DeVar and Dad and the Salt River Adventure – I

We were admiring the photo contest entries on the big screen TV at the Central Washington Sportsmen Show in the SunDome. Cousin Ron and I were chatting with Homey Incognito, one of the judges for my outdoor adventure writing contest. The subject on the floor was our fathers and the ways we had worked to get – and keep – them outside. Somewhere in there we shifted to our own sons and daughters keeping us outdoors, and the love and respect which underlies these relationships. We may have touched on the role of the unexpected and family humor.

Homey looked at me and smiled. “Use that DeVar guy’s story,” he said. “It’s just what we’re talking about here.” Enough said. Here is Part I of DeVar Gleed’s generational tale.

“In October, my Dad and I decided to make another trip to our favorite Wyoming trout stream. We would try to coax angry, reckless browns and hungry, fattening cutthroat to our net. Mom threatened to accompany us unless I guaranteed my dad would not go near the water. I reminded her that this was a fishing trip, but told her I would make sure he was safe. (The last time I was able to control my dad – well – I’ve never been able to control my dad!)

“We left Layton, Utah and wove our way through northern Utah, Southeast Idaho and eventually into Western Wyoming’s Star Valley (home of elk hunters, hardened fishermen and Butch Cassidy’s one-time hideout).

“We started with the obligatory stop by the small tackle shop in Afton, WY. The day’s hot tip was that the recent cold snap and low water had kept the browns down near the reservoir. We grabbed a few overpriced $10 lures and headed for the Grover homestead. On the way we stopped by to check on access to our secret spots. The old timer cattle rancher that managed the property was out moving cattle. I reached out to shake his well-worn hand. He greeted me in his Western Wyoming drawl and granted us access to holes otherwise inaccessible – with instructions to close all gates behind us. As I retrieved my hand it had a nice swath of cow manure across it.  Unintentional, I’m certain, and a small price to pay for access to private property!

“Grover, WY has a post office, city park, Mormon Church and not much else. It is our base camp – my mother-in-law’s childhood home – visited in the fall by only the most hardened of fishermen. My dad especially enjoys the mid-60s feel of everything in the house. We settled in, equipped with a few space heaters to beat the low 20s temperatures (the old coal hopper hasn’t worked for years) and plenty of mom’s quart jars of bottled soup, fruit and grape juice.

“Day 1 started out following the tackle shop’s advice and heading north to the mouth of the stream (the Salt River flows north off the Continental Divide, eventually joining the Snake at Palisades reservoir). I read the water and knew that I shouldn’t do what I did – cast my brand new $10 sinking Rapala lure into shallow rapids.  I lost it on cast #2. We spent about an hour getting skunked – except the giant sucker fish dad caught – and left for one of the more familiar holes.

“As I was gearing up and searching for my net (lost at the first hole), I noticed dad heading off towards the familiar bend. Remember the still small voice that tells you things you should do – that more often than not gets ignored?  Yeah – that one. It was telling me to call out and tell dad to wait for me. Instead, I got my gear and hurried after him. I walked about 50 yards, looking down to miss the many cow pies in my path. I looked up to see my dad standing on the other side of the barbed wire fence with blood running down his hand!

“I asked dad what happened, since the hole we fish is another 50 yards. He said he knew, but wanted to fish this stretch here (motioning to a nice, deep cut bank). He described how his boot caught on the fence, he tripped and instinctively grabbed for the top wire. Unfortunately it was full of barbs and made a mess of his hand. I helped him back through the fence and I told him we needed to get to the doctor, but he insisted I fish the hole. I said no, we need to go. My objections went unheeded as he proceeded to the hole, his hand wrapped in a tourniquet of toilet paper he always kept in his pocket (now bright red) and pressed tight with a small stick. He watched while I fished the hole. I asked every cast about his hand, and he assured me it was fine.

“I got skunked, and we hiked to the car – stopping only to look for dad’s Rapala (he wasn’t about to leave a $10 lure on the river). He spotted it, I crawled through the fence to get it, and we headed to the car. It was a fast trip to the Afton hospital…”

To be continued…

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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