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Sensible Ways For Amateur Moonshiners to Avoid Capture

Updated on May 03, 2016
Jim Tom, (his real' name), is a master moonshiner who helps younger "shiners" on Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners."
Jim Tom, (his real' name), is a master moonshiner who helps younger "shiners" on Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners." | Source
Vintage moonshiners
Vintage moonshiners | Source

A moment of nostalgia

"and we have a winn-aaahhhh!" Have you ever heard this eardrum-bursting announcement made at horse races, pie eating contests and yes, greased pig challenges? Some local guy with a great voice is always tagged to call whatever race may be planned for the town's Chamber of Commerce 31st Annual Fourth of July Gala Celebration with festive games, fireworks, and fun for all.

And upon the first contestant to run or walk across the finish line, a thunderous roar of applause fills the air with the local guy with the great voice makes the announcement of "Roy Biggsby," winning the "Greased Power Pole Climbing Challenge," a new contest to thwart any boredom or apathy that might rise up before the big celebration.

Tending the fire around the pot  where mash is ran off to make moonshine
Tending the fire around the pot where mash is ran off to make moonshine | Source
 Officer Fred Swanson, left,  of Harvey's Lake Protective  Assn. at scene of a Prohibition   Era still raid
Officer Fred Swanson, left, of Harvey's Lake Protective Assn. at scene of a Prohibition Era still raid | Source

Discovery Channel wins

"Moonshiners" is an American "Docudrama" television series on the Discovery Channel that dramatizes the life of people who produce (illegal) moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains of North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. The series dramatizes their liquor production efforts, law-evading techniques and life.

Claims have been made by local officials that the show is not what it portrays to be. Virginia authorities have said that no illegal liquor is actually being produced by the people depicted in the show. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) said in March 2012 that, "If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action." They also said that they had requested for the producers to add a disclaimer to clarify that the show was only a dramatization. At any rate, The Discovery Channel has a "winn-aaahhhh," with Moonshiners that is viewed by millions of curiosity seekers with a craving to learn not as much "how" moonshine is made, but "why" it is still made today in 2016.

A closer look at moonshining

Mark and Digger, other moonshiners on Discovery Channel's hit series: Moonshiners
Mark and Digger, other moonshiners on Discovery Channel's hit series: Moonshiners | Source

Moonshining: Not a lazy man's job

Anyone who has ever made moonshine or has a moonshiner in their family tree knows that this line of work is more than tough. It's a grind on one's mind, nerves, and wallet to buy supplies, keep a low profile from the local authorities, choosing the right places to make a still and even having a sharp engineering and chemical knowledge of how to mix the right stuff in order to make great-tasting "shine."

Although this sounds like a review of Moonshiners, it is not. All I have seen on the television series was true-to-life events in the lives of the guys and girls who think nothing of selling a few hundred gallon of moonshine to their trusted customers for a cash payday of over $12,000.00 (cash) for a few hours of hard work.

Vintage photo of huge moonshining still in early Georgia
Vintage photo of huge moonshining still in early Georgia | Source

Now for an important poll

If you lived in The Prohibition Era and had no job, but a family to feed, would you make moonshine for money?

See results

In the old days

When men folk got an urge to make quick bucks and start up a moonshine still, they got away with their illegal actions for a while. Some with influence and money got away with this illegal distilling longer by "paying off" the local sheriff and his "boys," who were in the same "financial boat" of the Prohibition Era where selling and making liquor was illegal. And throw in a terrible economy and you have a wonderful marriage of the "backwoods" moonshine industry and the local authorities.

But when the non-drinking public got weary of knowing that the law turned a "blind eye" to the wealthy moonshiners who paid them good money to raid other "shiners," the law sadly had to raid even the moonshiners and halt the "money train" both they and the law were riding.

Oh, if I had only the moonshiners who were jailed and their moonshine operations burned or blown up had only read these . . .

Sensible Ways For Amateur Moonshiners to Avoid Capture

This is not a moonshiner. This is a bootlegger, a man who sells the moonshiner's liquor to his customers
This is not a moonshiner. This is a bootlegger, a man who sells the moonshiner's liquor to his customers | Source
Revenuers inspect a cache of illegal whiskey captured in a recent raid
Revenuers inspect a cache of illegal whiskey captured in a recent raid | Source
Scott County, Virginia, 1928. Moonshiners show their wares
Scott County, Virginia, 1928. Moonshiners show their wares | Source
Artwork depicting what evils moonshine making and drinking would lead to if not controlled by the law
Artwork depicting what evils moonshine making and drinking would lead to if not controlled by the law | Source
Feb. 12, 2013 News  by Tennessee Whiskey  Trail an account of "Popcorn" Sutton, master moonshiner  who was never caught
Feb. 12, 2013 News by Tennessee Whiskey Trail an account of "Popcorn" Sutton, master moonshiner who was never caught | Source
Disposing of captured illegally-made whiskey
Disposing of captured illegally-made whiskey | Source
Two real moonshiners pose for the camera
Two real moonshiners pose for the camera | Source

Your Mouth - - "Mr. Amateur Moonshiner," can be your worst enemy. Sure, you are excited about your new occupation. And sure, you have learned the in's and out's of making illegal whiskey, but do not blab your good news to all you meet. Only share your news with trusted potential customers. And keep those at a minimum to you know that you can trust them.

Do Not Post - - signs near and around the roads where your still is located. Signs that read: "Careful! Moonshiner At Work" are the work of a stupid person just asking to be nabbed and jailed.

Do Not Work - - at the same time each time you run off a few gallons of "shine." The law is shrewd, my friend. And the woods have eyes. Remember this advice. Make yourself mental list of odd times and days that you work and let that be it. Snitches who turn moonshiners into the law will make money off of the information they give to the law about you, so mind what I say.

Learn To Freeze - - at the first sound of a twig cracking or rock falling in the woods. Hunters? Maybe. But be very quiet as you walk softly behind thick groves of bushes that act as natural camouflage. If the sound was the authorities, stay hidden as long as possible and as far away from your still as possible. It is not illegal to be in the woods "near" a moonshining operation. You can always claim that you were searching for Ginseng to grow for yourself.

Do Not Leave - - papers around your still with your name on them. This can bring you an unwanted end to your moonshining career. Keep your work area free of things that can be traced back to you.

Do Not Let - - your fear drive you to panic when the authorities "do" start moving toward your still. Running like a wild animal waving your arms and yelling, "I am guilty! The still is mine!" are very dumb things to say, so learn to keep your mouth zipped.

Avoid - - the temptation of sampling your own booze. If you get drunk, you are helping the law find you with your awful drunk singing of "Heartbreak Hotel," and standing atop a rock and moving like Elvis. Oh, the authorities will be glad to watch your show and laugh as they slap the "silver bracelets" upon your wrists.

Be Absolutely Sure - - about who your hire to help you. Hiring the wrong person, man or woman, can lead to your being raided because you, as a teenager, stole this guy's girl and you do not remember him. Now he is getting back at you and will walk free when you go down for illegal moonshining.

Keep Harmony - - among yourself and your employees. If you have a problem with them, talk about it away from the still. Loud arguing is a dead give-away to illegal whiskey-making and can easily be heard by ATF agents. Be as "quiet as church mice" as you work at watching your moonshine work. (love these plays on words).

Be Creative - - with your moonshining. Do not follow the crowd. Be original. Construct a still that will work underground below your home. Of course you will have access to your still by a ladder from your basement to the lower levels that are wired with lights and outlets for cooking and other things to create an atomosphere of comfort. If you can design a filtering system that will do away with the smoke from the fire underneath your "pot" where the whiskey is being cooked, then you have got it made.

Legal disclaimer: as in the first words you see when Moonshiners come on your television, this is my disclaimer. Making moonshine is illegal by Federal Law and can get you arrested and as a bonus, give you a criminal record. The advice in this hub is not to be taken seriously due to the fact that I wrote this for comedy purposes only.

Remember this saying: "You'll sing the blues if you brew illegal booze."

Interesting links about moonshining

www.discovery.com/tv-shows/moonshiners/episodes/episode-guide/

www.discovery.com/tv-shows/moonshiners/tv-schedule/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonshiners_(TV_series)

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 10 months ago

      Kenneth, this is very funny and I enjoyed it. However, I have to warn you, "wealthy moonshiners" is an oxymoron in the hills. Them hill boys barely made a livin' offen that shine during prohibition. I did know one bootlegger who had lots of money, and his son rose high in state's politics after becoming a lawyer. We always joked that Clevis sent his son to law school to have a built-in lawyer in the family. He went to prison for 20 years for killing a man in a dispute and needed one on call.

      Everybody carries on about how wonderful all those documentaries are, but most, including Ken Burns, wouldn't recognize the truth if it rared up and bit 'em on the ass. I notice that states like Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas got left out of the TV documentaries. Good!

      My husband's grandpappy owned a commercial winery in the Ozarks. In fact, it is said that the family was the one who brought in the first Concord grapes from N'Walins. Grandpappy made wine until prohibition, then he made shine until it was legal to reopen the winery. So he made wine, then shine, then wine.

      What I've been told, but couldn't swear on a stack of Bibles, that it was true, was that no revenuer was safe. Shiners buried the bodies of the unlucky reveooner in the sawdust pile at one of the local sawmills. That is why they disappeared to never be found. Perhaps I should say never to resurface. That's how shiners stayed safe in the Ozarks.

    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 10 months ago

      Hey, sweet MizBejabbers,

      Like I've said in the past, your comments would make a terrific book. And this comment proves my point.

      You have such a colorful way of letting me and all of your readers "see" the subject of your writing right way. No waiting.

      Thank you for being a Great Friend, Follower and Very Talented writer.

      Love you.

      Kenneth

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