So, you’re beginning to think about the upcoming hunting season. That’s good, but before you sight your rifle and load up your 4×4, you should spend time reading Bob Dickson’s book based on a lifetime of hunting and fishing.
Dedicated to his deceased Robson friend, Hal Belbeck, Hairless Moose, Whiskey Jack Stew, and a Fish or Two is Dickson’s second book. Following the success of his fireman stories in an earlier book, Firestorm, Dickson delineates another aspect of his life — his interest in acquiring meat for his table through hunting and fishing.
All of the hunting and fishing episodes he writes about are supported by colour photos taken at the time. As you read through Dickson’s book, you realize the satisfaction he felt in finding good hunting locations, spotting game, and shooting the animals he was chasing.
You also realize that he had numerous hunting partners over the years and a variety of vehicles to get him into the great Canadian outback. You’ll clearly recognize many of his hunting partners, people like Len Shay, Roy Percival, Don Sutherland, Gary Fodor, Peter Defoe, and Laurie Vader. With these partners, he seeks adventure upon adventure, heading for hunting grounds in Northern B.C. or the East Kootenay.
Lest I make out that Dickson’s hunting stories are all glorious, the book itself is filled with unsuccessful hunts and strange happenings. On one hunt, another group of men steal their kill. On another trip, he and a friend happen upon a backcountry accident where a vehicle has slammed into a herd of horses and the accident’s driver cannot be extricated.
On another venture, he and his buddies nearly asphyxiate themselves in closed-in sleeping accommodations. Related to these incidents are ones such as getting stuck in the snow, getting lost in new terrain, and going home without a kill. Other experiences relate to Dickson and his hunting buddies locating good camps, deciding how to hang their meat, and sometimes figuring out how to get along.
Hardships often had to do with weather, but occasionally the difficulty had to do with making a kill a long way from roadways. Often, a moose kill involved many hours prepping the carcass and then figuring out how to get the large meat-parts to a pickup spot. Disappointment came with knowing animals were in the area of their hunt, but not being able to bring one of them down.
The book’s title gives hints as to the strange things that can happen on hunting trips. How can one end up with a hairless moose? What indeed is a whiskey jack stew? And what is the fascination with getting out into the great beyond of B.C., often freezing your butt off, and seeking animals and fish that may or may not be there? Dickson’s book looks at all these questions — and a whole lot more.
His fishing stories take up the last part of the book, and he regales us with episodes from the Columbia River, the Arrow Lakes, and Kootenay Lake. Part of the fun of these stories is that his wife Shirl gets hooked on fishing, so much so that Bob has a hard time getting her off the lake even as storms approach. Other fishing forays find them in Haida Gwaii and later on Vancouver Island. A final section describes his many ice-fishing jaunts in the West Kootenay.
Reading these true-life episodes gives insight into the many-sided aspects of hunting and fishing. It also gives a picture of one dedicated outdoors individual and his hunting-fishing cronies. If you’re interested in getting a copy of this book with its humorous title, look for it at the Castlegar Fly Shop, Otter Books (Nelson), Crockett Books (Trail), Kootenay Gallery of Art, Valley Firearms (Trail), and Rulala Cafe (Fruitvale). Or try the author at 250-365-5781.