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Dean Bushey: An Excellent Guide from the Ely Area

Monday, August 30th, 2010
submitted by: Bob Evans

Earlier this summer my wife and I needed to take a particularly difficult trip to visit the last few pictograph sites about which we knew, and we had very little time to make the trip.  One of the pictograph sites, Swartman Lake, involved a long bushwhack trip along a route about which we knew little.  From there we would travel up the East Agnes River to Kawnipi to check out a pictograph site we had discovered two years ago and then on to Montgomery Lake and the Montgomery Creek site.  And we had to do the entire trip in six days, as that was the only time available. 

We elected to hire a guide to provide some extra paddling and carrying power.  Additionally, since we have no bushwhacking experience, we needed someone with excellent woods skills.  After talking with an outfitter friend of ours and a long term friend with lots of guiding experience we were referred to Dean Bushey ( ).

Dean is absolutely wonderful.  He is a powerful paddler and skilled in rough water.  We had one day when we got caught on a big lake with winds coming up to dangerous levels rapidly.  His stern skills combined with our experience got us out of the bad water safely.  He strategically manages a canoe to get the best out of routes.  If you are a beginner in a canoe he will improve your skills rapidly.  He is strong on portages. 

We left from Prairie Portage and returned to Prairie Portage on the fifth day, a day early.  Weather predictions were for very high winds on the sixth day and winds were picking up early on the fifth day.  We were able to make the whole trip very successfully in five days.  While most paddlers would not choose to travel that much in five days and would plan a more leisurely trip, we were goal directed and needed to accomplish difficult goals in a short available time period.  Dean was a great help in accomplishing those goals.

When we had evenings to fish it was apparent that he has great fishing knowledge and skill.  Though we picked the lakes based on where we needed to go, in visiting with him he obviously knows good lakes to go for fishing trips should you want to do primarily fishing.  If that is your goal, contact him early in the season and tell him what you would like to do and the needs of your party.  Let him advise you on the permits to seek to get you into the great fishing lakes.

Though you might not want to take a trip off the recognized portages and lakes, we found his bushwhacking skills to be excellent.  The trip to Swartman Lake  would involve three separate bushwhacking parts separated by lakes or small ponds.   We had researched the route to Swartman and had four plausible routes studied.  In consulting with him before the trip, he had studied topo maps and other resources made suggestions on the route he felt was best.  Our decision was to determine the route to take on site when we looked at the area before us.  As it turned out, the route he had suggested was cleraly the best choice when we looked on site at the alternatives.  Then he guided the trail through the woods on all three bushwhacking legs of the trip and the route selection could not have been better.  He used compas skills and I followed the route on GPS.  We arrived on the Swartman shore just as planned in good time and returned to base camp on Dack Lake without a hitch.  His skill in the woods clearly made the trip easy and efficient.

We had previously gone to Montgomery Creek but did not make it to the site due to an injury.  On this trip, when we traveled there again, it was raining hard, making the part of the trip up the creek bed particularly dangerous.  The rocks were wet and slippery.  Additionally, several large trees had fallen across a middle part of the creek bed leg of the trip making that part more dangerous than it had been in past years.  Having the extra person to navigate, select the best path along the way, and scout out potentially dangerous places again, made the trip quick, safe and efficient.  We were back in camp in plenty of time to brake camp, and to paddle all the way to the Agnes Narrows that day.  Another highly successful part of the trip.

Perhaps the biggest bonus in traveling with Dean is that he is just a fun person to travel with.  He has a lot of outdoors experience and is very conversant on all parts of the canoe country experience.  He fishes, he cooks, he advises campsite selection and set up, he paddles and navigates, portages are no challenge to him, and he knows hundreds of lakes.  We very much enjoyed our five days with him talking about Quetico things.  It was a fun trip.  The only thing we were able to contribute is that now he has a bit better an eye for finding pictographs.  Let him show you a few.

We highly recommend Dean’s guide service.  If you want help with your canoe country experience, Dean can provide you with that help.  If you are interested in making the trip to Swartman to see the pictograph site or if you want help with the Montgomery Creek site, Dean can get you there effeciently and safely.  And if you want to make either of those trips part of a longer trip of paddling and fishing, he can put together an excellent trip for you.   Contact him early before the season however, as he books up early.

Thanks Dean for a highly successful trip that was a lot of fun.

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