Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For August 3rd, 2007 Edition.
It's not often that a lasting relationship begins with a chance encounter, but that's exactly what happened to me on July 29th, 1958. I was in the 8th summer of my apprenticeship as a fishing guide and been getting bookings on an average of about three a week. I was still in bed when the phone rang about a quarter after seven.
It was "Snuffy" Smith on the line, Ed Gabe's son-in-law who was then managing Ed Gabe's Lost Lake Resort.
"Hey Buckshot, do you happen to have today open?"
"Yes, yes I do."
"Well, I've got a guide here in the kitchen drinking black coffee nursing a hangover, but he'll not be fit to take anyone out on the water this morning. Two of his regulars are booked in for a day of walleye fishing and I need a substitute guide. Can you help me out?"
"I'll be there in twenty minutes!"
One of the local legends was still sipping black coffee in the kitchen of the lodge when I arrived, his would be clients were just coming into the dining room for breakfast. The veteran looked hung over, but we were good friends and I sat down to have a cup of java myself and began a conversation with the crusty eyed guide.
"Celebrated a bit too long last night, hey?"
"Yup. Had a couple too many at George's place."
Opening greetings now complete, my pal got down to business.
"Where ya planning on takin' 'um?"
"Good choice. The pike are stacked up around that deep-water brush pile me and my brother put in there a couple of falls ago. You know the place. What landmarks are ya usin' to find it?"
I quickly mumbled out my points of triangulation.
"I got some better ones. Git me a pencil and paper."
I located a stub of a pencil and a napkin and placed it in front of the partially sober guide. Within seconds a map of Lake Laura appeared on the napkin, complete with the old masters personal landmarks pinpointing his private, personally made deep-water brush pile. I stuffed the map in the pocket of my buckskin vest, finished my coffee, thanked my mentor, and headed to the dining room to meet my new clients.
The two gentlemen in the dining room having breakfast were longtime visitors to the northwoods and had fished with their favorite guide for many seasons. The expectant anglers were part of a large group made up of three families from central Illinois, McDermott, Peters, and Kent.
Snuffy introduced me to Bob Peters and Ed McDermott, then explained to guests why a substitute, instead of their regular guide was going to take them out. Both men chuckled and said the alternate plan would do just fine. Within a half-hour we were heading north towards Lake Laura.
The landmarks on the napkin map proved to be much better than my own, and allowed me to position my boat right on top of walleye gulch, which lay 35 feet beneath my Manitowish Guide Model.
By re-checking my daily diary from that date I re-discovered the day was clear and cool with a very strong west-southwest wind, which made holding position and jigging over deep water difficult. Although we didn't limit out, we did put 10 walleye and 2 bass on the stringer. My shore lunch probably wasn't quite as good as the ones they were accustomed to, but the young chef was improving.
Upon returning to the resort at days end I was introduced to numerous members of the three clans, including the senior member of the Kent family, Jim Kent sr. Our relationship was all up-hill from there.
My chance encounter turned out to be a positive experience. Over the past 49 seasons I've fished with many, many different members of the three families, and still do some guiding for the Kents. But even better still, we've become good friends.
Today's date, August 3rd happens to be the anniversary of Jim Kent's birthday, a date that is reserved each summer as a day of fishing and feasting for Jim's family members in remembrance of his love of fishing and his love affair with the northwoods.
After a morning on the water the clan meets the anglers at some central location, such as a wayside or a picnic area about noon to share memories and feast on a traditional shore lunch. While the guide cleans the catch the womenfolk cut up the potatoes, onions, tomatoes and set the table. The kids and menfolk gather firewood and get the blaze started.
Several coolers filled with soda and Milwaukee suds stand ready to quench any thirst that might need quenching while the cooking takes place.
Anywhere from five to ten pounds of bacon is crisped to perfection to be used as appetizers, (depending on the number of diners), followed by mounds of French fries and onion rings while a giant can of baked beans bubbles near the coals. Fillets, fresh from the morning waters round out the gourmet meal.
The number of attendees at the annual August 3rd cook out has varied from a half dozen to as many as twenty-six. I don't recall ever having to throw any food to the chipmunks and raccoons.
By the time most of you read this, the party of 2007 will be over. I can't believe it's been going on for a half-century!
And all because of a chance encounter!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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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