Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Wind on the Rez

| January 8, 2020 7:33 AM

One day last week I checked the Wunderground app to see how strong the wind was blowing in Babb. 42 mph.

Forty years ago, if we decided to go ice fishing on the rez, we couldn’t check the ‘Net. We just headed over the Continental Divide and if the wind was blowing too hard, we sat in the truck and ate venison jerky.

On my first winter eastside trips in the early 70’s, Joe Moody, Bill McCleskey and Ralph Johnson told me stories about a train that had been blown off the tracks.

I didn’t doubt it for a second!

One afternoon, driving from Browning to McGee Lake, the wind ripped the topper off my Datsun pickup.

I hit the brakes and we watched the topper rolling, end over end, heading east across a pasture towards Cut Bank. The mounting bolts had been sheared off.

On a trip to Hope Lake, I drilled a couple of holes behind Ralph’s truck, then sat on the tailgate because the ice was so slippery.

Problem was the wind was blowing so hard, the truck kept moving!

More than once, we watched buckets, rods, skimmers and gloves blowing away from us on the ice.

Every spring the rocks on the windward east end of Duck Lake held quite an assortment of lost ice fishing gear.

I never saw an ice house blowing across the ice, but I have no doubt that it happened more than once.

And I wonder, as Pat McManus wrote, if there were long scratch lines in the ice made by dragging fingernails.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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