Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For January 16th, 2009 Edition.

Boy oh boy, isn't this Global Warming something! Temperatures were well below normal in Wisconsin for the entire year of 2008 and so far nothing has changed! The folks living in the Badger State are getting a feel for what the good old-fashioned winters of yesteryear were like. And I for one love it!

Winters in the northern latitudes are supposed to be cold and snowy. How long the present trend will continue is anybody's guess and as yet I have not heard Al Gore expound any current opinions on the subject.

Personally, I'm enjoying the excellent snowshoeing conditions, as my network of trails are rock hard and Belle and I have great fun traveling familiar trails through the quiet and peaceful environment of winter's virgin white. The daily experience is excellent for preventing winter blues, cabin fever, and it's good medicine for the body and mind. Try it, you'll like it!

My very first recollection concerning the sport of snowshoeing is riding on a small toboggan from my boyhood home to Sayner once a week to pick up our mail and purchase a few items of necessity from Carl Eliason's grocery store. Dad did the snowshoeing and his kid enjoyed the ride.

During the winters while World War II was in progress gas and money was in very short supply for not only the Anderson family but also most American families. Although we had a new truck, dad and mom purchased a brand new 1941 Chevy pickup just weeks prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we still required gas to run it. (That new truck had a price tag of $610.00 and provided us with basic transportation for the next twelve years!)

Gas, as well as many other items, was rationed and although gas was priced under twenty cents a gallon, if you didn't have the Federal Ration Stamps you didn't get any gas. So, during the winter months during those critical times dad put the Chevy up on blocks in our garage, removed the wheels and stored them under our beds to prevent the rubber tires from cracking!

Dad's snowshoe route from our home to Sayner and back covered a distance of about six miles round trip, all overland. On those occasions when the weather wasn't too bitter mom would bundle me up in my snowsuit and send me off on what was generally a four to five hour adventure. My favorite memory from those wintertime trips was the five-cent double-decker ice cream cone I'd get, which was a very special treat!

As the number of my formative years advanced I eventually acquired my very own pair of snowshoes, a Christmas gift of great magnitude I received when I was twelve. I'd like to know, just for kicks, how many miles I eventually put on those snowshoes, and if I got a buck a mile, at current prices I'd probably have enough money to buy several tanks of gasoline!

Those pickerel style cross-country models opened a whole new world for me. With my extra large webbed feet I could easily visit my closest buddies on winter weekends. The Dean's home, where my pals Jim, Tom and Gary lived, was but a mile and a half as the crow flies, Phil Franke's home was about a mile and Roger and Bob Stoeckmann only lived a half-mile from the Anderson cabin! And as a bonus, I could tote my shotgun and often bag a snowshoe bunny or two on the way, which assisted lowering the food bill.

Winter weekends during my high school years were generally spent combing the nearby swamps and alder infested river valleys with my pals in quest of snowshoe hares. Back then the population of those winter white bunnies was at an all time high, and the fat free succulent protein those big foot hoppers provided was a welcome addition to our basic diet of home made bread, potatoes venison and fish. Ah yes, it was a wonderful time to be a boy!

Also during my high school years those snowshoes helped me run a modest winter trapline, which put a few dollars in my personal pocket for important stuff like shotgun shells, fishing tackle and double-decker ice cream cones.

After college, marriage and starting a family came the early era of cross-country skiing! By the early 70s Peggy and I, plus our four offspring, were decked out in everything required to be in vogue with the latest fashionable winter craze. Nearly every weekend found the six of us, plus many of our friends and neighbors, gliding through a winter wonderland as icicles formed under our noses! We also had a cat, Callie, who enjoyed tagging along on those winter ski trips. She'd run along with us for a while, then accept a ride in my backpack for the remainder of the afternoon.

At first, prior to the present existing network of modern cross-country ski trails, it was necessary to create our own trails. That in itself was lots of work but also lots of fun. One of our family's personal favorites was an overland route from our resort home on Kasomo Lake to Clear View Lodge on Big St.Germain. Our kids really liked this trip as it meant burgers, fries and a coke prior to the return trip home!

Eventually a number of really nice public trails were developed. Razorback Ridges just west of Sayner was one of our favorites, as was the short excursion around Shannon Lake on the ski trail near Found Lake. The Clear Lake/Raven Trail complex was another favored destination as was the very challenging Anvil Lake Trail east of Eagle River.

But as always, Father Time pushed the sand through our personal hourglass and what once was became a mere historical footnote. Our kids grew up and found more interesting things to occupy their free time, such as a job, then all four of them eventually moved away to distant locations for a time before returning to the land of their youth. Life for the old man and Wifee Poo headed in a new direction.

And so, I guess it's safe to say, in my case at least, the sequence of life's events has come full circle. I'm back to cruising the winter woods on snowshoes. And even though the distances I now cover during my daily hikes with Belle pale by comparison to the many miles I was able to cover when the legs were strong and flexible, if I rewind my memory banks back six decades I can still see a skinny kid on snowshoes toting a 20 gauge double barrel shotgun following a black Cocker Spaniel through the bowels of a cedar swamp.

Ah yes, it was a great time to be a boy!

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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