Hook and Bullet Club - The Saxeruds

by Nick Wognum

We’re looking for a little normal right now.
Last weekend we looked at the shack. Former Ely eye doc Mike Saxerud moved out west 16 years ago. He’s been back a few times and on this trip he brought his 17 year-old daughter Lily.
While she may not remember her birth place, she has heard many stories of Ely and wanted to meet those her father talks about.
I was fortunate enough to be on the list. Mike and Lily were only in town for a few days so we tried to make the best of our time together.
Our first task was to get Lily driving a wheeler. She did great, first we stopped by the lake and had the landing to ourselves. Mike and I caught up on life while Lily took to catching a frog on the shoreline.
Mike said Lily won a lottery in the fourth grade when she was one of the students chosen for a classroom in the forest. The school district has a forest where a teacher takes a group of fourth graders out in the woods for real world learning.
That experience helped to shape Lily who impressed me with how woods wise she was.
A snake didn’t bother her, nor did the mouse on Saturday night climbing up a window screen at the shack.
There was one thing Lily wasn’t thrilled to run into and that was spiders. The outhouse was not her favorite place, that’s for sure. Mike did has dad best to take a broom to our two holer and sweep out the spider webs. But no deal.
We checked trail cameras in the late afternoon including one that had been a top buck producer before last season. This year we don’t know what’s been there. That camera has decided to quit working. Well, there are pictures of nothing.
Luckily I had a spare camera to put there. Lily and Mike checked out the nearby deer stand, which we call the outhouse. No spiders in this one luckily.
It was the warmest part of the day and out came the mosquitoes - they headed straight for Lily. Some people are bug magnets, she’s definitely one of them.
We made it back to the shack, threw some venison steaks on the grill and talked about old times.
Mike hunted with us at Camp Cholesterol for four years. He’s a phenomenal cook but at the shack, there’s no mercy. One year he brought out crane chili. Let’s just say it left a lot to be desired.
Dan Scinto put it best, “You can put s*#t in chili and it still taste good but apparently crane is worse.”
We gave Mike an A for effort.
After a fairly good deer shack meal (I cooked so no guarantees), Mary and Megan joined us for a game of smear.
Lily was the student and Mary the teacher. By the end Lily was picking up the points of the game even though she confessed, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
We’ve all been in her shoes. Smear is the top game played at the shack as long at there are four people.
We play five point and deal nine cards out to start. After trump is declared you get to restock your hand up to six cards.
The game went back and forth until Mike and I reached 21 points.
After Mary and Megan headed for town we stayed up late talking, not wanting a night at the shack to come to an end.
In the morning Mike whipped up a heart attack brunch before they left.
We discussed Mary and I flying out to Colorado Springs one day for either an elk hunt or a trip to Red Rocks for a concert.
I hung out for awhile in the driveway as Mike and Lily took off.
There’s always a certain sadness when long lost friends come for a visit. You fall into the old rhythm of conversation and the comfort of shared memories.
When they leave, the shack grows quiet and there’s a feeling of a missing piece to the puzzle. A better analogy might be a missing card to the deck.
Either way, you know it’s a good visit when it hurts to see them leave.