The distinct smell of the marsh beckons as the hunter and his dog make their way through the darkness, against a stiff wind and spitting snow. With his trusty Winchester 101 cradled in his arms, the stock well worn by years of use, he's undeterred by the weight of heavy tin cloth clothing, rubber hip boots, and the large bag of decoys slung over his shoulder. Picking his way through the hummocks, his pace quickens as daylight approaches and ducks fly overhead at breakneck speed searching for a spot to land. After throwing out a dozen or so duck decoys, he settles-in amongst a clump of cattails along the shoreline. He pours a cup of coffee from a rusty thermos, then watches and listens intently, immersing himself in the surroundings, becoming an integral part of the landscape. Later, upon discovering a can of ""Beanie Weenies"" left in his hunting coat from a previous outing, he thinks aloud, ""This is really livin."" It was a successful day of hunting, judged not by the number of birds harvested, but by virtue of the experience.
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Robert Lloyd Eng of Bozeman passed away on Oct. 20, 2013, after several difficult years fighting Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Bob was born in Gary, S.D. in 1927 to Edward and Martina Eng. He came from a large family of 12 children; five brothers, Vince, Don, Ray, Paul, and Jim; three sisters, Joan, Muriel, and Marion; and three half brothers, Ransom, Bill, and Walter.
As a young boy Bob had an innate love of the outdoors and for wildlife, especially birds. In the third grade he started a bird watching club at school. Most of his free time was spent hunting, fishing and trapping. Bob also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Right after high school at the tail end of World War II, he joined the navy. He began pilot training, but ended up a Quartermaster since the war was coming to a close.
Bob dedicated his life's work to game management, receiving a B.S. at South Dakota State University, M.S. at Montana State University and his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. He married Betty Heide while finishing his doctorate in August 1952 and together they adopted their son Bruce in 1960. Bob worked for the Montana Fish and Game Department in the late 50s and early 60s in Helena and Great Falls. In 1965 the family moved to Bozeman where he became a professor of Fish and Wildlife Management until his retirement in 1992. Bob lectured on several continents and won numerous professional awards during his career, and he was honored as a top alumnus at both SDSU, and MSU. His biggest reward however, came from helping his students succeed and from the lifelong friendships he built with both his students and his peers. Outside his professional life, Bob was a caring husband and father. The 3B's (Bob, Betty, and Bruce) enjoyed many adventures and great times together.
Bob lost Betty to lung cancer in 1994, and after six years of traveling the world as a bachelor, he married Martha Gilthvedt in January 2000. Bob and Martha had several good years traveling and enjoying retirement together before Bob began to have health problems in 2008. We are extremely grateful for the excellent care and kindness that Bob received from the staff at Spring Creek Memory Care, and Hospice of Southwest Montana.
Bob is survived by his wife, Martha of Bozeman and her children, Brita (Kristi), Kjersti, and Peter; son and daughter-in-law, Bruce and Leta and grandson, Erik all of Bozeman; brothers: Don, Ray (Mary Ann), Jim (Elaine); sister Muriel (Joe); brother-in-law and sister-in-law, John and Nancy Heide, numerous nieces and nephews, and his golden retriever, Kai.
The sun sets over the marsh marking the end of this journey and the beginning of another, as the hunter becomes eternally one with the land he so loved.
A celebration of Bob's life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at Hope Lutheran Church. Memorials in Bob's name can be made to: The Gallatin Valley Land Trust, P.O. Box 7021, Bozeman, MT 59771, or the Hope Lutheran Church Building Fund, 2152 W. Graf St., Bozeman, MT 59718.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, 2013