Thursday, February 28, 2013


In 1854, along the banks of the North Platte River, east of Ft. Laramie, WY, a small detachment of soldiers entered an encampment of 4000 Sioux to arrest a man accused of taking a migrant's cow, although such matters by treaty were to be handled by the US Indian Agent. The Sioux refused as the cow had wandered into the village; they had not stolen the cow as they were accused. The situation escalated quickly to the point of one of the soldiers shot Chief Conquering Bear in the back and killed him. The Lakotas returned fire and killed a total of 29 soldiers, Lt. John Grattan, and a civilian interpreter. The massacre, as it was called by the American press, was the beginning of the bloody Plains Indian Wars.

The soldiers were buried in a mass grave near where they fell. My new pit is on the site of the fight. I call it the Grattan Pit. Many ducks and geese have met the same fate as Lt. Grattan. 

I am happy to report that none of my combatants were shot in the back. However, there are reports of ghosts near the marker. Rightly so.

limit geese
limit mallards and geese

the casualties of the skirmish


As they looked out their window, the faint light of the approaching sunrise caused the gunners' adrenaline level to rise in anticipation of what lay ahead of them. They had no idea of what to do or how to do it. They just knew this is where they were meant to be.

In order to select the best mentor, countless evenings over several weeks  had been spent in front of the computer researching "the best of the best" There could be no compromise.

The gentleman they selected understood the importance of this day. He wanted this day to be an introduction to an experience that would enrich the rest of their lives.

It was the start of another day at the Beverly Hills Gun Club.


In 1996 I was working as the lead fly fishing guide for Jan's Mountain Outfitters in Park City, Utah. A couple and their 8-year old daughter walked into the store and said they wanted to learn how to fly fish. I actually love the opportunity to introduce people to the amazing outdoors.

Whether it is fly fishing, hunting ducks, geese, pheasants or turkeys, I am not only blessed to have a hand in the improvement of peoples' skills but I also have the solemn obligation of introducing them to a world they have never known.

Shelley and Brian Kadison and their daughter, Paisley, were destined to become converts to JJ's world. The Kadisons have not only remained great clients but we have become very close friends.

The Kadison Family fly fished with me every summer in Utah and continued to fly fish with me when I made the move to Wyoming. However, something very alarming happened along the way. Paisley became older while Shelley, Brian and I remained locked in an ageless time warp. Paisley graduated from high school, graduated from USC, attended Oxford University and has a law degree from Stanford University. She now works for a law firm in New York City. And she still loves to fly fish.

Brian and Paisley fished with me this summer on the Grey Reef. Each year, during our time on the river the discussion always comes around to my Labradors and that discussion served as a segue into hunting.  Brian has said for years that he wanted to experience waterfowling. Having never hunted a day in his life he made the leap and booked a hunt for his wife, Shelley, and himself.

Neither Shelley or Brian had ever fired any type of gun before.  Consequently, my first suggestion was to take shooting lessons. Living in Beverly Hills (yes, the official 90210), they took their instruction at the  the only gun club in the area. The Beverly Hills Gun Club.

Fast forward to December 14, 2012. That evening I met Shelley and Brian at the Holiday Inn and made our plans for the morning. I am guessing the Kadisons don't, as a general rule, have breakfast at 5:00 am at the local diner. But this morning it was the Pineapple Grille. I was hoping "Pineapple" is close enough to "palm" to make them feel not too out of their comfort zone. Main Street, Torrington - Rodeo Drive (Ro-day-O - not bull riding), Beverly Hills. Similar yet different.

The morning was one of those magical moments on the North Platte. Ducks and Canadas were everywhere. Bunch after bunch of mallards dropped from the sky. The shooting was enthusiastic albeit not always effective. My guess is they probably did not go 25 straight at the Beverly Hills Gun Club either.

Molly put on quite a show making long blind retrieves and chasing wing-tipped birds downstream.  I now know that the main reason Shelley was there was to watch the dogs work.

I am so very blessed to be able to introduce people to experiences they could never imagine. Shelley and Brian are now converts to the wonderful world of waterfowling.

I hope no one tells my lab, Molly, she has an open invitation to take up residence in 90210.

Day 1
Day 2