Butt End: The Yuk Yuk Man | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Butt End: The Yuk Yuk Man Illustration: Lorenzo del Bianco

Kevin Callan's encounter with The Yuk Yuk Man

It wasn’t the shoddy khaki safari suit he was wearing. It wasn’t the matching knock-off Tilley hat. It might have been the rude sexual remarks he made about his wife. What really confirmed this guy was an idiot though, was the laugh he gave when I suggested he join my canoe tripping skills workshop. 

“Yuk, yuk, yuk,” he crowed. It was a demeaning chuckle. “Why bother taking your silly course, hot-shot? I already know how to camp.” 

Meeting this joker outside a wilderness park’s interpretive center was unsettling; I’ve seen far too many cocky paddlers get into trouble in the woods. In fact, I’d been asked here to provide a skills building workshop due to an increased number of paddlers lost, injured and even killed while in the backcountry. The encounter left me with a bad feeling. 

When I arrived at my campsite in the local campground, I was looking forward to some time to prep for the event the next day. That didn’t happen. I heard the unmistakable and grating yuk, yuk, yuk cackle the moment I pulled into my site and cracked the car door.

As soon as I stepped out of the car he recognized me. He strutted over with a six-pack of Pabst and a folding lawn chair. 

As I set up camp he began telling me about what a great camper he was. Master of the elements, as he told it. I was in for a horrid night. When he wasn’t belittling his wife, he spun tales of outlandish and impossible accomplishments, and drank all of his beer, then mine. 

I snuck out of camp before sunrise for my workshop. Nine novice campers were looking to advance their skills before their first backcountry canoe trip. The course covered packing, portaging and cooking, and most importantly, we discussed wilderness safety. 

While my participants gained insight and new skills, at the end of the day I wondered if I had reached the proper audience. Humble and cautious trippers willing to ask for advice are less likely to find themselves in trouble. In my experience, the cocky ones are more likely to need rescuing. 

I was mulling this over shortly after leaving the workshop when I came across emergency service vehicles blocking the two-lane highway. 

I stopped my car. Off to my right, EMS workers were pulling my neighbor out of a lake. 

The Yuk Yuk Man was going to be fine. The paramedics told me that the same man who didn’t think he needed some silly course on canoe tripping went for a paddle on a windy day, without a PFD or bailer. He capsized in the cold water and the rescue crew was treating the master of the elements for hypothermia. 

I wasn’t surprised that his know-it-all attitude ended in disaster. Arrogance can be a deadly trait in the wilderness.

Kevin Callan's article on the Yuk Yuk Man was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of CanoerootsThis article first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Canoeroots Magazine. For more great boat reviews, subscribe to Canoeroots's print and digital editions here.

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