Mike Eddy, of Moline, started a stellar career in waterfowling as an early teenager.
“We walked drainage ditches in the Barstow area jump shooting ducks,” he reminisced. That style of duck hunting continued until early in his working career. “Along with some co-workers, I started duck hunting in the Mississippi River; that was in the mid '70s.”
Whether he had realized it or not, that was a defining time in his waterfowling life. Eddy was then hunting out of a blind where decoys and mouth calls were used to lure ducks and geese into shooting range. Most importantly, the better a caller can imitate a duck or goose, the more opportunities to fill the freezer.
“My interested in duck-calling increased tremendously when a local guy, Dan Sprague, of Buffalo, won the World Duck Calling Championship,” he said. “That's a very prestigious event and very difficult title to attain — world champion. I started paying attention to calling contests, not as a caller but how they are run.”
Over time, Eddy had become a regional rep for the then Illinois Duck and Goose Hunters Alliance, now called Illinois Waterfowlers Alliance, an organization that conducts waterfowling calling contests . It conducts “sanctioned” contests where winners of localized events earn the right to compete in world contests in Stuttgart.
Eddy then started managing a regional duck and goose calling event — there were two others in the area at the time — and over not too many years became very ingrained in managing the competitions. The event has been held in several locations in the Quad Cities as well as in Peoria, where it continues to be held annually.
Because of his many years of pro-bono calling contest management efforts and reputation, Eddy was selected in 2001 to be a judge at the World Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart, a very prestigious honor afforded to few.
Over the years of running calling contests, Eddy developed computer software that is in demand and used by many others in keeping track of scores during contests. He has been recruited to do scoring at many prestigious events; including a new event this year at the Bass Pro Shop in Memphis, where the winner will receive a record high purse of $20,000 and a 4-wheeler.
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Eddy still enjoys and is an avid duck and goose hunter; but this year brings a huge change from the last 20 years.
“We didn't get the same spot we've had since 1995 in the Illinois DNR duck-blind drawing this year,” he said. “The guy who was drawn first took it, so we were forced to take another location. It'll be a whole new ballgame for our group of six guys who hunt together.
“We've been hunting a pothole pond that sits away from the river in the Milan Bottoms and this year we'll be out in the river. That'll be a new experience for us, but we'll still be hunting. We've got a boat blind about ready to go.“
Asked of his expectation for the upcoming season, that opens on Oct. 17h, Eddy was not much enthusiastic.
“The last few years have been terrible for duck hunting around here. The ducks use the Illinois and Missouri rivers much more that the Mississippi to migrate south and they fly over land a lot; so our hunting hasn't been very good.” he said. “But maybe this year will be better.”
Lost Grove Lake dedication today: A project first undertaken in the very early 1980s and cost about $12 million, Lost Grove Lake in Scott County will be dedicated formally today. The ceremony will start at 1 p.m. at the main boat launch near the dam at 24800 240th Ave. The 300-acre lake is situated on a 1,500-acre wildlife management area. A guided bus tour of the facility will take place after brief presentations by DNR officials.
Sportsmen Against Hunger: Illinois deer hunters can donate (entire) field dressed deer to the annual SAH program. While the Illinois Conservation Foundation can cover the cost of processing, hunters are encouraged to donate the $50 processing fee. Locally Deer Processing Coal Valley 309-799-5994 and Woodhull Locker 309-334-2235 are participating. All meat is ground and provided to food banks and pantries.