The goal of Stump is to flip a hammer in the air and then, in one motion, drive your opponents’ nails into a tree stump. If your nail gets hit, you take a drink. Straight out of Appalachia, it’s the most hillbilly way to consume alcohol aside from taking body shots off your sister. But I’ll be CONSARNED if it isn’t fun as hell.
I was first introduced to the game while tailgating with my (biological) brother’s fraternity at Virginia Tech. Fun fact: out of total coincidence, my brother’s name is Steve Buscemi. Yup, just like the guy who was fed to that wood chipper in Fargo. If you’re too young for that reference, he also plays Crazy Eyes in Mr. Deeds and the main guy in Boardwalk Empire. You know, this guy:
My brother looks just like him, too (kidding — I kind of do, though). But I digress.
I went to college in South Carolina, where no one played Stump at tailgates. So I was baffled when I saw a group of people gathered around a severed tree stump, hurling a hammer into the air over and over. But when the tool was placed in my hands and I learned the ways of the Stump, I was determined to share the game with my brothers down south, just as I’m determined to share it with you good people now.
1. Flip the hammer and hit the opponents’ nails.
2. Get drunk.
1. First and foremost, get a shit ton of beer, preferably cheap and watered down, as is customary for a game of Stump.
2. Get a nice, sturdy tree stump large enough for at least a handful of people to stand around, as well as a box of nails and a hammer.
3. Each player must grab a nail and hammer it into the stump just deep enough that it can stand upright on its own. The nails should be arranged equidistant from one another in a circle.
4. When everybody is set, each player must indicate which nail is theirs by touching it on the head.
1. When it is his or her turn, the player attempts to flip the hammer 360 degrees and catch it.
2. In a singular, fluid motion, the player must transition from flipping the hammer to hitting an opponent’s nail. The player must swing the hammer from wherever his hand catches it – even if it’s near the head. No choking up or down on the handle.
3. If your nail gets hit, take a drink.
4. If you drop the hammer, take a drink. Everyone else shout, “BOOOONER!”
5. When a player’s nail is fully embedded into the log, he or she is eliminated and must finish their drink. Last nail standing wins.
1. If a player pulls off a trick flip with the hammer, like a 720-degree rotation or a behind-the-back toss, they are awarded two swings (they can split them up and hit separate nails if they wish).
2. If sparks fly off the nail when the hammer makes contact, then everybody drinks.
3. If someone’s nail becomes bent or crooked, they are permitted to straighten it out. As a courtesy, the other players should steady the stump.
4. When someone is eliminated, they are to be sent off with a waterfall (everybody starts drinking, unable to put down their beer until the person to their left does so first, starting with the recently eliminated player).
There you have it, kids. It might not sound like much, but Stump is an absolute blast. Sure, there’s the risk of losing your grip on the hammer and chucking it claws-first into someone’s face, but as long as you’re not smack dab in the middle of the tailgate, you should be fine.
Stump is a game of finesse. A game of daring. A game of strength. Dreams, beers, and fingers will be crushed. Sparks will literally fly. It is one of the greatest drinking games you’ve never played. So have yourself a few rounds of Stump at your next tailgate. You’ll be glad you did.