Herby's last fishing trip!

Death is always with us.

What the three dudes told us was this:
"We got there the usual way. Took the North-West flight from Chicago, then we caught the twin turbo-prop feeder in the Twin Cities to the Falls. Your limo picked us up and shuttled us over the border. Then we were four."
Hillary, James, Fred, and Herby.
Age 62. School buddies. Two lawyers, one insurance man, and a businessman.
"We've been flying with Rusty's for 27 years. Same cabin, first week in June, when the fishing is best. We've survived an engine-out landing, outlasted a three day wait at base for the weather to clear up, out smarted 7 bear visits at the cabin, got twice enlightened by lightning strikes, were shaken by one tornado, and impressed by numerous other little adventures. Fishing had been very excellent every year.
Your pilot, Jeff, on-loaded us at your base in Fort Frances, we took on fuel in Savant and finally reached our goal, Footprint Lake."
At this point in their story the three turned solemn and somewhat reserved.
"No sooner then when the Beaver's floats had broken the water to leave, did Herby suddenly stiffen up and utter: UHH, ohh, ah ahhh!
He just stood there for a second or two, turning reaaally gray, then slowly reaching up to his heart. Fred, the insurance guy, leapt to his side, but Herby, saying his last words for ever; 'Shitty fishing anyway,' sank down, dead as a rusty doornail.
Now, what to do? We had booked our usual five days and would likely not see a soul until we got picked up at the end of 'em."
"Of course," James said, "we could have walked out of the bush. It's only fifteen miles to the next logging road. We would have made it too; we're used to the outdoors."
"But, what for?" Paul the remaining lawyer interrupted. "What was he going to do? Sue Us???"
"We thought about it for a while, them decided the best thing to do was to undress him and lay him in the cold water. We tied one end of a rope around his ankle, the other around a dock-log, so he wouldn't float away. After that was done we grabbed our stuff, carried it to the cabin, unpacked our rods and reels and went fishing. Herby wouldn't have wanted us to sulk."
"This year the fishing proved to be exceptionally good," Fred said.
"But, the water wasn't very cold. We gathered a couple rocks and weighed him down with them. Lifting him in the boat was no easy task. We drove out a bit and sank him to the bottom, about 30 feet. Cold enough down there. Of course, we had an empty detergent bottle connected to him with a long rope to show us where he rested, for the time being."
"That was my idea," James explained.
"The day Jeff came to pick us up with the Beaver we had Herby already recovered. A snapper turtle had done an ugly job on him though. His eyes and other soft parts had supplied the turtle with a hearty meal. Also, he had bloated quite a bit.
Your pilot threw up on sight; 'guess he never seen a dead person before, never mind the rough shape. He certainly wasn't impressed. First he didn't want to have nothing to do with him. But, we couldn't leave him any longer. He wasn't going to get any better. So we finally agreed to tying him outside onto the float. Your buddy said it would work just like flying a canoe strapped to the side.
A sleeping bag doubled as a temporary body bag and we made sure it held the corpse inside. That accomplished, we strapped him to the pilot's side float, loaded the plane, jumped in, shoved off, and took off. Jeff said he looked down a few times. Somehow an arm slipped out and flapped a bit in the airstream, as if waving goodbye to the lake."
Old Herby had made his last trip.
"Of course we'll be back next June," Fred said upon leaving us with their coffin in tow.

"Herby would want us to."

Note from the Editor. I would like to thank Mike Kemper for this great story he wrote after flying for a time with Rusty Myers.


Beech 18 image by Rich Hulina.

Dave's Bush Pilot tip! Remember to loop the ropes through the body bag handles when you tie them to the floats. Saint Air lost one over the bush once when the pilot didn't tie it so well. The attitude indicator will take you back to Aviation Friends.

John S Goulet Editor

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Last modified on May 30, 1997.
Virtual Horizons, 1996.