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Every time I enter the hog forum I'm going to smile, and remember my friend.
Jeff knew I was from the Northeast - and we don't get that whole 'Hawg thing' up here. So he led the effort to "educate" me on why I needed a hog forum on Bowsite. I resisted, but he wore me down, organizing an email assault on my inbox. I caved and announced the Hog forum. But I wasn't quite sold on hog hunting myself until Jeff convinced me to come down and attend one of the Magnificent Hog Hunts which was born from his creative, yet slightly 'abnormal' mind. I had the time of my life! Sure, the hog hunting was great, but he had a way of bringing people together like nobody I've ever seen - and everyone knew it was Jeff that really made the hunt.
Since 1996 Jeff Coggins (Tennbow) became more than just a regular visitor of the Bowsite - he was a comedian, a practical joker, a passionate bowhunter, and a friend. He probably posted more on our forums than anyone in our history - most of it was outrageous, some of it was racy - and yet he always knew how far to push our editors - just enough to make us shake our heads and laugh. I found myself seeking out his posts because they were just so damned witty. And I was not alone. He was more than just a popular figure on our forums - he was bigger than Nugent, bigger than Chuck Adams or Mitch Rompola. He could draw people to a thread and keep them engaged in some of the most inane topics. I often wondered if he was nuts - but I knew deep down that he was just playing with everyone. While he never admitted it, I suspect his motivation was to get many of us to stop taking things so darned serious.
At the 2000 AMO trade show, Jeff hung out at our booth and we left him alone at one point. When I came back to the booth he had somehow drawn a group of "good ole boys" and they were yucking it up like old friends. He had a presence about him that just sucked people in. Yet he never floated above anyone - I don't think he made anyone feel second best - he always made you feel special.
My best memories were being with Jeff doing what he loved most - hog hunting. We were at the Magnificent Hog Hunt (which he organized) and I was what Jeff coined "a virgin." He hunted with us in our group and I really wanted to film him shooting a boar. But he wanted everyone else (including me) to get a hog and waited till the end to take his. It was obvious he was there for the people - he could care less about shooting his hog. He made a great shot and in order to make the video complete I needed him and the guide to say a few words. Well, you could tell Jeff was no Tom Miranda.
On our first try he talks about the hunt then adds these words:
The practical jokes, the comedy, the huge personality were some of the things that made Jeff likable. But it wasn't until these last few months that I saw the most remarkable side of Jeff - his courage. As many of you, I've been close to people diagnosed with a terminal disease. And I have seen people face their illness with incredible faith and courage. But I must say, I've never seen anyone face it quite like Jeff did. It was nothing short of incredible. He left us doing what he loved, in a place he loved, and knowing that he was loved - by his family, close friends, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who knew him - and me. The most ironic part about writing this is because I know he'd hate this tribute - but this time it's our turn to give Jeff the spotlight - for once.
I know somewhere in Heaven there's a crowd hanging around a new recruit, listening to tall tales and probably sipping an adult beverage. In the shadows lurks some mighty nervous hogs and if heaven has a website administrator, I'm sure he's shaking his head and chuckling.
Jeff, we won't ever forget you.