Clay Baird: Welcome to the Ducks Unlimited Podcast, the only podcast about all things waterfowl. From planning insights to science-based discussions about ducks, geese and issues affecting waterfowl and wetlands conservation in North America, we bring the resource to you. The DU Podcast with your hosts, Chris Jennings and Dr. Mike Brasher.
Chris Jennings: Hey everyone, and welcome to the Ducks Unlimited Podcast. With this being our first show, the real kickoff of this long-anticipated venture, I'd like to make some quick introductions. We'll kind of run through what this podcast is going to be about, what we're doing, who we are. First of all, my name is Chris Jennings. I'm the senior editor of Ducks Unlimited magazine. I'll be one of several hosts on this podcast, and we'll have multiple stages of this show, multiple variations, and also multiple hosts to bring you several different layers of information. A little bit about me, I'm a lifelong hunter. I grew up in West Central Indiana. My passion for ducks began when I was about 15 when a friend took me duck and goose hunting. It truly was a life-changing experience. I tell that friend all the time that duck hunting has now consumed the majority of my time ever since. Now, it's really working within Ducks Unlimited, duck conservation organization, and for the magazine. It really does consume... It's a part of who I am. But this podcast isn't just going to focus on hunting. What I've realized in my 12 years working in Ducks Unlimited is that there's so much behind-the-scenes research that's put into DU's work that it sometimes becomes difficult to share all the cool science. Even with the vast organizational reach that we have as far as media layers, TV show, magazine, things like that, it's still difficult for us to share some of the cool stories. So as a duck nerd, I've always wanted to learn more, always wanted to learn so much more about ducks and geese as a hunter, and this platform is going to bring research and science to the forefront. Most importantly, to start off, I want to introduce Ducks Unlimited waterfowl scientist, Dr. Mike Brasher. He'll be serving as a cohost and the science counterpart of this whole operation. Mike is a wealth of waterfowl information, and I think as we get further along into this podcast, you're going to learn just about everything that comes out of his mouth is a valuable piece of information for not only a duck Hunter but conservationist. Mike, go ahead and introduce yourself.
Mike Brasher: Thanks Chris. I'm excited about the podcasts we have here too. It presents us with a lot of opportunities to share information. On a personal note, I've been with Ducks Unlimited for 14 years now. I got my start as a science coordinator working within a joint venture partnership down on the Gulf Coast, specifically in Lafayette, Louisiana. I was there for 13 years and, last December, had an opportunity to move to Memphis, the National Headquarters, where I now serve as Waterfowl Scientist. Like you, I've been a duck hunter as long as I can remember. From an early age, I always knew whatever I was going to do, it had to be outside and it was going to be... I knew my profession, whatever it ultimately came to be, was going to be in the natural resource field. I can actually, like a lot of people, you can trace your obsession to waterfowl back to a single event, oftentimes. Mine occurred with my dad, and it was just... It was a bluebird day and the action was really slow, but this beautiful drake mallard came in all by himself with his orange legs set out straight. So anyway, some of those seminal moments occurred in my life early on.
Chris Jennings: Life-changing experience.
Mike Brasher: They really were, and that has set me on the path that I'm still on. I'm excited about the opportunity we have with the podcast, and look forward to bringing some important information to folks. So, some ideas from you. What are the type of things that we're looking to talk about?
Chris Jennings: We've kind of hit on a few different ideas, and what I think the audience is going to gain is they're going to gain a perspective of kind of a behind-the-scenes message of how Ducks Unlimited's science-based decisions are formed, the different various types of science and research. There's so much cool information about ducks, geese and habitat. You're going to hear words that you might have to pick up an encyclopedia to figure out what they are. A couple of weeks ago we were talking about philopatry, and I'm sitting here, someone who has a journalism degree is sitting here with someone who has a PhD and they're talking about the various levels of being able to identify waterfowl. Even as a lifelong waterfowl hunter, I had no idea. So I think the listeners are going to get a very good perspective of the science behind Ducks Unlimited.
Mike Brasher: Maybe an interesting way to describe it is it's sort of an inside baseball look at what happens with Ducks Unlimited. How we participate in various research endeavors. How we then use that information to inform our conservation efforts, whether that be a better understanding of waterfowl needs, habitat needs, what it is they're doing at certain times of the annual cycle and what kind of resources are most in need by waterfowl. Those type of, in some cases, basic understanding of waterfowl and wetland ecology, we'll have an opportunity to talk about. I think we'll even be able to bring in a lot of our research partners and have them talk about specific examples of research that's occurring across the country. That's another important thing that I think we want to accomplish, is there's going to be a very diverse regional perspective. We're not going to restrict this to just one region, we're going to try to go across the continent and capture stories from-
Chris Jennings: Yeah, it'll be all over the continent, which makes perfect sense. Someone who sees a mallard in Missouri, that Mallard has habitat needs in other places throughout the continent. It's potentially coming from the Prairie Pothole region of Canada or even the boreal, for that matter. So as long as we can get the Ducks Unlimited message out from every different angle of the organization, from East Coast to West coast, even into Alaska and into Canada, I think people are really going to enjoy hearing from some of these regional biologist, waterfowl managers. And even some kind of insider, behind-the-scenes discussions with people like Scott Leysath, who writes our Ducks Unlimited magazine cooking column. We'll be talking with him and every different facet of the organization. So this is exciting. Mike, you had mentioned the connection to the resource, something that... not only does this podcast, in our hopes, this podcast will provide people with information that they didn't know about Ducks Unlimited, or even ducks, geese and habitat, but it's also going to provide a connection to the resource that makes all of this a little more special. Can you kind of elaborate on that?
Mike Brasher: Yeah. The way I view it is we as duck hunters can go out any day during the season, we can hunt ducks, and we can do habitat-
Chris Jennings: You can?
Mike Brasher: During the season. Well, okay, good point. Not necessarily. Within certain limits, right, of what we're allowed to do in our job, what we're able to take there. But yeah, we can go out and hunt ducks. We can go out and manage habitat. Personally, I think we derive greater enjoyment, greater connection to that resource, the more we know about that resource: why it is we're doing a certain habitat management technique; how it meets the needs of birds during a given time of the year, and; as you mentioned, where these birds are coming from, what are the different migratory strategies they're using?
Mike Brasher: The more we understand about the struggles these birds go through throughout the year, to me, it gives me a greater appreciation and it gives me greater connection to that resource. So the more you know, I think, the stronger that connection, and hopefully the more you appreciate the work that all of our members are a part of, and then the way Ducks Unlimited, our staff, our biologists, and all of our partners translate that into good conservation work on the ground. I hope it develops into a greater appreciation for all of that work.
Chris Jennings: Yeah, and just some of the simple things like waterfowl identification.
Mike Brasher: Yeah.
Chris Jennings: Blue-winged teal, you guys are probably going to hear some from Mike about identifying blue-winged teal and if-
Mike Brasher: That's right. That'll be in an upcoming podcast, and I was kind of noticing this weekend as I was looking on Facebook or some of the other social media platforms and I was thinking about the podcast that we did, it's going to hopefully allow people to learn how to determine the age and the sex of a blue-winged teal simply by wing characteristics. So you can look at a friend's Facebook post of the teal that they shot this past weekend and, if you happen to get a glimpse of one of the wings, you can write in your comment, "Hey, I see you have an adult male" or, "an adult female blue-winged teal there." So it's a way for you to impress your friends. That's the type of information that we'll be trying to bring to our listeners.
Chris Jennings: Mike, I look forward to doing this with you. This is going to be an exciting trip, and looking forward to have everyone along.
Clay Baird: Thank you for listening to this episode of the DU podcast. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit www.ducks.org/dupodcast for resources based on today's topics as well as access to more episodes.
Clay Baird: Until next time, stay tuned to the ducks.