Duck hunters flock to student organization

By Elizabeth zinchuk

One student organization has dedicated their time to hunting, preserving and conserving.

Ducks Unlimited is an international organization focused on conservation and preservation of wetlands, and the four-year-old campus chapter hosts shooting events and fundraisers to support the cause. The organization also teaches its members duck hunting laws and restrictions while providing education and conservation activities.

Scott Ishman, geology professor and faculty adviser, said the organization was created for students interested in conservation as well as waterfowl hunting. SIU is the only university with a Ducks Unlimited student chapter in southern Illinois, he said.


“Because a lot of students are already members of Ducks Unlimited … it is a place to continue their participation,” Ishman said.

Ishman said waterfowl hunting brings the area economic value, and many regional wetlands need new or additional maintenance. Midwestern farms drain wetlands in order to farm, eliminating areas of habitat in the process. As far as conservation efforts go, the group has helped band ducks, a process which requires placing identification on ducks to track their migration, Ishman said. The RSO also volunteers with Crab Orchard cleanup and has set up box habitats that provide safer, additional homes for wood ducks, he said.

Lucas Beeler, RSO president and senior from Hillsboro studying civil engineering, said he joined Ducks Unlimited because he was interested in duck hunting and thought it would be a fun way to acquaint himself with others.

Beeler said the RSO also tries to go shooting as often as possible, and the organization provides guns and boats for its members. Many people are unfamiliar with duck hunting or the laws and regulations that follow it, and amateur hunters are often not aware of proper hunting seasons, he said.

“There are a lot of people in the group who join who have never hunted duck before,” Beeler said. “We teach them everything about it.”

Alex Oxencis, a student from Pawnee studying civil engineering, said he joined the group before he came to campus and thought the student chapter would be the best way to continue his involvement.

“It gives people a chance to be involved with something when they are concerned about water fowl,” he said. “It gives students a chance to be involved and contribute while they are still in school.”


Duck hunters share an interest in conservation, and members can share their passion through the organization, he said.

“Most of the time, duck hunters are a unique breed of people,” Oxcencis said. “People who duck hunt have heard of Ducks Unlimited, and it usually does not take much for them to become involved.”

Beeler can be reached at [email protected], and Oxencis can be reached at [email protected]. The organization tries to meet every other week at 5 p.m. at Parkinson room 110.