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When the Black Ghost can't get off a shot at a squirrel hiding on the opposite side of a tree, he takes off his jacket, drapes it over a bush, ties a piece of string to the branches and walks to the other side of the tree as the squirrel scampers to the jacket side. The Black Ghost sits still for five minutes, then jerks the string, moving the jacket. Bang! Another squirrel for the pot when it runs to the Black Ghost's side of the tree.
Sometimes when the trout are not hitting, the Black Ghost will wade down a stream, sending waves into both banks. Then he gets out, walks back upstream to where he entered, has a leisurely smoke, picks up his rod and starts catching trout. "Got to wake 'em up," he says.
To those who know him, the Black Ghost is the best hunter and trout fisherman around. Doubtless there are other outdoorsmen as good as he is living in small towns throughout the country, but the Black Ghost, who can stand for all of them, certainly is an original.
The Black Ghost is Arthur T. Broadie, a cadaverous, 60-year-old boiler-plant operator at the Franklin D. Roosevelt VA Hospital in Montrose, N.Y. Tufts of hair spring out of both ears, and he usually wears a grin which gives the impression that he knows something no one else does. That is often the case. He is called the Black Ghost because he drives a pickup truck with a homemade camper on the back that has Black Ghost streamer flies painted front and rear.
"The idea of the Black Ghost came to me suddenly one night down on the job," Broadie says. "I was looking at the doggone truck, and I thought I ought to decorate the thing. Pretty near every day I fish for trout, I'll use the Black Ghost sometime or other, and then I wanted a CB handle that no one else had. I checked the paint locker, and I had all the colors I needed. I made a template, drew the streamers on in pencil and painted them. Everything seemed to fit together."
The Black Ghost's old camper, which he stripped down this year for parts for a new camper, had the words "Black Ghost" spelled out beneath the painted flies, but he left off the lettering on the new camper because the old one used to inspire all kinds of hoots and hollers when he drove past Bunch's Place, a favorite black hangout in Peekskill, N.Y., Broadie's home town.
It may seem odd that the Black Ghost, a sort of contemporary Daniel Boone on wheels, would choose to live barely 35 miles north of New York City, but then Broadie has spent most of his life practicing his hunting and fishing skills on estates in the area, wherever and whenever he pleased, regardless of the no-trespassing signs and the fish and game laws. Indeed, poaching, that is, hunting and fishing on posted property, was, is and probably always will be a Broadie family custom. "I've never been a game hog," Broadie says, "but I do believe that if there is a hunk of ground out there and some guy says it's his, that doesn't mean those critters on it are his."
For the Black Ghost the thrill of the chase is not just pursuing game but being pursued by an angry landowner after he has bagged his quarry. "Got to find me a little hidey-hole," he will say when scouting some fresh territory that might offer sport. The hidey-hole is usually a brier patch into which the Black Ghost will hurl himself like Peter Rabbit with Mr. McGregor in hot pursuit. "People don't like to mess with brier patches," says Broadie, who has poached some land so often that he knows each and every hidey-hole by heart.
Years ago, the whole Broadie clan—Grandpa, Pop, Uncle Will, Art and his two younger brothers—used to fish Forbes Pond in the small town of Croton. "I loved Forbesie's," says Broadie, and his love only increased when a stern gentleman bought the pond and the surrounding acreage for his estate. Broadie came to know the new landowner's habits well, and although the landowner had no such knowledge of Broadie or even his name, he became determined to catch the poacher. It was a game in which Broadie took great delight. "One day I'm up there fishing the pond, and here comes the new owner with a state trooper," Broadie recalls. "That turkey yells, 'There he is!' like he was sure he was going to catch me. I took off through the woods with the two of them after me. There was no way I was going to beat them out of there, but I knew this hidey-hole, a big rock with a slope underneath it that was covered by blackberry bushes. I headed right for it. I was no sooner in my hidey-hole than I heard the trooper jump up on the rock. Then the owner got there. 'What happened?' he asks the trooper. The trooper says, 'He must be to the road by now.' I was tempted to grab his ankle and say, 'Nope, I'm right down here in my hidey-hole.' After they left, I skeedaddled out of there, and I didn't go back...for a week."
The Black Ghost was seven years old when he first went poaching. Dusk was falling as Grandpa and Pop led him quietly through the woods to the edge of a lake. There Pop stripped down, waded out into the water and began lifting what seemed like rock after rock off the bottom. Suddenly a rowboat bobbed up, Pop and Grandpa bailed it out, and all three got in and went fishing. "Ain't nobody to mess with you at this time of night," Grandpa said.