Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

The Doland Poltergeist

Friends, Hunt'n, Strange But True, Tosa Tall Tale

Dear readers...

Every group of friends usually has a collection of favorite stories they share amongst themselves.  I know my friends do.  The guys I have hunted and fished with over so many decades have a vast collection of tales that seem to grow taller with the passage of time.  I want to share with you a story just recently added to our oral tradition that I know will be retold many times in the years to come.  It's a good story and a true story.  I'm sure it will improve with age.

 In the format of a guest post, my friend, Lawyer, will spin the yarn...  

The Doland Poltergeist - As Told by Lawyer

As has been blogged, our gang of pheasant hunters spent Halloween weekend in Doland, South Dakota.   Nine guys shared a 1920???s farmhouse-style three story house with five dogs.  Since Tom, I and our good friend (known to some of you as ???Sees-in-the-Dark???, hereafter ???Sid???) arrived first, we had dibs on rooms.  Sid and I moved upstairs to single rooms, conveniently located next to one of only two bathrooms.   Sid and his Springer Spaniel, Farley, bunked right across the hall from me.

The rest of the gang finally showed up, got settled in, and later on, all went out for drinks and dinner at Doland???s only bar and grill.  After a good night???s sleep, we spent a tough day tromping through soggy sloughs and cornfields - the birds were hard to come by.  We returned home late in the day, threw steaks on the grill, drank beer and an assortment of whiskeys, played cards and talked smart until a little after midnight. 

The next day???s hunt was better, including a number of exhilarating ???run and gun??? Rat Patrol-style assaults on swampy pot holes surrounded by open fields.  None of us had done this before. 

A guide told us to position four trucks about 300 yards from the pot holes, each truck holding several hunters and one or two dogs.  The trucks were positioned so as to roll-in and surround the mini-swamp simultaneously.  When you get to the pot hole, you jump out of the truck, let loose the dogs and load your gun on the run.  By the time you hit the swamp, the birds are already flying.   Guns popping, dogs splashing, birds dropping and except for some occasional mopping-up everything is over within a minute or so.  All the guys got really jacked by this - way more exciting than the long treks though mile-long cornfields producing limited rooster flushes. 

By the end of that long day, Tom, Sid and I were ready for a couple of beers.  We told the other guys to meet us at our hunting outfitter???s lodge - a rustic hang-out in a barn outside of Doland.  It???s comfortable nevertheless, with old, overstuffed chairs, a couple of fridges with beer, a good assortment of liquor and mixers and satellite TV.  We tossed back a couple of beers and waited for the other hunters. 

We waited and waited.  Sid and I had a couple more beers.   Sid later felt he needed to add some vegetables to his repertoire and mixed a couple of Bloody Marys, which I noticed were light on the bloody and heavy on the Mary.  

Randi the hunting outfitter and Billy a guide who we met in Doland last year came in.  We got to jaw jacking about politics for a couple of hours.  After solving the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the war on terrorism and other pressing world problems Randi and Billy bade us a good night. 

The other guys never showed up. 

Sid must have been dehydrated from hunting as he decided to have one more for the road.  We left after he finished his nightcap and headed back home, with Tom at the wheel.

Sid was in a jolly mood when we got back, but quickly faded.   I noticed a short time later he and Farley had vanished and apparently retired for the evening.   I hung out with the guys, watched some ESPN sports recaps and went to bed.

It was Halloween night.

When I got up the next morning I saw Sid standing outside of his room.  His face was a ghastly pallor. He was wide-eyed and stricken - as if he'd seen a ghost. 

Sid motioned me over.  

In a raspy croak, he said - This place is haunted.

I could tell he wasn???t kidding around. 

What are you talking about? I asked.

Sid claimed he had proof.  I followed him downstairs.  He pointed at a glass mug on a table.  The bottom third of the mug was filled with tacks, pins and an assortment of nails.  In a shaken voice he explained-

Before I went to bed last night, I got a mug from the cupboard, put some ice cubes in it, filled it with water and went upstairs.  I drank the water before going to bed and went to sleep.  I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, picked up the mug to fill it, and then saw it was filled with all that stuff!

With a trembling finger he pointed at the junk in the mug.

Sid went on to say that it was impossible for anyone to have gone in his room and messed with the mug.  Everyone else was asleep, Farley had not even moved and the mug was in the exact same spot as he had left it. 

Shaken by this eerie event he had been unable to get back to sleep.

I???ve known Sid for about 25 years and have never seen him looking this freaked out.  If he ever told me he had been abducted by aliens who performed rectal probe experiments upon him, I???d believe him.   Sid is not a nut or drama queen. 

This was weird and diabolical.  I felt very uneasy and wondered if a pheasant-loving Poltergeist was on the loose, intent upon harming bird hunters.  Come to think of it, his room did look a bit creepy.  

One of the other guys then yelled out from the kitchen - Hey.  Are you talking about that glass full of nails in the cupboard?   I saw it and moved it to a higher shelf so nobody would use it.

A short silence.  Someone snorted.  Someone giggled.  Everyone started laughing.  Sid got red in the face.  Our resident doctor asked him if it hurt when he urinated.  Someone else asked if he had been trying to add iron to his diet.  Another claimed Sid???s favorite drink is a Rusty Nail.  This went on for some time until everyone had to quit because of the side aches and tears.

Occam???s razor is a principle which, as a rule, is sometimes stated as:  The simplest explanation is usually the best.

So much for the Doland Poltergeist. 

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