Area children will get the chance to cast out a line on Saturday at the 5th annual Greenwing Fishing Event, held by the Richmond County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. The event will kick off at 10 a.m. at McKinney Lake Fish Hatchery.
“(Greenwing) is a fishing event that helps kids come outside for a day,” said Tommy Leak, a member of the Richmond County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. “We give them a fishing rod and a tackle box so that they can fish the stock pond. Some of them don’t ever get a chance to fish, and this is a way that they can be guaranteed to catch fish and have a good time.”
During the day, kids will also be given a DU Greenwing membership, which includes a magazine for ages 1 to 11.
“We will once again have the NC Wildlife Commission’s ‘BB’ gun trailer and the Wildlife Commission demonstrating duck trapping with a rocket net,” said Gary Payne of Richmond County Ducks Unlimited. “Sundog kennels will be there with retriever demonstrations and Pee Dee Electric will be having a high-voltage presentation. And — not to be left out — a fire truck.”
Lunch will be served and many free prizes will be given out during the event, Payne said. The cost is $20 per child, and each child must be accompanied by an adult.
In addition to a day of fun and fishing, Greenwing serves as an asset to DU’s countywide Wood Duck box project.
“We use some of the proceeds to go toward Wood Duck boxes,” Leak said. “We set up and maintain boxes throughout the county — then we’ll go through and clean out nests and make sure the eggs were hatched, just to see if there were any problems.”
In April, Payne said the chapter assisted the NC Wildlife Commission in banding Wood Ducks on Blewitt Falls Lake.
“This is such a great success story,” Payne said. “The Wood Duck numbers in our country and county were in sharp decline due to loss of habitat and suitable nesting cavities. Wood Ducks readily adapt to nesting in man-made boxes.
“All of these boxes are located on Blewett Falls Lake and the Pee Dee River around Grassy Island Road,” he continued. “Out of the 44 boxes, 95 percent were actively being nested in. We banded 19 new Wood Duck hens and caught 4 recaptures (Wood Ducks banded the previous years). All 44 boxes checked had eggs or had just hatched ducklings with the exception of 5 boxes. With each hen laying 10 to 15 eggs per brood, we have added a good number of ducks to the fall flight.”
In order to best protect the Wood Duck population, Payne said proper maintenance of boxes is required.
“Most people think they are helping by erecting a box without any plans to maintain it or without a predator guard,” he said. “But without yearly maintenance, the ducks simply stop using these boxes after a season or two due to the remaining nesting material building up. Without a predator guard, it means sure death for the hen Wood Duck. Raccoons are the most serious predators of nesting Wood Ducks, and unprotected boxes become death traps for a hen and her brood. The use of cone-shaped predator guards is absolutely essential if you want your boxes to do more good than harm. Never put a Wood Duck box up without a predator guard.”
Members of the Richmond County Ducks Unlimited assist with such projects on a voluntary basis, and events such as Greenwing are essential for their success.
“The public can support us by attending each event or making donations to Ducks Unlimited for the Richmond County Chapter,” Payne said. “There are several forms of sponsorship that the public can join through Ducks Unlimited.”
For more information on this event or events for the Richmond County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, contact Travis Wallace at 910-895-2104; Tommy Leak at 910-331-3135 or Gary Payne 910-895-4036. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.ducks.org under NC events.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.