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By: CJ Rena Johnson

Ducks Unlimited

2nd Annual Western York County Ducks Unlimited ATV Poker Run
Wetland Conservation at its Finest

Open Fields to Really Open It Up
Open Fields to Really Open It Up

What do Ducks Unlimited and an ATV Poker Run have in common?
ATV Poker Runs, most often held as a way to raise funds for worthy causes, definitely held true in this case because in our view, wetland conservation is definitely a very worthy cause. That is what Ducks Unlimited is all about: waterfowl and wetland conservation.

Is Ducks Unlimited just about hunting?
Ducks Unlimited, started back in 1937 as a means to deal with an unprecedented low population of waterfowl, got its start with just a few sportsmen. This was during the “Dust Bowl,” when North America was plagued with a drought so severe it was affecting the continent’s waterfowl, among other things, almost beyond repair. Ducks Unlimited had one mission in mind when it started. That mission was habitat conservation.

Ducks Unlimited, started by a few sportsmen, is now the largest private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization in the world.

Wetland Conservation

Wetland conservation benefits not only the waterfowl, but also helps the overall health of our environment, purifying water supplies, reducing soil erosion, preventing floods, preserving ecosystems and providing critical habitat to more than 900 wildlife species.

Work Still To Be Done

The United States loses more than 80,000 acres of wetlands each year. As a result, it has already lost more than half of its original wetland areas. We all need organizations like Ducks Unlimited to help us reverse this trend. Their willingness to step outside the box and work with other groups, such as the off-road recreational vehicle communities, gives even more hope to this cause.

Oil Spill Rehabilitation

Ducks Unlimited, including the Western York County chapter, have offered their services to help with the rehabilitation of any animals, especially waterfowl that need it due to the recent oil spill in the gulf. They always make themselves available during times of need to help in any way they can.

Off-roaders and Tree huggers all wrapped up in one ... who would have thought it?
Off-roaders and Tree huggers all wrapped up in one ... who would have thought it?

Conservationists and Recreational Vehicle Enthusiasts working Together

Although often, on opposite sides of the battle, I always knew if these two groups could find a way to work together, amazing things could be accomplished.

These two great communities each do a tremendous amount of work to help preserve our national, federal and state forests, as well as our parks and recreational areas. I know firsthand since I am a very active member of both groups. I believe we can all work together to have peace and to promote a cleaner, better earth for us all to share.
As the largest wetland conservationist group in the world, Ducks Unlimited has found a way to work together with the largest group of off-road enthusiasts in a very productive way.

Western York County Ducks Unlimited

The Western York County chapter of Ducks Unlimited (WYCDU) is taking that stance as well.

The WYCDU is a leading chapter in the upstate of SC. They take the initiative to go the extra mile to do all they can to raise funds and awareness for waterfowl and wetland conservation on all levels. The creativity and passion among the WYCDU members is evident at every event and in all they do. The Western York County Ducks Unlimited ATV Poker Run was no different.

Station to Pick Up Poker Cards
Station to Pick Up Poker Cards

Wooded Trails at Ducks Unlimited ATV Poker Run
Wooded Trails at Ducks Unlimited ATV Poker Run

The Poker Run Event

The 2010 WYCDU ATV Poker Run began on Saturday morning, August 14 at 10 a.m. at the Wood Duck Club in York, SC.

Upon arriving, the first thing we noticed was the adequate parking. There was a large field with parking on both sides. The staff on hand told us to go ahead and park so we could ride our off-road vehicle down to the registration area. We found the perfect spot and parked out. As we started down the road on our Polaris RZR, we saw another large field on each side of the road that was obviously set up for camping.

The registration booth was well equipped and fully staffed so it was easy to register for the ride or to purchase poker hands and T-shirts that were available. We signed in and started out on the trail to have some fun and to learn all we could about this great cause as well as to get some great shots.

The first place we went was to the mud bog down at Station 2. A huge variety of enthusiasts were waiting their turn to show what they and their vehicle could do, or not do, as the case might have been. We saw side-x-sides and ATVs both try their luck at getting across. This was no simple mud hole. This bog took a lot of skill, not to mention a fair portion of luck, to get through. I saw a few people get through it but even more who crashed and burned. After the crowd dwindled a bit there, we continued around the 12 miles of trails. There was everything from open roadways and fields where you could really open it up, to creek crossings and hill climbs and some rougher terrain to test your skills.

The event this year was a lot more successful than it was the first year. The trail system and bogs were more of a challenge and the entertainment was better, even with the rain on Saturday night. The food from Courtney’s BBQ of Clover, SC was great, especially the BBQ and French-fries. The poker run winners got some awesome prizes, including a Stoeger Condor Over/Under 12 ga. Shotgun, a Marlin .22 Cal. Rifle, a YETI Ducks Unlimited cooler and 4-piece hunting bag set. The best poker hand holder got first choice of the prizes, followed by 2nd place and 3rd places getting their pick in order and 4th place got the remaining item. Had there been a tie on any of the hands, they would have settled it with the draw of a high card.

There was also an additional 52 raffle tickets sold for $20 each for a chance to win a Mossberg .270 cal. rifle with a scope and hard case. They also gave away other door prizes throughout the weekend.

After all the riding was done on Saturday, there was an after party with live entertainment and a corn hole tournament, at least until the rain started. Swimming and fishing was also available on site.

Riders could pay $10 just to come and ride. However, the recommended package for the event was $50, which included the driver entry fee, a t-shirt, a Ducks Unlimited membership and one poker hand. You could also purchase additional poker hands for $10 each. Camping was also available at $15 per tent/camper for Friday and Saturday nights.

Draining out the water or practicing for the afterparty dancing later?
Draining out the water or practicing for the afterparty dancing later?

Q & A with WYCDU Representative Adam Shumate

I had the great pleasure to interview the event organizer Adam Shumate. He was very informative and obviously loves what he does for Ducks Unlimited. You can tell by listening to him that he feels very strongly about this cause.

CJ: How many people attended the event?
Adam: 250 people attended.

CJ: During this event, how much money did WYCDU raise?
We raised close to $8,000 for Ducks Unlimited

CJ:  What was the winning hand for the Poker Run?
  Four Jacks!

CJ:  What was the highlight of the event?
  The highlight of the event was definitely that the community once again came out to support our mission of wetland and waterfowl conservation. We had a safe day of fun with a lot of new people that got to experience what Ducks Unlimited and more specifically, what Western York County Ducks Unlimited is all about!

CJ:  Are your plans for another one just like it next year?
Adam: Absolutely! We plan to do an ATV Poker Run next year…..just larger!

CJ: What would you like to see more of next year?
Adam: I would love to see more children. We had quite a few this year. Our event is a great way for families to experience a day of safe ATV riding and also teach the children the importance of conservation.

CJ:  Do you plan to do something different next year?
Adam:  I would love to work in a nighttime mud bog and race. This would be a focal point to the evening.

CJ: Anything you would like to add about the event or about the other work DU does or the misconceptions about what Ducks Unlimited is?
Adam: Many believe that Ducks Unlimited is a hunting club or clothing brand. It is true; many do. We are not either. We are the world’s largest wetland conservation group. Eighty cents of every dollar raised goes directly towards conservation. The other 20% is for administration costs and advertising for events. We are efficient and direct in our approach. We want to preserve what God gave us for our children and theirs. Our chapter in York, SC holds many different types of events every year. We have a dedicated group of volunteers that work hard for our cause. We are in the schools teaching about the importance of respectable hunting and the importance of what we have.

CJ: Were the 52 tickets for the Mossberg all sold and who won that prize?
Adam: The raffle tickets sold quickly! Patrick Wiley of York, SC won!

Polaris RZR fans at Ducks Unlimited Event
Polaris RZR fans at Ducks Unlimited Event

CJ: What were some of the other door prizes given away?
Adam: Jamie Smith of York and a volunteer of our chapter constructed a set of corn hole boards. They were beautiful and truly one of a kind. They were camouflage with a Ducks Unlimited theme. We quickly sold those tickets and a lucky guy took them home that night. We gave away a YETI Ducks Unlimited cooler, Marlin .22 rifle, Stoeger Over/Under 12ga. Shotgun, Ducks Unlimited hunting and travel bag set, and many t-shirts and hats!

3rd Annual WYCDU ATV Poker Run 2011

We definitely plan to be there again next year. We look forward to working more with Ducks Unlimited between now and then to help promote peace between the two groups and to work together to have a better, healthier world to live in for all of us, from waterfowl to humans.

More Information

For more information about the Poker Run or the Western York County Ducks Unlimited, you can call 803-487-4924 or email them at You can snail mail them at WYCDU P.O. Box 87, York, S.C. 29745. You can also check out their website at The main website for Ducks Unlimited is

More pictures are available online at Ducks Unlimited ATV Poker Run . If you were there and didn’t get a T-shirt, there are still some available and can be purchased by calling (803) 487-4924 or by stopping by Dunlap-Johnson Chevrolet in York, SC and asking for Joe.

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