Waterfowl hunt raises money for education partnership

From Staff Reports

Hunting enthusiast Michael Jones of McDonough said he and his friends relished the chance to hone their craft during a recent fundraiser organized by the Henry County Water Authority.

Blake Daniel (second from left) and his brother Chris (far right) enjoyed time with their sons Christopher (far left) and John Baker, respectively, during the HCWA Waterfowl Fundraiser Hunt, which raised money for the non-profit Henry County Outdoor Education Partnership. Special photo

“You put four of us in a blind, and it doesn’t matter if we shoot anything or not, we’re going to have fun,” he said.

Jones was one of approximately 40 participants in the Water Authority’s Waterfowl Fund-raiser Hunt. The event generated $7,500 for the Henry County Outdoor Education Partnership, a 501-c-3 organization providing environmental education and related programming, primarily for students. The partnership consists of the Water Authority, the Henry County Board of Education, the Board of Commissioners, and other regulatory agencies, environmental groups, educators and individuals.

Each group at the hunt was accompanied by a guide from the Water Authority. Hunters were taken to a prepared site with a blind near a reservoir, river bank or at the Cubihatcha Center, and were picked up at the end of the morning hunts for a cookout hosted by Zip Hinton.

The event also included a mandatory orientation to ensure that participants were in compliance with gun safety and other regulations.

Legal hunts on Water Authority property are a part of the utility’s waterfowl management program. The program includes building duck boxes at reservoir sites, banding ducks in cooperation with researchers at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and tracking their migration patterns after they are harvested.

The hunt marked the second such occasion for the Water Authority this season. A November 2014 event also featured a youth hunt for Cubihatcha staff to teach kids about wildlife and waterfowl identification.

Shea Neely’s group saw 60-70 birds on the first day of the most recent hunt. Members of Neely’s team said they would be willing to pay five times the amount they donated for their blind, to hunt on Water Authority property again.

“We could have shot a lot more,” said Neely.

Business owner Blake Daniel of McDonough invited his brother, son and nephew to join his team for the January fundraiser. Daniel credited the Water Authority for overseeing the hunt and said he looks forward to future events supporting the education partnership.

“We had a great time, and what a great, well managed organization,” said Daniel.

The teams of Craig Scoggins and Jason Bales posted the best results for the waterfowl hunt, for harvesting the most birds. Water Authority Naturalist Jeff Scott guided the Scoggins team on the Upper Towaliga Reservoir property, and said feedback from hunters at the event was “overwhelmingly positive.”

“The potential to expand participation in our hunts, especially the fundraisers, is there,” said Scott. “At the end of the day, I also think people have a greater appreciation for our wildlife and land management, as well as the other services we provide. Hopefully, this shows that we’re much more than your average water and sewer utility.”