During a lifetime of hunting I have acquired many hunting acquaintances; some through friends and others just by accident. Sometimes these guys almost appear out of nowhere and well, some you kind of wish would simply disappear. Albert was a rather grizzly looking bachelor who lived on a farm in rural Stanley, Wisconsin. He had a full grayish beard and a wind
blown look hairdo, the kind of guy you would expect to find in the mountains some place running a trap line. His occupation was hauling can milk from
the dairy farms to the milk processing plants. Rumor had it that Old Albert
always drank a 12 pack of Old Milwaukee beer each day while running his milk
route. Seven days a week Albert hauled milk and if the rumor about his
drinking was true...he drank a lot of beer! I met Albert through my cousins who lived just down the road from Albert. They convinced me that we needed to hunt deer on Albert's farm so we drove over to Albert's place. There in the shed was Albert's red and white milk truck parked and beside the truck was a pile of Old Milwaukee beer 12 packs piled as high as the truck! Albert came out and with a rather ugly look asked "What do you guys
want?" My cousin asked if we could go deer hunting on his farm. Albert said, "Well yes lets all go hunting!" "You guys wait here and I will go in and get my hunting gear!" Albert returned with his hunting gear, which consisted of his rifle and an orange hat. That was it, despite the Wisconsin law requiring you to be covered in at least 50% blaze orange. Albert could cuss with the best of them and if he wasn't cussing about something he was marking his trail with chewing tobacco. As we began to plan out our strategy I attempted to explain to Albert that I had a doe tag so we could
legally shoot either buck or one doe. Albert said "Don't worry about hornsleave them in the woods for the chipmunks! Shoot anything, someone will eat them!" He went on to say, "I know they're in here the s*!!+#XX!=***! and I
kinda want to get them!" We made a couple of drives and never saw a deer of any kind which was probably just as well. I'm not too sure I would have wanted to be too close to Albert if he got blazing with his rifle after
being all fired up on Old Milwaukee beer! A short time later Albert took
ill and was admitted to the local hospital where he convinced the entire staff he was at least part mountainman living in a state that has no mountains. Rumor has it when they went to remove Albert's one-piece long underwear that it had to be cut off as the hairs on his legs and chest had grown through the material! Maybe now you know why we are not going to mention any last names in this story.
My next hunting partner was Roger and this story was also from the Badger
State, Wisconsin. I was hunting deer on Roger's dad, Lawrence's, farm who
lived along the Eau Claire River near Fall Creek, Wisconsin. Roger bought
himself a new rifle that looked more like something you would expect to see in some movie than in the forest used as a hunting rifle. It was a semi
automatic gun with about a 30 round banana clip sticking out of the bottom
and another one sticking out of Roger's rear pocket! 60 rounds you can shoot
just as fast as you could pull the trigger. We made a drive and heavily armed
Roger was one of the standers waiting for the deer to run out ahead of the guys making the drive. When the first deer shot through the brush Roger
started shooting and shooting and yes he is still shooting. It reminded me
of a war movie with the guys on the front line shooting machine guns as
reinforcements paratrooped in at the rear. After a lull in the shooting it
all started up again, then it finally stopped. I walked over to where Roger was at after hearing voices coming from that direction. There on the ground lay one empty 30 round clip and the other was still in his gun with the barrel still smoking in the crisp air. I said, "Roger did you get one" and he replied, "No, I would have but my gun jammed!" Thank God for that I thought as he might have shot down all the trees in the entire forest before he actually hit something. Besides scaring every deer completely out of the entire area he was perhaps one of the most careless and unprofessional hunters I was ever around. Roger just blasted the brush at least 45 times spraying bullets in several directions and never got one deer! Needless to say I never spent very much time around Roger during hunting season.
Now we go to North Dakota for a story. There was Rick; Rick was also my boss in the oilfield and also my one of my coaches when I boxed. He was perhaps one of the most confident people I have ever met but he suffered from one big problem. He could never tell the truth about any outdoor adventure he ever had. We were on a pheasant hunting trip one time when it was about twenty below zero with a good wind and personally I was never with a group of guys who shot any worse than we did that particular day. About all I accomplished was I severely froze both of my ears. Later that day I saw Rick's truck at the Four-Mile Bar so I stopped in to see what Rick was doing. As I walked in Rick was holding a can of beer and said "John how many birds did we end up with today, was it 42 or 43?" I replied, "2 Rick; six of us shot two birds!" Then Rick proceeded to argue with me that it wasn't 2 but like 40 or more! Everybody in the bar was laughing and shaking their head except Rick who was still insisting we got 42 or 43 birds. On another occasion I was deer hunting with Rick and co-worker Kip for whitetail on the prairies of North Dakota. Actually we were road hunting and bar hopping but this was the way Rick liked to hunt, not too much walking and a chance to ride around and drink. After driving around for about 75 miles I decided I needed to simply get out of this situation and wander around by myself. I spotted a huge track crossing the road and told my hunting partners that I wanted to follow it. They continued to drive on so I just sat there quietly, finally Rick says "Well John what do you want to do?" I replied, " I told you 2 hours ago that I want to go follow that track." Rick then drove me over to where the track crossed the road and let me out. I followed the track for about 3 miles and never got close enough to see what it was making the track but I did know a deer did not make it. The animal simply stepped almost sideways over the fences instead of jumping them like a mule deer or whitetail would. I finally caught back up to the guys and went home for the day. The following day I thought I would drive
back to the same area by myself and resume looking for whatever was making
the huge track. This way I could hopefully eliminate all the wasted time driving around, the beer drinking and other unnecessary activities. I walked the area for 6 hours and again found nothing. I decided to stop at the Fortuna bar and Cafe and grab a hot beef sandwich before heading back home. As I walked in I recognized a familiar voice telling how he had followed a mysterious huge track the day before for over three miles and how he noticed it stepped over the fence not jumping it like a deer would! Yes you guessed it...it was Rick and when I approached him he says John "How far did I follow that track yesterday?" I actually was beginning to think Rick really believed he really did follow that track! I just smiled and said, "A long ways Rick a long ways," and headed for the door as other hunters came in
and announced they had just spotted an elk.
Then there was the unknown hunter who ran out onto the road in front of my vehicle frantically waving both of his arms over his head during the deer
gun season in Wisconsin. My first reaction was someone must have gotten
shot! I skidded to a stop and rolled down my window as the hunter
approached. Before I could ask what the problem was he blurted out "Do you
have a hunter choice tag?" A hunter choice tag simply meant you could shoot
one deer, either a buck or a doe, almost a guarantee that your family was
going to have venison to eat that year. I replied, "Yes I do." The unknown
hunter then replied, "I just shot a huge doe back here that you can put your
tag on, but I want the hindquarters!" I do believe I borrowed a few choice
words from Albert's vocabulary as I explained to this idiot who just shot an
illegal deer that I was not interested in using my tag on someone else's illegal deer especially when they wanted both hidquarters. I was always able to find a deer to put in our freezer without having to get involved in this type of activity. I drove away and left him standing there on the road and perhaps a bit more cautious next time about approaching unknown vehicles with such stupid requests.
Despite meeting several of these type characters I have managed to stumble across a few real hunting and fishing gems out there who have been a real tribute to the many professional and honest outdoors men of the world. Guys who simply love being in the wilderness and when they share a story with you you don't ever question one word of it. It is a story you can take to the bank. Truman Knutson is one of these guys with a tremendous love for the
outdoors and a story telling knack to go with it. Truman and three of his
sons Todd,Ty, and Tad were on a Caribou hunting trip in the Kenai Mountains during a rainstorm. Shortly before dark Truman decided that he would take one of the horses and the two younger boys and go set up the tent while Todd
took the other horse and continued to look for a caribou. A short time later Todd spotted a caribou and decided to take a shot at it. To prevent the horse from pulling on him while shooting or dragging him backward after he shot he dropped the reins. When he squeezed the trigger the startled horse ran away through the woods. Not only had Todd missed the caribou he now lost the horse which had all their camping equipment on it besides their food, sleeping bags and dry clothes! So after looking for the runaway horse he realized he wasn't going to find it and walked back to camp. The
Knutson family hung their soaking wet clothes on the trees and spent a cold, hungry night together in the tent. The next morning Truman got up shivering and put on his wet clothes and ran till he simply could not run any further, only then did he stop shivering. He saw the horse on top of the mountain and called but the horse would not come down so Truman had to go get him. Just imagine yourself being in the same situation and how quickly a family hunting trip could turn into disaster. I'm sure you will be hearing a lot more about the Truman Knutson hunting stories in the upcoming weeks. If you're one of the fortunate ones that know Truman
Knutson personally have him tell you the stories himself, this guy is a
classic storyteller and the stories are true. No Rick, I am not talking about you...........See you next week!
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