Ducks Unlimited and Prairie Wildlife Conservation Event Showcases New Shooting Sport

On a warm day in June, several Ducks Unlimited team members visited Prairie Wildlife in West Point, Mississippi, for a day of fellowship, conservation conversations and shooting clays. Prairie Wildlife isn't your typical shooting destination. It is a conservation-focused sporting estate.

The facility is located in the heart of the Black Prairie. This once native grassland was historically a major agricultural producer, raising corn, sweet potatoes and cotton, in addition to cattle and horses. One of the cornerstones of Prairie Wildlife's land management philosophy is restoring this area back to grasslands.

"We have restored more than 900 acres of native grasslands," said Jimmy Bryan, Prairie Wildlife owner. "We set out to provide a quality environment rich in sporting traditions while implementing conservation practices to improve ecosystem health. We are committed to investing in the future of this area and keeping hunting traditions up for the next generation."

A lifelong conservationist and hunter, Bryan wanted to introduce Ducks Unlimited to a unique shooting experience – helice shooting, at the only Orvis-endorsed sporting estate in Mississippi. "If you have never experienced helice, be prepared. It's not your average sporting clay!" Bryan shared. Helice are similar to standard clay pigeons but are made of two plastic pieces: the witness cap fits onto an orange piece with plastic propellers. When the helice target flies, it mimics flying birds, moving randomly and at high speeds.

"Coming out here, seeing the conservation work that has been done and experiencing helice shooting makes for a great day," said Doug Schoenrock, Ducks Unlimited chairman of the board. "The restoration work being done in the Black Belt Prairie area and the research out here with Mississippi State University is very encouraging."

For nearly 20 years, the Bryan-Burger Endowment for Bobwhite Habitat Restoration, named after owner Jimmy Bryan and associate director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Research Center, Wes Burger, has been instrumental in bringing the Black Belt Prairie back to its native habitat. Fourteen Mississippi State University students have conducted graduate research here.

"We understand the importance of native prairies for waterfowl, but here at Prairie Wildlife we saw first-hand how these grasslands habitats in Mississippi are critical for the survival of a wide variety of wildlife, especially bobwhite quail," said Chuck Smith, Ducks Unlimited president. "Ducks Unlimited has a long history of working with students from Mississippi State University, studying economically important wildlife resources and unique habitat landscapes like native black belt grasslands. Coming out to a facility like this that is dedicated to protecting hunting traditions and helping shape the next generation of conservationists is really inspiring.”

For more information about Prairie Wildlife, please visit https://prairiewildlife.com/ .