This space is normally reserved for the “nuts and bolts” outdoor articles I pen each week, but we can all use a little humor from time to time.
Let me relive a day in the outdoors I spent about 12 years ago. Looking back, the events that occurred that day are priceless but, I wouldn’t go back and do it again for a thousand dollars!
I have a couple of brothers-in-law that I have led astray on various outdoor adventures through the years. Both are hard-working, stable individuals, but they each occasionally like to get out and have some “real” fun. Heck, one is even a Baptist minister!
I love to float rivers and streams and “new waters” are a passion for me. There’s something special about floating down a river and seeing sights you have never seen before. I had studied maps of a stretch of the Sabine River for weeks and invited my brothers-in-law to join me for a day of exploring the backwoods via my 14-foot boat. The plan was for us to launch beside a highway, use Sam’s OLD 7.5 kicker, motor upstream about 10-12 miles and float back down, fishing for catfish in the log jams.
We launched at first light, clamped the little engine on the transom and pulled the starter rope and PULLLLLED the starter rope! The coil or something went bad and it would not run. There we were, ready to go, but without power. We couldn’t fight the current going upstream with paddles.
What to do?
Tell you what, boys, let’s draw straws and see which two of us floats DOWNSTREAM to the next highway.
We looked at the map and by the “hook or crook” method, estimated it to be about 20 miles. My more sane brother-in-law said, “I’ll meet you downstream whenever you tell me to, you two go ahead, that’s fine with me.” No problem. He said. “We’ll meet you at 6 this evening at the next downstream bridge. Be there, OK?” I said.
The two of us were soon rounding the first bend of the river, waving to our more “sane” counterpart on the bank back at the bridge. The current was gentle and all it took was a few paddle strokes to keep us pointed downstream. Beautiful spring weather, birds chirping, fish jumping, life was good!
We occasionally pulled the boat ashore to soak some worms in brush piles and even managed to catch a few bream and smallish catfish.
The day was about as relaxing as a day can be. We saw a herd of feral goats coming down to water that were as wild as deer. We even saw a wild sow with a litter of pigs laying in the shade of a willow along water’s edge.
We had no idea how long it would take to make the downstream meeting point so we kept on the move. Once we saw a group of six or eight teenage boys setting on a high bluff and asked them “how far to the next bridge?” They looked at us like we were from another planet. I was thinking DELIVERANCE!
Around 4:40 in the afternoon, we rounded a bend and spotted the bridge a quarter-mile downstream — a welcomed sight, but we were also a little sad, our adventure was coming to a close.
We were plenty early so we pulled the boat up on the bank and walked over to talk to an old gentleman with two grandsons that appeared to be in their early 20s. It was obvious this was a pretty rowdy crew. The old man was pulling pretty hard from a jug of “old lightning rod” and the boys looked a bit “altered.”
They had managed to set out a few limb lines for catfish. They were “THERE” for the night and had absolutely no intentions of leaving until the next morning.
It had rained the previous day and the grade on the dirt trail was steep and slick leading down to the river. Their battered old truck looked like it would have a tough time making the grade when the ground was dry.
Six o’clock and no brother-in-law. Seven and no brother in law. We were starting to worry. Where is he? We were at the next bridge downstream; this we knew for a fact. The concrete structure was one of the few signs of modern civilization that we had seen all day!
Ten o’clock and we were still passing the time, watching our “companions” get more and more into that jug of “lightning rod!” It was obvious we needed them to take us to a phone to call our wives. We were more than willing to pay them.
“No deal,” stammered the old fellow. “We’re here to FISH!”
A crisp $20 bill (that promised more liquid refreshment) finally tempted him to allow us an attempt at the steep hill with his ancient pick-up. On the third try, I managed to get it up the hill (Naturally, I was doing the driving). We found a pay phone down the road and called my sister. WHERE IN THE H___ ARE Y’ALL!” was her reply!
My brother-in-law had been waiting for us at the NEXT bridge, about 20 miles farther downstream! We got home around midnight, tired and a bit wounded from all the chewing out our wives gave us!
The moral of this story? When floating unknown waters, make SURE you have a vehicle at your take out point!