Gary Robinson examines one of many items up for bid in a silent auction at the Ducks Unlimited banquet in Coinjock, Saturday.

Thomas J. Turney/The Daily Advance

Gary Robinson examines one of many items up for bid in a silent auction at the Ducks Unlimited banquet in Coinjock, Saturday.

Currituck Ducks Unlimited, one of nation’s best

By Will Harris

The Daily Advance

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COINJOCK — Currituck’s Ducks Unlimited chapter has had unprecedented success over the past few years, ranking among the top 100 of 3,600 DU chapters in the United States.

The group looked to continue that run in 2011, beginning with Saturday’s annual banquet at the Hampton Lodge.

Over the past two years, the chapter has raised approximately $150,000, according to regional director Larry Wilkins. They are expecting to hit the same mark this year, around $75,000.

“It’s a great group of volunteers,” Wilkins said. “I try to direct them, but we raise all our money through our volunteers. They believe in the mission.”

The money goes toward conservation efforts such as restoring grasslands and watersheds and replanting forests. While the money raised in Currituck does not all end up in the area, it ends up helping right here are home in a round about way.

“We had, this year, one of the best duck seasons we’ve had in 25 years (in Currituck),” Wilkins said. “A lot of that is due to the habitat we’re putting on the ground in the places the birds come from. We do a lot of our work in the Prairie Pothole Region in North and South Dakota. That’s where 76 percent of the birds come from that we get here.”

But what attracts so many people in Currituck to help out that makes the chapter so successful?

“They like the auction stuff and the good food,” said chapter president Eddie Morgan. “It’s just a good time.”

Wilkins speculates that the area residents hold Ducks Unlimited close to their hearts since Joseph Palmer Knapp, a resident and businessman from New York, who spent part of every year on Mackay Island, is one of the organization’s founders.

Saturday’s event drew over 350 people and featured silent auctions, a live auction and drawings for various door prizes. Some of the big items available were a dove hunt in Argentina and a Beratta white onyx, over/under 28-gauge shotgun.

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