Ben Hamilton, treasurer and past president of Ducks Unlimited, discussed his organization’s upcoming Sept. 24 banquet with a Kiwanis Club lunchtime audience Thursday.
That particular event takes place about 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at The Legacy, 782 CR 1511, in Jacksonville.
But Hamilton's presentation was more bullet points than an actual speech. And it quickly evolved into a spirited question and answer session about the art of duck hunting — inspiring audience members to share similar memories with the group.
Hamilton is part of the Jacksonville chapter of DU, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife, and, of course, people.
Quite a few of the nearly 30 Kiwanis members at the Thursday noon meeting showed an incredible amount of enthusiasm for the sport.
“A great many people have their own duck hunting stories,” Darrell Dement, the Kiwanis member who invited Hamilton to speak, said appreciatively.
Hamilton acknowledged it had been 20 years since he had actually gone hunting. But he said the experience of what it was like to put on a pair of wading pants and slog through waist-deep water as part of the hunt stays with him.
It's not a sport for the unmotivated, he added.
“You have to really want to do it,” Hamilton explained. “If you go out there hunting in a pair of leaky waders, you might freeze to death.”
Dement said a hunter and his Labrador retrieving dog tend to have a very close relationship.
Audience member Dan George noted that duck hunting evokes a certain fantastic feeling that hovers between the romantic and the primal.
“You get up at 4 a.m, take a boat to the blind and wait for the sun to come up,” George said with a smile. “When it does, you either get a duck or you don't. This really reminds you of a time when people had to hunt for their food.”
Much of the group's duck hunting experience was gained at a very young age.
Darrell Dement in particular said he started as young as 10 years old.
Incidentally, to inquire further about the Jacksonville Ducks Unlimited Dinner, email firstname.lastname@example.org.