Six of the seven Michigan waterfowl hunters randomly chosen as the first winners of the Department of Natural Resources’ Wetland Wonders Challenge – Triston Bradshaw of Allegan, Michael Schindler of Bay City, James Graves of Rhodes, Isaiah Battel of Cass City, Thomas Bauer of Clarkston and Gary Van Kirk of Swartz Creek – received their prizes March 14 at the regular monthly meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Saginaw. (The seventh winner, Lupe Martinez of Hamilton, could not be present at the meeting and has since received his prize package.)
“This challenge gave me and my hunting buddies the incentive to explore managed waterfowl hunting areas we probably would not have otherwise,” said Thomas Bauer. “It made our waterfowl season fun, as each new managed area was unique and offered something different. Being a challenge winner was just a bonus.”
The other winners shared similar comments about the challenge giving them the incentive to try other managed waterfowl hunting areas that they haven’t visited before.
To be entered to win one of the seven prize packages, winners had to hunt four or more of the DNR’s seven premier managed waterfowl areas and turn in a punch card as proof of participation this past waterfowl hunting season.
For 13-year-old Triston Bradshaw, the first person drawn, the experience has been a memorable one. This fall was the first time Bradshaw had been waterfowl hunting. His father, Terry, used to duck hunt but had not had the opportunity for a couple of years.
“This contest gave me the incentive to go out again and for me to take Triston,” said Terry Bradshaw.
“It was a great father-and-son experience,” Triston Bradshaw added. “We even slept in our truck at Shiawassee because of rain just to make the morning draw. It was awesome; I can’t wait to go out again next year.”
Each winner received one of seven ultimate waterfowl hunting prize packages, each worth approximately $1,800. Each prize package was unique, but included items such as shotguns, a “golden ticket” good for first choice at a managed waterfowl area hunt, a jon boat, decoys, blinds, calls, taxidermy mounts, guided duck hunts, gift cards, trail cameras and hunting gear. The following companies and organizations were generous sponsors and donors:
American Waterfowler Magazine
Avery Outdoors Inc.
Ducks and Bucks
Frank’s Great Outdoors
Freeway Sports Center
Gibraltar Duck Hunter’s Association
Joseph V. Demski and Terry McFadden
Lynch Mob Calls
Michigan Duck Hunters Association – Blue Water Chapter
Michigan Duck Hunters Association – Lake Effect Chapter
Michigan Duck Hunters Association – Saginaw Bay Chapter
The Michigan Experience
Pte. Mouillee Waterfowl Festival
Quacker Attacker Custom Calls
Rig’Em Right Waterfowl
Safari Club International – Livonia Chapter
Schupbach’s Sporting Goods
Shiawassee Flats Citizens & Hunters Association
Taxidermy by Dourlain
Waterfowl USA – Southwest Lake Erie Chapter
Consolation prizes were also given out to 93 lucky winners. These winners have been notified, and their prizes will be sent to them in the mail.
“The Wetland Wonders Challenge would not have been possible without the generosity of the many donors and sponsors,” said Barbara Avers, DNR Waterfowl and Wetland Program leader. “They deserve a special thank-you for making this inaugural contest a success.”
To learn more about Michigan’s managed waterfowl areas, visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders.
Michigan’s managed waterfowl areas offer much more than just wonderful waterfowl hunting opportunities. On March 23, the DNR launched the Wetland Wonders Challenge II, which invites the public to explore these areas during this spring and summer to experience great birding, wildlife viewing, hiking, paddling, fishing and other outdoor recreational opportunities. A complete list of events and other details will be available soon at www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders.
Exploring Michigan’s Wetland Wonders is just one way to continue the celebration of the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy (MWL). The MWL is a 10-year, cooperative partnership to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan’s waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl hunting community. For more information about the MWL, please visit www.michigan.gov/mwl.