The Deadwood Incident…

BY MichaelD


Every August for the last four years my job has taken me to Deadwood Reservoir to spawn Kokanee Salmon for the over six million eggs requested by various Biologists all over the state. Five people spawn every day for three weeks straight (not including weekends) from 8 AM to 2PM…reserving the last two hours to package the eggs and drive them to a remote landing strip carved out of the timbered mountainside. The plane can carry six coolers, each one with nearly 100,000 eggs inside. Keep in mind that the average length of these fish is under ten inches, and female fecundities are about 250 eggs. This means we must handle at least twenty-four hundred ripe females and eight hundred ripe males per day to fill a flight. Typically, one in four female fish are ripe, which means we must handle well over eleven thousand fish per spawn day to fill a plane. That means all five people must handle seven fish per minute for six hours. By five or six in the evening, we are off work, and free to enjoy the wonder of one of the most beautiful places in Idaho.

My co-worker wanted to go to the fishing hole I had told him about, but my buddy had told me of a spot frequented by prehistoric Native Americans that was uncovered in low water years. 2013 was the lowest water year since 1995.So I gave my co-workers good directions, and I programmed my GPS for the coordinates my friend had given me, and set off for the Northwestern corner of the Reservoir. I spent at least an hour of my precious daylight staring at the screen of my GPS unit as I homed in on the mother lode of projectile points that awaited me. When I arrived I immediately found several large chips of jet black obsidian. I searched until it was too dark, finding a handful of chips, but no points. I followed my GPS back to the truck and drove back to camp, very disappointed.

When I arrived in camp, everyone was gathered around the table, heads all bowed, as if in prayer. When I approached the table, I realized they were all looking at an object that was lying on the table. The co-worker I had given directions to had gone fishing. He had caught a beautiful 22 inch cutthroat trout! As I admired his catch, he began to tell me the story he had obviously already shared with everyone else. It was your typical big fish story until he bent down to remove the hook from the fish. There, lying in the mud only inches from the tip of his left boot, was a perfectly formed prehistoric knife! It was made of the same jet black obsidian I had found chips of over two miles away. I was a beautiful thing. I think I was the only one of the group that realized what I was looking at. The guy that found it had little appreciation for what he had found. I offered to trade him my shotgun for it on the spot, and after hesitating enough to give me hope, he declined.


I sent photos to Forrest asking his opinion about the obsidian point. Was it a spear point or a knife? What was it made of? How old do you think it is? Forrest shared his knowledge with me, confirming my less experienced opinion that it was an obsidian knife, perhaps up to 5000 years old! I coveted that thing, and still do, to no avail! And because I HAD to blame someone or something besides myself, I chose my stupid GPS! I vowed to never use that fowl machine again! After all, people have been finding their way for eons without GPS!

So if I had taken my friend fishing instead of telling him where to go, perhaps I would be the one holding that precious piece of stone. And that is why I refuse to use the GPS, and how this came to be known as the Deadwood Incident.