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Murphy's Law in the Boundry Waters

The Superior National Forest located in the Arrowhead Region in northeastern Minnesota next to Ontario, Canada, is vast and wild. It contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness where no motor boats, jet skis, pontoons or engines of any kind are allowed. To get your canoe from one river or lake to the other, you portage it. If you decide to get away from it all for a day or a week, it's a great place to go.

If you go the wilderness route, don't go alone and don't go with a group of rum-dums who think a pine cone is a flavor of ice cream. The first thing to do is to decide your objectives up there in the woods. If you'd like to do some fishing, enjoy some fellowship (friendship, companionship, company, campfire conversation and close quarters) and eat more than seeds, nuts and herbs, keep reading -- this column can be your guide to a successful wilderness experience even though you may be a rum-dum yourself.

Ok, so you want to do some serious fishing. Then make sure there's one serious, experienced, successful, intense fisherman in the group. If his name is Murphy you have the right guy. This is the number one rule and it's so important it's called Murphy's Law. Get in his boat as often as you can, listen to what he says, do what he does and watch him catch fish. I claim that I bring good luck to Murphy because whenever he fishes with me he catches fish. He will make sure there's always something to eat.

Then if you're also serious about fellowship, make sure you have one leader who can see beyond the horizon and get you looking in the same direction, a man of depth, wisdom and judgment -- a "Wade In The Water" type who knows how to encourage, motivate, inspire and clean fish. There's a winning combination if there ever was one.

Then, absolutely essential for happy campers is a guy who could have a TV show called "The Wilderness Chef" -- a guy who thinks creatively, plans in infinite detail and prepares food like kings and presidents eat. And if he's clever, funny, friendly and a veteran of varied outdoor experiences, everything tastes even better. This is not a canned pork and beans guy, this is a guy who uses herbs and spices you've never heard of and serves up masterpieces with foreign names. Don't leave home without him.

Don't get careless with the others you join. If you can bring one young, strong horse who can lift a ton, smile constantly and wash dishes, make sure he's on board. He could even carry a body out of the woods if necessary. Add, if you can, a guy who grew up on a farm, knows hard work, knows how to make things work and has a generous nature. Don't miss having a guy with enough medical skill and experience to fix your broken leg if he had to, remove your hatchet from your foot and stitch it (the foot that is, not the hatchet) and who is second in fishing skill only to Murphy. That guy would also have the pleasing habit of paying undeserved compliments to rum-dums. And finally, to round out a supporting cast of seven, choose a scholarly type with experience in managing people, streamlining a business, a man with all around organizational and financial skills and outdoor experience.

If you can surround yourself with seven like those, the eighth guy can be a rum-dum who does nothing but make smart-alec remarks and aggravate the other seven. He's about as welcome as a slice of onion in a hot fudge sundae.

Once you get those eight together, there are just a few more things to remember. Here are 10 lessons never to be forgotten:

1. When shaking pepper in a high wind, shake at an angle to make sure you hit your target.

2. If you have no minnows and you catch a walleye that spits out a minnow, use that minnow to catch your next walleye.

3. When the hot sun is beating down on your canoe, try to ride with a guy wearing a hat big enough to provide shade for both of you.

4. A dip in the Kawishiwe River with a bar of soap is no hot shower, but it sure beats a sauna on a hot day.

5. A good motto is "seldom is heard a discouraging word."

6. There is a time to fish and a time to rest.

7. The name of the game is not comfort.

8. We live in an awesome creation where one moose splashing through the water is more beautiful than a thousand jet skis.

9. Good companions are more important than good bait.

10. No group should include more than one rum-dum.