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Shotgunning for Women

Years ago a gun maker took a sporting clays over/under, painted it teal blue, shortened the stock, and called it a women's gun. A friend of mine bought one, but she might have been the only person who did. Fortunately, the firearms industry is starting to take the needs of female shooters seriously. That's a welcome change at a time when more and more women are taking up hunting and shooting. Here are a few things that female duck hunters should look for in a shotgun.

Cross-Training Your Retriever

Retrievers that lie around all summer and pack on weight are not likely to perform up to par in the duck blind when waterfowl season starts. Because there are no shortcuts to conditioning a duck dog, Mike Stewart recommends regular exercise throughout the year. He's a big believer in cross-training retrievers by engaging them in a variety of activities such as hunting, swimming, running, and walking as part of a sporting lifestyle. Here are seven fun cross-training activities that you can do with your retriever to add variety to his training program during the off-season.

Secrets of Successful Shooters

Great waterfowl shots are made, not born. It often takes thousands of rounds fired at clay targets and game birds to master the art of wingshooting. While there is no substitute for experience, good advice can save you from common mistakes that separate average shooters from experts. Recently I interviewed five of the nation's most accomplished shotgunners for their advice on how waterfowlers can improve their shooting skills. Here's what they had to say.

Status of the Pintail

As you read this, hen northern pintails are well into the trials and tribulations of their annual breeding effort. What happens during these few short months, including the number of ducklings that hatch and fledge and the number of females that survive, greatly influences whether the pintail population grows or declines. Where pintails choose to nest across their vast breeding range has a significant impact on their productivity and, consequently, on how many birds migrate south in the fall.

Savory Grilled Duck or Goose Kabobs

When it comes to casual dining, there are few items as handy as a tasty ribbon of meat threaded onto a wooden skewer. You grasp the skewer in one hand and hold your favorite beverage in the other. What could be better than that on a pleasant summer day?

Understanding Waterfowl: The Amazing Egg

For waterfowl, the cycle of life begins anew each year with the eggs that are laid and carefully nurtured by nesting birds on their breeding grounds. An egg consists of three main parts: the yolk, albumen (egg white), and shell. Everything a duckling needs for its development is contained within these three components.

Mastering the Blind Retrieve

Retrievers are hard-wired to fetch fallen birds. When a retriever sees a bird fall, his natural instinct is to go out and get it. Honing that innate ability so the dog hunts for you and not for himself is the key to the training process. For this reason, the blind retrieve is perhaps the ultimate test of a finished duck dog.

Shotgunning: Fighting Recoil

Recoil is a mathematical function of three factors: gun weight, payload weight (shot, wad, and powder), and payload velocity. Gun makers can't change the laws of physics to make guns recoil less, but they can soften the blow by reducing felt recoil (aka kick). Bear in mind, however, that everyone feels recoil differently. A recoil reducer that works for one shooter may not help another. Following is a look at the best technology and techniques available for taming excessive recoil.

The Alaska Initiative: Born to Fly

Alaska is home to some of the most expansive and unspoiled wetlands on earth. The state also ranks among North America's most important waterfowl production areas, supporting 15 to 20 percent of the continent's breeding ducks, geese, and swans. From the rugged southern coast to the sprawling interior to the remote tundra of the North Slope, Alaska is a vast and wild place.

Will Water Be the Oil of the Future?

Mark Twain has been credited with coining the phrase "whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over." When I checked out a website dedicated to verifying quotes from Mark Twain, it stated there is no firm evidence that he made this statement, nor evidence to discredit it. Mark Twain died in 1910, and there is little record of this statement being used before the 1980s, when Warren (Bob) Neufeld, director of the South Dakota Department of Water and Natural Resources, was quoted as saying "whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting."

Habitat for Hunters

For most of us, the word "habitat" conjures up attractive mental images of the many natural places where wildlife live. Ducks Unlimited's mission statement makes this connection explicit by stating that DU "conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl." The statement goes on to say that "these habitats also benefit other wildlife and people." While that sentence recognizes the fact that many other wildlife species benefit from DU's efforts to conserve habitat for waterfowl, the last word highlights the most important beneficiaries of DU's work: people. Everyone who enjoys waterfowl and other wetland wildlife benefits from DU's conservation programs. But hunters, who make up about 85 percent of our current membership, have traditionally provided the greatest support for DU's mission.

10 Off-Season Projects for Waterfowlers

Fill your spring and summer schedule with a few exciting projects, and before you know it the first cool weather of September will push teal down the flyways and the hunting season will start all over again. Here are 10 productive waterfowling-related activities that never go out of season.

Authentic Duck or Goose "Street" Tacos

Although for tacos I do occasionally slow-roast large goose breasts until they are pot-roast tender, I prefer to cook them the way that I learned from the Mexican street vendor. Cut them into chunks and pound until flat. Apply a liberal amount of seasoning and slap them into a lightly oiled hot cast-iron skillet for about a minute or two per side. Chop and serve with your choice of a frosty-cold beverage; mine includes a squeeze of lime.

Shotgunning: Practice Like You Play

Recently, a well-known basketball coach told a rookie player to practice only the shots he would take during games. The coach's point was that not all practice is equal. The same advice holds true for waterfowlers wanting to sharpen their shotgunning skills in the off-season. The closer you mimic actual hunting conditions, the more you'll get from your time on the skeet range or sporting clays course. Here's how.

Retrievers: The Bottom Line

The decision to get a new retriever is seldom merely a matter of weighing the costs versus the benefits. Some folks can't imagine living without a dog, much less hunting without one. The choice often comes down to heartstrings as much as it does to purse strings. Nevertheless, all prospective dog owners should understand that the investment they're about to make will be significant. Here's a rundown of just some of the expenses you're likely to incur if you decide to take the plunge and get a new dog this spring.

DU's Peaks to Prairies Initiative

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana span some of America's most beautiful landscapes. The high-mountain peaks in this scenic region are also the sources of some of the continent's largest rivers, including the Missouri, Colorado, Arkansas, Platte, and Yellowstone. Their cold, clear waters are noted for outstanding fishing, as sportsmen and women come from all over the world to catch trophy trout and enjoy majestic scenery and iconic wildlife such as bears, moose, and elk. These mountain headwaters are also important for something else: waterfowl. Western rivers and their associated tributaries and high-elevation wetlands provide vital breeding, migration, and wintering habitat for a great abundance and diversity of ducks, geese, and swans.

Some Years Are for the Ducks

As I write this, the 2015-2016 duck season is drawing to a close. It began with great promise for a fantastic season with a record 49.6 million nesting birds counted across the northern parts of the United States, into the prairies and Great Lakes of Canada, and up in the Boreal Forests. Then the September teal season in the south and the regular season in the north seemed to bode well for great harvests and healthy populations. Millions of migratory waterfowl rested on the Canadian prairies and in the northern United States awaiting the normal push of the Arctic blasts that would encourage them to move farther south for the winter. But the weather didn't follow the normal patterns this year, either with hard freezes in Canada or temperatures and rainfall in the United States.

Good Luck Duck

Kick off your new year with this hearty winter recipe

Understanding Waterfowl: An Odd Duck

The harlequin duck is among North America's most unusual waterfowl species

DU's Southern Prairies and Playas Initiative

Conserving the wetlands and grasslands of the Southern Great Plains for migrating waterfowl

Painting Closing Time: A Family Portrait

Bob White is a contributing artist for Ducks Unlimited magazine and has provided accompanying illustrations for the "Closing Time" column since 2007. These DU Newsletter exclusive features will detail White's approach to each illustration and provide an in-depth look at White's passion for waterfowl, conservation, and art.

Understanding Waterfowl: Waterfowl and the California Drought

Ducks and geese may face severe water and food shortages in the Central Valley this year

Conservation: DU's Big Rivers Initiative

Located in the heart of the Upper Mississippi River watershed, Ducks Unlimited's Big Rivers Initiative focuses on the restoration, enhancement, and protection of wetlands used by millions of waterfowl migrating between their breeding and wintering grounds each year.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Reading Ducks

To be a good duck caller, you've got to be a good duck watcher," a veteran guide on Tennessee's famed Reelfoot Lake once told me. "You've got to pay close attention to the birds' reactions and determine whether you have to tease them in or demand that they come to the decoys." The following tips will help you master the art of reading ducks and adjust your calling to toll more birds into the decoys.

Past Champions Deserve Our Gratitude

Ducks Unlimited is recognized across North America as one of the most, if not the most, significant creator of volunteer engagement in the conservation movement. Today, Ducks Unlimited Inc. has fewer than 500 paid (and very dedicated) employees that ensure the day-to-day work of the company gets done. However, we are blessed to have approximately 1 million supporters and more than 55,000 volunteers from 2,600 chapters who give their time and energy to put on more than 4,300 fundraising events each and every year. Those volunteers are, and always will be, the heart and soul of DU.

2015 DU Member Photo Contest

Take a look at the outstanding images captured by this year's winners

Conservation: Living Lakes Initiative

Conserving Minnesota and Iowa's wetlands and shallow lakes for breeding and migrating waterfowl

Waterfowler's Notebook: Don't Go Deaf in the Duck Blind

Sound advice on how to protect your hearing while waterfowl hunting

Understanding Waterfowl: The Nesting Period

The health of waterfowl populations depends largely on the ability of the birds to successfully nest and hatch broods

Shotgunning: Shot Size Selection

A range of shot sizes will work for any bird. In fact, on the sides of ammo boxes there are little charts that offer different size recommendations. The following advice will help you narrow down those choices to pick the best size for your specific hunting needs.

Five Tips for Grilling Ducks and Geese

When it comes to cooking waterfowl, many folks are partial to grilling. It just seems natural that those of us who choose to spend our free time outdoors would also prefer the simplicity of open-flame cooking. A well-grilled duck that's crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful in the middle is, after all, hard to beat.

Retrievers: The First Six Months

Dog training can be a challenging endeavor, particularly for a novice working with his or her first retriever. If you acquire a puppy, your patience may be tested far more during the first six months of ownership than at any other time. It's important to recognize right from the start that your puppy knows almost nothing at seven or eight weeks of age. Once home, the pup becomes a student. And you are his primary teacher.

Friends Helping Friends

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Conservation, the Economy, and You

Have you ever considered how much you personally contribute to the conservation cause, or how much your hunting expenditures benefit the economy? Let's take a closer look at the remarkable impact that a typical waterfowler has on conservation and the economy simply by doing two things that come naturally to many readers of this magazine: going duck hunting and supporting Ducks Unlimited.

Conservation: Heartland Heritage and Habitat Initiative

The dynamic and highly productive seasonal wetlands, braided rivers, and backwater sloughs of the Southern Great Plains support millions of waterfowl that migrate across the nation's heartland each fall and spring. However, the Southern Great Plains is an arid place, receiving less than 16 inches of precipitation per year on average. Sadly, the region's limited water resources are now under great pressure from a variety of uses, threatening many of the habitats that sustain waterfowl during their epic transcontinental migrations. In response to this conservation challenge, Ducks Unlimited founded its Heartland Heritage and Habitat Initiative to help ensure sustainable water supplies and healthy wetlands in this region for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people.

Why the Duck Stamp Is Worth the Effort

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Grilled Duck or Goose with Chimichurri Sauce

This simple South American condiment adds a tangy, flavorful twist to barbecued waterfowl. By Scott Leysath.

Partners on Private Lands

In February 2014, Congress passed a new Farm Bill that authorized several agriculture and conservation programs through 2018. This nearly half-trillion-dollar legislative package provides more than $28 billion in funding over five years for voluntary conservation programs on farms and ranches across the United States. The future of waterfowl is inextricably linked to the conservation of wetlands and other important habitats on private lands, and the Farm Bill is a key component of these efforts.

Seven Tips for Late-Season Ducks

Hope may spring eternal in the hearts of duck and goose hunters, but enthusiasm often lags during the last few weeks of the season. These seven tips from expert waterfowlers will help you hone your hunting strategies to ensure that your season ends on a high note.

Herb and Citrus Roasted Duck

If one of your culinary goals is to make waterfowl taste like something other than a duck or a goose, I want you to reconsider. Drowning your ducks—even the darker-fleshed divers—in overpowering marinades to make them more palatable is not only unnecessary but also a terrible disservice to the birds. Marinades should always enhance the natural flavors of waterfowl without overwhelming them.

Waterfowler's Notebook: How to Stay Safe on the Water

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, hunters are involved in an average of 35 major boating accidents per year, resulting in 14 deaths and 27 serious injuries. Eighty percent of these reported deaths occurred by drowning, and 85 percent of the victims were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Here are 10 tips for staying safe on the water.

Understanding Waterfowl: Winter Weather and Waterfowl

For much of North America, the winter of 2013-2014 will not soon be forgotten, as it brought record snowfall and the coldest temperatures in at least 20 years to many locations. When duck hunters hear of extreme winter weather, they instinctively focus on how it may impact their hunting success.

Shotgunning: Five Shooting Tips for Waterfowlers

We all have days in the field that we wish we could do over. Like many shotgunners, I had honed my skills by standing up and shooting at going-away targets thrown from a trap at my feet. This was great practice for upland hunting, but it didn't help me learn the techniques I eventually had to master to consistently shoot ducks and geese. Following are five essential wingshooting skills that all waterfowlers should master.

Cold-Weather Retriever Care

Most retrievers aren't afraid of cold weather and will throw caution to the brisk wind when hunting waterfowl, fetching birds in icy water and braving even the harshest elements. Properly conditioned duck dogs are built for the cold.

Conservation: Southeast Wetlands Initiative

Ducks Unlimited's Southeast Wetlands Initiative area encompasses much of the southeastern United States, a highly diverse geographical region with time-honored traditions and a strong hunting heritage. This seven-state area boasts many of the Atlantic and eastern Mississippi Flyways' most important wetland systems and legendary waterfowling areas, including Chesapeake Bay, Currituck Sound, the ACE Basin, Mobile Bay, and the St. Johns River.

The Changing World of the Wildlife Biologist

When I reported for duty as a field biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978, I wasn't sure exactly what my life's work would entail. I had spent seven years in undergraduate and graduate school learning biology, chemistry, identification of plants and animals, and how researchers thought the ecosystem worked. My emphasis was in fisheries and wetlands science. I thought I knew a lot, but I had no idea how much I had yet to learn. The one field in which I had received no training whatsoever was in the management of people and the multiple viewpoints they represent.

Q&A with Tiffany Lakosky

Tiffany Lakosky is an avid duck hunter. Following are 7 questions and answers from the popular co-host of The Crush TV show.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Finesse Calling

Sometimes ducks respond best to aggressive calling, but at other times they work better when you use a little finesse. This is usually the case when there hasn't been an influx of new ducks for several days and local birds are decoy-shy from hunting pressure. It's also true when the weather is warm, the sky is gray, and the wind is calm—or under any combination of these factors. Such conditions can make ducks wary, and spooky birds tend to shy away from throw-the-kitchen-sink-at-'em calling. (By Wade Bourne)

Conserving the West's most important waterfowl wintering area in the face of severe drought

California is a state blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. This diverse landscape is also home to millions of waterfowl that each fall make the journey down the Pacific Flyway from their northern breeding grounds to take advantage of California's temperate winter climate. Ducks Unlimited's California Wetlands Initiative focuses on conserving the state's prime waterfowl habitats through science, public policy, and outreach. (By Devin Blankenship)

Shotgunning: Taking Two

When the subject of shooting doubles arises, I'm always reminded of a friend who shot a Canada goose out of a flock passing over a Saskatchewan wheat field. He was swinging on another bird when the first one fell on his head, knocking him flat. Here's a quick course on the art and science of taking doubles on waterfowl. (By Phil Bourjaily)

Top Ten Retrievers

Of all the unanswered questions about the history of waterfowl hunting, the most intriguing mystery involves retrievers. When, how, and where, exactly, did today's duck dogs first arrive on the waterfowling scene? Scholars have spent years researching the origins of just about every sporting breed in existence. Here's an exploration of 10 of the most popular retriever breeds, their histories, and the respective attributes that make them valued hunting partners and family pets. (By Gary Koehler)

Ducks for Sale

Rowing alone in the dark, he reminded himself that there was no money to be made on shore. Beside him lay the gun, two hundred pounds of well-arranged iron and wood that stretched nearly 10 feet in length. He used it only at night and in a narrow skiff that offered six inches of freeboard in the best of weather. Forged in England, the big gun had passed through three generations of men who supplied the Baltimore and Philadelphia markets with ducks shot on Chesapeake Bay... It was New Year's Eve, 1911. (By Mark Petrie, Ph.D.)

The Ultimate Guide to Hunting Canada Geese

Take your goose hunting to the next level with these 40 tips on calling, decoys, strategies, and shooting.

Friends in Many Places

For 77 years, Ducks Unlimited has focused on a single-minded mission and a clear vision to have enough wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever. Our predecessors decided early in the process to focus on making a difference on the land by rolling up their sleeves and doing whatever they could to help nature help herself, and we continue to do the same. (Insights from DU CEO Dale Hall)

Zesty Orange Duck Stir-Fry

Fresh vegetables and a tasty sauce make this Asian-inspired recipe a surefire winner. By Scott Leysath.

10 Surefire Decoy Strategies

Setting the right spread that can convince even the wariest waterfowl will give you an advantage over other hunters. Here are 10 expert tips that will consistently help you close the deal.

2014 Waterfowl Forecast

Another large fall flight is expected as duck populations soar to new heights on the breeding grounds. By Matt Young.

Conservation: DU's Boreal Forest Initiative

Conserving one of the earth's most valuable ecosystems and a crucial breeding ground for North America's waterfowl. By Fritz Reid, Ph.D.

Cooking: Duck or Goose Tarts

These tasty little meat pies make perfect preseason appetizers. By Scott Leysath.

Looking Out for Our Interests

Insights from DU CEO Dale Hall

9 Essentials for Traveling with Your Retriever

Reduce stress on your retriever by following these nine tips.

State of the Ducks

A closer look at the remarkable diversity of North America's ducks and the status of their populations. Edited by Dale Humburg.

Ten Super Scouting Tips

Follow this expert advice to find productive new waterfowl hunting this season.

Top Tactics for Early-Season Ducks

Here's advice from four experts on how to make your early-season outings more successful.

Understanding Waterfowl: Flocking Together

While most waterfowl seek isolation during the breeding season, the birds are often highly gregarious the rest of the year. By John M. Coluccy, Ph.D., and Kassondra Hendricks.

The Federal Duck Stamp turns 80

For eight decades, this visionary program has been a cornerstone of wetlands and waterfowl conservation. By Paul Schmidt and Whitney Tawney.

Sporting Clays for Waterfowlers

Bag more birds this fall by breaking more clays over the summer. By Curtis Niedermier. Illustrations By Mike Sudal.

Cooking: Tangy Grilled Duck

This mildly sweet dish has just enough heat to give it an edge for summer barbecuing. By Scott Leysath.

Field Reports: Duck Production Outlook

The stage is set for good waterfowl production across many important breeding areas. By DU Field Biologists.

The Great Lakes Initiative

Conserving key habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife throughout this vast watershed. By Kristin Schrader.

Waterfowler's Notebook: My Cornfield Duck Blind

Here's a quick-and-easy concealment system that you can set up almost anywhere. By Wade Bourne.

Understanding Waterfowl: Brood Ecology

A closer look at the amazing journey ducklings make from fuzzballs to fledglings. By Johann Walker, Ph.D.

Off to a Good Start

Here's how to introduce a young retriever to the basics of waterfowling. By Gary Koehler.

Habitat and Our Hunting Heritage

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Honorable Mention 2014: Retrievers

Honorable Mention entries in the Retrievers category from the 2014 DU Member Photo Contest

2014 DU Member Photo Contest: Honorable Mentions

View honorable mention entries in each category from the 2014 DU Member Photo Contest. Thanks to all who submitted photos!

2014 DU Member Photo Contest

This year's winning images were chosen from another impressive field of entries submitted by photographers across the nation. By Emily Robinson.

New Guns & Gear for 2014

You don't want to miss this overview of new guns, ammo & accessories for the 2014 hunting season. By Ron Spomer and Chris Jennings.

America's 2014 Farm Bill

After two and a half years of delays and gridlock, Congress passed a new Farm Bill in February 2014. This bipartisan legislation provides more than $28 billion in funding for a variety of conservation programs on private lands. Following is an overview of important conservation provisions included in the new Farm Bill, and how they are likely to impact waterfowl and their habitats across the United States over the next five years.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Anatomy of a Duck Call

It's not a stretch to compare a duck call to a traditional woodwind instrument such as a saxophone or clarinet. Musicians play these instruments by forcing air through a mouthpiece and across a reed, which vibrates to produce sound. Duck calls work in much the same way.

Understanding Waterfowl: Duck Salad

Judging by the title, you might assume that this column is about how to prepare a healthy duck dinner for your family and friends. But, of course, that is wild game chef Scott Leysath's department. This column is about another type of duck salad—aquatic vegetation, on which many ducks thrive.

The Completing the Cycle Initiative

Waterfowlers mark time according to the season and where the ducks are. From spring courtship flights and summer brood-rearing to the fall migration and wintering period, waterfowl use a variety of habitats throughout the year. Thanks to sound science, we know more than ever about what these magnificent birds need to thrive during their annual journey. Ducks Unlimited's continental conservation work supports waterfowl throughout all phases of their life cycle.

Deep-Fried Duck

A well-seasoned duck that's crispy on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside makes for a memorable meal. By Scott Leysath.

Compromise in California

When the Lower Colorado River Authority started making drastic cutbacks in water delivery in Texas, DU board members Rogers Hoyt Jr. and Bill Ansell approached me about strengthening our advocacy for agricultural water, which is important not only to farmers but also to pintails and other wintering waterfowl. In response, DU hired Kirby Brown, a well-known professional biologist from Texas, to be our voice at the table during water-allocation discussions to ensure that farmers and waterfowl are given fair consideration.

NAWCA turns 25

Now a quarter century old, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is more important than ever to waterfowl and hunters. By Scott C. Yaich, Ph.D.

Conservation: The America's River Initiative

Restoring the glory of the lower Mississippi River floodplain for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people. By Andi Cooper.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Managing Hunting Pressure

When hunting pressure is managed properly, waterfowl settle in, stay around, and respond better to hunters' tactics.

Cooking: Spicy Summer Sausage

Spring is the best time for making snow goose summer sausage. By Scott Leysath.

Understanding Waterfowl: Courtship and Pair Bonding

For waterfowl, timing is everything when selecting a mate. By Mike Brasher, Ph.D.

Retriever Rehab

Expert advice on how you can get your older retriever back in top form in time for hunting season.

Shotgunning: Snow Goose Guns

Choosing the right shotgun can increase your harvest during the conservation order. By Phil Bourjaily.

Mixed Bag: DU to Auction Exclusive Kansas Deer Permit

Online bidding will begin on March 2, 2014

Insights: Why We Do What We Do

Insights from DU CEO Dale Hall, from the March/April 2014 Issue of DU magazine

High-Tech Duck Guns

A roundup of the latest models and design innovations from leading shotgun makers. By Phil Bourjaily.

Happy 40th Anniversary DUMAC

A look back at Ducks Unlimited de Mexico's first four decades and a look ahead at its highest priorities for the future. By Scott C. Yaich, Ph.D.

Fueling the Fire: DU 2014 Artist of the Year

DU Artist of the Year Scot Storm excels at painting waterfowl and mentoring youth. By Gary Koehler.

Five Great Spreads for Geese

Expert tips for decoying Canadas, Snows, Specklebellies, Cacklers, and Brant. By Wade Bourne.

Cooking: Dry-Aging Versus Brining

The author tests both methods for improving the flavor of waterfowl and is surprised by the results.

Shotgunning: Buying Used Guns

Here's a checklist of things to look over when buying a secondhand gun.

DU's Regional Fundraising Initiatives

Connecting waterfowl and conservationists across North America. By James Powell, Rich Smith, David Schuessler, and Ken Babcock.

Understanding Waterfowl: Cross-Seasonal Effects

Habitat conditions on migration and wintering areas may influence waterfowl breeding potential the following spring. By J. Dale James, Ph.D.

Pure Goldens

Golden retrievers have a long history as splendid gun dogs. By Gary Koehler.

Let's support those who support Ducks Unlimited

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Upper Mississippi River Revisited

The author returns to the big river to hunt ducks on the anniversary of the Armistice Day Storm.

Water, Ducks and People

As demand for water intensifies, DU is working to ensure that waterfowl receive a fair share of this limited resource. By Scott C. Yaich, Ph.D., and Greg Kernohan.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Hunting Small-Water Divers

Going small for diving ducks can yield big results. By Wade Bourne.

Understanding Waterfowl: Fat Is Fit

Gaining weight is a good thing for waterfowl during fall and winter. By John M. Coluccy, Ph.D., and Jessica B. Ruthenberg.

Roast Duck Done Right

For tenderness and flavor, this quick-and-easy recipe is hard to beat. Serves 4-6. By Scott Leysath.

Fueling the Duck Factory

For almost 50 years, states have worked with DU to conserve vital waterfowl habitat across Canada. By Scott C. Yaich, Ph.D.

The Untold Story of Today's Youth

Ducks Unlimited's college and high school chapters may be among our best-kept secrets, but we're about to change that.

Spreading Our Wings in the Boreal

An innovative partnership will expand efforts to conserve vital habitat in this important waterfowl breeding area. By Kevin Smith and Fritz Reid, Ph.D.

Opening Day Mistakes

Following are some of the most common opening day mistakes committed by waterfowlers, and ways to avoid making them.

2013 Waterfowl Forecast

The following report provides an overview of the status of habitat conditions and waterfowl populations across key breeding areas in the United States and Canada.

Cooking: In Praise of Braising

This slow-cooking method is sure to make any duck or goose dish tender and delicious. By Scott Leysath.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Keeping Legal

The following advice will help waterfowlers stay on the right side of the law this season. By Wade Bourne.

Understanding Waterfowl: Tracking the Mallard Migration

Research has provided a wealth of new information about mallard movements and habitat preferences. By Luke Naylor and Andrew Raedeke, Ph.D.

Conservation: Renovating Greentree Reservoirs

Careful management is required to maintain the productivity of these classic waterfowl habitats. By Jody Pagan.

Duck Numbers Remain Strong, But We Must Be Vigilant

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Cooking: Making Marinades and Rubs

If your grilled ducks are dry, bland, and perhaps a bit livery, don't blame the birds.

The Ultimate Duck Dinner

Preparing the "ultimate" duck dinner can be a daunting task unless the menu is both user-friendly and delicious.

Field Reports: 2013 Duck Production Outlook

The stage is set for good waterfowl production on many important breeding areas

Understanding Waterfowl: Drakes and Ganders

A closer look at the fascinating mating strategies of male ducks and geese

Preventing Hard Mouth

Advance preparation is the best way to keep your retriever from mangling birds

Preserving Our Prairies

If you live in or have visited the Prairie Pothole Region recently, you have no doubt witnessed how quickly the landscape is changing. And if you haven't visited the Duck Factory lately, well, there is reason for concern.

DU's Gulf Coast Initiative

Turning the tide of wetland loss in this important waterfowl wintering area

A 75-Year Partnership with Canadian Friends

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

Mom's classic sandwich recipe is even better with waterfowl and this tangy, savory sauce

Waterfowler's Notebook: Seven Essential Skills for Waterfowlers

All duck and goose hunting know-how begins with these fundamentals

Understanding Waterfowl: Seasonal Wetlands and Breeding Ducks

These small, shallow-flooded basins are vital to waterfowl production on the prairies

A Primer on Moist-Soil Management

Managing seasonal wetlands for seed-producing natural vegetation has many advantages over planting crops

Ducks in Wild Abundance

Just how good were the good old days? Waterfowl biologists explore how large the fall flight might have been in early America

New Guns & Gear for 2013

Take a look at our annual selection of the latest shotguns, ammo and accessories for waterfowlers.

2013 DU Member Photo Contest Honorable Mentions

This year's winners include another stunning collection of waterfowl and hunting images from across the nation

2013 DU Member Photo Contest

This year's winners include another stunning collection of waterfowl and hunting images from across the nation

Aaron Fraser Pass Remembered

Aaron Fraser Pass, who lost his battle with cancer in early April, left a rich legacy of fine writing and useful advice on topics pertaining to sporting arms and ammunition.

Conservation: The Easement Advantage

Conservation easements are a powerful tool for protecting threatened waterfowl habitat on private lands

Waterfowler's Notebook: Hunting Spring Snows

Expert advice on how to decoy more light geese during the special conservation season

Understanding Waterfowl: Stopover Country

Wetlands and rivers in America's heartland provide vital migration habitat for millions of waterfowl

Keep It Simple

Following are eight ways in which I've simplified my waterfowling and also increased my enjoyment of the sport by planning better, hunting smarter, and fine-tuning my priorities.

Light Goose Dilemma

Despite increased harvests, populations of these Arctic-nesting geese continue to grow

Cliff or Launch Pad?

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall, published in the March/April 2013 issue of Ducks Unlimited Magazine.

Chile Colorado

Nothing seems to get chili aficionados heated up like a debate over whether to add beans to the pot. To some, chili just isn't chili unless it's bean-free. Others eagerly add beans to the mix, but that can spark further debate over which beans to use.

Wetlands and Watersheds

The 19th-century explorer and geographer John Wesley Powell defined a watershed as "a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community." Powell wisely recognized that all living things in a watershed, including waterfowl and people, are united by and dependent on its central element—water.

Waterfowler's Notebook: Patterning Late-Season Ducks

Biology plays a bigger role in duck hunting than most hunters realize. Duck behavior is governed by instincts such as feeding, mating, and surviving. In winter, for example, ducks spend much of their time seeking mates for the spring breeding season and building energy reserves for the coming northbound migration.

Understanding Waterfowl: Mallards and Their Relatives

Widely distributed across North America, Asia, and Europe, the mallard is the most abundant duck in the northern hemisphere. Mallards are successful because they are adaptable, which allows them to exploit diverse habitats and resources. Mallards are also one of the most prolific breeders in the waterfowl world. In some cases, hen mallards have been observed making up to six nesting attempts in a single breeding season.

A Brush with Greatness

A wildlife painter by trade and a duck hunter at heart, David Maass has made a waterfowl-hunting pilgrimage to Manitoba's Delta Marsh during each of the past 35 years. The man has seen plenty of ducks, but in his eyes the good old days might be right now.

A New Plan for Waterfowl

It was 1985, and the continental duck population had fallen to its lowest level in two decades. Of even greater concern was a change in the historical relationship between wetlands and breeding ducks. Winter snowfall and spring rainfall yielded a 93 percent increase in May ponds from 1980 to1985, but duck numbers decreased by 31 percent during the same period. Up until then, pond and duck numbers had moved more or less in lockstep. It appeared that habitat loss had taken its toll, and biologists had new evidence to back the claim.

A Great Year

In my last column we talked about the prospects of yet another phenomenal waterfowl season, based on the record 2012 count of 48.6 million breeding ducks in the traditionally surveyed area. This fall, we may have had 120 million to 160 million birds migrating down the flyways.

What's on the Web: January/February

DU's digital features

December in Stuttgart

A late autumn visit to this waterfowling mecca is always memorable, even when the ducks don't cooperate

Calling All Geese

Five experts share their secrets for calling Canadas, cacklers, whitefronts, light geese and brant

Duck Hunting without the Crowds

A sampling of public waterfowling hotspots often overlooked by hunters

DU's Next 75 Years

The future holds great challenges and opportunities for wetlands and waterfowl conservation

Conservation: Winning at the Ballot Box

Dedicated funding amendments have bolstered wetland and waterfowl conservation programs in Iowa and several other states

Retrievers: Remote Control

The ability to direct your retriever with hand signals is invaluable in the field

Understanding Waterfowl: Story of the Giants

A closer look at the remarkable comeback of the giant Canada goose

Stuffed Goose Medallions

Roasted garlic adds a sweet, nutty flavor to this delicious recipe by Scott Leysath.

What's on the Web: November/December

What' on the Web from November/December DU Magazine.

Guns of DU

A look back at some of the modern classics selected as DU Guns of the Year

Going Public

Many of the author's favorite waterfowling memories were made on public lands, open to one and all.

The Ducks Unlimited Story

Over the past 75 years, generations of DU supporters have worked together to safeguard the future of North America's wetlands and waterfowl

Cooking: Making a Mixed Grill

This all-purpose grilling recipe is a real crowd-pleaser

Waterfowler's Notebook: King Can

The canvasback is a symbol of the struggles and triumphs of waterfowl conservation

Understanding Waterfowl: Drought and Deluge

We can't control the weather, but conserving wetlands and grasslands on the prairies will help ensure the long-term health of duck populations

Conservation: Gains and Losses

While progress has been made in conserving the nation's wetlands, these vital habitats continue to decline at an alarming rate

The Future Begins Right Now

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

2012 Waterfowl Forecast

DU biologists and Magazine staff provide a flyway-by-flyway breakdown of what hunters might expect for the 2012-2013 waterfowl hunting season.

Chipotle Duck Burgers

These mildly seasoned burgers will be the hit of your next summer cookout

Understanding Waterfowl: The Amazing Molt

Waterfowl replace all of their feathers with new plumage at least once a year

Retrievers: Retrieving to Hand

Expert advice to prevent your dog from stopping short or dallying during bird delivery

Conservation: Nature's Multipurpose Habitats

Wetlands provide a host of benefits in addition to their waterfowl habitat value

Field Reports: 2012 Duck Production Outlook

Prospects for breeding waterfowl have improved in many areas since last report

Our Time Capsule

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

Potholes in Peril

New threats to prairie wetlands could mean big trouble for duck populations

Five Small Spreads for Ducks

Here's how to make the most of a limited number of decoys in five common waterfowl habitats. Illustrations by Kevin Hand.

Bayou Bluewings

An unforgettable teal-hunting adventure in the heart of Cajun country

DU Magazine's Top 10 Covers: Runners-up

DU Magazine Editors selected 10 runners-up following the DU Magazine Cover contest.

What's on the Web: July/August

New features on ducks.org

2012 Waterfowl Hunting Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention entries in the 2012 DU Members Photo Contest

2012 Retrievers Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention entries in the 2012 DU Members Photo Contest

2012 Waterfowl Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention entries in the 2012 DU Members Photo Contest

High-Priority Habitats

Following are DU's five highest-priority landscapes, their importance to waterfowl and our efforts to conserve them for present and future generations.

My Ultimate Duck Blind: Illustrations

After years of trial and error, DU Magazine author Wade Bourne finally built what he believes is the perfect duck blind. Here's how he did it.

My Ultimate Duck Blind

Following is an overview of our blind, including where we built it, its design and dimensions, the materials we used, our camouflage scheme, and other special features.

Video: My Ultimate Duck Blind

After years of trial and error, DU Magazine author Wade Bourne finally built what he believes is the perfect duck blind.

Conservation: Ducks in a Crowded World

Sustaining healthy waterfowl numbers will be a great challenge as the earth's human population grows

Waterfowler's Notebook: Off-Season Scouting

When is the best time to look for a new duck hunting spot? Anytime you can.

Cooking: The Perfect Duck Sandwich

Sourdough bread, thinly sliced duck, lots of grilled onions and tangy horseradish sauce are an unbeatable combination. By Scott Leysath.

Understanding Waterfowl: The Blue-Winged Ducks

Northern shovelers and blue-winged and cinnamon teal are among the most closely related of North America's ducks

Field Reports: 2012 Spring Habitat Conditions

Breeding habitat conditions vary throghout much of U.S. and Canada. Ducks Unlimited biolgists in these regions have provided a brief overview for each Canadian Province and specific regions in the U.S.

Our Work Is Never Done

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

What's on the Web: May/June DU Magazine

Understanding Waterfowl: The Amazing World of Macroinvertebrates

You don't have to journey to a faraway galaxy to see an amazing world inhabited by "brain-jacking" parasites and monsters with extendable lower lips that can reach out and snatch unsuspecting prey.

Manitoba Marsh Magic

A waterfowler's pilgrimage to the Canadian Duck Factory and the birthplace of DU's conservation work. By Wade Bourne. Photography By Rick Adair.

Conservation: Anatomy of a DU Project

A bird's-eye view of the wetland restoration process from beginning to end

Cooking: Grilled Duck Bites

Prosciutto, mango and jalapeño give this traditional appetizer a tangy, spicy twist. Submitted by Scott Leysath.

The Big 75

Ducks Unlimited officially turned 75 on January 29, 2012. What a great story!

Chapter Spotlight: Fort Bragg, California Chapter

Great things sometimes come in small packages. The Fort Bragg, California, DU chapter is a case in point.

Cooking: Savory Waterfowl Stew

Beat the winter chill with this classic catchall recipe. By Scott Leysath

Understanding Waterfowl: Duck Digestion

Understanding why and when certain foods are good for waterfowl and how they are digested is an interesting and somewhat complex subject.

Useful Tools for Waterfowl Hunters

It never hurts to be prepared, and keeping the right gear handy helps.

Retrievers: Hazards Afield

During the late season, protect your retriever by teaching him to be aware of likely hazards.

Milestones in Conservation

The slogan for Ducks Unlimited's 75th Anniversary, CONSERVATION FOR GENERATIONS, applies to past, present and future generations alike.

Five Tactics for Late-Season Ducks

It's late season, when the sport's true diehards are like NFL linemen in the playoffs. Veteran waterfowlers share 5 expert tactics to help successfully end the season.

Conservation: Waterfowl Energy Demands

Food abundance is presumed to directly or indirectly impact the physiological condition, survival, and even reproduction of waterfowl, which ultimately influences the health of their populations. Why?

The Road to Success

Ducks Unlimited Inc. will be officially 75 years old on January 29, 2012, and we will be celebrating both our longevity and conservation successes throughout the year.

DU All-Star Sketches

Below are a few of the sketches submitted by our all-star artists for this year's art package. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger image.

Doug Miller Dedication—Utah

Sept. 2011: DU dedicated a 370-acre wetland restoration project on Farmington Bay WMA in Utah to the late Doug Miller, longtime outdoor television show host and devoted DU volunteer.

Anthony Rose Family Dedication—Rhode Island

Oct. 2011: A dedication honoring DU Legacy Sponsors Anthony and Kathleen Rose of Wakefield, Rhode Island, was held at the USFWS Visitor's Center in Charlestown.

Meadow Valley Flowage Dedication—Wisconsin

Jun. 2011: To celebrate DU's 100,000th acre conserved in Wisconsin, supporters of wetland conservation gathered at the 600-acre Meadow Valley Flowage wetland-enhancement project in Juneau County.

Berg Brothers Dedication—South Dakota

Oct. 2011: The Henning-Berg Game Production Area in South Dakota was dedicated to Bob and Rosemary Berg of Longville, Minnesota, and Rick and Pam Berg of Watertown, South Dakota.

Kiwani Marsh Dedication—Indiana

Oct. 2011: Glorious weather in northwest Indiana was the backdrop for an October Indiana PRIDE dedication at the Kiwani Marsh.

Bartels Dedication—Louisiana

Nov. 2011: More than 100 people gathered to celebrate the completion of a $1.2 million coastal restoration project in southeast Louisiana and to dedicate it to Ron and Jackie Bartels.

Walton Family Foundation Supports New Approach to Conservation Easements

An innovative pilot program funded by the Walton Family Foundation, a DU Platinum Legacy Sponsor, is helping to secure donated conservation easements in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV) of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

DU Project Dedications

A compilation of several DU project dedications to honor the commitments of major DU sponsors.

All-Stars of Wildlife Art

Throughout its storied history, DU has received important cooperation and support from the wildlife art community. This year, DU marks 75 years and will showcase an all-star cast of premier artists, whose works will be available at fundraising events nationwide.

DU 2011 Annual Report

An executive summary of DU's financial and conservation achievements during the past year

The Farm Bill, Ducks and You

The 2012 Farm Bill is scheduled to be reauthorized next year, and depending on the outcome, this single piece of legislation will either positively or negatively impact millions of acres of wetlands, grasslands and other waterfowl habitat across the United States.

Scientific Waterfowling

Following are interviews with four preeminent waterfowl researchers. We can learn a lot from these experts, not only about how ducks react to their environment, but also how to apply this knowledge for better hunting success.

The Birth of DU

Excerpted from The Ducks Unlimited Story, which explores original source materials to provide the definitive account not only of DU's founding, but also of how DU's dedicated volunteers created the fundraising engine that made DU the world leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation.

Close-Range Canadas

Over time, a goose hunter learns to take care of the little things. So we contacted four pros, all well schooled in the ways of the Canada goose, and asked them to share their expertise.

A Banquet for Ducks

Hunters have long recognized the importance of rice to wintering and migrating waterfowl. Why is rice agriculture so important to dabbling duck populations?

Story of Survival

As a waterfowl biologist, I am often asked how long ducks and geese live. Well, it all depends.

Stay the Course through Partnerships

Ducks Unlimited has joined forces with more than 640 conservation, recreation, and historic preservation organizations to demand that necessary spending reductions are done in an equitable and reasonable fashion.

The Highball Duck Call

Waterfowl hunters should use the highball selectively—at certain times and in certain places. Listen as Wade Bourne gives a few tips on how to use this call more effectively.

Pay Now, or Pay Later

As we go about setting long-term goals for habitat conservation, we must be realistic about what it will cost and understand that our commitment to conservation cannot outstrip our ability to find it.

Shotgunner's Guide to Waterfowling

Here's how to consistently hit the most common shots in duck and goose hunting

Waterfowl Feeding Adaptations

Ducks and geese are well equipped to find food in a variety of habitats

South Dakota Spectacular

The hunt of a lifetime is the reward for days of hard scouting in this state's prairie pothole country

Wetlands and the Farm Bill

Your support will be needed to save key agricultural conservation programs in upcoming legislation

Private Marsh Management

Duck clubs and other private landowners provide vital habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife

Retrievers: Healthy Choices

Developing a sensible routine will help keep your retriever in top condition

Field Reports: 2011 Duck Production Outlook

Good to excellent wetland conditions have set the stage for above-average waterfowl production on key breeding areas

Understanding Waterfowl: Ways of the Wigeon

These fascinating ducks have many characteristics and behaviors that set them apart

Field Reports: Spring Habitat Conditions

Abundant winter precipitation has set the stage for improved wetland conditions on many key waterfowl breeding areas

Stewards of the Prairie

Cattle ranchers manage much of this continent's most important waterfowl breeding habitat

Saving America's Marsh

Coastal wetland loss and degradation are threatening Louisiana's rich hunting and fishing heritage

Picture Perfect

Stunning images from the winners of our 2nd annual Ducks Unlimited magazine photo contest

Cut the Deficit, not Conservation

We at Ducks Unlimited are well known for fiscally conservative viewpoints. But we do not intend to sit idly by while programs that make a clear profit for the U.S. taxpayer are slashed under the pretense of getting spending under control.

2011 Honorable Mention Hunting Entries

Enjoy the Honorable Mention entries from the Waterfowl Hunting category in the 2nd Annual DU Member Photo Contest for 2011.

2011 Honorable Mention Retriever Entries

Enjoy the Honorable Mention entries from the Retriever category in the 2nd Annual DU Member Photo Contest for 2011.

2011 Honorable Mention Waterfowl Entries

Enjoy the Honorable Mention entries from the Waterfowl category in the 2nd Annual DU Member Photo Contest for 2011.

Understanding Waterfowl: Tracking the Black Duck

DU research sheds new light on this prized bird's migration habits

Retrievers: All in Good Time

Chris Akin of Webb Footed Kennels explains that patience is key a virtue when training a young dog.

Conservation: Can we save CRP?

Without your help, this important agricultural conservation program faces an uncertain future

Strategies for Public Land

Waterfowl hunting on public land can be either a dream or a nightmare, as two hunts that I experienced several years ago on a local wildlife management area (WMA) clearly illustrate.

Secrets to Success

DU has discovered a wealth of new information about what drives duck production on the prairies

Finding the Right Road

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

10 Great Cities for Waterfowlers

Some of the country's greatest waterfowling opportunities are closer than you might think.

2011 DU Magazine Photo Contest

Ducks Unlimited Magazine accepted entries to its Second Annual DU Member Photo Contest from December 15, 2010, to February 28, 2011. The DU magazine staff judged entries in three categories, with winner and runner-up photos in each category published in the May/June 2011 issue of Ducks Unlimited Magazine.

Late-Season Boat Maintenance Tips

Duck hunters who use boats in the late season must perform proper maintenance on their rigs to keep them running in subfreezing weather.

DU Magazine: Leadership Giving Highlights

In each issue, Ducks Unlimited Magazine highlights recent philanthropic happenings of note within the organization.

Ultimate Duck Calling Challenge

What's the secret to world-class duck callers' success? Gary Koehler sheds some light on these championship techniques.

Legends of the Call

Gary Koehler profiles some of history's most notable duck and goose call makers.

7 Deadly Duck Calling Mistakes

Ducks Unlimited interviewed four of North America's best duck callers to find out the most common calling mistakes made by duck hunters and, more importantly, how to correct them.

Duck Calling Video: The Feeding Chuckle

Wade Bourne demonstrates and explains the feeding chuckle, a sometimes touchy calling technique that takes time to master.

Redhead Hens: The Parasite Queen

Redhead hens are one of the most common duck species to engage in nest parasitism, laying their eggs in the nests of other hens and leaving their young to be reared by them.


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DU Magazine

Ducks Unlimited Magazine details the organization's efforts to restore wildlife habitat across North America as well as the recreational value of such environments. Features focus on hunting and fishing opportunities for avid sportsmen and women, technical sporting equipment profiles, buyer's guides, natural history stories and photographic essays.

Maintain and Modify Your Duck Calls

Gary Koehler advises on the best ways to maintain the quality of your call and make slight tweaks to improve its performance.

Duck Calling Teamwork

A team calling effort may get you more birds in your bag this season. Gary Koehler shares some teamwork tips from calling pros.

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