Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For May 11th, 2007 Edition.
The dreary drab browns, which cover Northern Wisconsin well into late April, slowly began to fade behind us. Teasingly tiny hints of emerald green appeared on the tips of bare branches, interspersed occasionally by tints of red from the budding red maples. Ah yes, spring was at last creeping into Central Wisconsin and actual spring in the north would not be far behind.
My pal, JR and his golden retriever Rusty, and I were heading south on U.S. 51 towards a familiar destination. This was an annual spring fling the three of us have shared for over a decade, a three-day expedition to the Fox River in quest of catfish, and any other finny species that might investigate our hook and line.
Our living quarters on site might best be described as a historic step backwards in time, a small cabin nestled among ancient, twisted oaks and stately white birch on the banks of the historic Fox River about a mile north of Lake Puckaway.
The cabin and the 80 plus acres that surround it, is owned by a mutual friend of ours, John, whose family has owned the property for over 100 years. The cabin was originally built by John’s grandfather nearly a hundred years ago and has basically remained unchanged.
Here one steps back in time to a truly quieter and gentler era. There is no running water, but a hand-pump is only a few steps away from the screened in front porch. Restroom facilities consist of a modern “one-holer”, complete with a picture window, which allows the user a panoramic view of the heavily forested area between the structure and the river.
John’s concession to modernization is electric lights, a 1940’s style propane/wood burning kitchen cook stove, a micro-wave and a TV set that gets two channels clearly and a half-dozen more complete with snow. Thank God there is no phone!
The anglers arrived about noon and shortly were seated in plastic lawn chairs on the river-bank soaking gobs of nightcrawlers and lively chubs awaiting a curious catfish.
Broken fleecy cumulous clouds parted often, allowed Old Sol to spew his warmth earthward to a receptive landscape that was literally bursting out all over in various shades of green. The river willows had already taken on a solid hue of summer. Tiny white flowers of an unknown variety were peeking out from under last year’s leaves. Mushrooms and toadstools seemed to be pushing up the black soil before our wondering eyes. Spring was being born once again.
Over the river and along its tangled shores birds of all types entertained us with songs of springtime bird romance. Wood ducks peeped, mallards quacked, Canadian geese honked, sandhill cranes bellowed, turkeys gobbled, red winged blackbirds chirped, and spawning carp splashed and leaped in the shallows along the shore.
Our first finny visitor was a northern pike, who somewhat unwilling surrendered to become the main course at dinner the following evening. Then the “cats” arrived. In the next several hours we landed over a dozen of the battling brutes, a number of which were herded into John’s live-box, later to be reduced to fillets.
Launching JR’s boat followed a scheduled afternoon nap. We then spent the early evening hours anchored off shore, taking in the sights and bidding Mr. Sun goodnight as he slowly slipped below the western horizon.
A very late simple supper consisted of charcoal grilled T-bone steaks and a mammoth baked Idaho potato. Of course, this simple delight was preceded by a brace of iced internal body stimulants.
Sound and restful sleep lasted from ten to six-thirty, our only alarm clock being the twittering of birds and the squawking of the cranes.
Steaming mugs of fresh coffee never tasted any better as we sat by the river bank and watched the world come to life as the earth’s giver of life rose above the tree tops as a glowing red orb. Ah yes, life was good!
After cleaning our bounty from the previous day we pampered ourselves by driving to Princeton for a much too large breakfast at Aunt Judy’s Café. Next came a trip to the local bait shop to re-supply our box of nightcrawlers and empty minnow bucket.
By ten-thirty we were back on the river. The early morning sunshine gradually gave way to ominous gray clouds, which were slowly being driven our way on a humid southeast breeze. The feeding frenzy we had been rewarded by the previous afternoon had evaporated and after three hours and only three catfish, we broke for a late lunch.
The drizzle began shortly after two and steadily increased to a gentle, soaking rain. Being fishermen of the “fair weather variety”, we packed up our rods and equipment, loaded the boat on the trailer and spent the afternoon in quiet conversation in John’s historic living room. As I recall, a short nap also was on our agenda.
French fries, onion rings and deep fried catfish was later consumed in large quantities, once again preceded by internal body stimulants of the iced variety.
The 180-mile return trip the following morning was uneventful, the time shortened by a fairly steady stream of reminiscing concerning past adventures and upcoming plans for new ones.
My spring turkey hunt is scheduled for the following week, and immediately after that the open water fishing season would begin.
Life is sure tough for a couple of old semi-retired guys!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: email@example.com or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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