Young hunters from across the region will be given an opportunity to shoot their first bird of the waterfowl season at private duck clubs during the eighth-annual Big Muddy Duck Hunt held near Mound City, Missouri, in October.

The clinic is open to hunters between the ages of 11 and 15 during the youth duck hunting season. The free event also accepts youth that do not live in Missouri.

Missouri Department of Conservation agents Jade Wright and Anthony Maupin along with outdoorsman Bill Hutting started the clinic in Holt County with the goal of introducing the sport of duck hunting to youth.

Wright said the event will reduce the number of youth that can participate in the clinic this year from 25 to 15 because there is a drop in the availability of duck blinds.

“The number of spots were reduced due to the flooding and poor crop in the duck marshes,” Wright said.

He said local duck clubs in the county also support the clinic by donating funds, providing hunting blinds and serving as guides.

During the clinic, the youth participate in five educational stations that are designed to teach them how to safely and effectively harvest the birds.

The stations include duck calling, duck identification, waterfowl hunting regulations and preparing waterfowl as food. In addition, there are beginning and intermediate shooting skills stations that allow the youth to learn how to safely and confidently use a firearm.

The youth are then able to hunt birds at a private duck club in the county. A dinner banquet will be held in the evening.

Wright said the event is open to youth with parents in the 139th Airlift Wing at Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. In addition, they partner with members of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph and the Missouri Department of Corrections.

“We like to reach out to those groups as a way to give back to them,” Wright said. “We want to reach out to youth that wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to hunt at a private duck club.”

The clinic is supported by public donations and local volunteers.

“All of our funding is secured by donations and most come from individuals and businesses affiliated with our local duck clubs,” Wright said.

The day-long clinic will be on Oct. 26 at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Bigelow, Missouri.

The meals for lunch and dinner will be provided by the Mound City Kiwanis Club and the Sportsman’s Lodge.

Each participant will be given a package of free outdoor gear. A shotgun will be raffled and a shotgun will be given as a door price to an adult parent or guardian attending the event.

They will also give door prizes including a shotgun and a pair of Kansas City Chiefs tickets to hunters that are randomly drawn. In addition, a shogun will be raffled during the clinic.

Pre-registration for the event is required by contacting Wright by phone at 660-853 0699. For more information on the Big Muddy Duck Hunt or to register online, visit www.bigmuddyduckhunt.org.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.