Gracious Organizations, Donors and Volunteers Get Kids involved in Conservation and the Outdoors
By: Joe Robison-
As fall was fast approaching the preparation for the annual youth waterfowl hunt was well underway. With the help of the Gibraltar Duck Hunter’s Association (GDHA) and Southwestern Lake Erie Chapter of Waterfowl U.S.A. (WUSA), the planning and implementation for the 13th Annual GDHA/WUSA youth waterfowl hunt went off without a glitch. This annual event grows every year. The first year the event was hosted, a total of five young hunters participated. Today, just ten years later, we were able to treat 43 young hunters to an excellent experience learning about the value of hunting and participating in a great hunt.
The money generated at two separate events throughout the year helped pay for the entire youth hunt along with many donations from generous donors. GDHA has an annual banquet every year where their funds raised at their event goes towards this youth hunt annually. WUSA has a summer waterfowl workshop every year and all the proceeds from this one-day event goes towards the co-sponsored youth hunt.
Once again it was great to see all the volunteers step up and help out for a great cause. Having these youth hunts is a great way to introduce some young men and women to a great time in Michigan’s great outdoors. Also, highlighting the importance of hunting as a wildlife management tool to these youngsters and teaching them that hunters have been the main conservationist in Michigan for the last 75 years is also very important.
This year, I mentored Cameron Mandel and Lawson Kominek. After breakfast was cooked and served to the kids, we headed out to our destination. We were set up about 15 minutes before legal shooting time. As the sun came up the kids’ expectations became high. We had a few ducks flying. The two youngsters had good shooting, taking many shots at teal and wood ducks.
Cameron and Lawson ended up harvesting three wood ducks and two teal. We headed in around 10:00 a.m. for the barbecue at the Pte. Mouillee State Game Area headquarters. All 43 kids, guides and other volunteers were treated to lunch donated by Tony Packo’s, (Jason Mandel). The youth were also treated to a series of waterfowl related presentations put on by guest speakers.
Pictured left to right: Cameron Mandel and Lawson Kominek.
In addition, each young hunter was given a bag full of goodies including:
a duck call from Zink Calls,
a goose call from Zink Calls,
a hat from Rig em Right,
ducks at a distance booklet
a box of Herters mallards
ducks of Michigan poster
Thank you to Cabela’s for donating dozen of the decoys and for giving us a discount on the remainder of the duck decoys and raffle prizes. Also a big thanks to Zink Calls, Avian X, Rig em Right and Hevi-shot for donating items to the raffle table as every kid received a prize off the raffle table.
After all the activities and lunch, some of the youngsters helped me band some wood ducks that had been captured in a floating duck trap at Pte. Mouillee State Game Area. They learned the importance of banding and to identify male and female wood ducks, and how to determine if they were an adult or juvenile.
Joe Robison showing the youngsters how to determine the age and sex of the duck.
This event could not have happened without the time, energy and money invested by GDHA, WUSA, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division and all the other volunteers that helped guide or cook for the youngsters and all the generous donors!
Collectively, though, we can preserve our heritage of waterfowl for generations to
come, and they can be in awe as they watch backlit birds drop out of the sky on a cold morning in early fall somewhere knee-deep in a wetland.