You’re Not Dead Til You’re Dead

Posted by MNAngler On November - 25 - 2010

My wife’s family has been part of the Gunflint Trail community for almost 60 years. During that time, my father-in-law has heard countless stories and been part of countless others.

One of the few families that trumps my in-laws is the Brandts. Carl Brandt, Sr. and his wife, Alis, settled on the Gunflint Trail in 1931. Their family has been a fixture on the Trail ever since.

One afternoon, in the winter of 1947, Old Man Brandt and his son-in-law, Emerson Morris, decided to go hunting for wolves. The county had a $35 bounty on each wolf pelt because they were so prevalent. Morris, the Cook County Sherrif at the time, owned a plane, so he piloted the plane over the wilderness while Old Man Brandt had his rifle at the ready.

When they flew over Gaskin Lake, they saw a wolf walking across the frozen water. They came in close and Old Man Brandt took a shot. He missed. Morris pulled up and came around for another shot. This time, Brandt was a better shot and took out the wolf.

Morris turned the plane again so they could pick up the pelt, but he was too low and his wing clipped the snow and the plane did a few cartwheels before settling in on the snow.

So now they were in a pickle. Gaskin Lake was 4 portages from their home base. The fabric covered, aluminum frame wings were bent beyond repair. It was the middle of winter. The sun was going down. And they were not prepared to stay overnight where the temperature can drop to 60 below zero.

For those of you not familiar, a portage is a trail between lakes where adventurers can carry watercraft to get from lake to lake. They were about 3 miles from home as the crow flies, but probably closer to a 5 mile walk across lakes and through portages.

But they didn’t give up. They discussed the situation and came up with a plan to get home.

Today, portages are just a bit wider than a person walking with a canoe on their shoulders. Back then, fortunately for Brandt and his son-in-law, they were much wider.

Brandt and Morris took the ax that was in the plane and chopped off the wings. They dragged the wings to shore so that they wouldn’t end up in the lake in the Spring and started up the motor. They then drove the makeshift propeller sled all the way home! The wing frames are still there to this day.

My father-in-law likes to use this story to point out that you’re not dead until you’re really dead. Use your brain and you can get out of almost any situation. I, instead, will be more enterprising and use this story as an entry to the Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Blogger Network writing contest. Whether or not I win, this is one of the legendary stories from the Gunflint Trail.

4 Responses to “You’re Not Dead Til You’re Dead”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Love it! Such history in a simple story.

  2. K2 says:

    This is the story, and I’m sticking to it.

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