Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For February 19th, 2010 Edition.

I’m not sure as to what forces interacted within me at an early age causing me to take a serious liking to studying, analyzing and enjoying history. I do know that when I was required to take history courses in college, those wonderful and interesting professors caused me to change my major from math to history/geography. This in turn allowed me to attempt teaching those subjects to hundreds of students over a 36-year teaching career. How much of my enthusiasm and interest in those subjects actually rubbed off on those imprisoned in my classroom is a debatable subject.

A majority of Americans seem to find the subjects boring and/or unnecessary, which is why citizens of our nation generally rank dead last when their skills and knowledge of these two subjects are compared to citizens of other nations with educational systems basically equal to ours. However, it seems to me this trend is changing as more and more folks realize our historical past does play an important role in reminding us who we are and how we became the greatest nation on earth. End of editorial.

I love old photos and old diaries. Often I lament the fact folks often forget to write information on the back of photos, such as the names of individuals in the photo, plus the date and location. So much of our local, state and national history is lost due to neglecting something as simple as that.

For years I pondered who the folks were in a dark and faded photo in one of my family’s oldest photo albums. Recently I had the photo enlarged and with new technology the photo lab was able to bring out the faces of the nine people in the photo more distinctly. To my surprise I was able to recognize my two grandparents on my mom’s side of the family, two of my uncles, one aunt, a cousin, plus mom and dad and little ole me as a baby! From that I estimated the time was probably 1938 and the place my grandparents farm at Mountain, Wisconsin.

I have in my possession three of dad’s daily diaries. One covers the years 1935 to ’39, the second from 1940 to ’44. The third one is his daily fishing diary that he kept during his 21 years as a guide covering 1941 through 1961. That diary records over 1500 days on the water and is a treasured look back in time when the lakes and streams of the Northwoods was a gentler and quieter place.

I also have one of Pop Dean’s fishing diaries covering 1944 through ’48. Pop’s legendary guiding career spanned almost a half-century and it’s too bad he didn’t record his treasured memories from that entire era!

Pop recorded a few additional tidbits on the last three pages of his diary that were evidently important enough to record. Notes about the family garden and his interest in forestry include the facts the family planted 830 white spruce trees on May 5, 1946 and 400 balsam fir on May 26, 1947. Also in May of ’47 the Deans planted 25 asparagus plants and 100 more in April of 1948.

Wild asparagus still grows locally and maybe we should thank Pop Dean and his family for this nutritious veggie those in the know can harvest free of charge!

Other information that was important to survival was also noted. The suckers ran in Lost Creek on May 15, 1947 but due to an early spring arrived on May 1st in 1948. Ciscos and whitefish began their spawning run in Big St. Germain Lake on November 10th of 1944 and were “running heavy on the 15th.”

Pike (walleye) ran in Found Lake on April 7, 1945 due to an unusually early and warm spring.

From little tidbits of history such as these examples gives current day people an insight as to what was important in the lives of people from an earlier time. They also give us hints as to weather conditions by recording the activities of various forms of wildlife.

Another set of historical lore in my possession includes four handwritten pages of notes, opinion and facts penned by Joe Froelich of Sayner, Wisconsin. Jan Froelich has the original copies but was kind enough to photocopy Joe’s thoughts about fish and fishing on a piece he entitled, “Fish’s Battle of Existence.”

The Froelich name is well known and respected throughout the north. The family settled in the Sayner area during the late 1800s. Joe was one of five brothers and two sisters, all of which played an import part in the settlement and growth of the area in and around Sayner.

Joe was what I label as a “total outdoorsman.” His knowledge of the wildlife, plants and landscape of the surrounding area was without a doubt well beyond that of 99.9% of the rest of those living here. Joe often modestly talked about “making my living off the land” and his deeds and lifestyle proved so.

His knowledge and wisdom prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a self-taught education can equal or surpass a traditional education due to the fact Joe’s traditional schooling ended after third grade! The outdoor world of Ma Nature became his classroom and Old Ma herself was the instructor! And Joe graduated at the head of the class!

He started his guiding career when he was old enough to pull on a pair of white spruce oars, a career that spanned six decades. In 1937 he opened a “minnow stand” on the shore of Plum Lake, which continued to serve serious anglers through the summer of 1996.

Only minnows that resided locally in area streams and secluded potholes were sold at “Joe Froelich’s Minnows.” His daily routine during the fishing season was to rise about 3:00 a.m. and head out to check his minnow traps or do some solo seining. (Try solo-seining sometime and then try to figure out how just one person can catch minnows that way!) By the time the door to his minnow stand opened all the tanks contained fresh minnows at discount prices for the local guides and anglers alike.

Area guides were allowed to select their own bait and Joe and his daughter, Pat, never questioned the count!

The “meat and potatoes” contained in Joe’s notes voices a strong opinion that anglers harvest too many large fish, which in turn allows too many small, stunted fish to populate our lakes and streams. I think Joe would be tickled pink to know that today’s anglers are releasing more large fish than they keep!

I have a very strong hunch that Joe, as well as many of those “old timers, knew what they were talking about!

And hey – fill in that important information on the backs of all your family photos!

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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