RIDGELAND, Miss., Feb. 16, 2006 – Forty-seven youths attended the inaugural Ducks Unlimited youth duck hunt in northwest Mississippi on Feb. 3-5. The event was organized by Ducks Unlimited (DU) Regional Vice President Dr. Ronal Roberson and involved cooperation from DU volunteers and staff, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and several duck clubs and private landowners.
Festivities began at the National Guard Armory in Greenwood, Miss., where the kids got a lesson on waterfowl biology and identification followed by a discussion on how the USFWS manages wetlands for waterfowl on national wildlife refuges. Next, was an introduction to Project Webfoot, a DU wetlands education program designed to bring wetlands education into the classroom (www.projectwebfoot.org
). Unfortunately, rain curtailed plans for a retriever demonstration.
|Mississippi Ducks Unlimited hosted 47 youth hunters from throughout the South during a highly successful two-day youth-only hunt Feb. 4-5.|
Hunt guides were assigned to the youths and their guardians for the Saturday and Sunday morning hunts, and everyone traveled to their respective duck clubs to rest before the next day’s hunt.
“We had representatives from some of the most successful duck clubs in the Delta,” said Dr. Roberson. “These young folks hunted on areas managed by people who are passionate about waterfowl.”
Gumbo Flats, York Woods, Bailey Brake, Delta Haven, Tallahatchie Hunts and Hunter’s Paradise Lodge were the duck clubs or outfitters that hosted the youngsters and their guardians. Some individual private landowners also hosted groups of youth hunters.
“This was a great way to get young people outside and introduce them to the excitement of duck hunting,” said Chris Cole, director of conservation at DU’s southern regional office. “It is important we provide these opportunities for kids, so they make the connection among wetland conservation, duck habitat and duck hunting.”
More than 200 ducks were taken during the weekend hunt including mallards, green-winged teal, hooded mergansers, pintails and gadwalls.
“Duck hunting is more fun than any other hunting I’ve done. It is an adventure,” said Nikki Taylor, 15, who took her full limit of ducks on Saturday.
The youth hunts were auctioned or raffled at DU fundraising events throughout the southeast and raised more than $12,000.
“We plan on doing this again during the coming banquet season,” said Roberson. “Once people hear how much fun this year’s hunt was, we hope to have a bigger response next year and plan on hosting 60 youths and their guardians.”
In 2007, the DU youth hunt is scheduled for Feb. 2-4. You can find a DU fundraising event where you can win a youth hunt by visiting www.ducks.org and click on “Find Local Events.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.