This past Monday, I had received a call from Jim Malepsy, one of our local outdoorsmen and a member of Ducks Unlimited. He said one of our local Boy Scout troops was going to be at Halvorson School that evening assembling wood duck houses and wondered if I’d like to stop by and see what it was all about.
I was more than happy to check it out and was glad that I did. I found out from Scout Leader Doug Lind that Troop 7 was the group involved in doing the work and that the kids were more than excited to be a part of it. Troop 7 has 35 members ranging from ages 10-17 with 10 kids joining this year and it has had nine Eagle Scouts in the past 5 years. There were a lot of dads and other troop leaders there to help, but the part that got me was how enthusiastic all of these kids were to be doing this project.
The wood was donated to them by Freeborn Lumber Co. and was cut to size by some members of the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited. With the kids’ help, they will be able to distribute 24 wood duck houses this year to different places around the area. They are given to people who have access to a stream or body of water that is considered good waterfowl habitat.
When the houses are set up they have to be protected by a critter guard to keep their eggs from being eaten by skunks, weasels and coons. The inside of the houses have a small piece of screen leading from the bottom to the opening so that the baby ducks can climb up the inside to the opening and drop down to the shore. The screen has to be the type with fairly large squares so they can grasp them. The bottom of the house is filled with wood shavings for nesting.
When the time is right, the baby chicks will emerge from the house and drop to the ground and into the water. I have witnessed this event once in my lifetime and that was at Spider Lake. I was trolling along the shoreline and spotted a baby wood duck perched on the edge of the hole of its house. The small duckling dropped to the ground bouncing once before entering the water. As soon as the first one hit the water, a second one dropped, and this was repeated a total of 10 times. It was quite a sight to behold and one of those things that I just feel lucky to have had a chance to observe it.
Getting our youth involved in a project like this sets the groundwork for protecting the future of our outdoors heritage. When we get our youth interested in anything outdoors we are protecting the future of our great Minnesota outdoors. These days there are far too many distractions (electronics) that take away from time that could be spent outdoors learning about nature.
Organizations such as D.U., Minnesota Deer Hunters, Minnesota Waterfowl Association and Pheasants Forever are just a few of the organizations that do their part to encourage our youth to get involved in different sports and the outdoors in general.
It is a known fact there are fewer hunting and fishing licenses being sold, and this means there are less people using our natural resources. It is very important that we as sportsmen do our part to pass on our interest in the outdoors to our future generations because they are the future of our outdoor heritage.
It can be as easy as taking a kid fishing on a summer afternoon or teaching someone how to hunt. Just taking someone camping and teaching them about starting a campfire and cooking over an open fire can have a lasting impression. As long as you make it a positive experience, they will want to do it again. These are just a few ways that we can pass on our love of the outdoors to future generations.
Until next time, get ready for spring fishing and be sure to get out and enjoy our great Minnesota outdoors!
Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can keep enjoying the freedoms that we have today.