WOODRUFF - Nobody knows exactly when or by whom a prestigious anglers club was founded here in the Northwoods. But you can bet you know someone in it.|
"Probably, I'm going to guess seven or eight times," says Kurt Justice.
You could call the fishing guide a platinum member of an exclusive Northwoods angler's club. But a trophy Musky won't get you a membership. To join this club you have to catch.... yourself, or other people.
"Oh, we at least see three or four a day," says Carrie Kehoe, a Howard Young emergency room Nurse.
Ministry Howard Young Medical Center and Eagle River Memorial Hospital treated so many patients with fish hooks stuck in them, they started the People Catcher's Club.
"So this is our People Catchers Club card that everybody gets. They get a name, and their number and what year it occurred. And here is the Ministry Healthcare bobber," says Kehoe.
Last season alone 105 people joined the club. Adults are members... kids are members... dogs are even members. Treating all those members can take some unorthodox methods.
"A lot of times we'll use a wire cutter to actually cut the hook away from the lure. And then we've got good ole' vice grips," says Dr. Roderick Brodhead, Ministry EMS Medical Director.
While these injuries can be serious, most of them aren't. And the stories behind them are the stuff that legends are made of.
"It was a husband and wife team and they were up here just visiting. She caught the hook right in the center of his head. And as they were trying to get it out she sat on one and got it hooked onto her buttocks," says Kehoe.
"Augie being a puppy was very curious and came over to see what I was doing as I was trying to pick the hooks out. He stuck his nose down, yanked back and got one of the hooks right through his nose. As he did so one of the hooks went right through my thumb. So he started bawling, pulling me around the house," says Justice.
Justice hears all kinds of stories at his sport shop. It's common for people to renew their membership; some even manage to join twice in one day! Justice wasn't the only person to tell this story.
"We always ask people if they want to hang their lure on the wall of fame or if they want to take the lure. In this case the gentleman said it was his favorite lure and he was taking it along. He walked out of the ER and threw the lure on the seat of his truck and then climbed in, and came back five minutes later with it in his buttock," says Dr. Brodhead.
The People Catchers Club helps make people, especially kids, a lot happier leaving the ER than they were coming in.
"They're basically scared. And so we try to make it a little better experience for them so that they won't be scared the next time it happens," says Dr. Brodhead.
And since the Northwoods is a fisherman's playground, the odds are good there will be a next time.