By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
About the only thing missing Tuesday night was the cackle of ducks.
Otherwise, the Quincy Chapter of Ducks Unlimited's annual fall membership banquet at The Ambiance was a complete celebration of waterfowling.
That means good food, good people and good stories.
Shared among the 200 or so waterfowlers were tales of American bull terriers devouring oversized rawhide bones in minutes, decades-old geese finally getting shot down and the lack of water in the upper part of the Quincy Bay. Grilling tips were exchanged, and calling advice was heard.
Above all, there was an anxiousness throughout the room knowing the Illinois duck season begins Oct. 22. That leaves only a month to prepare.
"And so much work to do on our blind," local hunter Glen Johnson said. "We'll get it done, but time is creeping up on us."
Time is a valuable commodity, just like quality hunting grounds.
Ducks Unlimited is doing all it can to help with that.
The money raised from Tuesday's banquet -- tickets sales totaled more than $7,500, a live auction ended with nearly $3,000 sold and raffles, a silent auction and other giveaways brought in a $2,000-$3,000 more -- will be put to use saving North American wetlands.
Among DU's recent achievements include acquiring prime breeding ground habitat in Montana, receiving a $1.5 million grant for restoring land in the Saginaw Bay region of Michigan and restoring nearly 400 acres of wetlands in Pennsylvania.
There is so much more that can be done, and that was illustrated Tuesday night.
The ability of hunters to get to spots in the upper Quincy Bay is being limited by a lack of water. It's going to take drastic measures -- dredging out the silt, rebuilding structures, etc. -- to alleviate the problem, but that also takes funding.
That made the contributions of the waterfowlers important and meaningful. The local DU chapter benefits from the sponsorship of 30 different people and organizations, each of whom donates at least $250 to the cause.
Without their support, the banquet wouldn't be possible. In turn, there'd be no money raised for local projects.
Instead, a large group was treated to a steak dinner, enjoyed drinking from seemingly bottomless cups, talked plenty of hunting and raised more money than anyone ever guessed possible.
That's as close to perfect as it gets.