Adventures of the
B.Y. High Rod & Gun Club

Front Row, L-R:
Mr. Dave Smith, Warren Davidson, Charles Hackley, Kent Chamberlain, Grover Hoopes, Tom Richards.
Second Row, L-R: Ken Briggs, Robert Allen, Stan Knight, John Ashby, Gerald Hayward, Rodney Despain.
Third Row, L-R: Art Enke, Hal Mangelson, Grant Davies, Jacque Meiling, Greg Andrus.

Front Row, L-R: Charles Hackley, Rod Despain, Stan Knight, Grover Hoopes.
Second Row, L-R: Grant Davies, Russell Jackson, Earl Jackson, Ken Briggs.
Missing: Greg Andrus, Hal Mangelson

The B.Y. High Rod & Gun Club was founded in the spring of 1954. Chuck Hackley (an intrepid hunter) was the first President, and the membership included Greg Andrus, Ken Briggs, Grant Davies, Rod Despain, Grover Hoopes, the Jackson boys -- Russ and Earl, Stan Knight, Hal Mangelson, and more. All were members of the Class of 1956, except Earl Jackson, who was in the Class of 1957.

Our basic goal was to increase our opportunities to go hunting and fishing. As a side issue, we were concerned with learning appropriate laws so we could avoid Fish & Game fines and jail time. In addition, we wanted to assist in protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat, since we had seen hunters that did not.

B.Y. High rules required that we recruit a faculty advisor, so we set about persuading David Smith, who was a seminary teacher from Pleasant Grove, to serve as our sponsor. Once we assured him that we would not require him to come hunting and fishing with us, he agreed.

We held regular club meetings during the school year. Sometimes we met during the lunch hour, and occasionally in the evenings or on weekends we got together at the homes of our members for special programs.

We designed and proudly wore a colorful embroidered shoulder patch consisting of a crossed fishing pole and a rifle, along with the name of the club, B.Y. High Rod & Gun Club.

There were only two requirements to join. First, you had a strong interest in hunting and fishing, and second, you agreed to show up for activities and meetings. We had a lot of fun hunts and events, and we now enjoy many great memories.

One of the unstated reasons why we started our august organization was that we were in need of an outlet for our budding young manhood. We were aware of members of the fairer sex, but did not fully understand how to relate to them. Now that I think about it, I don't think much has changed. Hunting and fishing gave us an excuse to be macho and to prove ourselves, without having to delve into the deeper purposes of life yet.


It was a heavy financial strain for most of us to participate in high school. What with eating, purchasing notebook paper and pencils at the BYH Book Store, and buying our share of gasoline needed for dates and dragging Center Street, not to mention corsages for formal dances, shotgun shells, the new pants our mothers said we had to have, a new pair of the latest suede shoes, eating at Calder’s, and….

Fortunately there was one expense our Rod and Gun Club did not have to come up with -- duck decoys -- which were expensive. My father had purchased a dozen of the finest, self-inflating "Deek Decoys" that money could buy back in about 1934. Over the years, several had been lost or misplaced, but we still had four intact, self-inflating, genuine latex rubber decoys left, and after some careful patching, they worked! We treasured them above all else -- where could we ever come up with the money to purchase this vital duck hunting equipage?

The decoys came in the form of mallard ducks. They were hollow with a large round opening in the bottom. Into the hole we inserted a heavy metal ring that held the opening open, and also acted as a weight to stabilize the decoy.We just tossed the decoy into the air and as it came down, it filled with air and bingo – we had a floating decoy! They were lightweight and so compact to carry. Therefore we could take a bigger lunch and more shotgun shells. This was important to us always-hungry teenagers -- it seemed like we could never get full!

Sometimes early in the morning before school a few of us would drive over below the Ironton steel plant between Provo and Springville, where we parked and walked into the sloughs of Utah Lake to get in a little extra hunting.

Afterwards we would show up at our first-period class with our hip boots rolled down and wearing our hunting shirts, with guns and ammo stashed in the car parked out on the street. The same thing in any school in America today would earn us suspension and a term in jail!

The best time to hunt ducks and geese is during inclement weather -- they bunch up or fly together to get to a better place, and thus we get more shooting. When weather is too nice, they just fly out onto the open, smooth water and thumb their noses (or bills) at us.

One of our favorite places to hunt ducks was at Strawberry Reservoir. We had to get up at 2 o'clock in the morning and drive 60 miles to our secret parking place about three-quarters of a mile away from the reservoir. It was vital that it still be dark when we got there, because we did not want to scare the ducks and geese prematurely.

Strawberry Reservoir at dawn

Duck season ran from about October 15th to New Year's Day. Therefore, duck hunting was COLD and many times we had to walk through snowdrifts to get to our hunting blinds. Someone else had built these blinds on the shore near an inlet. They were dug just about a foot to two feet in depth and had some sagebrush or poles placed around them to hide the hunters. They were constructed so two hunters could share each blind, and were far enough apart that we did not interfere with each other when shooting. But we could still see each of our teams and cheer them on when they dropped a bird or two.

Because I had the only decoys, I took a blind in the center along the shoreline, hoping to attract some ducks so we could all get a shot at them. Several of us had "duck calls" and thought we were pretty good with them.

Finally we were all set there in the dark. Our four decoys were floating in the shallow water about 25 yards in front of the blind I was occupying. The other members of our club occupied blinds several hundred yards to both sides of me. I had Ken Briggs as my companion that day in our blind. Ken is a really neat "good-old-boy" with a heart as good as gold. He also is very competitive and always does his best to get the job done!

Daybreak came, here came the ducks, and we were having a ball trying to hit some of them. With calls a-quacking and shots being fired, it was an exciting time. However, as the day moved along and the sun came out on this cold clear day, the ducks moved to other parts of the reservoir and we were no longer getting much activity. Ken and I opened our lunches and began munching and talking about the basics of life, while trying to keep an eye on our decoys.

Suddenly Ken swung his 12-gauge Browning Automatic shotgun in the direction of the decoys. In a whispered voice filled with excitement, he said, “Dang, we have only four decoys and now there are five. One of them has to be a duck!”

Instead of waiting for the duck to identify itself by flapping its wings, flying up, or even winking at us, Ken just opened up and blasted shots at all five of the silhouettes! The water sprayed up from the shots, but before the drops fell back to the surface, we watched the lone duck disappear into the sky. Then we saw bubbles coming up from all four torpedoed decoys as they sank to the bottom. We retrieved them, but two were never usable again.


One day we conned Stan Knight into asking his folks if they would let us hold a club event at their home. The Knight home was located near the mouth of Rock Canyon. When they agreed, we invited a game warden to speak to us, and to our amazement, he accepted.

We felt very lucky to have a rare opportunity to learn from a local Fish & Game expert on how to legally "bag and brag" some of the finest wildlife in the State of Utah.

However, one of our members talked us into making an almost fatal mistake by suggesting that we bring dates to this gathering. Wouldn’t you know that we would accidentally set ourselves up for failure?

The evening arrived and we all met at the Knight home. Right in the middle of our manly discussion, one of our dates began to cry and had to leave the room, along with several helpers, just as we began to discuss the finer points of locating and shooting mourning doves, pheasants, ducks and deer!

Oh boy, were we feeling lousy! We were caught between an ultimate referee in the pinnacle show of manhood -- providing meat for the table -- and one of our favorite girlfriends who had mistakenly believed that meat originated in a grocery store.

It was an uncomfortable situation to say the least. We politely concluded our session with the warden, and then invited all the young women to return to the living room for some snacks.

The girls, their eyes now open to our true natures, apparently decided that they needed to civilize and refine our cave-man souls by teaching us how to dance. Few of us "duck hunters" knew anything about dancing.

The girls selected the music and began to give us lessons on how to do the "Jitter-Bug" correctly. I began to catch on, doing basically the correct gyrations to the right beat, when I accidentally caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror near the front door. I became so embarrassed that, even though my date was a dream to behold, I quit and never did that dance again.

Some of the other "duck hunters" among us did not fare so well, and went on to be completely captured by the attractions of the social way of life, way before they had participated in their full allotment of hunts.
~~by Chuck Hackley, Class of 1956

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