Amazing hunts offered as area waterfowlers contribute for conservation

'Headin' Out', artwork by famed artist Richard Clifton, is just one of the items available at the Thursday night Ducks Unlimited fundraiser in Chattanooga. Several exotic hunts will also be auctioned off at potentially bargain prices. (Artwork: Richard Clifton)

Area waterfowl and conservation enthusiasts will gather Thursday night (Sept. 21) to raise money wetland conservation. The Fall Flight Banquet is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Chattanooga-area chapter of Ducks Unlimited. The event raises tens of thousands of dollars every year. Out of more than 2,500 chapters nationwide, the Chattanooga chapter has often been named as one of the Top 100 fundraisers. Earlier this year Tennessee Ducks Unlimited was named as the top fundraising state in the country after raising more than $1.8 million in 2016.

You don't garner awards like that without offering contributors some big incentives. The Thursday night banquet will include dinner, games and raffles as well as live & silent auctions. The list of items up for grabs includes a long list of firearms, several quail & waterfowl hunts, a South American dove hunt, an African safari and even an exotic vacation for eight people to either Belize or Costa Rica. (More detailed information below).

Of the money raised at Ducks Unlimited events, a minimum of 80 cents of every dollar goes into conservation and education programs. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) partners with Ducks Unlimited on a variety of projects in-state and across the continent. Last October, nine commissioners, TWRA Director Ed Carter, and two TWRA staff members paid their own way to Saskatchewan to tour conservation projects.

"The commissioners were so impressed with the habitat work that they voted in January to increase the Agency contribution to fully fund the ($166,000) goal established individually for our state," said TWRA Director Ed Carter. "State goals are based on scientifically collected data indicating the number of waterfowl in Tennessee which originate in the Canadian provinces and we are pleased to contribute to their critical nesting habitat."

But the fundraising all begins at home, specifically at 6 pm Thursday at Stratton Hall (3146 Broad St., Chattanooga). Individual tickets are $50, couples tickets are $65. You can buy tickets at the door or buy in advance online.

Again, a wide variety of artwork and firearms will be offered, as well as some big ticket items potentially available at a bargain basement price, including:

  • Argentina Dove Hunt: How many times have you read about and dreamed of wingshooting in South America... one of those places where you shoot shells by the CASE, not by the box? The hunt offered at the Fall Flight Banquet is for FIVE hunters for five days/six nights at the world famous Maers & Goldman Argentina Dove, Pigeon and Duck Hunting Lodge in Argentina. The actual value of this hunt is $14,000 ($2,800 per hunter). However bidding for this hunt, offered only to Ducks Unlimited, will begin at a mere $2,500 ($500 per hunter). If a South American dove hunt is on your Bucket List, you'll never find a better opportunity to do it at a potentially incredible price.
  • African Safari: If you have ever dreamed of taking an African Safari, but felt you couldn't afford it, now might be your chance. They'll be offering a DU Premier Hunt for two hunters (plus two non-hunters) from Kuche Safaris. The hunt package is valued at nearly $10,000. The minimum bid at the auction is a mere $2,500, a potential bargain basement price for the hunt of a lifetime. Details of the Kuche Safari Trip include five nights room & board for two hunters & two non-hunters, a Professional Hunter (Guide), Tracker & Skinner, six trophy game animals shared between two hunters [Impala (2), Warthog (2), Wildebeest (1), Blesbuck (1), other game animals available for additional cost]. The buyer has three years from the date of purchase to claim the trip.
  • Barnsley Garden/Springbank Plantation Quail Hunt: You'll have the chance on the Live Auction to buy a quail hunt at the exclusive Barnsley Resort with Ducks Unlimited Volunteer Rhey Houston. The DU Hunt will be for two people on any weekday before March 1, 2018. You'll enjoy a morning hunt and an afternoon hunt (total of 60 quail allowed) with breakfast & lunch provided. At the end of the hunt you'll receive an RTIC Soft Sider Cooler with your birds cleaned, vacuum-packed and iced down. Transportation from Chattanooga is available if you wish. You can also upgrade your package to include an overnight stay at Barnsley Resort. Watch a previous hunt at Springbank here.

  • Duck Hunting Mecca: Yet another awesome hunt to be offered on the Fall Flight Banquet Live Auction ... a two-day guided duck hunt (for 2 people) in Northeast Arkansas courtesy Whispering Oaks Lodge. Meals and lodging will be included. This is one of Northeast Arkansas's premier hunting lodges located between the Bayou DeView and the Cache River, with access to 1000's of acres of prime waterfowl habitat including rice fields and flooded timber. Professional waterfowl guides will provide you with the finest Arkansas hunting experience. Trip must be taken Monday - Thursday. License and tips not included. Learn more on their Facebook page or call at 901-373-HUNT.
  • Dream Vacation: With this auction item, you take your pick from two Dream Vacations for EIGHT people! Either 6 days and 6 nights in Costa Rica in a 4-bedroom villa with a private pool and a private chef. OR you can choose to go to Belize in a similar villa, also with a private, live-in chef. Retail value of each trip is $13,500. But minimum bids on the Live Auction at the Fall Flight Banquet begin at $4,500.... again, for up to eight people. Do the math. Both trips are hosted by Ducks Unlimited partner, Sporting Adventures International.
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