By Chris Jennings
The Ducks Unlimited logo can be found plastered on a variety of items, from vehicles to waterfowl hunting equipment to household items. The recent "Show Us Your Duck Head" contest, hosted on DU's Facebook page, proved that the DU logo is painted, tattooed and stuck to more than trucks and boats. One submission stood out above all the rest, and not only dominated the final voting, but aroused curiosity throughout both the organization and on Facebook—An AH-64 Apache helicopter dubbed "Quack Nasty."
Quack Nasty originated from Sgt. Wade Etherton, a 23-year-old, Section, Ala., native who is currently deployed to Afghanistan with the 159th Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne. (Charlie Company 3-101) "The first time I went waterfowl hunting was with my brother Scott, and he had Quack Nasty written on his layout blind bag," Etherton explained. "I was using his gear, so his buddy started calling us Team Quack Nasty and it just stuck."
As an AH-64 Apache helicopter crew chief, Etherton has the opportunity to paint his name on the side of his "bird." This year, Etherton chose to paint the DU logo and added the words Quack Nasty. Once submitted to the DU Facebook contest, the image began receiving "likes" and patriotic comments from all over the country.
"Minutes after Sgt. Etherton uploaded the Quack Nasty photo to Facebook, we saw a lot of interest and buzz from our fans," said Anthony Jones, DU web director. "It was a crowd favorite from the beginning, and it didn't take long for it to go 'viral.' In fact, the photo even made its way to our Government Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., where our staff received emails of the image from some Senate staff members."
Etherton was grateful for the kind words, and the support provided throughout the contest. "The other guys in my unit kind of laughed about it and said, 'Figures, Etherton would put that on his bird,'" he said. "I was taken aback by how many people commented and liked my photo. Seeing how people were thanking soldiers, and knowing people in D.C. liked it, is even better. It's nice to know people see us as people and not just numbers in the war."
While the comments meant a lot to Etherton, it is the logo itself that provides him with inspiration. The story behind Quack Nasty, and what it represents to him, provides motivation. "Seeing the logo does remind me of being home," he explained. "It always reminds me of my brother coming in and waking me up at three in the morning, yelling that we are late and someone is going to get our spot. Every time I see it; I just have some type of good memory."
Winning the Facebook contest's grand prize, an MST Jacket, boots and blind bag from Drake Waterfowl; Etherton hopes to put his new gear to use in the coming seasons. Etherton's passion for waterfowl hunting and conservation is rivaled only by that of his fellow soldiers and his job in the U.S. Army.
"To me, putting the DU logo on my bird is just two things I love," Etherton said. "I love to duck hunt and I love my job. DU is protecting the wetlands so I can hunt every year and [Charlie Company] and myself are protecting our right to hunt."