Hunters and conservationists across North America are celebrating the 80th anniversary of one of the largest conservation groups in existence this year.
Ducks Unlimited was a Dust Bowl-era organization founded in 1937 by Joseph P. Knapp, Robert Winthrop and E.H. Low in Memphis, Tenn., to revive America’s drought-stricken waterfowl population.
The nonprofit is now 700,000 members strong and has been a vital part of conserving wetland habitat in North America for species of waterfowl to flourish for years to come.
The organization hosts more than 4,000 fundraisers annually, including banquets, fishing and shooting tournaments and golf outings, according to its website, ducks.org.
More locally, the Topeka chapter of DU also is celebrating a landmark anniversary this week, with its 50th annual banquet and auction slated for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, 420 S.E. 6th in downtown Topeka. Tickets are $50 for a single ticket and $20 for a youth (Greenwing) ticket.
“We have a small group of folks who work to host the annual event held in the downtown Ramada,” said Jeff Neal, organizer of the Topeka chapter of DU. “Depending on the year, we raise between $20,000 and $30,000 and hope we can do something special this anniversary year.”
Several guns will be raffled off at the banquet, including a Remington 870 Express black synthetic 20-gauge pump shotgun, a Smith & Wessons Shield 9-mm pistol, a Browning Maxus Camo 31/2-inch, 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun and a Winchester SXP black synthetic 31/2-inch, 12-gauge pump shotgun.
In Kansas, the organization has more than 15,000 members alone. According to Neal, state chapters in Kansas raised $1,166,655 in support of wetland conservation. In its 80-year history, DU has spent $14,157,263 in Kansas on projects to benefit waterfowl population, as of this year.
“There are a number of active projects underway, including efforts at Cheyenne Bottoms, Lake Perry, Neosho, McPherson and others,” Neal said. “In total, over 25,000 acres of habitat have been conserved within the state.”
Those who are interested in joining or donating but can’t attend the banquet can do so online at http://tinyurl.com/ydfjep3m. Cost of membership in Ducks Unlimited is $35. For joining the organization, members will receive a free 80th anniversary DU double-reed duck call that is laser-engraved with Buck Gardner’s signature and the DU logo. An optional $10 kit will allow members to easily convert the call into a single-reed call. Members also will receive a one-year subscription to Ducks Unlimited magazine, exclusive content from the members-only website, an official Ducks Unlimited membership card, vehicle decals and invitation to special events throughout the year.
For more information about the Topeka chapter of Ducks Unlimited or about Thursday’s banquet, contact Jeff Neal at (785) 221-6625 or email@example.com.
On Saturday, Sept. 30, the Jefferson County chapter of DU will host its annual dinner beginning at 6 p.m. at the Perry American Legion. Tickets are $40 for a single ticket, $55 for a couple and $20 for Greenwings. Contact Daryl Mellard at (785) 550-3395 or John Hertlein at (785) 640-3113 for more info.
Information about the 2018 Kansas DU State Convention also has been announced. The event will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 24, 2018, at the Great Wolf Lodge and Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. For more information on that event, contact Chris Young at (913) 333-2922.
— For Kansas hunters, both the low plains and high plains teal seasons are currently underway and will continue through Sunday.
— The first segment of duck season for the Low Plains Early Zone kicks off Oct. 7 and will run through Dec. 3, with the second segment Dec. 16-31. Youth season will run Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
— The first segment of the Low Plains Late Zone runs Oct. 28-Dec. 31. The second segment will be Jan. 20-28, 2018. Youth season will run Oct. 21-22.
— The Low Plains Southeast Zone’s first segment will run Nov. 11-Dec. 31, with a second segment Jan. 6-28, 2018. Youth season will run Nov. 4-5.
— The first segment of the High Plains unit will run Oct. 7-Jan. 1, 2018, with a second segment Jan. 20-28. Youth season will run Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
— The first segment of the Canada goose and light goose season runs just two days, Oct. 28-29, with the second segment running Nov. 8 through Feb. 18, 2018. A conservation order season for light geese will run Feb. 19-April 30, 2018, during which there will be no daily possession or bag limit and hunters can use unplugged shotguns and electronic game calls.
— The first segment of the white-fronted goose season will be Oct. 28-Dec. 31, with a second segment Jan. 27-Feb. 18, 2018.
— The sandhill crane season will run from Nov. 8-Jan. 4, 2018.
For all ducks and geese, hunters will be required to carry a Kansas HIP permit, state waterfowl stamp and, if older than 16, a valid Kansas hunting license and federal waterfowl stamp. For sandhill crane, a Kansas HIP permit and Sandhill Crane permit are required, as well as valid license.
Cost is $2.50 for a Kansas HIP stamp, $10 for a state waterfowl stamp and $26.50 for a federal waterfowl stamp purchased at any KDWPT office or U.S. Post Office. Costs of hunting licenses can be found at http://ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Applications-and-Fees/.
— The daily bag limit for ducks is six, including no more than, five mallards, of which only two may be hens; three wood ducks; three scaup; one pintail; two redheads; and two canvasbacks. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit. The daily bag limit for teal also is six. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, including no more than two hooded mergansers, and the daily limit for coots is 15 with a possession limit of 45.
— The daily bag limit for Canada geese is six, including Brant geese, and the daily bag limit for white-fronted geese is two. Possession limits for both are three times the daily limit.
— The daily bag limit during the regular season for light geese is 50, with no possession limit, and is unlimited during the extended conservation order season.
— The daily bag limit for sandhill cranes is three, with a possession limit of nine.