Inventor aims to help shooters

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 22, 2013 - 12:04 AM

Oakdale man's shotshell tracer is being marketed by Winchester.


A Winchester AA Traacker shotshell intentionally fired below a clay target at Metro Gun Club in Blaine demonstrates the shell's special tracer wad that flies with the shot pellets, allowing the shooter to assess the correctness of his or her aim.

Photo: Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When I've written previously about Wendell Diller, the subject primarily has been the "long gun" he developed -- a 7-foot-long shotgun that fires without sound, or very little sound.

An inventor, Wendell, 68, of Oakdale, came up with the long gun idea out of necessity. The crow hunting spots he hunted north of the Twin Cities for so many years increasingly became dotted with homes, and he needed a way to shoot at one of his favorite targets without disturbing the peace.

Since then, he has employed the gun primarily for urban shooting, sometimes of geese, sometimes, when loaded with special slugs, at deer.

More quietly -- quieter even than his long gun -- Wendell's been working the past 10 years or so on an invention that just now is coming to market. Announced last week by Winchester at the SHOT -- Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade -- Show in Las Vegas, Wendell's shotshell tracer soon will be available in Winchester AA Tracker 8-shot target loads.

Over the past year or so, Winchester reached an exclusive licensing agreement with Wendell to build for mass production, and market, the special shells. The best news for shooters: Twenty-five-shell boxes will sell for only $1 more than similar Winchester shells without tracers.

Development of the special tracer -- which also acts as the shell's wad -- is a major breakthrough that will allow shotgunners for the first time to see whether they're on target, and if not, see placement of their shot relative to the target.

"There have been many attempts to develop tracers for shotguns, but most involved pyrotechnics similar to tracers used in the military," said Wendell, who holds four patents on the wad. "The problem was they came with the possibility of starting fires, and they were expensive."

For now, the tracers will be available only in 8-shot target loads.

• • •

In the most flattering sense possible, Wendell has been a bit of a gun nut since childhood. Growing up in Oregon the son of a minister, he once considered also becoming a man of the cloth.

"When I was a kid, I started out with guns and ammunition by designing and building my own reloading equipment," Wendell said. "I can remember my mom saying, 'Wendell, you'll never amount to anything because all you do is play.' Which was true -- and it's still true. I like to play with stuff and figure it out."

Wendell moved to the Twin Cities in 1976 and today works for Magnepan, which builds and markets mid- to high-end speakers of the kind favored by audiophiles. Thus his fascination (recall the quiet gun) with sound and how to amplify it, as well as minimize it.

Wendell's hunting car, as I've mentioned in previous reports, is a 1978 Plymouth Volare wagon with a slant-6 under the hood.

Try to find one of these babies with a 4-speed on the floor, as his has (he's replaced the original tranny). Better yet, try to find one that still purrs when its odometer has rolled past 435,000 (he rebuilt the engine once).

The Volare's body, Wendell will concede, is nothing to write home about. Painted with Wal-Mart spray cans, it shows its age. Yet rust is minimal, mostly because every year Wendell crawls underneath the old girl to undercoat her with a sealant concoction he's developed.

"The Volare will probably outlast me," Wendell said.

Regularly, Wendell and I take his car while hunting late-season geese in the backwaters of various Twin Cities area rivers. To accomplish this, we wear waders while walking atop thin ice alongside Wendell's old canoe, onto which, on one side, a stabilizing outrigger is affixed.

When, as planned, we break through the ice, we can climb into the canoe knowing it won't tip, thanks to the outrigger.

We then paddle to our hunting area.

This year, on the last day of the Wisconsin goose season, Wendell's wife, Galina (she's from Russia; they met on the Internet), came along, flopping amidships in the canoe atop our decoys and other gear after the ice gave way.

We didn't kill any geese that day. But the food was great: Galina brought a small charcoal grill and fried pancakes containing enough fruit, grains and other ingredients to weather a Siberianesque storm, if need be.

• • •

One morning last week, Wendell and I met at Metro Gun Club in Blaine to shoot some of the new tracer shotshells.

The shells worked as advertised, flying with discharged pellet loads up to about 40 yards.

"They'll be great for beginners and experienced shooters alike," Wendell said.

In simplest terms, Wendell said, the wad, upon leaving a shotgun muzzle, spins like an arrow's fletching, allowing it to fly straight while capturing one-eighth of the shell's 1 1/8-ounce load.

"At 40 yards, the wad will separate from the shot, because the shot is more efficient," Wendell said. "But 40 yards is plenty for shooters to see where they're aiming."

The new tracer shells are expected to be in retail stores within a few months.

  • 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.


Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) 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
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) 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
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
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) 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 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) 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
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) 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
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) 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
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
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
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(8) 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
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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