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Tales from Jackpine Bob

Tales from Jackpine Bob

Written and Illustrated by Bob Cary
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Tales from Jackpine Bob
    Book Description:

    Bob Cary’s entertaining stories of life in the outdoors will touch your heart and make you laugh. Despite Bob’s many years as an expert woodsman, when he relates an adventure or a misadventure, the joke is always on him. Whether you read Tales from Jackpine Bob by firelight or lamplight, you’ll enjoy Bob’s warm humor and buoyant spirit.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9623-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-ix)
  3. A Touch of Class
    (pp. 1-5)

    Over forty-six years of marriage, Lil and I never really fought about anything. Sure, we had some arguments, but no real fights. Except once over deer hunting. It had to do with deer scent, the smelly stuff you put on either to mask the human odor that spooks deer or to attract deer to your stand. Only my wife refused to wear deer scent.

    Things came to a head in the 1987 season. I arrived home one evening before the season and handed her two small plastic bottles.

    “What’s this?” she asked, suspiciously.

    “Deer scent. Two kinds. One is Buck...

  4. The Fifteen-Horse Motor
    (pp. 7-15)

    It was the summer of 1933, the summer my father and Spang’s father took us fishing at Red Cedar Lake. The expedition had been in the planning stage since before school let out at Farragut Junior High, a great stone edifice where Spang and I were incarcerated in the seventh grade.

    “Take about a whole day to drive there, Paul,” Pop said, “barring flats and engine trouble on the Model A.”

    “We could make it faster with my new Oakland,” Spang’s pop said. “Besides, Rex, we’d have more room in my sedan for the kids and the suitcases.”

    The fact...

  5. Sportsmanship and Channel Catfish
    (pp. 17-27)

    My education was enhanced in two important aspects during the summer of 1934, when I was age thirteen. The lessons were learned from two of the most skilled anglers I ever met—Bev Skaggs and Billy Warren. The learning was done on the same stretch of the same river, but in completely different disciplines. Bev was a flyrodder, Billy a live-bait angler.

    Bev Skaggs was the first real fly-fisherman I had met up to that time, a business college student some five years my senior, who had acquired his skills with the long rod from a friendly, elderly doctor he...

  6. The Chicken Thief
    (pp. 29-35)

    No matter how many firearms a hunter may collect over a lifetime, the one that is never forgotten is that first one. When my father placed his well-used Remington .22 in my hands, making it my very own, it was more than just a long-awaited inheritance; it was a rite of passage like my first pair of long pants. That my parents had determined I was old enough and trustworthy enough to own a firearm was an incredible vote of confidence. There had been a long period of training, of days afield when my father drilled into me the mechanics...

  7. The Great Pigeon Caper
    (pp. 37-49)

    It all started when Bob Spangler got the .410 single-action shotgun for his birthday, a year after my parents gave me the .22 caliber rifle. The rifle accounted for a couple of squirrels and rabbits that first fall, a somewhat rewarding circumstance from my standpoint since it not only moved me, at age sixteen, into the ranks of grownup hunters, but it created a lot of satisfactory envy among my neighborhood peers, Spang and Jack Darkins.

    The .22 rifle, however, paled in comparison to the .410 shotgun. Even though the .410 was the smallest smoothbore weapon made—discharging only a...

  8. The Winchester Fly Rod
    (pp. 51-59)

    Just about everyone identifies Winchester as a maker of fine firearms—even individuals who never got any closer to a gun than watching a John Wayne western. But few people are aware that once, long ago, there was a Winchester brand of split bamboo fly rods, superb examples of the rod craftsman's art. One of these came into my possession during my sophomore year in high school, which happened to be 1937.

    The rod came to me by way of Roy Nord, head of the sporting goods department in the biggest hardware store in my home town. No one ever...

  9. A Faint Odor of Fish
    (pp. 61-67)

    G.A., one of my early cohorts in seeking various wild creatures—feathered, furred, or finned—was considered variously by our high school peers as ornery, treacherous, and even devilish. Such appellations, I felt, were somewhat exaggerated. To me, G.A. was rather a person with a single-minded approach to life. That is, single-minded in the respect that his success came first, such details as fair play, good sportsmanship, and other encumbering details notwithstanding. Coupled with this was a somewhat devious mentality, which seemed to derive considerable pleasure from the discomfort of others. Outside of that, he was a heck of a...

  10. Simply Shocking Fish Stories
    (pp. 69-77)

    Pale, blue-gray mist hung over the silvery surface of the DuPage River as B.J. Skaggs and I slid under the barbed wire cattle fence and stalked across the dew-drenched bluegrass pasture. It was one of those “Thank God I’m alive” mornings, with Canada thistles unfurling their purple heads, meadowlarks whistling cheery welcomes from cedar fence posts, and crows cawing raucously from distant woodlands.

    A forever restless farm stream, clear and cool as well water, the DuPage each day added its flow to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, urgently, inexorably heading for the Gulf of Mexico some two thousand miles...

  11. Thanksgiving Goose
    (pp. 79-85)

    They came off the lake two miles distant with the typical high-pitched honking of Canada geese heading out to feed. My brother-in-law Howie and I had scouted these geese all week, and we thought we had them about figured out.

    Each evening the geese came off the refuge just at sunset and flew out to the farm fields, warily circling lower and lower until finally landing to graze for a half hour in corn or soybean stubble. There was an outside possibility of catching them feeding in a field, which might lend itself to a stalk on hands and knees...

  12. A Matter of Civic Good
    (pp. 87-93)

    Lil and I drove the Chevy down the grassy lane and into the weedy yard alongside the ramshackle house trailer. We piled out, went around in front, and spied the proprietor hunched on the front steps.

    “How ya doin’, Charlie?” Lil called out.

    The old man turned an uncharacteristically sad stare upon us and spit a stream of brown tobacco juice with unerring aim into one of a half dozen coffee cans placed strategically around the yard.

    “No darn good,” he said.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “All me minnies is dead.”

    “Your minnows are dead?”

    “Yeah . . . they got kilt.”...

  13. The Irish Rebellion
    (pp. 95-101)

    Rusty was the orneriest piece of dog flesh that ever got concealed inside a sleek cover of mahogany Irish setter fur. It was difficult to understand how such an absolutely handsome field dog could be so utterly full of hate. Hate for everybody and everything. Just flat mean. Of course, some hunters said his owner, my old hunting buddy George, was equally ornery, but that was an inaccurate impression. George was simply single-minded when it came to bird hunting. He focused entirely on the matter at hand and brooked no outside distraction. If, for instance, he was hunting bobwhite, he...

  14. Brown Trout and Other Problems
    (pp. 103-109)

    Like many of our ancestors who came to these shores from other lands, the brown trout,Salmo trutta,arrived in America from Europe in the 1800s. But unlike our immigrant predecessors who often came as described by poetess Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty: “. . . your tired, your poor. . . the wretched refuse of your teeming shore . . . ,” the brown trout was and is an aristocrat, the royalty of Old World fisheries. And for many North American anglers the species continues to hold a position of princely esteem. In addition, this majestic warrior...

  15. The Wendigo
    (pp. 111-117)

    On a segment of the Minnesota-Ontario border, fourteen-mile-long Crooked Lake pours over Curtain Falls in a thunder of foam into a series of churning rapids leading to Iron Lake. The falls and surrounding granite-rimmed gorge are preferred subjects for photography by modern-day canoe paddlers, who portage around the cascade on a trail worn smooth over centuries by thousands of bare feet, moccasins, and boots. This portion of the ancient voyageurs’ fur route offers a scene of incredible beauty. It is also a scene of danger. The Ojibwa people believe it is the home of a wendigo, the most feared evil...

  16. Pop Dixon
    (pp. 119-125)

    “D’ye hae any fr-rogs, laddie?”

    The bushy-browed, crusty old Brit with a broad Northumberland accent sat in the boat, eyeing our lightweight spinning tackle with a mixture of suspicion and disdain.

    “No . . . no frogs,” I replied, “but we’ve got something just as good or better.”

    At that comment, the bushy eyebrows shot up, and the eyes beneath changed from suspicion to pure disbelief: “Wha manner-r o’ bait would ye be refer-rin’ to?”

    “Jigs and plastic grubs.”

    “Ah, noo, laddie.” The old man shook his head. “If ye intend to get yoursel’ some fish in this lake, ye’ll...

  17. The Great Crooked Lake Bear Hunt
    (pp. 127-133)

    There probably wasn’t a better location for a fishing camp than the one Billy Zup built and operated on Crooked Lake. Billy liked to say that when he came home from the U.S. Army in 1945, he took a saw and a hand ax, went up to Crooked Lake, and built the place. This, of course, was an exaggeration . . . but, then, Billy occasionally tended to exaggerate a trifle. Situated on the south shore of what was later to become part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and almost casting distance from the boundary of Ontario’s Quetico Park,...

  18. Nuts of Neverhunt
    (pp. 135-143)

    When an old hunting dog dies, there is a time for grieving, a time for remembrance. And, eventually, there comes a time to think of another dog. Thus, some months after our old retriever Babe died, I started glancing through the outdoor magazines, studying various breeds, talking to dog-owning friends, figuring, comparing. Should I get another retriever? Or maybe a pointing dog? Tough decision.

    A couple of times I had hunted woodcock and grouse with Pete Doran, owner of some very fine pointing Brittany spaniels. And some local hunters had German shorthairs with impressive credentials on both grouse and waterfowl....

  19. Hustled on the Mitawan
    (pp. 145-153)

    Mike Banovetz, at age eighteen, was a dedicated stream trout angler. He is still a dedicated stream trout angler, but not like when he was eighteen. Maybe “dedicated” is a poor description. A better word might be “fanatic.” When he worked as a wilderness guide for Lil and me at our canoe outfitting base on Moose Lake, he talked about trout fishing nonstop. When he had a few hours or a day off, he went trout fishing. Due to time constraints, his range was somewhat limited to the series of small, cold, clear streams that flow north from the Laurentian...

  20. The Pope and Young Bear
    (pp. 155-163)

    Larry Whitmore is a dead shot with a bow and arrow. Within twenty-five yards, he can place a barbed shaft in a target with very nearly the same pinpoint accuracy as a rifle shooter. When I first met Larry, a quarter century ago, he had racked up several whitetail and mule deer, a wild turkey, and a couple of antelope with his bow. What the young man had never done was put an arrow into a trophy black bear, an experience he hankered for with almost compulsive zeal. Indeed, he talked endlessly about getting a bear that would make the...

  21. Playing It Close
    (pp. 165-169)

    “Four P.M.” Harry Lambirth checked his wristwatch. “Magie ought to be flying in here by five or so.”

    We were stretched out on the grassy shore of Fourtown Lake—Harry, his wife, Mary, Lil, and I, resting our backs after paddling and portaging in from Crooked Lake. We had come up the Horse River, crossed Horse Lake and the portage to Fourtown, then paddled to the clearing on the west shore where back in the 1920s the old Cloquet rail line brought locomotives in to pick up massive white pine logs. The huge pines were long gone and the railroad...

  22. The Very Important Person
    (pp. 171-179)

    He was a young man who had enjoyed some business success. He had traveled widely and was known to have spent a considerable amount of time in the outdoors, especially on the canoe trails of North America. However, he had never paddled the waters of the Quetico-Superior canoe country, a challenge that drew him to Ely, Minnesota.

    Certainly, that afternoon when he first came into the newspaper office and introduced himself, he appeared genial and steady-eyed and offered a firm handshake. His wife, though very quiet, was pleasant. Both appeared fit from many miles on the canoe trails, and when...

  23. Luck on the Redgut
    (pp. 181-185)

    It was one of those bright, windswept, high-barometer summer days in the north country. The sky was cerulean blue, the water shading from cobalt to ultramarine with whitecaps curling in huge crests across the broad width of Rainy Lake. We had gotten an early start from Bill Fontana’s dock at Fort Frances and were well down the lake before the biggest waves began to pile up. Clamped on the left side of our fifteen-foot Grumman canoe was a sidebracket gripped by a purring three-horse Evinrude outboard. We had a long way to go over big water to our destination at...

  24. Going Home
    (pp. 187-195)

    It had snowed, thawed, and frozen again and the Ely streets were icy. Lil was downtown, shopping, looking in all the storefronts filled with colorful Christmas gifts. Some jewelry caught her eye, and she paused by a store window, then took a step backward, and her feet slipped on the ice. She went down in a heap on the sidewalk. For a moment she was stunned. Several passersby and a store clerk rushed to help her up, and she managed to walk the two blocks to the newspaper where I was working, came in, and slumped heavily in a chair....