Monday, September 12, 2011

Mountain Moonshine

He came to Transylvania County from Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  A self-proclaimed mountain man and chainsaw artist, Uncle Buck opened a place of business on US 276 just outside our community.  He called the business "Uncle Buck;s Rustic Treasures" and utilized space on both sides of the road.

Hearing that Uncle Buck got busted for selling moonshine, I drove over to his business for a look-see.

I ignored the sign and parked there even though I am NOT a redneck.

An old shed has been converted into a workshop and display building.

While he makes other figures, Uncle Buck's bears are his most popular items.  Behind this very large bear you can see a small pond.  You can rent a paddle boat if you wish.

Some more of Uncle Buck's bears.  He will make custom signs for the bears while you wait.

This is the barn which got Uncle Buck in trouble with the law.

You see, Uncle Buck has a working moonshine still inside the barn.  The local sheriff's office received several complaints from citizens alledging that they saw Uncle Buck selling some of the 'shine (no doubt to tourists).  A sheriff's deputy made a visit and found two quart jars full of liquid.  He questioned Uncle Buck as to the contents and Uncle Buck admitted it was moonshine from his still in the barn.  The deputy informed Uncle Buck that it was against the law to sell the liquor.

The sheriff called the Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) agent.  Yep, Uncle Buck was reported to the revenuers.  The ALE and the sheriff's department worked together investigating Uncle Buck and his 'shine.  On three separate occasions, Uncle Buck sold the illegal moonshine to undercover ALE agents.

The authorities conducted a search of Uncle Buck's property.  In addition to the moonshine, they found a marijuana plant, a pipe with marijuana residue, and a Ziploc bag of marijuana.  Uncle Buck was arrested and charged with three felony counts of selling non-tax paid liquor, a felony count of growing marijuana, and a misdemeanor count for possession of marijuana.  Uncle Buck was released on a two-hundred dollar secured bond.

Thinking this might be a story of interest, I decided to drive down to Uncle Buck's and see what I could find.  I asked my dear husband if he wanted to go with me and he politely declined.  I must admit I was a bit reluctant and already had several stories to explain why I was there taking photographs.  I am really not a good liar, so I had practiced all three explanations beforehand and planned to use the most appropriate one for my confrontation with Uncle Buck.

I need not have worried.  I walked all over both sides of the road and didn't see a single soul.  I did note with amusement the new sign on one of the bears.

You just have to smile, don't you?

Stay tuned for more about Uncle Buck.  I think he wants to make a name for himself.


My Mind's Eye said...

Oh my goodness now Uncle Buck is a mountain folklore. Too funny but I bet it is an interesting place to visit.
My hubby retired from the local power company. Many years ago he was in your neck of the mountains on an audit. However a company car was not available so they took a rental car. A local employee accompanied my hubby up to the hills to read some meters. When my hubby opened his car door he was staring into the barrel of a shotgun. Yep the property owners theought they were revenuers...when he saw the local guy all was fine but it was pretty scary for a few seconds.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Cicero Sings said...

I think I've mentioned, my granny used to make rye whiskey ... she didn't sell it though.

What a fun story to "investigate". You were a brave gal but it was worth it!

Cheryl said...

As an ignorant foreigner, what is a red neck?? Sounds like someone who has been sunburnt :)
I will do some research.....

You were very brave going on your own to Uncle Buck's. You could be a private detective part time??
I found the whole story really amusing, even the bears made me smile.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

It worked for "Popcorn" Sutton. He was a folk hero by the time he died. I must admit I'm ambivalent about the Uncle Bucks of the world. My grandfather and uncles made 'shine, and even sold a little, but it was never a business. And other than the high alcohol content, it was safe to drink. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I have a hard time getting upset about a little private distilling.

Ms. A said...

Next thing you know, a book and a movie!

troutbirder said...

Incredible. Moonshiners alive and well in North Carolina. Health safety wise as well as tax wise sounds like a risky business. Now the Mary Jane part I have some empathy with. I seems some hemp plants (locally raised for rope during WWI) made a volunteer appearance in my native wildflower woods. I admit to doing nothing to discourage them whereupon a vigilant member of my spouse redneck, I mean red hat group spotted them and reported such to my spouse. Who promptly dumped a container of undiluted Roundup on those native plants... Mmmm. Think maybe I'll write up a post on this outrage. :)

Karin said...

Very interesting story! No one ever bothered my dad making his own wine in our house, but I suppose shine is little different! All those spirits don't like me much - so I stay away. I've got a friend with MS who can get her weed by prescription now. Times are changing!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I think you should start making "Free Uncle Buck" t-shirts!!! It is obvious, he is not really hurting anyone...and any person crazy enough to drink moonshine is just CrAzY!!!
I love those bears...I think we have passed his place several times.

Dawn Fine said...

hee hee..Great story. I personally think he should be allowed to sell his moonshine..Look forward to the continuing saga.

animal lover, quilt lover said...

Uncle Buck sounds like a real character!! I look forward to hearing more!!!
Tinker has been running for 3 days now and her incision is fine, why????? She must be made of steel!!
xx, Tinker & Fern

Folkways Note Book said...

NCmountainwoman -- this might not be a popular thing to say but isn't there a few other folks the gov't can pick on. Corporates are more corrupt than Uncle Buck. I would say he is just a mountain character adding a bit of old time spice to the place. Keep us posted. -- barbara

Arkansas Patti said...

I agree with most. Out side of a safety issue, I can't see the harm. We need characters like this in our lives. They provide interest.

KB said...

Very interesting story... I'm glad that you didn't get "busted" by Uncle Buck.

We have a place called "Uncle Charlie's" tucked away on a deserted mountain road in our area. Apparently, it has a huge number of visitors although no one can figure out why. My friend was scared to go inside to find out. Moonshine? Perhaps. Pot is pretty much legal here with the medical marijuana laws so moonshine seems more likely.

I enjoyed your story!

Berts Blog said...

Me and My Vickie think they should let him go and secretly advertise where he lives.

What a tourist attraction that would be, think of all the revenue the revenuers could collect if it were a business.



Janie said...

Uncle Buck sounds like quite a character. I didn't even realize anyone could get prosecuted for making moonshine. Didn't know anyone was doing it these days, either.
The bears are cute, but I guess the moonshine was more profitable!

Rudee said...

You have such interesting neighbors. I'd like to meet Uncle Buck, but I don't really want to buy his liquid product.

His bears? Maybe.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Uncle Buck is quite the interesting character.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Uncle Buck is quite the interesting character.

Vicki Lane said...

Now that Popcorn Sutton's gone, there;s room for another quaint old guy moonshiner. Look forward to hearing more of the story.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Madi's Mom - It is still quite an adventure to drive to some of the more isolated parts of the county.

Cheryl - "Redneck" is a very derogatory word to describe uneducated southern whites. Another term is "poor white trash." It is fine to use the term "mountain folk," "mountaineer" or even "hillbilly." But "redneck" is a condescending term.

Wayfaring - I do believe Uncle Buck wants to achieve the same local hero status that Popcorn enjoyed for a while. Many people here in the mountains do make moonshine but are not so obvious in selling it. But if you have 25 dollars and can keep your mouth shut, you can buy moonshine within an hour.

Troutbirder - So sad you lost your crop, especially since you didn't use any of it first.

Suz - I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Uncle Buck tee shirts.

Vicki - I am going to try to get down for his court appearance. I'll bet the local media will cover it.

buddielove said...

thanx, mountain woman, for taking an interest in uncle buck who is such a hard worker, creating an unusual area in cedar mtn. by working with, not against, the beautiful environment he's chosen for his business. he's told me eventually he'll develop hiking trails, primitive camping, a zip line across the pond, etc. etc. - and on top of all that he's so creative with his chain saw bears, nifty natural furniture & his story telling keeps you spellbound! let's support our uncle buck - and wear his t-shirts when they come out!! YaaaaY

glennandrachel said...

We are a family from Cincinnati Ohio and have known Uncle Buck for years...we actually met him at his place in gatlinburg tn about 7 years ago and visited him every trip..which was 3-4 times a year and still have phone contact with him...our children love him and look forward to seeing him in action..they timed him one year and he can carve a bear in under 9 minutes..pretty impressive..also we have a bedroom that us fully decorated with his hand carved furniture including a beautiful king sized bed that weighs 1000 lbs. Or better...absolutely gorgeous..all in all Buck would give the shirt off his back to others and wish people weren't such hatred and let him live his life..a good ole country boy that's
all..We love and miss you Uncle Buck!!!! Glenn, Rachel Jaidyn Karisa Lil Glenn Roxy and the new place!!!!!

NCmountainwoman said...

Glen and Rachel - Thanks for dropping by. I have seen some of Uncle Buck's beds. Must have cost a fortune to get it back to Cincinnati.

I will definitely try to stop and visit a while with Uncle Buck and tell him you all said "hello" and that you like his new place. My post made it sound as if I were uncomfortable visiting Uncle Buck. That is not the case...just a bit of literary license to "beef up" a story.

glennandrachel said...

Your welcome just actually finally talked to buck yesterday and we are going to stay at his place for the weekend in November..can't wait to see it in person..north Carolina is beautiful to drive through right stunning...I just wanted to make,it known that we are just average family that actually feel blessed to have met such an interesting, fun loving, country could honestly sit there for hours listening to uncle bucks stories..Absolutely Hilarious...even everything he's been through he still smiles...on the bed he made us we rented a u haul to get it home...wasn't expensive at all..uncle buck let us hand pick the trees that he used so its very special and still beautiful as the day we brought it home...he also made our 2 night stands, 2 lamps, futon, coffee table and all decor for the room are from him...just sticking up for good ole Uncle Buck..he is like family to us..and I am a believer that you meet people in this world for a reason..Good luck to him and if t shirts are made please let us know..we will wear them with pride..