Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For September 28th, 2007 Edition.
A few days ago I had an opportunity to spend some time chatting with a group of vacationing “young, fired up” musky anglers from Illinois. The weather had turned cold and nasty, with winds roaring out of the northwest. The group was interested in getting a few tips on where they might try for the often-elusive master predators that lurk within many of our local lakes. During the course of our conversation I was asked which of the many outdoor activities that can be enjoyed here in our up north environment was my favorite. And I might add that’s a question I field quite often.
Since my formative years the answer has never varied, “Duck hunting!”
The majority of the questioners are usually surprised by my answer, but also the majority of those who ask the question are not duck hunters. Those that have become addicted to the sport generally agree with my choice.
Admittedly, now that I am firmly entrenched in the portion of our population labeled “senior citizens”, I do not spend nearly as much time pursuing my favorite outdoor pastime as I did when I was much younger. But my pals and I certainly do more reminiscing concerning the multitude of fond memories we have stored up over the past six decades. Let me share one of my all time favorites.
The year was 1953 and duck season back then nearly always opened on the first Saturday in October. My dad and a collection of his duck hunting pals had started a tradition of camping out on opening weekend. Three years earlier he allowed his son to become the junior member of the group when I was 13. By ‘53 I was a veteran, at least in my own mind.
The group consisted of Toby Andersen, a local renowned expert wing shooter, Charlie Goodyear, a recent Northwood’s transplant from Chicago, one of my uncles, Bud Jorgensen, dad, Old Pat, our aging black cocker spaniel and I.
Uncle Bud wasn’t what you’d call a dyed in the wool duck hunter. Actually, uncle Bud didn’t like hunting for ducks. Partridges, (ruffed grouse) was his favorite game bird. But being my favorite uncle, I begged him to go along with us and he finally consented after reminding me about his list of reasons why he wasn’t into duck hunting.
“Don’t like gittin’ up at 4:30. Don’t like paddlin’ a canoe in the dark. Don’t like sittin’ in a blind all day long. Don’t like sleepin’ in that stinkin’ musty smellin’ tent. And I don’t like to eat ducks. I like partridges.”
I was familiar with the list.
There was also one additional problem to solve in order for uncle Bud to go duck hunting. He needed a 12-gauge shotgun, as he made the excuse that his little 20 gauge wouldn’t be good enough for duck hunting. Back then few, if any local yokels had more than one shotgun, but I knew one that did, -- Charlie Goodyear, who would be uncle Bud’s hunting companion.
Charlie had brought an ancient double-barreled 12 gauge with him from Chicago when he moved to St. Germain right after WW II. The name of the brand escapes me, but it looked at though it might have been cargo on the Mayflower back in 1607. The old gun had one negative quirk, which we all found out about later. Sometimes when you pulled the trigger the gun did not fire, but often did later after it decided to do so. Not good!
We had our camp set up on the island in Devine Lake an hour or so before legal shooting time on opening day, which was noon, and were nicely settled in our respective blinds by 11:30. Charlie and Bud set up at the northwest corner of the lake on what dad called “No Ducks Point.” Toby simply hid behind a muskrat house in his low profile duck skiff somewhere among the expanse of wild rice, while dad, Old Pat and I occupied a blind in the cattails along the east shore.
As with most opening days the shooting was fantastic. From a half-dozen locations on the lake we could hear a fairly steady salvo all afternoon, expect from No Ducks Point. Oh, we had heard several shots from that location shortly after the opening bell, but since then only silence. Dad quipped, “No surprise, I told them not to set up there.”
Well before the end of official shooting time dad and I were picking up our decoys after placing our limit of plump black ducks and mallards in our canoe. We paddled back to our campsite on the island and were surprised to see a thin column of smoke curling skyward and Charlie’s canoe was dragged up on the bank. Dad sensed something was wrong, and as usual, he was correct!
We came ashore, secured our canoe and tried to not look too smug as we carried our limit of eight ducks to the campsite. Charlie was sitting on one side of the campfire and uncle Bud was seated across from him. Both were silent, but I knew by the look on uncle Bud’s face that he was mad! Charlie’s face looked a bit like one you’d see on a manikin in a wax museum.
Dad gently broke the silence. “How’d you guys do? You’re back early.”
At first neither of the pair spoke, but Charlie finally responded. “Ah, -- ya, -- we had a little accident and came in early.”
Uncle Bud came alive. “ACCIDENT, that was no accident! You confessed that gun often did that!”
Dad and I were puzzled, and dad probed a bit deeper. “What accident? What are you talking about?”
Charlie continued. “Ah – a-hem, - a duck came over our decoys shortly after noon and I knocked it down, but it was only crippled. Bud raised up to finish it off and –.” Charlie never finished his sentence as Bud finished it for him.
“I took a bead on the cripple, pulled the trigger and nothing happened. I started to lower the gun, wondering why it didn’t go off and then it did! In fact, both barrels fired and it kicked the (bleep) out of my arm. Look at this!”
Bud pulled up the sleeve of his left arm to expose a black and blue mark the size of an apple on his biceps.
Dad had another question after he giggled a bit. “What happened next?”
Charlie took over the explanation. “He threw my gun in the lake, but lucky for me I was able to retrieve it.”
Dad and I rocked with laughter, although Bud and Charlie obviously saw little mirth in the matter.
Later that evening, after the men had enjoyed a couple of internal body stimulants camaraderie returned to near normal.
The following morning uncle Bud announced he was going to sleep in and let Charlie go hunting alone. As the four of us departed uncle Bud asked Charlie one additional question.
“Hey Charlie, just where did you hid that old double barrel?”
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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