Poet Lariat 1

From Poet Lariat Archives, TroutBums.com, 2006

 Lekking in Hurley, Yooper Bars, and a Note About Midgets

I’m headed to the U.P. for the sixth consecutive year to ride with conservation officers in several counties, policing the B.O.B. (Blaze Orange Brigade).

Forecasts for the firearms deer season above the bridge predict results similar to last year, during which a 24-inch snowfall on the second day in the west end put a severe damper on overall success and sent a lot of hungers scurrying for home. I doubt there will be another dumping of such magnitude, but you never know up there.

I worked the first day of 2005 with an officer near Bessemer and drove back to Crystal Falls that night in a whiteout, 110-mile trip, that took five hours to complete. My knuckles were white for several days. The day after the storm another officer and i spent most of our day with axes and a chainsaw, hacking our way into Iron County camps, and clearing two-tracks.

Back in my high school days at Rudyard in Chippewa County we used to hear tales of Hurley, Wisconsin,where you could drink 3.2 beer if you were 18, and busloads of hookers were alleged to bus up from Milwaukee or over from MInnie Polis to work the redclad joints.

I lived at Kincheloe AFB then and the airmen used to say that deer season was the best time to hunt local women, because when their men headed for deer camp, the women headed to local bars to “get even.”

These meeting were often billed as Hunters’ Balls, which in this new context is kinda funny. They occurred most often a joints named the Sportsman’s Bar.

I always found this intriguing and recently discovered among animal behaviorists a term for the phenomenon. A lek is a gathering of males of a certain species for the purposes of acompetitive mating display. The term comes from the Swedish word, “lek,” which represents pleasurable and less rule-bound games and activities. According to the on-line Wikipidia the same males meet at traditional place and take up the same individual positions in the “arena,” each occupying and defending a small area or court. The competitors spar with their neighbors with extravagant visual or aural displays (e.g. dances, plumage displays, vocal challenges).

I don’t know where lekkers who score end up on those nights, but the losers sometimes end up cruising two-tracks with loaded rifles and lights, looking for deer — the presumed consolation prize for losing the lek. Effective and moxey game wardens know where such watering holes are and which fields are close and vulnerable, and sometimes sit waiting for the unlucky-at-lekking to start cruising.

Other thatnthe alleged reputation of Hurley’s bars and legendery goings-on during deer seasons of past years, I recently heard from my fishing pal Lars (from Ironwood) that the Hurley Midgets won the all-class Wisconsin basketball state championship in 1949, beating La Crosse Logan 37-36, and finishing the season 24-2. Most of us enjoyed the movie Hoosiers. How about a new flick, Cheeseheads? When a small school wins an all-class anything in any state, it deserves attention. I may look into this one further, though I’ll try to avoid Hurley during the deer/lekking season. Midgets? I can already hear the rail of the P.C.Police

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