Chuck Berry to provide insights on waterfowl hunting for Brookings Wildlife Federation


BROOKINGS — The Brookings Wildlife Federation will host Chuck Berry, emeritus professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management at South Dakota State, at its infolunch on April 5 at noon at the Brookings County Outdoor Adventure Center, 2810 22nd Ave. A free-will lunch will be available.

Berry will talk about the book titled “A History of Waterfowl Management, Research, and Hunting in South Dakota.” He was one of 21 authors who contributed to the book.

The 259-page book is written for the lay reader and has many illustrations and photographs. Editors are Brookings residents and retired wildlife professionals K.C. Jensen, Ken Higgins, and Spencer Vaa. The book is for sale at the GFP online store for $7.50.

Berry will begin his talk with personal observations from 50 years of duck hunting in three flyways — Atlantic, Mountain and Mississippi. He hunted the great rivers of the Chesapeake Bay, the shallow marshes of the intermountain west in Utah, and the prairie potholes of the northern great plains in South Dakota.

He will review the three themes of the South Dakota water-fowling history book: research, management and hunting. In one chapter, Amy Lewis, now a professor at Augustana University, summarizes 600-plus references on waterfowl research and management — with much of the research done at SDSU.

Chapters compare historical with contemporary duck hunting. One chapter takes the reader back to the late 1880s when hunters traveled on railroads at they advanced onto the prairie with its abundant wildlife.

Waterfowl management brings together the birds, the hunters, and the habitat. For example, a chapter co-authored by K.C. Jensen tells the duck banding story through maps showing band recovery locations. Blue-winged teal banded in South Dakota have been recovered from Canada to South America.

To conclude his presentation, Berry will review the chapter which he wrote that is titled “Waterfowl Hunting Arts and Crafts in South Dakota.” Berry says that “there is an extensive story to be told about South Dakota water fowling arts and crafts.”

He will talk about decoy carving, decorative waterfowl carving, taxidermy, photography, duck stamp art, sequential art, story painting, and writing.

Berry divides vintage duck decoys into:

  • Those that migrated to South Dakota from factories and carvers elsewhere
  • Those that were created in South Dakota

One brand of decoys that migrated into the state were from a decoy carver in Bureau Illinois named Robert A. Elliston. Following is a quote from an early duck hunting story from Rush Lake. The hunter wrote about a duck flying over the lake: “his long neck turned this way and that and presently he spied the Ellistons.”

Berry will highlight duck stamp art and tell the story of the first Junior Duck Stamp competition organized by a partnership ship between the SDSU wildlife and visual arts departments in 1991. He will relate the story of the great kerfuffle that arose when a South Dakota 6-year-old won the national contest.

He will show some artifacts that augment his presentation, and will have a limited number of copies of the book for sale.

The BWF is affiliated with the South Dakota Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. The BWF is in its 43rd year of supplying conservation information and activities to the Brookings community. For more information, contact BWF President Bob Kurtz at 605-695-1361.