A Defender of the Wild

By John Davidson

I met Stacy Gebhards in the summer of 1981, when his daughter, Sandy, and I worked together at a small pub in Old Boise. I’d been invited on a float trip down the lower gorge of the Snake River with Sandy, Stacy, and other members and friends of the Gebhards family. In the week’s time we were on the river, I learned more about fish, their habitat, and, to my delight, about catching them, than I ever dreamed possible. I learned about horseshoes, night skies, lenticular clouds . . . about music and storytelling, stretched truths and hilarious, outright lies, all crafted around campfires and spun out by a maestro of the art. I couldn’t begin to take it all in. I’m still digesting it, thirty-five years later, and continue to learn from Stacy, who at eighty-seven is sharp as a tack, and still plays the button accordion like he’s channeling Lawrence Welk polka greats.

Being unfamiliar with his daughter’s pal, he wasn’t talkative on the drive to the put in, so I talked enough for a family of four, not being comfortable at that time with silence. I was used to nonstop, booze-fueled babble offered up nightly at the pub, so this reticent, white-haired, Hemingway-looking guy—who didn’t babble at all—made me wonder what sort of trip I’d signed on for.

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John Davidson

About John Davidson

John Davidson is a freelance writer, part-time storyteller, and full-time camp tender (except for an annual five-month coffee research and bird counting season in Costa Rica). He lives on the North Fork of the Payette River in Long Valley, and in the mountains of Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

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