The Birdman

A Protector of the Mountain Bluebird

By Les Tanner

On a warm summer day in 1995, I was on my way back home to Caldwell from a two-day fishing trip to the South Fork of the Boise River.

Rather than return by way of Mountain Home and the Interstate, I decided to take the more scenic, and definitely more bumpy, road that goes up the hill from Danskin Bridge to Prairie and eventually to Black’s Creek Road. I’m always on the lookout for new waters to test with rod and reel, and my map showed there was a tiny creek off to the west of Prairie.

As I approached the area, I saw a glint of water through the thick willows, and was surprised to see that it was more than the mere trickle the map had indicated. I turned up the next dusty lane I came to, guessing correctly that it paralleled the creek in the direction of its source in the mountains not far to the northeast.

Easy access to the stream was not to be had. Where there wasn’t wire fencing decorated at intervals by old tires declaring in white “No Trespass,” there was an imposing jungle of streamside brush and trees. Neither of these deterrents was particularly bothersome to me, however. Often, such things are signs of good fishing, since they have a tendency to discourage all but the most dedicated anglers. I continued on.

The road became a track, eventually crossing the creek over a rickety wooden bridge. Beyond that, both the stream and the track disappeared into the thickets. I cast a fly a few times into the pool below the bridge, but nothing stirred, so I headed back, thinking I might crash my way to the water through some of the underbrush I had driven by earlier. As I came around a bend in the road, I saw that an old green pickup had stopped at the gate to one of the fenced hayfields. The driver had just opened the gate when I pulled up.

“Morning,” he said good-naturedly as I approached. “Some kind of day, isn’t it?”

He introduced himself, as I did, but as usual, I forgot his name almost immediately. Only later did I learn I had stumbled upon one of the haunts of Idaho’s legendary “Bluebird Man,” Al Larson.

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Les Tanner

About Les Tanner

Les Tanner is shown here with his late wife, Ruby, to whom he was married for more than sixty years, and who also was on the staff of IDAHO magazine. When Les, a retired teacher, isn’t working on the magazine's calendar, proofreading, fishing, writing, playing pickleball, or pulling weeds, he’s out looking for Jimmy the cat.

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