By Patrick Winderl
Visit the offices of most doctors and you might find diplomas decorating the walls. The walls of Havre surgeon Michael Flannery's office are adorned with trophies of a different kind.
Practically every available space in the room is covered with photographs of Flannery hunting.
Hunting large, exotic and dangerous animals is his passion. One of the pictures in the office shows the surgeon standing underneath a sun-filled African sky with a 185-pound leopard stretched across his shoulders. Another photo shows him standing beside a massive cape buffalo he downed.
Flannery may keep pictures of the animals in his office, but he does one step better in his home. In the basement of the house he shares with his girlfriend, Diana, is the trophy room. Mounted in the room are more than 60 big-game animals. All have fallen to Flannery's guns.
His list of trophies would impress nearly any hunter. Cape buffalo, black-mane lion, impala, antelope, zebra, wild boar, leopard, Dall sheep, spring bok, warthog, wildebeest, tsessebe, grizzly bear, lynx, caribou, elk, and others all adorn the walls of Flannery's house or serve as rugs on his floors.
One of the most striking mounts is the lion - a rather large black-mane lion, which stands defiantly in the center of the room with a nyala antelope held in his mouth.
Flannery designed the mount, which was made in Africa and shipped back to the United States after a successful African hunt in 1995.
Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa: To most people they are the names of exotic places recognized only on an atlas. For Flannery they are more than that. The African countries are the source of vivid memories he has created while participating in big-game hunting safaris. Flannery has been on seven of the excursions, each lasting between two and three weeks.
Flannery, a general surgeon at Northern Montana Medical Center, is new to the Havre area. He moved to Havre in November from Glasgow, where he worked for a year.
"I really liked Glasgow and felt welcome there," he said. "But things slowed down and there was not enough action. I just wasn't stimulated enough, so when the opportunity arose to work in Havre, I jumped on it."
Flannery is excited to be in Havre, he added.
The surgeon moved to Glasgow following 20 years of medical service in several hospitals in Alaska. He received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and his M.D. from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Flannery performed his residency as a surgeon in the Air Force. The experience was a positive one, he said.
"In retrospect, it couldn't have been better. I got great training and got to do a lot of amazing things."
Flannery has four sons and a daugher. Patrick is 32, and has given Flannery two grandchildren. Ian, 24, is a sniper/scout in the U.S. Marine Corps and is stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Melissa, 22, is taking after her father and is a premed student at Colorado State University, where she was a cheerleader. Flannery's two youngest sons, Garret, 17, and Forrest, 16, live in Maine with their mother.
All five children have accompanied Flannery on hunting trips, either in Alaska or in Africa. For a high school graduation present, Flannery took Melissa on a double safari in the summer of 1999.
"Boy, she's tough, I tell you what," he said, shaking his head. "She is a better shot than I am, and I am a not a poor shooter. She took 17 animals on her graduation trip, and 13 of those were one-shot kills."
This weekend, Flannery and his girlfriend are traveling to Reno for a Safari Club International meeting. The event will bring big-game hunters from around the world to meet with other hunters.
Flannery owns four cats, two dogs and five horses.