Outdoor Skills Day, Michael Hedden duck hunting

Michael Hedden, a volunteer from Hawarden, goes through different duck and goose decoys used when hunting at an Outdoor Skills Day exhibit Thursday. Exhibits and activities were set up around Sandy Hollow Recreation Area for the children to take part in.

SHELDON—The Northwest Iowa Ducks Unlimited Chapter raised more than $30,000 for waterfowl conservation at its 46th annual banquet held on Friday, March 3, at the Sheldon Eagles.

Chairman Tim Helmers of Sheldon provided the fundraising total and said there were 125 in attendance on a night when the chapter gave away more than 60 guns.

There were 29 guns in the general gun raffle. Eleven of 12 chances to win a Christensen Arms Mesa .308 rifle were won by bid in the live auction, with the remaining chance an item in the silent auction. A Henry .410 lever-action shotgun and a Henry Golden Boy .22 rifle were the other guns included in the live auction.

A pick-of-the-litter ticket raffle gave the winner a choice of anything on auction excluding a gun, or any gun in the general gun raffle. The special raffle item was a Benelli SBE3 28-gauge shotgun. A koozie raffle was held for a Weatherby Element Tungsten 12-gauge shotgun, and a $50 duckie raffle was held for a Springfield 1911 45 ACP handgun.

A Winchester Model 94 Golden Spike Commemorative 30-30 rifle was the top item in the live auction, netting a $5,000 winning bid. The winning bid was placed by Paul Ahrenstorff of Hartley. He purchased the gun in memory of his father-in-law, Kevin “Duff” Tewes, who was planning to attend the banquet, but died Feb. 24.

Helmers described Tewes as “a loyal member of Ducks Unlimited who has been coming to our banquet for many years.”

The chairman said it is difficult to say exactly how much of the money raised will be used in this region of the state, but a portion will go toward habitat conservation somewhere in Iowa.

“The money all goes to national, where it is matched by federal grants to maximize the amount of money that Ducks Unlimited gets and then distributed by them for projects in each state,” Helmers said. “For instance, in Iowa, there are a lot of projects in northwest Iowa.”

A projects map found on the Iowa Ducks Unlimited website shows eight projects completed to date across Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties.

Information contained in the 2023 Iowa Ducks Unlimited State Conservation Report showed more than $1.9 million was invested in 13 projects resulting in 956 acres conserved across the state in 2022.