Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For June 4th, 2010 Edition.
They came- over 70 strong - from literally all points on the compass! Men, women and children traveled from Washington State, North Carolina, Florida and all points in between. Many were very close friends of mine - some had been classmates of mine during my first 12 years of schooling. Others were perfect strangers although most bore a striking resemblance to their parents and grandparents. The "Dean Clan" had arrived to take part in one final chapter of the family's long tenure in northern Wisconsin.
The arrival of the family members to where their ancestors had lived for eight decades took place on May 21 of this year. Peggy and I eagerly looked forward to reuniting with members of the group, none of which we had visited with face to face for nearly eight years. Our evening together reminiscing over dinner at Sister's Saloon was a prelude to what would be the main event the following morning at the cemetery in St. Germain.
The ancestors of the present members of the Dean clan arrived up north from southeastern Wisconsin to begin a new life in 1923. Mr. & Mrs. Dean purchased a large parcel of land on the north shore of Found Lake in the township that is now St. Germain. Hacking a homestead out of the raw wilderness was difficult, as no roads leading to the property existed at that time. All building materials, other than the logs that were cut on site to construct their home, had to be hauled to the building site by barge during the summer months and by horse drawn sleighs traveling over the ice during winter.
Besides the senior Deans, there were three boys in the family, Porter, Howard and Forest. Porter delayed his move to his new home until 1926, but Howard began guiding fishermen in 1924 when he was 13. Thus began a career that lasted for 46 years! His early compensation for rowing a boat all day was a bottle or two of soda, which created his popular nickname, "Pop Dean." And as he matured Pop loved telling the following story to those who questioned why he was called Pop. Most people wrongly assumed his nickname was a result of helping to produce five children!
"I started out guiding for soda water, then later for candy bars. As I got older I got paid in cigarettes and beer, then whiskey and finally came money." And he wasn't kidding!
A neighboring family that lived on the west shore of Found Lake had a daughter named Viola that early on caught Howard's attention. In 1933 they were wed and their long, happy union produced Carol, Jim, Tom, Gary and Janice. This of course eventually resulted in the multitude of Deans I alluded to in the opening paragraph!
Pop's fame as a five star guide grew rapidly and his summer guiding schedule normally resulted in 120 to 140 days on the water each season! And believe me - that's a bunch and an indication of a superior guide. Pop's older brother, Porter, moved to Boulder Junction in 1928 and also became a living legend as a guide in the world of angling. Forest opted to pursue a more traditional occupation after dabbling in the guiding profession for several seasons.
As World War II was winding down Pop and Viola, (Ole as she was known locally) built a new home on highway 155 mid-way between Sayner and the village of St. Germain. Besides guiding the Dean business expanded into a "fish cleaning, freezing, smoking" establishment that drew in summer business from miles in every direction. For pennies a pound anglers could have their catch skillfully cleaned, packaged and frozen, or smoked by true Northwood's Professionals!
Without a doubt, Ole could clean fish faster than anyone I've ever watch zip through a walleye, bass, northern, musky, panfish or trout! Occasionally, when their fish cleaning office in the garage contained many buckets of fish waiting to be cleaned, I'd roll up my sleeves and help Pop and Ole clean fish. Ole could clean two to our one! For hours on end! Also, the Dean siblings were also pressed into service. Yes indeed, "Pop & Ole's Fish Cleaning" was a family affair!
After all the children left the nest Pop and Ole spent winters in Central Florida enjoying warm winters rather than the brutality of a northern Wisconsin winter. Pop also did some guiding for bass on the inland lakes near Holly. During the early 1960s when Peggy and I lived in Florida during the school terms we occasionally visited Pop and Ole, which allowed Pop and I to do a bit of fishing together.
But during the winter of 1965tragedy struck. Pop suffered a near fatal heart attack that forced him into early retirement from the guiding profession. After his recovery "Dean Enterprises" took a new turn, which possibly resulted in Pop and Ole's rapid rise in fame throughout the Wisconsin Northwood's!
To replace a portion of their income that formally resulted from Pop's busy guiding schedule the couple put into play all the vast knowledge and skills they had learned from "living off the land" for so many years. Besides the fish cleaning, freezing and smoking business the crafty couple simply added more goods and services to their home based service center.
Pop built a new and larger smoke house where, besides fish, he smoked most anything folks wanted smoked! Venison, ducks, turkeys, bear - you name it! If it swam, flew, walked or crawled Pop could smoke it! A small gift house was added, which was stocked with Pop's home made, hand carved wooden loon, duck, goose, and swan decoys. The couple manufactured unique jewelry made from natural native materials, plus they also crafted unique novelty items Pop called "thing-a-ma-jigs" and "what-ya ma-call-its." He also produced custom made hunting, fillet and kitchen knives plus a variety of unique and original wooden fishing lures. One of his "one of a kind" wooden frog lures sold at auction in California for $5000.00!
Ole's contributions included homemade canned jams, jellies, cucumbers, sauerkraut and maple syrup. She produced skillfully crafted buckskin and kitted wool sweaters, jackets, gloves, and moccasins.
And while you were scanning the merchandise Pop would entertain you with stories and tales, plus maybe an "off color" joke or two, depending on his audience, and often customers never realized they'd been entertained until later! I probably don't have to mention the fact Pop and Ole had a hoard of repeat business! Rarely was their parking lot empty during business hours!
In 1993, Pop's fame as a legendary fishing guide was finally recognized and honored. Pop was enshrined in the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a "Legendary Guide", the greatest accolade that can be bestowed upon persons of that profession!
The grand old woodsman, who became locally known as "The Great One" passed on to the Big Weedbed and Rockbar in the Sky on May 25, 2000. He was 88. I was deeply honored when selected to act as honorary pallbearer at his funeral.
Ole continued to run their gift shop until August of 2002. She then decided to close the doors, sold the property and moved in with her oldest son, Jim and daughter in law, Petie, in Bradenton, Florida where she continued to lead an active life until just last year. Ole was 94 when she and Pop were finally reunited.
On the morning of May 22, 2010 her remains were placed beside those of The Great One during a memorial service honoring her wonderful life and numerous contributions to the human race!
A chapter was closed and an era had ended! I'm oh so proud and lucky to have counted both Pop and Ole, plus their wonderful family, as true friends!
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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