Ducks Unlimited banquet is next week

Published 3:59 pm Monday, January 7, 2019

Panola chapter raised $19K in 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

Members of the Panola County Ducks Unlimited chapter will hold the last of the fall/winter banquets for the 2018 season next week in Batesville at the Wilbourn Building on Court St. The dinner and live auction will be Thursday (Jan. 10) at 6 p.m. and will raise funds for the organization’s wetland and waterfowl conservation projects.

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Organizers of the local DU chapter raised more than $19,000 at last year’s event – the first of its kind held in Batesville for several years. Hunter Pridgen, a regional Ducks Unlimited director for North and Central Mississippi, said the efforts of the relatively small chapter were impressive last year, and he is expecting a larger total from next week’s event.

“We look to continue the momentum from last year and deliver another fun filled, record breaking event,” Pidgen said. “There will be a dinner, live auction, raffle, and much more is planned. This is an event that supporters of Ducks Unlimited in Batesville and surrounding areas don’t want to miss.”

Locally, Buddy Holland, John Morrison, Chris Downs, David Ragsdale, and others have been instrumental in reviving the Panola County DU chapter and organizing an annual banquet. Ticket sales have already surpassed last year’s numbers, they said, and more items will also be featured during the live auction.

All types of Ducks Unlimited merchandise and branded outdoor gear will be part of the auction, which will be handled by auctioneer Dwight Jones. Special edition DU shotguns, other long guns, hunting gear, gift items, and a host of other goods have already been collected with more arriving daily. The ever-popular Ducks Unlimited prints, framed and unframed, will also be featured.

Chapters in DeSoto County, Oxford, and at Sardis Lake are traditionally strong groups and their annual banquets and fundraisers produce hundreds of thousands of dollars. The DeSoto chapter annually raises more than $60,000 and the Sardis Lake banquet in October set a record for that group with $45,000 raised.

In 2017 Mississippi Ducks Unlimited had an impressive 9,200 members in state chapters and with partners like the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks spent $2.1 million on wetland and waterfowl conservation projects in the state. Since DU’s inception in 1937, more than $52 million has been spent on conservation investments in Mississippi.

Mississippi chapters raised $1.2 million with their banquets and other events in 2017 (the highest figure since 2000), and data indicates that Mississippi’s return on investment has been nearly doubled. More than 315,000 acres of critical wetland and waterfowl habitat has been conserved in the Magnolia State, according to DU numbers.

Next Thursday’s banquet will include dinner catered by Court Street Catering. Southern Beverage Company will provide keg refreshments and DU logo bottomless cups will be available for $10.. Tickets are $50 for singles, and $75 for couples. Tickets for ages 15 and under are reduced to $30. All ticket prices also include a year’s membership in Ducks Unlimited.

Other major sponsors of the banquet include Cube Ice, Big Delta Powersports, Big T Trucking, Pintail Duck Boats, Down Range Calls, and DWB Excavating.

Tickets can be purchased online at, or by contacting Holland (654-0285) or Morrison (901-484-1818).