July 26, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
The Netters, or Duck Catchers, don't look as absurd as they
might feel. From left are
Dave Spence, Mike Mahoney, Warren Gehrke, and Les Gordon.
People watch from the bridge while the netting crew hauls in the ducks.
Photos and story by Gary Noland
Anticipation was high with the crowd that gathered at the bridge over the Clearwater River on Wagon Wheel Way west of Highway 83 on July Fourth.
"Where are they, and when are they expected" people asked while waiting at the finish line to watch the ducks swim their final few strokes under the bridge and into the hands of waiting nets.
"I must be certifiable crazy," Les Gordon quipped as he waded into the water with his companions to net a few ducks.
"There they are," someone shouted as upstream rounding a bend in the river swam 250 plastic ducks as fast as the current would allow, with some kids floating on inner tubes to nudge along any ducks that got stuck in the bushes.
"It's all worthwhile and fun," according to race organizer Gayle Gordon. With the help of The Chicken Coop as a sponsor, the duck race races funds for projects at both the high school and grade schools in Seeley Lake.
This year part of the $1,150 raised will go to help the SSHS Golf Team buy matching bags for competitive play and the bulk of the monies will be used to help with expenses for the grade school's volleyball and football teams.
People buy ducks at $5 a duck with first prize being $100 for the fastest duck, $50 for second, and dinner for two at the Chicken Coop for third place.
A duck named R.J.J., owned by Roger Johnson, was this year's first duck under the bridge. Second was Steph Janssen's duck, "Haudy," and third place went to Jim Johnson's duck, Donald.
Mike Mahoney makes a catch.