What red-blooded American male wouldn’t kill to go on a Lake of the Woods ice fishing trip? Back in the early 90’s, (that’s 1990’s, not 1890’s) my answer was always a resounding, “Fawkinnae Yes!” Fishing was generally quite good and the camaraderie was excellent, just the recipe for a good party.
As was the custom at first ice, a group of friends set out for Baudette, MN on a snowy Thursday night. Seven guys in 3 different vehicles, some pulling trailers full of fishing gear and portables, were on their way to another exciting ice fishing voyage to Lake of the Woods. Since this was before the popularity of cell phones, each vehicle was equipped with a crude type of walkie talkie device commonly used on the railroads. It was a heavy telephone-like unit powered by old-fashioned dry cell batteries. A bit cumbersome, yes, but the ability to communicate between vehicles and fish houses was excellent entertainment.
The trip up had more than it’s share of hijinx what with the walkie talkies and all but we were relatively well behaved. We fished and drank all day Friday and Saturday and caught our share of fish. One of the drunks even caught an exceptional walleye on Friday and "Fawkinnae" was often spoken. But it’s what happened on Saturday night that puts this story into another dimension.
Bob, one of the guys on this trip, was normally quite fun but there was something different about Bob on this trip. He just wasn’t his jovial self and seemed inclined to get sloppy drunk more than his usual self, more than the rest of us. It turned out that Bob was having girl problems back home, so we just let him do what he had set out to do and joined him in at least every other beer.
Fishing on Saturday was about the same as it had been the day before with a flurry of action here and there. We didn’t crack our first beers until about 8:00 AM choosing instead to “save” ourselves for our annual Saturday night “Last Night in the Wilderness Party”. We got to feeling better with every beer and picked up the pace. Bob had now resorted to occasional shots to ease his pain. While there were a few naps taken, they were short in duration as the hardier ones among us would not allow the nappers to sleep for long. We had easily consumed at least a case per person before leaving the lake for the cabin. We cleaned up and headed over to Hungry Fisherman for dinner and drinks.
As it happened, there was a wedding reception that night. After dinner, our party of seven found ourselves as the original “wedding crashers” securing a table inside the reception hall. None of us needed another drink but Bob insisted that we do some shots. He was on his last leg now, going in and out of consciousness. We humored him for awhile but he finally faded off to a sound sleep, attracting a lot of curious looks and quite a few visits from the girls in the wedding party. They were decorating him with every kind of wedding paraphernalia they could find as well as lipstick, condoms and other delights from the bathroom vending machine! He was quite a sight!
The girls would make trips to the bathroom vending machine and each successive trip would yield a new erotic adornment. Next they took turns sitting on his lap while they sat for photos. I think we’ve all seen emails of the victims of hazing and party abuse on the internet. This spectacle would equal or surpass anything I have witnessed to date. We just sat there, smiled, and took it all in. It would have been fun for us to have a few photos too, but we knew that, “What goes Up North, stays Up North” and anything of the sort would have been a severe violation of the unwritten rules of male bonding.
When we left the bar for the cabin, four went with my brother in his truck while we loaded a still passed out Bob in the middle of my truck seat with Tom riding copilot. We headed down the highway toward the cabin. We were about a mile from the turnoff to the resort when I noticed the flashing lights in my rear view mirror. I glanced down at my speedometer which read 75. “Fawkinnae, I’m toast!” I thought as I eased the F-150 to the shoulder. The State Trooper greeted me at my window and asked me for my license.
Try to imagine the look on the young officer's face when he first shined his flashlight on the comatose and colorfully decorated Bob. That vision alone may have been enough for him to come to the determination that we had suffered enough for one night. Bob was decorated with about every colored marker and lipstick variety known to man. Beer cans were stacked on his head. He had an inflated, fluorescent, multi-colored ribbed condom hanging from each ear. The girls at the wedding had done quite a makeup job on old Bob.
While the trooper left to check out my license, I told Tom he’d have to make arrangements to pick me up in Warroad the next day as I was surely going to jail. The trooper asked me to come back to his squad and surprisingly put me in the passenger seat! While he was writing and asking me questions, I continued to talk to him while facing the passenger window. He pointed out my “Fire” license plates and I indicated that I was a volunteer fireman back home. I then started dropping names of people I knew or might have known at the State Patrol. I must have hit on one of them as I told him I went to school with captain “so and so”. By the grace of God, he said I could go back to my truck! He came back to the truck, shined his light on the sleeping and decorated Bob, shook his head and asked Tom to remove the fur hat he had in his lap. Sure enough, when the hat was removed, there sat a partial can of beer, Fawkinnae! He took the beer, poured it out, and threw it in the back of the truck, saying that he was going to follow us back to the resort and he’d better not see us venturing out for the rest of the night!!!
I never got the trooper’s name or I’d have been certain to do something special for him. That officer saved our weekend and created a memory I will never forget. I can’t explain what happened that night or why I got a break, but I was never so thankful to be back safely at the cabin. We celebrated profusely after arriving at the cabin and left the next morning with pounding heads firmly resolving to never let this happen again! Until next year that is!
#lakeofthewoods #walleyefishing #icefishing #shithappens #baudettemn