During my 55 years of life, I have traveled to 33 different states and have spent time either fishing or hunting in most of them, sometimes even doing both. That makes for a whole lot of hunting and fishing partners all across the United States. Some of these outdoor people I will never forget, and others well you know, they can never seem to tell the truth. You know the type; when they start telling another tale, the others in your group roll their eyes and mumble "Oh no. here he goes again".
I had a boss in North Dakota that really was a great guy to work for, but he had to stretch the truth a little bit more each time he told the story. On one occasion I was pheasant hunting with him and three other guys, and together we shot two pheasants. I walked into the Four-Mile bar the next day, and he was telling the crowd that we got 42 or 43 pheasants!
On another occasion I tracked a huge track during deer season, for over three miles, while he and the other hunting partner drove around and drank beer. The next day I heard him telling hunters at the Fortuna Bar that he followed the huge track for over three miles. I was standing behind him at the time and he did not know it, so I quickly asked him if the three mile hike had tired him out. He just sat there with a sheepish smile on his face when he realized I was the one asking, but I know after I left, he went back to telling the false story.
I had a guy once tell me that he trapped a 6 ft. beaver. Now THAT is a tall tale - I mean a big beaver! Why, if he had not trapped it, we could have thought he had just spotted big foot! Another guy showed me a picture of "the new world's record whitetail buck" that I can assure you was not even in the top 500!
Then there was Gordy and the red fox story. This guy claimed to have run across the snow on snowshoes trying to get in position to shoot the fox his hounds were chasing. For two hours he went on about how he out-smarted the fox by strategically getting himself in position, because he knew just where the fox was going to cross. He was proudly showing off his prized red fox when one of my Uncles asked why the hide appeared to be stretched on one side and torn? Gordy said, "Well after I got back to my vehicle, I was so tired I just threw the fox on the front fender and slowly drove home. As I was driving, the fox fell off the fender and I ran over it!" A few days later, the neighbor told us he had run over a fox and gave it to Gordy! Good one Gordy!
I have also heard tales of shooting gray gophers at 150 yards with a pistol. For those of you who have never seen a gray gopher, they are smaller than a beer can in the Midwest, but only slightly larger in the south. One hunter claimed to have shot deer from as far away as 900 yards, and to have also caught 150 lb. snapping turtles, when the largest recorded snapping turtle weighs in at just 88 lbs.
Then there was the story about climbing up a steep hill and over the other side to get to the lake where dad was taking us fishing. Dad sat down on a rock and started fishing. After a while he smoked a cigarette, and when he went to put it out on the rock, the rock ran off into the lake. It wasn't a rock after all it was a giant turtle!
I once asked a guy how much he thought his bear weighed and he replied "well over 300 lbs." I can promise you that bear did not weigh an ounce over 150 lbs! Another hunter that I helped get his first black bear said he was going to tell everyone that the bear was charging me and that he saved my life. I told him, "It is your bear, you tell your story the way you want to. However your story has to match up with the wounds on your bear. Since you shot the bear in the rear end what are you going to tell the guys, that he was backing into me?"
One guy told me that he and his dad saw 6 wolves running, and they were able to shoot all six of them before they could run away. And no, he wasn't the rifleman Lucas McCain. Another time he was babbling about something similar in my fishing shack, and when he finally left, a Montana friend said to me, "There must be a guy like him in every town!"
Each time I encounter these type of people, I have my own story for them. It goes like this; a former classmate of mine asked if I would take him ice fishing with me. Since he took me fishing in the creek by his parent's farm more than twenty years before, that I felt obligated to take him with me.
Gary likes to drink beer, when he is not working and he drinks a lot of beer. I seldom drink at all, and never when I go fishing, for several reasons. Normally I have several kids with me, and I figure if parents are trusting me enough to allow me to take their kids fishing, I need to do everything I can to ensure that I get these kids back home safely. The other reason I never drink while fishing, is because I take my fishing too seriously to mess with drinking alcohol while I'm doing it. In fact, I don't think I have ever had a beer in my boat. However on this day, I did stop and grab Gary a case of beer. After several hours of very poor fishing, I began to realize that Gary wasn't going to show up, so I started drinking a few beers. I got up to go, and as I was packing up my gear, and I stumbled and kicked my Coleman lantern down the hole. I'm not sure if my size 13 feet were to blame or the beer. But I could see my lantern resting on bottom as I was only fishing in seven feet of water.
I made several attempts to snag my lantern, but I just could not quite get it, so finally I gave up and went home, still not sure if it was the water current or the beer that was hampering my efforts to recover my lantern. That was the final time I got out ice fishing that year, as the ice fishing shacks have to off the ice in Wisconsin by April 15th.
Due to a really warm fall and late ice, I never fished with my shack the next year. The following year, things were back to normal and we had ice early, so I thought I would go back to the bay I had since named Lantern Bay, as I had done pretty well there fishing walleyes in the past.
To wrap up my story, I tell them that as I drilled my first hole in the ice, I looked down and there was my old lantern and it was still burning!!! I will go blow out my lantern, but you my friend, need to modify your story a little too! See you next week!
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