Arkansas demonstrated its importance to waterfowl conservation Saturday and Sunday at the 85th Annual National Ducks Unlimited Convention in New Orleans.
The national organization recognized Arkansas Ducks Unlimited for multiple achievements. Arkansas DU ranks second nationally for most new life sponsors. A life sponsor has donated $10,000 to the organization. Arkansas DU also has the second largest number of planned gifts in the country. Members who leave DU money and property are part of the organization’s Feather Society.
Arkansas Ducks Unlimited is also ranked third nationally for volunteer count, #8 for event revenue growth, #9 for most new principal sponsor upgrades, and #10 for event attendance growth.
In addition, Arkansas DU received the Presidential Merit Award for exceeding all three major goals in the gifts category and the Silver Excellence Award for year-over-year increases in event revenue and attendance.
These recognitions are phenomenal given perceptions of the declining quality of duck hunting in parts of Arkansas. Natural state hunters are concerned about changing migration patterns and the dangerous state of some of our most popular hunting grounds, but they remain committed to creating and enhancing waterbird habitat.
Two years of the pandemic made fundraising very difficult. Chapter banquets are the state organization’s primary means of raising funds. Banquets in 2020 were not possible due to social distancing orders and although gatherings resumed in 2021-22 they were few and many were cancelled.
Corey Dunn, development director for Arkansas Ducks Unlimited, said the organization’s financial performance demonstrates the commitment of the state’s duck hunting community to providing a habitat for waterfowl even during the most trying times.
“DU’s conservation footprint spans across North America,” Dunn said. “This important work extends across the Prairie Pothole Region down to the Gulf Coast and from California’s Klamath Basin to the shores of the North Atlantic and beyond. Examples of this work are shown here in the Natural State.
“Through their partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and (the Arkansas Game and Fish) Foundation, over 50,000 acres of public green tree reservoirs are being restored,” continued Dunn. “The Rice Stewardship Program, led by Ducks Unlimited and USA Rice, provides migratory waterfowl with a critical wintering habitat while also working with farmers on sustainable practices to produce a more robust crop. DU also supports Doug Osborne of the University of Arkansas at Monticello with an ongoing winter mallard banding and GPS tracker research project that is shaping the future of waterbird management.”
Delta Waterfowl Exhibition
It’s neither too hot nor too early to dream of duck hunting, and you can catch a preview of the Delta Waterfowl Duck Hunter’s Expo Friday through Sunday at the Statehouse Convention Center.
The exhibit covers an area of approximately 80,000 square feet with booths and exhibits from many companies selling firearms, ammunition, decoys, duck calls, duck hunting apparel and pet food.
Live demonstrations and seminars will take place throughout the event on three stages including the Duck Dog Stage, the Duck Hunter Stage and the Delta Waterfowl Stage.
Game cooks provide tips and recipes for preparing duck and goose. There will also be decoy carving demonstrations, a duck call contest and a duck dog parade on Friday at 11am.
The event times are Friday 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Admission is $10 per day, or you can purchase a three-day pass for $25. Admission to the Champions of Delta Saturday lunch is $50. To purchase tickets, visit www.deltawaterfowlexpo.com.
Although the effects of the drought are worrying in many areas, it has at least allowed Bayou Meto WMA to drain and dry the forest.
This time last year the WMA was flooded. It’s very bad for red oaks to be flooded this late in the summer. Bayou Meto was underwater a few weeks ago.
The first segment of the duck season takes place from November 19th to 27th. It seems like a long time ago, but once football season starts and we start chasing pigeons and squirrels, duck season will start in no time. After the summer we’ve had, I say it can’t get here fast enough.