“It all depends on what you’re used to,” was the reply from the fellow on the other end of the line. I had answered an ad for a remote cabin on an Upper Peninsula lake I had never heard of before. I was in one of those moods that required some kind of activity, if only a phone call.
The ad said the lake had great fishing from walleye to bass and even trout in the tributaries. And the part that caught my attention was the claim that there was no public access and no cabins on the lake. The claim was that this place, including the cabin, was as primitive as primitive got: No electricity, only kerosene lamps, a propane stove and a wood burner for heat. A rowboat was included – “Bring your own motor and gas if you don’t want to row,” the ad said.
I was skeptical, but the chum worked and I called.
The lake was in the Seeney area, in the middle of the Hiawatha National Forest. Actually I had been there before – on Ross Lake with the Detroit Sportsman’s Congress, on a bear hunt. It was in the 80’s and it was a great time. There were 30 or so and the organizers knew what they were doing: The camp had everything you’d see in an elk hunt ad in Field and Stream; from a cook tent with grills and even an oven, to a generator for the movie projector. All the comforts of home.
I had a pickup with a camper on the back. It was big enough for two and my buddy Ken and I were comfortable, having only to supply our libation.
The area was a true wilderness in the UP tradition and required a vehicle in good mechanical condition to make the trek down the miles of two-tracks to get to the camp set up on Ross Lake.
A guide with dogs was arraigned and a new experience presented itself to Ken and me. We split up in groups – each with a walki-talkie (this was in the early 80’) and roads were dragged clear of tracks so it would be easy to spot where a bear crossed and get the dogs on a scent. When one was found, the guide would call to the other groups and give directions of where to position ourselves to get a glimpse of a bear. No one took a bear that weekend, but a couple were spotted – I decided then and there that wasn’t my type of hunting.
The country was beautiful and being in September, the ferns had begun to turn brown and were everywhere. It was a great time to explore the logging trails. Walking those trails, flushing grouse in pairs, made up my mind to get a pointing dog and I’ve had one ever since.
That was well over 30 years ago and I’ve been to a lot of camps since and have evolved …meaning, from rowing my own boat, to casting while a guide does it for me; to being flown into a remote cabin on a Canadian lake.
I think I’m ready to regress; doing for myself from tying my own flies to beating brush to get the just right angle to cast, sounds wonderful and satisfying. Now, if I could figure a way to talk Seamus into sleeping on a cot.