The shore and neighboring woods of Canthook Lake near Iron River represent a happy place for me. I was blessed to visit here for long weekends when I was a kid through a program with the Boy Scouts. Our scout leader Lee Getschow owned at the time a six hundred acre licensed deer farm that he called “Ge-Ca-Wa”. It was located near Iron River, WI in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
There were two basic cabins nestled along the shoreline of Canthook Lake, one of two lakes and three ponds on the property. The property had deer, bears, badgers, beavers, and many other amazing creatures. We spent most of our time outdoors on those trips. We would spend our free time exploring the land, in fact, I passed all the requirements for my orienteering merit badge there learning how to use a compass and map to navigate from the pier at Canthook Lake to an old abandoned bus that was on the property. I remember the sense of accomplishment of successfully navigating it. The time spent in the woods on this property solidified my love for nature and the outdoors.
If we were not exploring or bow hunting we were enjoying paddling canoes on Canthook lake. At night we still enjoyed the outdoors playing a game on a neighboring hill where one kid would be selected to stand at the top of the hill with a flashlight inside a twelve-foot ring. The rest of the group would start at the bottom and try to secretively make their way to the top without being identified (caught) by jumping from fox hole to fox hole and hiding behind trees.
I have so many wonderful memories that were formed on that land. I learned so much from our scout leaders and fellow scouts there.
Not long ago I was reminiscing about those wonderful days and did some google searching to see if I could find out what happened to that land. I discovered that the Getschow family sold the land to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) which then transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service which manages the land. This land is now available to the public. Former caretaker of Ge-Ca-Wa Lee Fox said Getschow “…wanted to keep it wild and preserve it”.
On a recent road trip to Duluth, MN I decided to take a few hours to visit Canthook Lake. I am not sure what I expected, but I was a bit surprised when we arrived to see no signs of the former deer farm. The two cabins are gone as was the outhouse that sat on a hill behind them, with a brilliant view of Canthook Lake. We used to cruise the property in pick-up trucks and the wheel ruts made from them are almost fully reclaimed, had I not been looking for them I might have missed them.
It was nice and peaceful to sit there. I enjoyed sharing with my son some of the stories about my time there. There was something comforting about knowing that land is there for all to enjoy. If you are ever in the north woods of Wisconsin and looking for a beautiful spot. Check out Canthook Lake. I know Lee Getschow would be glad you came.