Anderson: Annual hunt lands Christmas goose

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2011 - 6:07 AM

The ice was thin for the annual excursion. But the breathtaking day was made better by the camaraderie and one lone fat goose.

hide

Wendell Diller loaded a goose shot by Dennis Anderson while Diller’s wife, Galina, watched. The trio found more open water than usual at this time of the year.

Photo: Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The question early Thursday morning was whether sound judgment would prevail or whether instead we would go ahead with the outing as planned. At stake was a Christmas goose or two. But between us and those festive dinnertime centerpieces was a lot of thin ice and, after that, more open water.

"I don't know,'' Wendell said, looking out at a river backwater that in most previous years in early December has been a solid sheet of ice. "We might not make it.''

Wendell is Wendell Diller, and he and I have undertaken this goose hunt quite a few Decembers now. Its beauty lies not in the number of birds harvested, but in its stark, early winter splendor. Sun and snow, ice and water, moon setting and sun rising. All with birds flying. Not just geese, but swans, eagles and late-departing ducks, including on Thursday, mallards, bluebills and buffleheads.

This year, Wendell's wife, Galina, was along, a woman of good cheer, despite the circumstances. Then again, Wendell found her in Siberia, so she's seen some weather. Ultimately, when we decided to make a go of it, she strapped on a life jacket and hopped on Wendell's back to be carried over the open water along shore. Reaching ice that would hold her, and also Wendell and me, she scrambled on top of it, and we with her, pulling our loaded canoe behind.

"Let's see how this works out,'' Wendell said.

In addition to being a bird nut, Wendell is an inventor, flush with patents in the gun and ammo game. Especially for these icy forays, he affixes an outrigger to port of his aluminum canoe, at the end of which is a semi-inflated inner tube. The point is to stabilize the craft should we have to climb out or back in. This might occur because one of us broke through the ice while walking alongside the canoe, or because while paddling and poling, ice has stalled our forward progress altogether.

Eighty yards out, we busted through. Calamity didn't ensue, but we weren't laughing, either. I climbed into the bow, Wendell the stern and Galina was amidships, as if a taskmaster. We were breaching ice head-on now, the canoe's bow riding atop it, then falling through, aluminum clamoring against the frozen water.

The resulting racket put to wing honkers that had been hidden from view far in the backwaters.

"So beautiful,'' Galina said, watching the big birds appear as silhouettes against the rising sun.

Reaching, finally, open water, we took to the paddles. Now geese were everywhere, some materializing in singles and pairs, but most in larger flocks, all arrowing to nearby cornfields to feed. Fewer, smaller and with quicker wingbeats, mallards were in flight also, while lumbering in the distance, swans similarly heard the siren song of morning and lifted mightily into the gathering light.

Never at this time in December had we found so little ice in the backwaters. This mattered less to Wendell and Galina, who would hunt on this outing only with cameras. But I had no floater decoys along, only those I intended to place on the ice. So I was hamstrung in my choice of places to set up.

Finally, I found a patch of frozen water, arranged the fake geese and cranked together one of Wendell's inventive guns, a 12-gauge pump with a 7-foot-long barrel -- a firearm that barely issues a poof when discharged.

Soon, Galina said, "There's a flock. Call, call.''

Resisting mightily a roll of my eyes, I croaked obediently into the imitator that swung from my neck.

As quickly, a smiling Galina said, "Stop now. Sounds unnatural.''

"Right,'' I said.

The morning wore on, the breeze picked up and the temperature seemed to fall.

Finally, a loosely formed squadron of honkers overflew us, and I somersaulted a good big bird, my only one of the morning.

Not long before noon, we picked up. As it turned out, we had punched a crease in the canoe while breaking ice, and took on water at a fair rate en route back.

Yet, as Wendell said on shore, "A great day.''

Handing the morning's lone bird to Galina, an excellent cook, I said, "A Christmas goose.''

For me, there would be other mornings to bag a seasonal feast. The holidays weren't quite yet nigh, and all the geese haven't flown south.

Perhaps one more never will.

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 7:25 PM
Carolina
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:00 PM
Orlando
Detroit 7:00 PM
Minnesota
New York 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Utah 7:30 PM
Dallas
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Boston 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Chicago 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Arizona 6:30 PM
Florida
San Jose 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis
NY Islanders 8:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Vancouver
(2) Florida State 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
Sporting Kansas City 7:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close