Hunting > Upland & Waterfowl

Conservation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

To step foot on the banks of Maryland’s Eastern Shore is to sense its rich waterfowl hunting tradition.

Waterfowl hunting tradition runs deep on the banks of Maryland's Eastern Shore. It's a place where an entire breed of retrievers was developed; where the eldest baymen still talk of days when whistling wings blotted out the morning sun; where commercial hunting gave way to more conservation-minded sportsmen. To step foot in this unique part of the world is to sense its rich history. And few value their heritage or give back more to the community than the members of the Grand National Waterfowl Association (GNWA), which last fall celebrated its 25th anniversary.

GNWA's ranks include people like John William Tieder III, whose father helped establish the association and developed an aggressive habitat-management program.

"Our emphasis has always been on habitat creation," Tieder said. "We love our land and want to see the tradition of hunting carried on for our children." GNWA now offers habitat consultations for 37,000 acres in Dorchester County, Md., and its concepts have been used on properties in Kansas, the Carolinas, Virginia, Arkansas and several foreign countries.

GNWA was founded to promote habitat management and biological research and to preserve the outdoor way of life. In order to facilitate those goals, it established the Grand National Educational Trust, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarship money to Dorchester County students planning to pursue undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences. The trust also funds graduate studies involving wildlife research. "Our membership shares the common goal of promoting our community, conserving resources and encouraging the education of our young people to perpetuate those goals," GNWA President Ray Beck said.

The organization's marquee event is the Grand National Waterfowl Hunt, a three-day affair held each November. It's a fun little competition in which participants get five shells each to prove their muster. Points are awarded for each duck and are deducted for each miss-a double earns bonus points. Contestants include everyday men and women, as well as better-known hunters such as Richard Hammett, President of the Winchester Division of Olin Corp., NRA President John C. Sigler and U.S. Olympic Shooting Team members Todd Graves and Shawn C. Dulohery. Meetings and dinners held in conjunction with the hunt afford the GNWA the chance to review the successes of its conservation and scholarship programs, to renew ties and to plan for the future. The hunt's entry fees, and fundraisers such as live and silent auctions, go far toward ensuring the following year's conservation and community service efforts.

At the hunt's conclusion, a champion is crowned, though no one really attends just to win a game. They're in it for the hunt's real benefactors-Eastern Shore wildlife, aspiring biologists and the future of hunting.


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