Underwood man named to Minnesota Waterfowl Hall of Fame
Richard “Dick” Anderson, of Underwood, claims he didn’t work one day over the past 25-plus years. At least, it didn’t seem like work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s Advanced Hunter Education Program.
Anderson was the face of the program, developing and presenting it to countless groups throughout the region. And he helped protect some species from overhunting. Earlier this year, he was named to the Minnesota Waterfowl Hall of Fame for his work.
Anderson grew up on a small farm near Lake George near Park Rapids. The family had a dozen cows, some hogs and sheep and a quarter section of land.
“I took advantage of that time,” Anderson said. “My brothers were in Korea, and I was home with my dad at a time when he had the time and means to do things. That meant a lot to me.”
His father, an avid outdoorsman, shared his knowledge of the wildlife living in the area. Anderson, like a sponge, soaked up the information and gained a love for the outdoors.
“All I needed was a rod and reel and a pocketful of daredevils,” he said. “We didn’t have GPS or a compass to navigate. I would go so far one day and then go a little bit further the next.”
Visitors often came to the farm wanting to hunt, and the young Anderson would be sent as their guide.
“They paid the first time to hunt,” he said. “After that, they quickly became friends but would return each year to hunt and visit.”
Anderson says he was different from other youth. He wasn’t interested in sports and preferred being alone in the countryside watching the wildlife and hunting and fishing.
After he graduated from La Porte High School, he took a few college classes, but he focused on work. He built houses, working for contractors, and moved a few times. Wildlife, however, was always his “thing,” he said.
He left a job at the Minot Air Base because he wasn’t able to hunt.
His wife, Charlotte, shared his love of the outdoors. The two moved to Fergus Falls through his work with the Lampert Lumber Company. It was a great location for the two, who lived in the country, enjoying the wildlife and hunting.
Anderson got involved in a local fish and game club in the late 1960s to early 1970s where his passion for wildlife and conservation was noted by his peers. He was appointed to the Regional Environment Education Board and began taking the hunting ethics and conservation message to school convocations.
“At that same time, I was interested in bears,” he said. “In 1971 I enlisted Cliff Ukkelberg and Cal Larson, local lawmakers, to put the bears on the endangered species list.”
His efforts helped to build the bear populations. He served as president of the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club, president of the Minnesota State Archery Association, helping to restore the giant Canada goose populations, and found funding to study crop depredation by Canada geese.
When the DNR launched the pilot project Advanced Hunter Education Program, Anderson was one of the first to be a volunteer instructor. When the program began to falter, he conducted a number of one-night clinics on deer, bear and waterfowl hunting.
He never gave a lecture in his presentations. His down-to-earth style captivated audiences as he shared his own hunting experiences with his own infectious brand of humor.
Anderson’s efforts were a hit. The program’s attendance jumped from a few hundred to more than 3,000 in two years.
He was hired full time by the department in 1979 to organize, train and support volunteer instructors who would take the information into clinics and classes across the state.
Anderson spent time in the field with conservation officers, wildlife managers and researchers to glean the most up-to-date information he could share with instructors and program participants. His work to establish those connections between the field staff and hunters was crucial when controversy erupted over lead poisoning and lead shot bans. Many agencies adopted a command and defend approach that fueled resentment.
Anderson fostered partnerships with Bill Stevens at Federal Cartridge, based in Anoka, and with the Minnesota Waterfowl Association to provide hunters with the best information. They conducted open forums to answer questions and discuss the issue. While the hunters learned more about the effects of lead poisoning, they also learned about shot shell ballistics, range estimation and shooting techniques. Through outdoor clinics, hunters learned how to evaluate those patterns for waterfowl hunting.
When nontoxic shot was required nationwide for waterfowl hunting in 1987, the Minnesota controversy was mostly finished. Through the clinics and forums, hunters learned waterfowl identification, habitat conservation, decoy setting and dog training.
Charlotte accompanied him to many of his presentations and was also honored for her work.
Anderson retired in 2000, and the couple moved to another farmsite south of Underwood. While Charlotte developed several flower gardens in their yard, Anderson added wood duck houses and bird feeders.
His beloved Charlie, as he called his wife, died a few years ago. He continues to live on the property enjoying the perennials she’d planted and adding a crop plot where wildlife can graze next to a wetland.
He often has visitors, both those who love wildlife and the actual wildlife he loves and respects. Several deer visit the yard in the early evening, he said. And the wood ducks jump from their houses, moving their young to the water once the daytime activity has ceased.
Anderson has passed his love of the outdoors to his children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. He has several pictures of the group, often in camouflage gear, in his kitchen, including a couple of pictures of his great-grandchildren and their first successful hunts.
He stresses the importance of caring for wildlife and hunting etiquette. Anderson might not don his hunting gear very often anymore, but he continues to enjoy and care for it in his own backyard.