Monday, May 17, 2010

What is a Jackpine Savage?

The Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) is a North American pine with its native range in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains from Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia, and the northeast of the United States from Minnesota to Maine.

Savage: n.
1. A person regarded as primitive or uncivilized.
2. A person regarded as brutal, fierce, or vicious.

Put them together and you get the picture. Do not confuse this species with the southern "Redneck", there is a vast difference. The only similarity I am aware of is a love of firearms. Redneck is a derogatory term that may indicate poverty and ignorance, while Jackpine Savage or JPS is term of honor.

In the interest of full disclosure, I would no longer be considered by many to be a JPS. After all, I don’t live up north in God's country any more. I live and work in the "Cities", the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota. It was common knowledge among my people that anyone that lived in a city was an idjit. Since I left to join the Army and never came back, if I tried to re enter that society, I would be shunned for the rest of my life, though possibly tolerated if I resumed my savage ways. If my children married and had grand children that married and lived in the same northern town, they would still be known as "that new family".

Living "down south" in the cities with all the other idjits, I am at times likewise shunned because of my savage temperament. I am a man trapped between two worlds, belonging in neither. Though I have worked hard to blend in with the natives here in the land of asphalt, there are times when my tolerance for idjits slips and my desire to choke the shit out of one of them is almost more than I can bear.

Sometimes I sit in my man cave and stare outside and remember a time when I ran wild though the woods, hunting, fishing and communing with nature (it was too far to run back evertime I had to take a dump). Then I think about how humid it is out there and I think about all the mosquitoes and Lyme disease carrying ticks and turn back to my computer.

So am I a still a Jackpine Savage? Like most of life's big questions, the answer is that it depends. Mostly, it depends on where I am and how many idjits I'm surrounded by.

Idjit: n.
1. A person that regardless of being a college boy, ain't got no sense.
2. A person that lacks common sense and is a danger to themselves and others while in the wild (aka a"Cidiot").

While there may be debate on my status depending on geography, my father was a JPS to the end of his days. Here are some common utterances from a master JPS (this is a radically abbreviated list):
I will beat your ass til it barks like a fox!
I'm off like a herd of turtles.
If brains were gas, you couldn’t start a piss ant's motor scooter.
I'm hungry enough to eat the ass end out of a skunk.
You better paint your legs with turpentine to keep the ants off your candy ass.
You call that a fucking chainsaw?
That ain't a truck, this is a fuckin truck.
If my dog was as ugly as you, I'd shave its ass and teach it to walk backwards.


  1. Love it Scott. LOVE IT!!

  2. I grew up a WASP in Connecticut. Much more dull.

  3. Jesus. I just laughed so hard I almost knoccked my teeth out on the edge of my desk.

  4. LOL. Too funny, Scott. I've heard about half those phrases from my husband. We're in S.C. :-D


  5. Although it's taken me a while to get here, Scott, I will be a frequent visitor! Your writing, your style, your sense of humor are rare and funny as hell! Me

  6. A jack pine savage cuts pulp for a living. Jack pine savages work bust their ass all morning, cutting and piling, cutting and piling, cutting and piling. By noon it gets too hot, and jack pine savages head to the bar. After work shower is optional. JPS's spend the rest of the day and the night at the bar getting wasted, fighting and trying to get laid. When the bar closes, time to go home and get a few hours of shuteye. 5 AM rolls around and it is time to get up work of that roaring hangover by cutting and piling, cutting and piling, cutting and piling.
    The jack pine savage is now extinct. The onset of automated treecutters has seen to it.

    1. No, they can still be found in Northern Michigan, cutting trees for firewood and anything else that requires wood. Just go to the Keewinaw peninsula in da Yooper-land of Northern Michigan. P.S. Detroit IS NOT part of Michigan!

    2. You left out pasty, with real pasty crust. And Detroit IS part of Michigan, the UP is not, they're all Packer fans, so the UP ought to be part of Wisconsin. And they say stuff like, "We live in God's country so we don't have problems but you don't life in God's country so you got problems.....", iterated about 5 times. My people came from Michigami. I had a 4 pound copper nugget when I was a kid.

  7. Don't know if you've been to Littlefork, MN, but if I recall correctly, they have a statue of a Jackpine Savage in their town.

  8. I'm also in the Cities. My grandparents live up not far from C-I, deep range. They told me the Jackpine Savages were actually transplants from the South, and of Scots-Irish descent generally. I wonder if that's true.

  9. Well, in the case of my father and his family it is true. He was originally from Owatonna and moved up to Deer River when he was around 5 and his dad was 100% Irish.

  10. Interesting feedback. In Northern Michigan, a JPS is held in high esteem by the number of discarded appliances, cars, trucks, farm implements, bed frames, ect. that are used in the decorative landscaping of their humble abodes. Also, any critter carcass or skulls pinned to an out building scores additional savagery points. If you are lucky enough to have a oversize model of a Kirkland's Warbler on site, this qualifies you as JPS Royalty !

  11. Cute article......except the part about "rednecks". Not sure the definition is completely accurate......being from the Oklahoma panhandle, I'm surrounded by rednecks daily. I don't really get the "poverty and ignorant" part. In our country, rednecks are folks who work for a living.....and the sun down here is brutal....pretty much anyone working outside will be red-necked within a week. The total "Hank Hill Tan", so to speak. I believe the word you were grasping for to fit your povery and ignorance comment was "Hillybilly". Thanks for the chance to clear that up........

  12. A Jackpine Savage was the name for one of Paul Bunyan's "disciples." The definition sounds about right, but that was the origin of the name.
    Your sayings sound just like my MN grandpa's! #represent

  13. Retired Army Infantry, I got the nickname being from Minnesota and serving in arctic warfare unit. Being used to having eyelashes stick together in winter and all the other thrills of sub zero temperatures. The other guy from Minnesota they nick named
    "One Match" as he could get the Yukon stove fired up with only one match stick or get a small fire going outdoors.