Not all avid duck hunters get their start as kids. Take Lloyd Straits, for example. Lloyd didn't have his first waterfowl experience until his early 40s, when he was living in California. Once he'd visited the marsh, he was hooked, but there was still one little problem: shooting ducks in a large refuge was completely different from the upland game bird hunting Lloyd had been accustomed to.
"I mistakenly thought you could hunt ducks without practice," Lloyd says. "I met a friend at a skeet range and I hit two or three targets out of 15."
As Lloyd's skills grew, waterfowling became this successful businessman's escape after a long workweek. "The whole tempo of life slowed down," he recalls. "I really enjoyed the opportunity to be outdoors on the weekends. I loved everything about hunting and watching waterfowl."
After retiring, the joys of Lloyd's weekends became an everyday occurrence. He and his wife, Ruth, moved to a small town in Montana's scenic Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula, where Lloyd lives within a couple of miles of a blue ribbon trout stream, the Bitterroot River. He also hunts the nearby Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.
Shortly after settling into their new home, Lloyd contacted the local Ducks Unlimited chapter chairman, and he and Ruth were invited to join the Bitterroot Valley committee. "That same year, we started attending the state convention," Lloyd says. "What a great way to meet people with similar interests!"
Ruth and Lloyd are now DU Diamond Life Sponsors and members of the Feather Society, having pledged two of the first DU charitable gift annuities in Montana. "We are proud to be conservationists and a part of the DU family," Lloyd says.
"We fully support the Ducks Unlimited mission, and we will do our part to make sure the sky is filled with waterfowl for generations to come."
Lloyd also works with DU's public policy team in Montana, which works to influence state policy related to waterfowl, wetlands, and clean air. Lloyd says he and Ruth are DU volunteers and donors because of the organization's stellar track record of conserving habitat across North America. "Thirteen million acres conserved, strong financially, and more than 80 percent of DU's fundraising donations go to conservation work," he says.