A Pair of Seasons: Holiday and Hunting and Lots of Reasons to Celebrate

A Message to Team DU

With a tip of the trucker cap to Andy Williams, this is "the most wonderful time of the year!" Pumpkin spice, which has no place in coffee or beer, finally seems appropriate in a kitchen. This Christmas, ammo sales are driven not by discounts but by sheer availability, and even the Thanksgiving turkey is subject to supply chain disruption. Fingers are crossed that the medical community will approve familial gatherings, though some have confessed to me that social distancing from certain members of their extended clan was a hidden gift of the covid holiday. Outside, the north wind carries the birds who are repeating their ancient migratory journeys. The landscape they see below them as they cruise south is still parched in the West and upper plains and wetter as they move south.

Despite the drought, the delta variant, the masks, and local restrictions, we can all be proud of what we have accomplished together. The books closed for the fiscal year, with DU making a difference on more than 565,000 acres of habitat. That's on top of the 606,000 acres we impacted last year. Your DU is conserving 1 million acres every 18 months, and our goal is to do that every year. Every event (online and in-person), easement donation, Major Sponsor, advertiser, corporate partner, and letter or e-mail made a difference. All told, we raised a record $340 million in revenue this year and kept our efficiency north of 83 cents on the dollar. We accomplished this only with your tireless efforts as volunteers and supporters. The ducks—and all of Team DU—thank you.

I would also like to thank my partner and colleague to the north, Dr. Karla Guyn, for her passionate leadership over the last five years as CEO of DU Canada. Karla lives and breathes waterfowl science and has accomplished much over her almost 25-year career. Into her very large shoes we welcome Larry Kaumeyer, the newly hired CEO of DUC who recently left his role as chief of staff to the premier of Alberta to take on this challenge. Larry is an avid hunter and a passionate conservationist, and we are thrilled to have him join us as we wish Karla the best in retirement.

As you enjoy this holiday issue in your home or hunting camp, I know you will shudder when you read the fascinating and tragic story of the 1940 Armistice Day Storm, a deadly day for duck hunters that was largely lost to history a year later, when another day of infamy shook the nation to its core. We feature firsthand accounts from survivors who made it out alive when the heartland was struck by the blizzard of the century.

We continue our coverage of the unfolding drought conditions across the US and Canadian prairies and the West. Specifically, we focus on how our soil-health programs and Farm Bill-based conservation programs help wildlife, as well as farmers and ranchers. DU is in frequent communication with the scientists, state wildlife officials, and federal agencies who oversee the surveys, data, and ultimately the regulations that are set to manage North America's waterfowl. Tune in to the DU podcast for regular drought updates and other in-depth discussions with our partners and DU staff.

We round out this issue with our annual "Waterfowler's Holiday Gift Guide," which is a sampling of must-have gifts for every price point and every flyway. Like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, you may want to strategically place this article around the house for certain someones to discover and see your highlights and circles. Also, check out our second annual online Into the Vault auction of classic DU items, guns, original art, antique decoys, and other treasures. The Vault opens on November 22 and will feature over 700 items.

Have a safe and fun season, take a new hunter with you at least once, and give thanks for all we are blessed with as a nation. DU is surely blessed to have you as a member!