It wasn't long ago that the Northern Tazewell DU Chapter in E. Peoria, Ill., struggled with event attendance. When Chairman Bill Hartter came on board in 2008, that all changed. Teaming up with a handful of new committee members, Hartter took charge of the chapter and adopted new policies designed to get more people through the door.

The chapter stopped allowing ticket sales at the door for their upcoming events and adopted an "Advance Ticket Sales ONLY" policy. Gone are the days of uncertain attendance or the hope for 50 walk-ins. For the past two years, the chapter has held two events each yeara dinner event plus a Waterfowl Hunters Party. Each event has sold out weeks in advance, drawing upward of 200 attendees.

How does the Northern Tazewell Chapter pre-sell all their dinner tickets? During the first planning meeting prior to selecting merchandise and meals, the committee makes a determined commitment to pre-selling all the tickets. "The commitment is the key to our success," Hartter said. "Once the goal is established, a list of past attendees is distributed and a committee member is assigned to each past attendee." From this point until the night of the event, each committee member contacts five additional people not on the DU membership list. (The list is obtained by contacting the district chairman or regional director).

"Because the chapter knows how many people will be attending their event, they are able to plan accordingly in regards to their merchandise selection," said Regional Director Jeff King. "This also allows the chapter to be recognized at the state convention for performance-based awards related to overall efficiency standards, which means more bucks for the ducks."