Dennis Anderson: School's in session, even if it looks like a Montana duck hunt

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2012 - 11:21 PM

On a trip to reunite son and retriever, it is learned that some fellows get an education where they also find fabulous hunting.

hide

Against a mountainous backdrop, Garret Visser of Sullivan’s Island, S.C., Cody Melchior of Oakland, Calif., Paden Holman of Roswell, Ga., and Trevor Anderson, Dennis Anderson’s son, opened the Montana waterfowl season.

Photo: Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

IN WESTERN MONTANA - Whether ducks that soar along the Pacific Flyway appreciate the sun rising over mountains is unknown. Surely when they begin their autumn flights in Alaska or British Columbia and rifle southward ahead of low pressure they encounter craggy landscapes their Central and Mississippi flyway counterparts can only imagine. I was thinking about this Saturday morning as the rising sun cast a fiery halo behind the Mission Mountains in the far distance.

You could say I was hunting. But more to the point I was tagging along, a delivery boy on assignment. My son Trevor attends college in Missoula, about an hour or so distant, and he had called home recently for his dog, seeking a duck retriever. Unspoken but common knowledge in our family was that Trevor also missed his buddy at the foot of his bed at night.

So it was a few days ago that en route to a North Dakota duck hunt I diverted farther west, a black Lab in the back seat, feet up, snoozing. You really have to hand it to dogs: They know how to live. Anyway, I arrived in Missoula on Friday, just in advance of the opening of Montana's 2012 waterfowl season.

Trevor likes and enjoys people from Montana. But you wouldn't know it by the fellows he gathered with him in a blind Saturday morning. Garret Visser is from Sullivan's Island, S.C., Cody Melchior is from Oakland, Calif., and Paden Holman calls Roswell, Ga., home. They say they're in Montana for the education. But collectively they seem to own vast storehouses full of rods, reels, guns, drift boats and river rafts. Yes, occasionally, reference is made to a study assignment or class. But more often, and with more animation, they banter about adventures on the Beaverhead, Missouri or Bitterroot rivers, or the Elk River in British Columbia.

So perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that Trevor and Cody -- and Ben, the black Lab -- slept at the marsh's edge Friday night, in Trevor's truck, in hopes of securing "the best spot'' when shooting began Saturday morning.

Enticing as that option sounded, I elected instead to sleep in a motel, and was ready at 5 a.m. when Paden and Garret picked me up for the hour or so drive to meet Trevor and Cody.

"We got here about midnight, but there was a guy at our spot already, so we're taking the next best spot,'' Trevor reported.

Except for the mountains that would reveal themselves with the coming sun, we could have been in Minnesota. The shallow lake we overlooked seemed no different than those in Kandiyohi or Chippewa or Stevens counties.

• • •

If you can't find time to hunt ducks in the Pacific Flyway, you're too busy.

Unlike the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, which are allotted 60-day seasons by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with six-bird limits, hunters in the Pacific Flyway are granted 107 days of bird chasing, with seven-bird daily limits. Two hen mallards, two redheads, two pintails and one canvasback are among species restrictions -- similar to Minnesota's. Otherwise it's Katie-bar-the-door, with seven bluebills allowed daily, for example, compared to four in the Mississippi Flyway.

Fundamentally, the season length and bag limit disparities exist because hunters in the central part of the country -- the Mississippi Flyway -- kill more ducks than hunters in the other three flyways combined.

In 2010, for example, Mississippi Flyway waterfowlers harvested some 2.2 million mallards, compared to only 900,000 in the Pacific Flyway. And bluebills? In 2011, only 22,000 were dropped in the Pacific Flyway, while Mississippi Flyway hunters killed 115,000.

Like a comptroller, Trevor assessed these numbers with great precision while making a college recommendation to his mother and me a couple of years back.

"The cost of tuition, room and board are important considerations,'' he said. "I'll also need shells.''

Trevor also credits his choice of schools for the locked hunting-gun storage it offers in dormitories. Last year, as a freshman, he recalls sometimes walking out of his dorm dressed in camouflage with a cased gun under his arm while other students were just coming in from a night of revelry.

Turns out, other students of similarly wayward sporting interests were also enrolled, including Cody, Paden and Garret.

This year, to their great pleasure, they all live off campus, and their aforementioned equipment storehouses have now been expanded to include Ben the black Labrador.

Out front. Out front.

Daylight had coalesced beneath a sky opaque with clouds and smoke. For weeks, if not months, forest fires have burned in the Bitterroots to the south and west of Missoula, fostering a haze that on some days impairs not only sight but breathing.

Yet the knot of blue-winged teal that approached the guys' decoys seemed clear enough.

In the classroom, Cody and Garret study wildlife biology, while Trevor and Paden are business majors.

Years from now they'll remember -- or won't -- all or part of their specific academic instruction.

But they'll never forget walking from that marsh on opening day of the 2012 Montana waterfowl season, 17 ducks slung over their shoulders, the evening's dinner in hand.

  • 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

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 35 2nd Qtr 3:38
Portland 28
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 3rd Prd
Arizona 2
Montreal 0 2nd Prd 17:49
Los Angeles 2
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 70 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 45 1st OT 2:33
Drake 43
Cal State Fullerton 40 2nd Half 7:02
UC Irvine 44
CS-Northridge 36 2nd Half 10:33
Long Beach State 50
UC Riverside 48 2nd Half 7:48
UC Davis 42
Stanford 8 1st Half 11:54
Arizona State 8
Utah 14 1st Half 8:53
Washington St 13
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 2nd Half 0:15
Minnesota 80
Cal-Irvine 49 2nd Half 3:43
Cal State Fullerton 55
Long Beach St 50 2nd Half 7:07
CS-Northridge 64
Hawaii 54 2nd Half 5:35
UC Santa Barbara 30
UC Davis 48 2nd Half 3:52
UC-Riverside 52
Northern Ariz 73 2nd Half 3:11
Portland State 54
Southern Utah 53 2nd Half 10:03
Sacramento St 77
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 2 1st Half 18:22
St Marys-CA 4
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