Jul 10, 2018

The Trophy Tackle Box

By Hannah Dumke, from the voice of Roger Gasser


It was one of our annual fishing trips to Canada, just myself, my son Pat and my son-in-law, Art. We’ve been fishing in Ontario for many years, recently finding particularly great success at Long Lake. After passing Thunder Bay we would drive about 75 to 80 miles on washboard logging roads deep into the wilderness, making it near impossible to survive the trip without a cracked windshield. It was a brutal ride out, rougher than a cobb, so to say, but the end reward was well worth it. After spending several days on Long Lake we reexamined the map, noticing a nice sized lake we could portage to. Anticipating great adventure and monster size walleye we loaded our 17ft aluminum canoe with our fishing gear, a lunch, and emergency survival supplies. Once we arrived at the portage site we decided to leave behind the non-necessities, making our load light and our hike easier. Having seen canoers portage our lake the day before I decided to take a few baits and hide my tackle box behind some brush in the woods. I advised the boys to do the same, knowing how much value was inside our tackle box it was just not worth the risk. Art disbelieving that anyone would steal his tackle box in the wilderness of Canada decided to leave it out in the open.

We went on our way, portaging our canoe, sipping on Old Style and fishing like our lives depended on it. The trip was worth the effort as we caught our day's catch in Walleyes, Northerns, and wild blueberries. All too quickly our beautiful day turned to late afternoon, we decided it was time to head back, Art and Pat portaging the boat as I lead the way with our day's catch. About a 1,000 yards head of the boys, I arrived at the opening of our base lake, noticing bear tracks and Arts tackle box missing. As Pat and Art arrived, Art instantly asked, “Roger what did you do with my tackle box?, assuming I had hidden it to teach him a lesson. I suggested that he  take a closer look, noticing the tracks he blurted “Oh, shit.” I began reloading our canoe, saying that there was no use looking for it. Art protesting, explained that he had about $200 worth of baits and that we should at least look around.

Searching for a half hour without a clue we decide to split up, Art going left, Pat going right, and myself walking back up the portage trail. Half way up the trail I noticed slightly trampled bush as if an animal had barged through it. 

I cautiously walked up the hill, sticking my head up over the ridge. Fifteen feet away casually gnawing on Arts tackle box is the bear. Our eyes met, within one sniff the bear swiftly stood giving a low warning growl. Not thinking, I grab a giant stick, waved it above my head and roared right back at him. He took a couple steps at me so I took a couple steps at him. Nearing six feet of separation I continued to look as ferocious as possible. No effect, not even a blink. Having completely dismissed the old proverb, “don’t poke the bear”,  I knew I was in deep shit. With a broken stick and nothing but a Buck knife, I debated listening to the guidelines given in any survival book, never run from a bear. Fighting the instinct to run, I drew out my knife, continued to wave my arms, and roared  as ferociously as humanly possible. As I yelled, I thought, “Oh geez, I sure hope I don't have to fight a bear over a tackle box.” Luckily, my sons beautiful big head appeared over the hill. The bear taking us both in, evaluating his odds, turned, retreating back into the woods.

Replaying this misadventure in our minds, Pat explained how he knew I was in trouble when my manly scream transformed into a high pitch shrill. We picked up the plain ole tackle box, observing several holes the size of a big finger gouged out by the bear's teeth and claws. Though the tackle box had some leaky spots, Art was reunited with his tackle box, Pat got his boy scout good deed award for the day, I unscathed and our boat loaded with our day's catch, we agreed it was just another great Canadian fishing adventure.