|Hensil Hodges has worked on the antler tree for 20 years|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Hensil Hodges stands beside his 7-foot Christmas tree, featuring 83 sets of deer antlers, two deer skulls and two sets of unusual lights.
Monday, December 16, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Hensil Hodges of Rocky Mount boasts, perhaps, one of the most unusual Christmas trees in all of Franklin County.
The 7-foot tree stands in his workshop on Doe Run Road and has become a growing project over the past 20 years.
"It started out as a joke," said Hodges. "A conversation piece."
Hodges refers to his tree as a "redneck" Christmas tree, one of three redneck gadgets he has built.
Hodges built the frame for the tree using a 2 by 4 center pole with 1 by 3 slats held in place by 1 by 1 braces. He then covered it with camouflage netting.
Deer antlers are used as limbs. The largest antlers are featured on the bottom row with a reduction in size as they near the top.
Hodges said he has been "messing with the tree" for over 20 years. This year, he added the 83rd set of deer antlers.
He also added an extra deer skull to the top.
"It used to have one deer skull on top," said Hodges. "I added another one so it looks like they are fighting. There's one six-pointer and one eight-pointer."
The skulls each have bright red lights for eyes.
Besides the 83 horns and two skulls, decorations include pine cones, some of which are frosted; shot gun shells, lighted and regular; bullets; bows and arrows; and even a pop tab or two peeled from a canned drink.
Some of the lights on the tree are over 50 years old, said Hodges.
"And they are still burning," he said. "They get very hot. Enough to burn you."
Hodges said it took him about a week to put the tree together this year.
"I take it down every year," he said. "If I had somewhere to put it, I wouldn't bother taking it down."
Hodges said he obtained some of the deer racks himself, and some of them were donated to him from other hunters over the years.
Back when Jeff Foxworthy became popular (with his "You Might Be a Redneck If..."), someone gave Hodges one of Foxworthy's tapes.
"That got me into the redneck thing," he said. "I got to watching it and I got the tree idea. My wife told me I couldn't do it, but don't ever tell me I can't do something."
Behind Hodges' home is a small child's bicycle with an old-fashioned grass mower attached to the front.
"It's a redneck riding lawn mower," he explained as he walked by. He said the mower actually works.
"I don't let anyone ride it anymore because it's rusty now," said Hodges.
He also built a redneck shower, consisting of an old bathtub on legs with a watering can attached to a pole at one end. "Then I put a piece of twine on the sprinkler so you could just tilt down the end and water would come out," he explained. "It works, too."
Hodges has plans to start carving a turkey out of a wood log.
"That won't be a big project," he said. "It shouldn't take me long to finish that one."
Hodges said he is proud of his redneck tree, and one day, he plans to send a picture of it to Jeff Foxworthy.