping around was the description of a man who proved he was not henpecked by going out drinking and chasing women.

It quoted a grandma who complained on occasion that some of her sons-in-law “were out swarping around again."

That brought a smile to my face as I recalled swarping excursions as a high school student and later in college.

In all honesty, we were better at finding cheap adult beverages than pretty girls. The process changed slightly in college when women joined the party.

Swarping was not limited to young people, however.

I remember two older men in my hometown who spent Sunday afternoons motoring through the countryside, sipping cold, sudsy beverages and carefully depositing each empty can in the bed of their pickup truck.

Those guys clearly were far ahead of their time, perhaps visionaries.

Some might have said they were just swarping around but I prefer to think of them as environmental pioneers.