The last weekend of 2001 sure ushered the old year out
in grand style. On Saturday, my good buddy, Dennis Cook,
insisted that I help him initiate his new ice shanty, or
should I say, ice palace.
Dennis had managed to wrestle the palace onto a select spot
on Tongue River Reservoir the day before with the help of
Carl McGrath. Somehow or another they managed to drag the
shanty to a spot two hundred yards south of a road.
When I picked up Dennis at nine Saturday morning, I wasn't
too thrilled about ice fishing for it was snowing and the
temperature hovered around five degrees. I tried to tell
Dennis that I had given up suffering for Lent about twenty
years ago and that was one Lenten resolution that I had kept.
Dennis assured me that "you will be comfy and warm and if the
fishing is anything like it was when I was last there, we'll
have a mess of crappies to boot."
With reservations I drove on through the snow and cold.
Several large flocks of turkeys along the east side of
the highway seemed oblivious to the cold. My lord, they
were numerous—probably 300 in those three big flocks we
After parking at the edge of the ice, we hoisted Dennis' sled
out of the car and loaded it with buckets, heaters, augers,
lanterns and food and trudged out to the ice palace.
I was absolutely amazed at the size of the shanty, why the
entire Wyoming Democratic Party could have met in it with
room for a couple of independents.
It didn't take Dennis long to fire up the lantern and heater
while I started drilling the holes. In no time we had the
ice chips carted out of the palace and were rigged up. The
water was about 12 foot deep so I set my bobber about ten
inches above bottom and put a wax worm on each of the ice
jigs I was using.
As I was rigging my second rod, I noticed that the bobber
on the first rod was acting a bit suspicious—heck the bobber
was two inches under the surface. I set the hook and hauled
out a seven-inch crappie. Not a bad start, I thought, I
hadn't been fishing more than a minute and I already had one.
Suffice it to say, the palace was soon warm and toasty, I
took off my parka and gloves and sat on a bucket and worked
three rods the rest of the day. I must have caught forty
crappies — none over 8 inches long, but I would rather catch
small fish than none at all.
Dennis ended up with a nearly equal number of crappies, plus
an 18-inch walleye, which he took on a Swedish pimple tipped
with a bit of crappie tongue.
When we quit at dusk and I hadn't come anywhere close to being
uncomfortable I thought that I could get use to fishing in comfort.
What a fine way to ice fish in Dennis' ice palace.
While the ice fishing was great, I still wanted to get out
one last day before Wyoming's pheasant season closed. I
called my rancher friend, Bob, and asked if he cared to
hunt pheasants Sunday afternoon.
"I'm awfully busy," he replied, "and the birds are wilder than
hell. Oh what to heck, come out at 3:30 and we'll hunt until
At three I loaded up my 20 gauge over and under, Ty and Stormy,
three bottles of wild berry jelly (Bob and his wife love my
jellies) and headed out to Bob's.
I knew that it would be tough hunting since it was the end of
the season and these birds had two months of aversive conditioning,
but I thrive on frustrating conditions and I would rather be
hunting wild, running, flushing out of range, pheasants than
sitting at home.
Bob had a plan to jump some birds in one of his stubble fields
and I would wait in ambush. Good planning but poor execution
resulted in all the pheasants flying far from my shooting
We then let the dogs — Bob's two setters and my two black
labs — have at it in the brushy areas along the creek. My
lord, I couldn't believe all the pheasants getting up two
hundred yards or so ahead of me as I fought my way through
the willows. I was beginning to know how Tantalus must
have felt when he was neck deep in water with grapes
overhead and he couldn't drink or eat.
Bob came up with another plan to encircle a large cattail
patch and let the dogs work it over. It worked excellently
but for the most part, the birds got up out of range. After
five minutes of watching numerous pheasants erupt just of out
range, my ten-month-old lab, Stormy, put up a rooster 30 yards
from me. I took a quick shot and dumped the bird in a tangle
of cattails and grass. Poor Stormy never saw the bird drop,
but Ty did. After taking a couple of hand signals, Ty managed
to locate the bird and bring him in.
Bob had managed to bag a rooster, too, so we were feeling
quite smug. In an hour's hunt we had two pheasants.
Bob suggested one last place. Amazingly, we were able to
bag two more roosters and ended up the day feeling even more
smug than two hunters on the next to the last day of the
season should feel.
I have a new year's resolution to fish and hunt just a bit
more than I did this year. I also resolve to enjoy the
sunrises and sunsets and, as my friend, Alma Snell, states
in her book, Grandmother's Grandchild, "Thank
God every day to be walking the face of this earth and ask
that He guide me on his path."
If the last weekend of 2001 is any indication of how well
2002 is going to be, I can hardly wait. Bring on the New
May your New Year be full of blessings, joy, and beauty.
May 2002 be the best year so far in your life. ~ Bob
Bob Krumm is a first-class flyfishing guide on the Big Horn River,
and owner of Blue Quill Flies in Sheridan,
Wyoming. You can reach him at: 307-673-1505 or by email at: