Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For January 9th, 2009 Edition.

Today, as I work on this article, it's December 27th. The last of our "Christmas Guests" have vacated our abode and normality has once again settled in.

I'm probably not alone in my fondness for the coming of the Christmas Season when family and friends assemble for the annual event. I'm also sure many folks who entertain "a house full of friends and relatives" also experience a sigh of relief when their household returns to normal after the Christmas Holiday. For me it's kinda like looking forward to an exciting vacation but feeling equally excited when returning to home sweet home.

Wifee Poo and I have hosted an annual "Christmas Bash" for our kids, grandkids, assorted relatives and friends for close to five decades. This Christmas was a tad different, as four of our usual guests were absent from the festivities.

Our youngest daughter, Wendy, and her son, Chris, which is also our youngest grandchild, now live in Texas and were unable to make the long trek north to be with family and friends. Likewise, our oldest grandson, Josh, now lives and works in Louisiana and his work kept him from coming home. Josh is an underwater welder who works miles from shore on numerous oil drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. And sometimes he works at depths of 250 feet! It gives me shivers just thinking about going more than five feet underwater! (The fourth person missing was my mom, who passed away in September just a few days short of her 94th birthday.)

Before our Christmas Eve group of twelve opened our presents Peggy called our three absent members and everyone in attendance had an opportunity to chat for a few minutes with Wendy, Chris and Josh. It was time well spent but failed to compensate for their absence from the annual party.

Josh just recently turned twenty, graduated from "Deep Dive School", (at the top of his class), in Jacksonville, FL this past spring. I've often pondered the question of what made him so interested in spending part of his life underwater. Well - there's a good chance I had something to do with it!

I took Josh and his mother, our "middle daughter Anna", on a fishing trip in the early summer of 1990 when Josh was only one and a half years old. He had loads of questions pertaining to things he saw above water as well as a keen interest as to what lay beneath the surface. Do you begin to see a pattern here?

In September of 1992, when Josh was four and a half, Anna, and I decided it was time to take the kid canoeing and camping. This first outing began an annual event that continued for thirteen years, although for reasons beyond our control we missed taking a trip in 1994.

Our first adventure began just below the rapids where the Manitowish River crosses highway K west of Boulder Junction and ended at the public launch where the Manitowish enters Island Lake. It was a "one nighter" and we set up camp at a rustic campsite just a couple of bends west of the launch, where one of our vehicles waited, "just in case" Josh didn't take to overnight camping.

The tiny tyke took to the outing like it was a chocolate Sunday with whipped cream and a cherry!

On our memorable leisurely downstream journey little Josh was introduced to his first experience of using Ma Nature's living room as a "rest room." Josh was somewhat apprehensive about doing what he had to do in the forest next to the river, but he finally agreed to allow his mom to accompany him into the brush after Gramps taught him a little poem concerning his problem. He giggled gleefully as he repeated it after returning to the canoe.

"There's Josh behind a tree trying his best to drown a flea."

Anna and I listened to this one-liner quite often during the remainder of the trip!

Another memorable event took place at a gigantic beaver dam not too far upstream from Island Lake. On a scale of one to ten, this beaver dam was a twelve! Upon reaching the obstacle I put Anna and Josh safely ashore and told them to watch closely as to how a veteran outdoorsman "runs a beaver dam." Anna recorded the episode with her video camera and thus has a historical record of the ensuing disaster.

I paddled back upstream for about twenty yards, turned the canoe around and headed back towards the beaver dam at full throttle! As planned my canoe skimmed across the top of the dam and then began the downhill slide towards the water some eight feet below the surface above the dam. But what I didn't take into consideration was the unseen underwater log at the bottom of the dam.

The impact between canoe and said log was just enough to launch the veteran woodsman into the icy water. Fortunately, the canoe remained upright and the only damage done was to my ego and my questionable reputation I had tried to pass off as being a veteran woodsman..

Anna laughed hysterically, and Josh, serious faced, asked his mom, "Mom why did grandpa jump out of the canoe?"

Have I ever heard that tale re-told? Silly question!

As the years sped by all too quickly the three of us managed to experience a varied assortment of additional memories in many different places on many different streams and lakes.

We canoed and camped on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage in September of 1993 with the entire Anderson family consisting of four kids, three grandkids, plus one son-in-law, one boyfriend and three dogs.

After missing an adventure in 1994, in August of 1995 we floated the Wisconsin River from the Rainbow Dam down stream to McNaughhton and spent one night at a campsite below Rainbow Rapids.

In 1996 we again used the Wisconsin as our river of choice, paddling from the wayside just south of Land 'O Lakes to Conover and spent the night at the County Park at Rummel's Road.

The Brule River east of Eagle River was our destination in 1997 and again in 2004. Our take-off location was the National Forest Campground on highway 55 north of Nelma and we ended our two day journey where National Forest Road # 2150 dead ends at the river.

We used Michigan's Ontonogan River for our adventures in 1998, 2001 and 2003. (We took two trips in '01) The rustic accommodations at Burned Bridge Campground east of Watersmeet are delightful.

We canoed, caught trout and camped on Michigan's Paint River in 1999. Another rustic campground at the intersection of the North and South Branch of the Paint was our home away from home.

To satisfy our quest for adventure we spent 2000 and 2001on Ashland County's White River. We pushed our way upstream to the headsprings in 2000 and ran the twenty-two miles of the Bibon Swamp in 2001, both three-day vacations.

Our 2002 outing took place on the Fox River near Seney, MI. This was an early May ordeal with daytime highs in the mid 30s and sub-freezing temps during the night

It's hard for me to accept the fact those precious years have slipped away so quickly. Fortunately, Anna always took lots of photos of the good times, as well as the not so good, like the time gramps went wading in his shorts in the Brule to retrieve a dunked fishing pole. And beside all the photos we have the memories and a few scars to prove it, like the time Anna sunk the treble hooks of a Panther Martin in her son's head while floating down the Ontonogan in 1998. Josh never shed a tear during his nearly six-hour wait to be taken to the Eagle River Hospital for hook removal.

And so, Josh, when you're down in the depths welding some broken object and a giant fish swims by, tell your buddies it wasn't as big as the trout that broke your line on the Brule during our 13th outing in 2004.

And one more thing, I'd sure like to be able to take a couple more adventuresome trips with you and your mom if the two of you are up to going along with a very veteran woodsman who sometimes falls out of the canoe and goes wading in his short to retrieve an overboard fishing rod.

Thanks for the sweet memories!

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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