The Opener: How to Hook a Hunter? Put a Ring on It!

Apologies to Beyonce Knowles and "All the Single Ladies," but that was the first tune that went through my head when I heard this story from two brand-new hunters on their first ever duck hunt.
MSU Student DU Chapter Chairperson Kali Rush (left) and Chapter Member Hailey Yondo (right) on their first ever duck hunt (any hunt for that matter). MSU Student DU Chapter Chairperson Kali Rush (left) and Chapter Member Hailey Yondo (right) on their first ever duck hunt (any hunt for that matter)
I had the pleasure of meeting Kali Rush last year through my own volunteer work with the local Red Cedar Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. She is the leader of the newly reinvigorated Michigan State University Student Ducks Unlimited Chapter, which has helped with raise funds for Ducks Unlimited as well as complete their own habitat projects. Last winter, the chapter visited Sleepy Hollow State Park to put up wood duck boxes and also check many that were already up. They found they had a 67% success rate and the student gained valuable hands-on conservation experience. 
Last week, Kali and the MSU DU chapter helped put together a hunters safety class for MSU students. They had just completed their hunter safety course Tuesday evening with Instructor Dr. Mike Everett, when Kali and Chapter Member Hailey Yondo got their first chance to put it to good use only 36 hours later. They enjoyed the restored habitat at Nelson Farms in Clinton County Michigan, courtesy of Dr. Chuck Nelson. Dr. Nelson is Associate Professor at MSU and also the Student DU Chapter Faculty Advisor—he also took me on my very first duck hunt on his farm.
Dr. Nelson recounts, Thursday morning was "a very foggy, still day. The birds were squealing audibly from 200 yards as we hiked toward the marsh in the dark, and the day just got better."
Look closely at the picture and you will see the "jewelry" on Hailey’s drake wood duck! She is the only person I have ever heard of whose first duck was a banded bird. Amazing! Jealous? And Yes, they already called in the number and learned it was banded in Roscommon County in September 2014.
If you had a choice between shooting a nice 8-point whitetail or a banded duck, which would you choose? For me and most avid waterfowl hunters that2014-MSU-DU-woodboxes’s an easy question to answer….a banded duck. Shooting a banded duck is something like winning the Lottery. Only a very small percentage of the waterfowl population is banded and an even smaller percentage of those that are banded get harvested. To learn more about how bird banding data is used and how to report them, visit this DNR website.
So in summary—if you want to see two new hunters get excited and probably get hooked on hunting for life? Put a ring on it! If you want to see a seasoned veteran hunter watch a hunt he'll never forget? Put a ring on it!
Many thanks to Kali Rush and Hailey Yondo for letting me share their story and to Dr. Chuck Nelson for his personal dedication to recruit new hunters and improve wildlife habitat!

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