Capturing the tall tales, legends and often retold hunting stories of  family and friends, former Mount Shasta residents Tom Hough and Sandy Hough Shepard recently completed a memoir: Skinnin’ and Grinnin’: Buck Tales from Mount Eddy.
“This is something that my brother and I have talked about doing for years,” Shepard said, “and we finally put pen to paper and did it.”
Sandy took on the completion of the book, which is dedicated to her brother Lonzo Hough, after her retirement from teaching, she said.
Because she taught English at Chico Unified and later at Chico State University, writing came easily. However, to perfectly capture the tales contained in the book, Sandy got her family and friends together, directed them toward the subject of hunting, and recorded their stories.
“The best part is how much they loved getting together, and how excited they’d get when they told their stories,” she said.
Skinnin’ and Grinnin’ is filled with buck tales that will keep any hunter entertained, especially those who grew up locally because the areas described are so well known and recognizable. The  stories are like those of so many other families who enjoy hunting, and spark fond memories of hunts in our own lives.
But as Chico State University’s Professor of Sociology Tony Waters says on the book’s back cover, even those who aren’t hunters will enjoy the book, simply because of the touching, deep family ties that are so evident from the tellings.
“Skinnin’ and Grinnin’ is about much more than just hunting, deer, and Mount Eddy. It is about the people who come to the mountain in pursuit of the deer, and more importantly to recreate the ties between families, and generations. It is about how on opening weekend on Siskiyou’s Mount eddy these are all tied together as a past, present and future.”
The book mentions around 80 different people from the local community, said Sandy, who admits to never having shot a gun. She did, however, grow up among avid hunters, and enjoyed venison steaks when they were on the table.
“It was so wonderful to record everyone’s stories,” she said. She also enjoyed collecting the many vintage and modern photographs contained in the book.
“People were digging out old albums from the backs of closets, and they entrusted me with these wonderful, rich pieces of their history,” she said.
She scanned all the photos, and has been compiling and proofreading stories since February, 2008.
Perhaps most touching, Sandy said her 90 year-old kindergarten teacher, Olga Holtorf (now Olga Douglass) recently ordered a copy.
“The way [the book] has been bringing people together is just wonderful.”
Published by Memoir Books out of Chico, Sandy said she never expects to make a killing with the book. However, that’s not why it was written.
“It’s all about preserving memories, and these stories.”
If you’d like a copy of Skinnin’ and Grinnin’, it’s available in Mount Shasta at Language Quest, Village Books, and Heart of the Mountain. In the future, it will also be available at the Mount Shasta Forest Service office, Sandy said.