MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Sept. 3, 2020 – Family involvement in the outdoors is very important to Ducks Unlimited and the future of wetlands and waterfowl conservation.
On this week’s episode of DU TV, co-hosts Ashley Ward and Doug Larsen head to Arkansas and Texas to tell the family stories of DU volunteers.
Georgia is home to Louis and Sarah Tonsmeire and their DU history spans decades. Louis has over 35 years of volunteer service and Sarah more than 10.
Louis Tonsmeire made sure his daughter was brought up in the duck blind and in Ducks Unlimited.
“I’ve been duck hunting since I was 5,” Sarah said. “And I was a Greenwing member since then too. As an adult, I’ve been an active DU volunteer since I was 19 or 20. Growing up in Cartersville, Gerogia, I’ve always been Louis’ daughter. We turned it into a competition though, and now sometimes he’s Sarah’s dad.”
Down near the Texas gulf coast, DU Chairman of the Board Rogers Hoyt Jr., joins his niece, Shea Combs, for a hunt on Spread Oaks Ranch, a 5,550-acre facility near Bay City, Texas. Hoyt started taking Combs duck hunting at an early age, acquiring her first shotgun at a Ducks Unlimited banquet. They have been hunting partners ever since.
“My uncle Rog and aunt Camille made sure I was a Greenwing member from basically the time I was born,” said Combs. “I wanted to do what my uncle Rog did and that was hunt ducks.”
And Hoyt was happy to help.
“We started her out right with shooting lessons and she was by my side on a regular basis the next season. She’s my number one hunting partner. There is no one in the world I’d rather have in the blind with me than my niece, Shea.”
This episode explores not only family hunting relationships but the Ducks Unlimited mission. Spread Oaks Ranch Manager and former DU Regional Director Tim Soderquist believes in wetlands conservation.
“People often ask me why do we really need Ducks Unlimited? I always throw it right back at them and ask can you imagine conservation without Ducks Unlimited?,” Soderquist said. “Then you explain the scope of DU’s mission, how it’s a continental approach covering all of North America. It’s not just about what’s happening in their backyard.”
What Ducks Unlimited does reaches far beyond the waterfowling community, as Hoyt explained.
“We are always concerned about our duck numbers. That’s what drives a lot of us to begin with,” said Hoyt. “Ducks Unlimited does so much more. We provide water filtering wetlands creating clean water for municipalities. DU’s work on the gulf coast provides storm protection that slow hurricanes and minimizes flood impacts. We serve society as a whole; we don’t just serve waterfowl hunters.”
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DU TV airs Mondays at 1 a.m., Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m., Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. (all times Eastern) on the Pursuit Channel. All episodes, plus bonus content and classic episodes, can be found at www.ducks.org/dutv.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved almost 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.