A couple of weeks ago I was able to partake in a waterfowl hunting trip to Nebraska with Billy McOwen of Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms and Johnny Seamster of Mossy Oak Properties of Virginia. By 11:30 the first morning we had our limit of geese. We hunted over the North Platte River the first two days and in a picked corn field in close proximity of the Platte’s waters on the third day. Not only is a waterfowl hunt great fun, it’s also a chance to spend some time with guys whose company you genuinely enjoy. Being surrounded by thousands of ducks and watching a smart dog work is a bonus.
Our guide (who is a local guy and great person) said that 30 years ago there were hardly any geese in the area and if you saw a flock of them “you got in your truck and tried to follow them to see where they were going.” He strung that sentence out quickly in between breaths while working a goose call. He never took his eyes off the looming cloud of thousands of migrating geese slowly descending to our decoy spread from high altitudes.
Not many people understand the important role hunters play in conserving the habitat that allows migratory waterfowl to flourish. In fact, Ducks Unlimited has protected almost 5,000 acres of habitat along the North Platte River in Nebraska as well as over a mile of river frontage. The Platte’s waters are the lifeblood of migratory waterfowl and flow through Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. The water depth is low, and very susceptible water shortages. Ducks Unlimited has worked closely with state and federal departments to provide landowners with the option to enroll their property into conservation easements that will protect the habitat and the animals that inhabit the area for years to come.
So what does the everyday hunter do to help conservation efforts? Well more than you may think. By purchasing a hunting license, waterfowl stamp, habitat stamp, even hunting equipment such as guns and bows, money is generated for conservation efforts. Actually, hunters pay close to $800 million a year for conservation programs and add approximately $440 million on conservation efforts.
It has been said that you conserve only what you love, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. If we as hunters don’t do what we can to conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat, then who will?
“As long as there is such a thing as a wild goose, I leave them the meaning of freedom.” – Gene Hill,