New toy for the arsenal

For 26 years I have been writing the column that you are reading. In other words, every week since 1989 I have hand-written, typed on a typewriter or after 2001 I went to a computer and wrote about my adventure for the past week.

One of the many tools in my arsenal has always been the boat that I use. Until 2001 my rig was a 14-foot AlumaCraft with a 20-horse Mercury pushing it through the waters of Wisconsin.

In 2001 I purchased a 16-foot MirroCraft that has a 40-Mercury on it and has literally been flawless in its service to me. As many of you may remember I have put both of these rigs through some incredibly challenging conditions, especially on Green Bay while living in them and trolling for walleye.

I was a big part of raising three boys who are all in their 20s and of course my 14-year-old daughter, Selina. There were many trips where our family of six, and one or two golden retrievers, and five million pounds of gear were loaded into those rigs and headed for an island or sandbar.

When packing a float plane, bulk and weight were always a concern. Does the bilge pump work (one of the most important tools on a boat) and is the battery charged?

As the boys became older we added tubing behind the Mirro- Craft to our play list and that was a lot of fun until they became too heavy for the motor that was pulling them.

Last year I was on the Flambeau Flowage with Selina and three of her friends with the MirroCraft, and I had the straw that broke the camel’s back – forcing me to make a decision to purchase a boat by this year’s “Flambeau trip!” Not only could I not throw the girls off the tube, they would sit on it, side by side, and more or less go for a tour. In reality, the 50-pound girls had grown into 125-pound young ladies.

Outdoor adventure writers, especially self-syndicated, are not known for having heavy amounts of cash in their bank accounts. Travel expenses and life have kept me in the older pickup and boat category.

This past winter our golden retriever Fire gave birth to 10 pups. I gave the cash from one to Selina and vowed to use the rest for a down payment on a wellthought out upgrade.

For seven months I have been searching for a rig that I could afford ($10,000 maximum) and that would best serve all of my needs from hunting, fishing, a major gear hauler and of course tubing. I had become comfortable stopping at marinas and everywhere that I went, asking people if they knew of a good boat for sale.

The last weekend of June, I was at a KAMO event and I asked my friends if they knew of anyone with a boat for sale. One of my pals said a friend of his did indeed and that he would actually be at the event we were attending.

In a matter of minutes my new friend pulled up and was introduced to Selina and I. The boat that he was willing to part with had been his escape from the real world for many years as he fished for walleye with it on the Wisconsin River.

We were taken to his home and shown a 2004 “War Eagle” which is a modified v, flat-bottom boat. The boat is completely loaded with front and back Minn Kota 55-pound thrust electric motors, two graphs – a Humminbird 797 and a 747 – and best of all “perhaps” a 2006, 90-horse Evinrude Etec.

This boat is a Ducks Unlimited package, and is completely camouflaged and has more storage then I have gear to put in it. My new rig has minimal hours and next to no miles on its ShoreLand’r trailer, as it was not used to travel down the road.

A super-cool bonus is that it has a custom-made canvas cabin that literally makes it a house on the water.

There is more technology on this rig then anything I have ever owned and it will take me years to figure half of it out. I looked at this boat four times. I called just about every friend or family member that I know who understands watercraft and the way that I use it.

From the first time we saw it, Selina said, “Dad, that’s the boat for us.”

For one year my goal was to buy a good rig by the time Flambeau trip came around. That purchase was made six days before we pulled out of the driveway.

The man that I purchased this boat from became a friend to Selina and I, and it was difficult for him to part with the 18-foot War Eagle, his comfort was seeing that it was going to a good home.

About all I can say is, “Yahoo for the mountains.” I got me a quality rig!


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