Greenhead is shining a spotlight on three hunter/conservationists working hard to improve habitat for the ducks.
David Snowden Jr.
Biggest Influence/Mentor: I have told my father that the greatest gift he has given me is a love of nature. The reality is that both my parents contributed to this in different ways, but my entire life has been spent in the field with my father. He knows his trees, animals and birds and how they are interrelated, which always made everything more interesting for me.
Specific to waterfowl, I was able to hunt at a very young age while also tagging along to Ducks Unlimited sponsor dinners with my parents. My interest in waterfowl conservation and the importance of giving back was instilled in me early by observing and listening to my father. All of that influence motivated me to later chair DU dinners in the 1980s, playing a role in bringing Delta Waterfowl to Arkansas in the 1990s and later serving on Delta’s Board of Trustees.
Five years ago, I started “The 1% Club” with a group of 50 dedicated waterfowl conservationists who contribute annually to Delta Waterfowl’s Predator Management Program. At a minimum, this group replaces the ducks we harvest by funding the reduction of predators that prey on nesting hens and their eggs.
I also followed my father by becoming a trustee of the Arkansas Nature Conservancy, an organization that strives to conserve rare and endangered species and the habitats in which they thrive. Every duck hunter in the state should support the work of the Arkansas Nature Conservancy due to their work in the Cache and White River Bottoms.
In the end, every cause has its champions. I have so many wonderful life experiences tied to duck season with family and friends, and I see this heritage worth preserving.
Best Practices: Kingdom Come offers much of what waterfowl needs on the wintering grounds with its diverse landscape. Rice and soybean fields, dedicated corn and millet fields, timber and large buckbrush/willow reservoirs are all flooded to offer food, cover and loafing areas. Gradual flooding across this landscape occurs throughout the waterfowl season. The reservoirs are key. In addition to offering a variety of moist soil vegetation and invertebrates, buckbrush and willows offer a tremendous amount of security cover for resting and roosting waterfowl, something that seems often overlooked. So I guess specifically to land management, the top two keys are food and cover.
Kingdom Come is entering its 75th year this fall with ducks being hunted only two days per week. The original property and the heart of it all today is a rest area for waterfowl five days a week and has been so for three-quarters of a century. So low pressure is the first key. Limited number of guns. Get in. Get out. Give waterfowl more days off than days hunted. Ducks need places where they can exist free from pressure. There is a reason refuges hold large numbers.
It all comes down to actually practicing conservation. We also focus on taking drakes. Biologists state that taking hens within the confines of the regulations has a negligible impact on waterfowl populations. I’m not a biologist, but in my 60 years of doing this, I’ve observed there are an excess number of drakes for every hen, and that one thing is certain — if I take a hen, she’s not producing any more ducks. It takes a little more effort and is easier to do when there is not the pressure to always “limit.” But it’s another way of truly practicing conservation and doing small things to protect the future.