Big Gathering of Wisconsin Waterfowlers Coming Up

Some of Wisconsin's most avid duck and goose hunters will migrate to Stevens Point on March 4 and 5, for the 9th annual gathering and something that I think all waterfowl hunters will find beneficial.

Although there are several organizations (such as Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and WI DNR) that help to co-sponsor the conference, it is an independent conference put on by a 15-member steering committee of avid waterfowlers.

The committee believes it is the largest independent waterfowl conference in the country.

I've attended the conference the past 8 years and always learn something.

During the day there are informative speakers. This year, Jim Ruwaldt, and avid waterfowler and program chairman, has these sessions lined up:

* The proposed new duck hunting zones and an update from the recent Mississippi flyway Council by Kent Van Horn

* Duck calling tips by Mark Kaakatsch

* Waterfowl Hunting Around the World with Pat Pitt

* Waterfowl hunting at the Mead Wildlife Area

* The new Open Fields program

* A Wisconsin legislative update by George Meyer

* The changing face of duck migrations by Jay Strangis

* Land acquisition by conservation organizations by Dave Carlson

* A new grassland program in the prairie pothole region by Nick Kazor

* Waterfowling violations update by Todd Schaller

* Comments by Scott Gunderson, the new DNR executive assistant and past state legislator

These are just the formal presentations, but the informal get-together takes place Friday night, when participants bring snacks and wild game delicacies for dinner. People mix and talk waterfowling while having the chance to examine tables filled with old decoys, duck stamps, shotguns, and waterfowling paraphernalia. Besides other waterfowlers, it is a good opportunity to talk with DNR conservation wardens, wildlife managers and researchers.

And, as with most conservation groups, there are bucket raffles which help to offset the costs of the conference.

The conference is one of the most affordable. The cost to attend is $20 in advance, or $25 at the door. That covers the two-day meetings, duck hunters party Friday evening, Saturday morning continental breakfast and noon lunch.

Some of the attendees donate an extra $20 and that is used to provide registrations for several UW-Stevens Point students majoring in natural resources to attend the conference and meet hunters. The registration fees also help to fund two $500 scholarships for two Natural Resources students at UW-Stevens Point.

It is possible to meet waterfowlers from all over the state, with 200 to 275 people attending. The conference will be held in the Ramada Hotel, in Stevens Point. Rooms are $79 and reserved at (800) 998-2311.

The goal of the conference is to talk about how waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin can be preserved and enhanced. The state has a rich waterfowling heritage, and in the past attracted U.S. presidents to enjoy the hunting

If you'd like to mix with other waterfowlers, give this conference a try. You can contact Joe Porten, the chair, at (920) 743-3053 (joeporten@gmail.com) or go onto its web site at www.wisducks.org/wwhc.htm.

People can register and walk in, but advance registration saves $5 and helps the organizers know how many meals to order. The registration includes the conference, a ticket to the Waterfowl Hunters Party on Friday night, and meals on Saturday.

I think it's a great deal.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Waterfowl, Wisconsin – Tim Eisele

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