According to Brad Murray of Richmond County’s Ducks Unlimited chapter, 124 children attended this year’s event, held Sept. 25. Murray said last year’s event had 99 children.
“This was our biggest turn out,” said Murray. “We had enough goodies for everyone; we even had one goodie-bag left over.”
The $20 ticket included a fishing rod, a Ducks Unlimited hat, a Greenwing T-shirt, and a duck call. The hatchery provided tackle boxes for each youth to keep that included a few lures, hooks, weights, and bobs, according to Rick Bradford, hatchery superintendent.
A $15 portion of the ticket price went to a Greenwing membership that includes a youth magazine subscription four times a year and access to online resources.
The children were shown what danger can happen around power lines when wind or ladders are involved. Pee Dee Electric gave a demonstration on the power of high voltage, using a light-up model.
“They basically showed voltage safety,” said Murray.
The big attraction at the event, according to Murray, was the duck catching demonstration. Wildlife biologist Jeff Marcus showed the children how he uses a rocket net to catch ducks so he can determine the sex and band them.
Sundog Kennels held a retrieving demonstration by showing the kids a “blind retrieve.” According to Murray, the dog handler hid a bumper for his senior dog, Fin. He then directed Fin towards the hidden bumper with whistles and hand signals. Murray said the excitement peaked when the handler put Fin away and got out a litter of black lab puppies for the children to play with.
“The kids loved it,” said Murray.
Walgreens Pharmacy, a sponsor of the event, handed out Silly Bands, answered questions children and their parents had about medicines.
The children got the chance to use their new poles and tackle boxes at the hatchery. One child, Bryson McKenzie, caught a catfish weighing four pounds and six ounces.
Murray said the event went better than he had expected. “We had good weather. The place looked wonderful; there were no ant hills. A big thanks to the fish hatchery. We’re grateful to them,” said Murray.
Dawn Kurry can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (910) 997-3111 ext. 15.