Anderson: 80,000 waterfowl hunters a tough lot

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 21, 2012 - 7:38 AM

Saturday's waterfowl opener will be greeted by 80,000 or so hunters, not one of them a wimp.


Tim Bremicker

The 80,000 or more Minnesotans who will hunt ducks at first light Saturday morning are a tough and deserving lot, the weaker among them long ago having been weeded out by frigid mornings, floods, droughts, wetland drainage, cretinous politicians and a public generally indifferent to the disappearance of healthy landscapes, all of which nowadays argue against game bags flush with mallards and teal, wood ducks and ringnecks.

Yet those fortunate enough to remain in the waterfowling fold will find comfort in company kept on the season's first day. Sunrise on a marsh edge or along a point dividing a shallow lake can bond even strangers. Herons in the half-light, crows lifting noisily from their roosts and the odd mallard backpedaling into decoys round out the picture.

Among those who will be looking skyward Saturday morning will be Bob Momsen of Mendota Heights. Now 83. Momsen will hunt near Leech Lake with Tim Bremicker, as Momsen did years ago with Bremicker's father, Paul. Kids and grandkids will come and go as well, some younger, some older, each attracted to this autumn ceremony by waders oozing in mud, decoys splashing in the dark, shots made and missed, and dogs eager to retrieve.

Matt Keller, late of Bemidji and now living in New Zealand, where he, his wife and family minister to kids in need, will be absent on opening day this year -- a rarity.

"This is the first waterfowl season I've missed since I was old enough to hold a gun,'' he said by e-mail on Thursday. "I'd be lying if I told you I didn't miss it. And it has very little to do with fowl and has almost everything to do with those I hunted with.

"I miss sitting in the blind drinking coffee with my close friends. I miss the groups of young boys and their smiles when they just run their guns on a flock of bluebills with nothing to show for it. I miss the smells and sounds of an early morning on the marsh. Don't get me wrong: I'd love to pull the trigger this weekend and bring home a strap of teal to grill up. But most definitely that's not what I miss the most.''

Near Brainerd, meanwhile, wildlife photographer Bill Marchel has been on his computer late at night, watching on radar as ducks, geese and other birds migrate over Minnesota and the Dakotas, flights prompted by this week's cold front and north winds.

Gimpy -- he had a torn meniscus repaired last week -- Marchel nonetheless early Saturday morning will be at the tiller of his mud motor, shotgun soon locked and loaded.

But with him also will ride heartbreak: His good dog Axel, a Deutsch Drahthaar, died a few weeks back, a sad demarcation in the life of any waterfowler, particularly when it occurs on the cusp of hunting season.

It is true, as Marchel knows, that somewhere a puppy yearns also for a hunting partner, and is eager to tag along on opening morning, should an invitation be extended. But hunters who too eagerly fill the position of "best friend'' often do so with reservation: Memories of past opening mornings well-shared are too fresh. Conversely, arguing for a quick doggie replacement, waterfowlers widely believe that a duck worth shooting is worth being retrieved by a good dog, or at least a loyal dog, and absent one, pulling the trigger isn't so much an important part of anything. It's just pulling the trigger.

The other day, my older son, Trevor, called from Montana to say he has ducks lazing not too far from where he attends college.

But his broader intent in ringing my number was to be updated about opening day plans pending for me and his younger brother, Cole.

Already Trevor knew we would be joining my friend Willy Smith and his boys -- Matthew, Harrison and Parker -- at their shack in the backwaters of the Minnesota River in Renville County. Ducks don't live there like they once did. So any duck in the hand Saturday will be a trophy.

But ducks or no ducks, as I told Trevor, and he already knew, our opening day ritual will be unaffected. Oatmeal in paper bowls for breakfast, hot coffee in the blind, sandwiches for lunch. Then, toward dark, we'll put a match to charcoal, and while coyotes yip in the near distance, we'll cook duck, venison or both.

Wet dogs will be on site, of course, and the evening's chill will be chased away by a fire crackling in the wood stove. Willy and I might even take a shot at making our cots comfortable enough for sleeping by pouring a couple of fingers of tanglefoot. Either way, morning will come soon enough. So too the next opener, one following the other quickly as time goes on.

These and other rewards, perhaps even a few ducks, await the 80,000 or more Minnesotans -- a tough and deserving lot -- who will hunt at first light Saturday morning.

Dennis Anderson's Twitter name is @dennisstrib •

  • 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.


Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 16 4th Qtr 6:48
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 31 3rd Qtr 6:30
Arizona 13
San Diego St 7 3rd Qtr 9:58
Oregon State 21
(2) Oregon 21 3rd Qtr
Washington St 21
Louisiana 3 3rd Qtr
Boise State 21
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 2nd Half 5:00
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

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

Weekly Question