OF ALL THE creatures on Earth, large and small, none are more dear to my heart than ducks and geese. I know I’ve said this before, but for me the truth is that without waterfowl, this planet would be much lesser for their absence.

With all the hours, days and weeks that I hunt ducks each year, I probably spend at least 10 times that amount of time simply heading to my favorite duck and goose watching places so that I can be with them and watch them in peace in their natural habitat.

It is this love for ducks and geese that has kept me involved with Ducks Unlimited (DU) for more than 40 years. I believe it was 1976 when I attended my first DU event and as long as I can stand on my own two hind legs, I will continue to attend DU events for the rest of my life.

I know I tend to preach a lot when I get to talking about DU, but I can’t help it. DU, founded in 1937, is the largest conservation organization in the United States; maybe in the world. More important, DU spends more than 80 cents of every dollar received on actual wetlands and prairie grasslands conservation work.

When it comes to conservation, there is no doubt, no argument, that DU puts its money where its mouth is. It has to.

In the United States alone, more than 50,000 acres of irreplaceable wetlands are lost each year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Just think of how bad the loss would be if DU had not conserved more than 15 million such acres since 1984.

While many folks think of wetlands simply being swamps, river bottoms, woodland and prairie ponds, and such that serve no real purpose, wetlands, along with natural prairie grasslands, are really about the most critical components of nature in all the world.

Wetlands provide a home for more than 900 species of living creatures, from tiny insects that provide food for newly hatched birds of all kinds, ducks included, all the way up to turtles, fish, hundreds of species of birds, many four-legged animals and on.

Wetlands also take care of us, the humans who so often mistreat them. Natural wetlands filter and improve water quality that people depend on for drinking, cooking, watering their pets and yes, even for washing clothes. Without healthy wetlands, we humans suffer.

DU, which is home to more than 700,000 members in the United States, I believe has done more than all other conservation organizations in the country to protect and preserve our wetlands.

That said, let me get to the point of this sermon, at least the local point. Saturday, June 26, my chapter of DU in Sayner, the Plum Creek Chapter, will be holding its first event since 2019. Like every other organization, DU has been unable to hold in-house events ever since COVID-19 hit.

Our chapter is relatively small, but each year, since 1982, we have done our best to support DU. We are looking for you, each and every one of you who cares for wetlands and wildlife, to join us in that support at our event.

It’s going to be different this year. No supper club, no great meal our host supper clubs have provided for us all these years. Though COVID-19 has slowed way down, we know there are still many people out there who have concerns about going out in group settings.

Because of that, we will be holding our event at the Sayner community building and adjoining outdoor pavilion, allowing for everyone to enjoy the evening while maintaining whatever level of social distancing they prefer.

As usual, there will be several beautiful DU-edition guns given away, but that’s not all. We’ll be raffling or silent auctioning off DU collectibles, a child-sized electric ATV, an 8-foot high inflatable mallard drake, you’d be the talk of the neighborhood with that in your yard, and much more.

I can’t emphasize enough that our DU event, like all others, is not just for hunters. Though many of us are hunters, a good share of those who attend DU events are nonhunters who still care very much about the conservation and preservation of wetlands and the wild species who depend on quality wetlands for their lives.

We welcome everyone to our event. As a longtime bronze sponsor and now, as a new pledge to be a life sponsor, I ask you to join me in supporting this great organization. Our event will run from 5 to 8 p.m., with tickets available at the door, at ducksunlimited.myeventscenter.com/event or by sending a check for $35 per person to Plum Creek DU, P.O. Box 5, Sayner, WI 54560.

Oh, and by the way, this year, at this event, you will not only be supporting DU, but also the Plum Lake Volunteer Fire Department, whose members will be selling picnic-style food along with beer, wine, soda and water at the event. Like all community organizations everywhere, they too have not been able to have fundraising events for more than a year.

We would appreciate your support for them as well.

Hope to see you there.