Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For January 23rd, 2009 Edition.
It's a known fact many reminiscing sessions begin with the comment, "I remember the first time I ..." Another known fact is as Father Time piles the amount of sand in the bottom of our personal hour glass higher and higher we acquire more memories to reminisce about. And that's a good thing!
I'm sure there are many folks with memories of very special places that hold a disproportionate number of cherished "first time" experiences. If I had to choose one such favored place I'd easily decide it was the small landlocked lake in front of our home where I spent much of my free time during the first four decades of my life.
When dad and several of my uncles built the first permanent dwelling to grace it's shores in 1938, the accepted name of the twenty-six acre glimmering jewel was Dollar Lake. And over the next forty years that little lake and I got to know each other intimately.
I remember very well the day I learned to swim. I was six at the time and dad decided seeing as I spent so much time on or near the water I needed to be able to actually swim rather than just pretending to. I succeeded in putting the terrifying experience off for several weeks and then dad issued a stern ultimatum.
"You better learn how to swim by the time I come home from guiding tomorrow or else I'll row you out in the middle of the lake and toss you overboard!"
I could tell by the color of his face that dad wasn't kidding!
By the time dad drove into our yard about five-thirty the next afternoon I had mastered the "dog paddle."
I remember the first really big fish I caught in Dollar Lake. Dad rowed me around the shoreline in early June when the bass were making their spawning beds. He explained the basic "birds and the bees" as to how big bass make little bass, and warned me to "Leave them alone while they're spawning!"
I didn't. The next day after dad drove out of our yard to pick up his client I rowed to the nearest spawning bed and caught the female. The fish was nearly twenty inches long and probably weighed close to five pounds! For an eight year old it looked like a whale! I had the good sense to toss the fish back in the lake and I kept my mouth shut about disobeying orders and catching it for several years.
How I caught my first big northern pike also makes for a fond memory. I was thirteen at the time and one of my daily chores during the summer was to "police the beach area" to keep it clean and neat for our resort guests.
One warm July morning I discovered one of our boats had drifted away during the night. I could easily see it snuggled up against the south shore. I selected a rescue boat that was assigned to one of our guests, which contained the guest's rod and reel. I rowed across the lake to retrieve the run-away boat and as I was returning with the second boat in tow my attention turned to the rod and reel that was resting in the boat I was rowing.
It was a traditional casting rod and reel armed with a large black and white Daredevil lure. I just had to make a few casts with the fancy outfit. After all, most of my fishing at that time was with a cheap fly rod or a cane pole!
On my first and only cast that sunny morning I felt a jarring strike! I set the hook and the battle was on! To shorten the story, after wearing the monster out I smacked it with an oar and heaved it in the boat! My trophy was thirty-six inches long and weighed eleven pounds.
Dad had it mounted for me at Neal Long's Taxidermy near Sayner and the memory still graces part of one wall in our den!
I also vividly recall catching my first really nice sized musky in that tiny lake. Occasionally dad did a tad of "relocating fish" into "our lake." Among the various species that were introduced to share the waters with the native bass, perch and sunfish were small muskellunge. Well, the muskies grew, then reproduced and the little lake eventually gave up a number of fish in the forty-inch class! In 1971 I caught what I believe was the largest musky ever taken out of Kasomo Lake, a dandy 46 inch, twenty-four pound beauty, which shares one wall of our living room, another of Neal Long's masterpieces! Thanks dad, for the breeder stock!
That little lake also produced some record sized snapping turtles! While exploring the shallow shoreline by boat one fine day I came upon two giant sized snappers engaged in what I thought was "fighting." I watched the twirling; twisting pair for several minutes, then resumed my wandering. That evening, as I related my "turtle fight tale" to mom and dad, I received another chapter from the "birds and the bees book" pertaining to how big turtles make little turtles.
One summer we had a much too friendly snapping turtle terrorizing our guests. Every time someone would go swimming this ugly monster with the hooked jaw and the moss covered shell would appear among the swimmers resulting in a mass evacuation from the water amidst blood curdling hysterical screams from our guests.
I was somewhat reluctant to believe the tales of horror that emanated from the mouths of the bathers, but after finally viewing the sudden appearance of "Snapperzilla" myself there was but one thing to do. One shot from dad's .22 rifle solved the problem and the Anderson's dined on turtle stew a few days later.
All of our four children were likewise able to store numerous "I remember my first..." memories at this same location. But, alas, our grandchildren did not.
As time moved forward more and more development occurred on the shores of what for many years had been "our lake." By the time Peggy and I sold the resort in the spring of 1976 my love affair with the lake had cooled considerably. It was time for a change in our lifestyle. We built a new home on one of the "back forties", off water and spent the next 28 years there before moving again in 2004 to our present location on Lost Creek. Those were changes with which I have no regrets.
Presently, sixteen homes and seasonal cottages encompass the shoreline. The little lake has experienced three serious fish kills during the past twelve winters plus the water level continues to drop as the ongoing drought continues. The once shimmering jewel lacks much of its original charm and luster. Like many things in life, "It ain't what it used to be!"
But hey, I still have the memories, and by the way, did I ever tell you about the first time I ever ....
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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