Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For June 22nd, 2007 Edition.

A few days ago a visitor to our area asked if there was somewhere he could go for a relaxing day of doing very little, but at the same time be entertained. I pondered his question for a few seconds and than offered a suggestion.

“Find a real busy public boat launch, set up a lawn chair under a shady tree with a cooler full of your favorite beverages and watch the action. If you have a video camera, take it along, as you just might get to record some footage that will win the blue ribbon on America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

I don’t know if the gent followed my advise or not, but my own suggestion sure touched off a batch of boat landing memories I have saved up over the years.

One of my favorites took place during the summer of ’53 when I was tending my uncle’s boat rental business at Escanaba Lake. Thompson rowboats rented for $1.50 a day at the time and the Five Lakes Project was a popular destination for visiting anglers and local yokels alike.

About noon one day a new sleek Oldsmobile rolled into the launch area driven by a rather short, stout gentleman eager to do some fishing. He asked if our rental boats could handle a ten-horse power motor and I assured him they would. He coughed up the buck and a half and began loading the wooden craft with the usual assortment of gear. Next he opened the trunk of his car and extracted a brand new Mercury motor, which he cradled in his arms like a large child and made his way to the end of a dock where the boat of his choice sat quietly in the water awaiting it’s new master.

The heavily loaded angler placed his left foot on the stern seat of the boat, which naturally caused the small craft to be pushed sideways away from the pier. The would-be angler’s right foot was still on the dock. The distance between his left foot and his right foot rapidly widened and within two seconds the gentleman was beginning to look like an overweight ballerina doing the splits. Then gravity took over.

The resulting rump first plunge into the lake caused a small tidal wave as the angler and his new motor disappeared from sight for a second or two. As the soaked fisherman hauled himself and his dunked motor back to shore it was instantly apparent he was not happy.

I refunded his rental fee, and helped him load his gear back into his Olds, closed the trunk lid on his new and now wet motor, and waved a friendly good-bye as he roared away in a cloud of dust.

I definitely scored that one a ten!

While cooking shore lunch at the public landing at Lost Lake one warm June day back in the early 80s my companions and I were treated to another “ten” performance.

A family of four arrived in their Buick station wagon, which was pulling a trailer supporting a speedboat about half the size of a destroyer. Two rug-rats piled out of the back seat to help dad and mom load the boat with water skis, tow ropes, an inflatable raft and numerous other popular water toys. Dad removed the restraining straps and backed the behemoth into the much too shallow water at the end of the cement ramp.

Dad got out of the Buick and attempted to shove the boat off the trailer. No luck. Dad backed the car further down the ramp, it’s rear wheels now in the lake. Dad removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his pant legs and shoved again. The boat remained firmly attached to the trailer. Dad backed deeper into the lake. Mom began to show signs of panic, as the pitch and volume of her voice indicated she was not in agreement with her husband’s launch plan, and questioned his IQ while degrading his ancestry. Sissy and Junior began to scream.

Dad got out of the car, totally disregarding the fact his trouser legs were now getting wet and tried the old heave-ho a third time. This time something moved, but it was not the boat sliding off the trailer. Possibly dad had left the gearshift in neutral, as the Buick began to roll deeper into the lake. Mom joined Jr. and Sis, which resulted in a harmonic mix of terrified screams.

Dad abandoned his plan and quickly opened the driver’s door, allowing many gallons of lake water to join the three screamers in the vehicle. With tires spinning and water flying, the car, trailer and boat slowly crawled out of the lake, slightly resembling a WW II landing craft coming ashore on the beach of a Pacific atoll. With water running out of the car from all four doors the family of four and the continuing screaming slowly faded into the distance. My companions applauded the wonderful cost free noontime performance.

On a picture perfect July day as my two clients and I were munching down a sandwich in the parking lot next to the swimming and picnic area at Clear Lake off County Highway J, a large, new, SUV rolled in pulling a smaller version of the Queen Mary and disappeared around the corner headed for the boat ramp. So far that was nothing unusual, as Clear Lake becomes a temporary summer home to countless mammoth boats and mega horse motors.

Five minutes later the SUV and its driver roared out of the launch area pulling an empty trailer and headed for the public beach area. We correctly assumed the boat’s owner and the rest of his party were enjoying a lunch at the park and would be using their luxury liner later.

We finished our lunch, then walked the short distance to the dock to resume an afternoon of angling. However, at first the only boat we saw was mine, pulled up on the beach to the left of the ramp. Upon reaching the lake we finally saw the recently launched boat. It was resting firmly on the bottom of the lake, only the top of its windshield breaking the surface, a victim of “forgetting to replace the drain plug” memory lapse.

Another cost free “ten” boat launch performance!

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:  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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