Mike Hruby is a decoy-carving, dog-loving, sea duck-hunting former bull rider and Marine. His fervor for waterfowling was ignited by his dad, who brought Mike to the blind for the first time when he was just six years old and tasked him with retrieving downed birds.
"I wore trash bags and lace-up rubber boots, and man, you want to talk about cold!" Mike recalls with a grin. "Every time I'd go get one of dad's ducks, he'd ask me what it was. I could identify every duck we came across way before I got a gun in my hand."
Mike's father was confident in his son's waterfowl identification and hunting safety knowledge when he gave him his first shotgun at the age of 10. In the 40 years since, Mike hasn't missed a single waterfowl season.
Given his service to our country, his impressive carving skills, and his love of waterfowling, there are many inspiring things about Mike, but one of the most significant is his dedication to Ducks Unlimited. His father served as area chairman for the Fort Bend DU chapter, and from a young age Mike went along to meetings and events. In 1997, Mike discovered the monthly pay option for DU's Life Sponsor pledge. "We're not rich, but people spend their money on things that matter to them, and waterfowl matter to us," he says. "I'm a blue-collar guy, and anyone can do it just like I did-one month at a time."
Once Mike paid off that pledge, he and his wife, Theresa, agreed that they should upgrade. Now they are Grand Slam Sponsors in Perpetuity, Heritage Sponsors, and members of the Feather Society. Theresa is also the district chairman for the Fort Bend chapter and Mike helps on the committee.
As a military veteran, Mike knows what a group of individuals with a common purpose can accomplish. "When a duck hunter turns into a conservationist, he makes a difference. When an army of hunters become conservationists, they're a force to be reckoned with," he explains. That's why Mike encourages others to support DU whenever he gets an opportunity.
Mike gives back in other ways as well. Always attracted to challenging hunting scenarios, this native Texan fell in love with sea duck hunting many years ago. Today he focuses his financial gifts on breeding landscapes important to these and other waterfowl. His eyes light up as he talks about pursuing scoters and eiders in Maryland and Alaska. He also travels to Maine each year to help with an eider hunt for wounded veterans. "I've seen some pretty ravaged bodies and minds pushed to their limit," Mike says. "But to take them out there and see them laugh-that's the stuff life is made of!"
As he talks about DU, Mike's commitment is clear on his face. "We have to be the ones to support conservation and make sure there are birds and habitats forever," he says. "I look at my contributions to Ducks Unlimited as my secondary savings plan. For the money I'm investing in DU, I see returns every fall."