Whitetails Unlimited Funds 17.6 Million in Projects for Local Home State Chapters

Whitetails Unlimited Funds 17.6 Million in Projects for Local Home State Chapters
Whitetails Unlimited Funds a wide variety of Projects in the Central Whitetail States of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Northeast Wisconsin WTU Chapter Annual Youth Pheasant Hunt
The Northeast Wisconsin WTU Chapter held their annual Youth Pheasant Hunt last November for hunter safety graduates from the Coleman, Gillett, Lena, Oconto, and Oconto Falls areas. The youngsters shot clay pigeons and archery before they hunted pheasants with local hunters and their dogs.
Whitetails Unlimited
Whitetails Unlimited

Ohio –-(Ammoland.com)-Funding from Whitetails Unlimited chapters has provided more than $17.6 million for local projects in the Central Whitetail states of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin; and despite the economic downturn, attendance at WTU events remains strong.

“After looking at our numbers at the end of FY 2010, we find that over the years WTU has been able to fund projects totaling $17,681,729 in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” said Whitetails Unlimited Executive Director Pete Gerl.

“Our membership remains strong in this central area of Midwest deer hunting, and we expect to continue funding projects in the same manner as in the past.”

Whitetails Unlimited conducts fundraising events to raise resources for conservation, education, and the preservation of the hunting tradition. Unique among conservation organizations, WTU returns 50 percent of net event proceeds back to local chapters, to use on local projects.

“WTU’s local chapters in Wisconsin have funded hunter safety classes, youth outdoor education events, habitat acquisition and improvement projects, handicapped and wounded warrior hunts, range improvements, scholarships, and many, many other projects,” said WTU Field Director Jamie Merckx. Wisconsin has three full-time field directors, and they all work closely with their local chapters, according to Wisconsin Field Director Jim Wiltinger.

“Each chapter has different interests and local needs, and our job is to facilitate the banquet in order to raise as much money for projects as possible.”

LeRoy Schultz, WTU field director in northern Wisconsin, said, “We’ve been able to improve habitat and do many varied local projects, and it’s just great seeing what a difference it can make in a community. It’s humbling to see that we’ve raised more than $10 million over the years in Wisconsin.”

The total for Wisconsin is $10,693,142.

Michigan has a similar history; the first WTU banquet was held in 1985, and $15,818 was raised statewide that year. Since then, $5,161,196 has been raised by Michigan chapters for local projects.

Michigan Field Director Jim Kurdziel also sees many of the same type of projects financed by his chapters as in Wisconsin. “Hunter education is big, and many chapters have, or will, provide financing to local schools so they can participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program.” Jason Maraskine, WTU’s second Michigan field director, agrees.

“Our chapters are very involved with projects that bring other people outdoors: range improvements, education projects, youth camps, and NASP are just a few examples.”

In Illinois, WTU Field Director Darel Martin covers the entire state, where $1,827,391 has been raised for local projects since 1984.

“Illinois has had an amazing string of fundraising success, starting with just three thousand dollars in 1984, but growing to almost a quarter-million dollars last year,” said Martin. The exact amounts are $3,123 in 1984, and $245,584 in 2010. “I’m really proud to represent Whitetails Unlimited in Illinois, and I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true, together we can accomplish great things.”

“Local Illinois chapters help support the Illinois DNR, 4-H Shooting Sports, Boy Scouts, youth education days, hunter education, range and habitat improvement, and many, many other projects, including NASP,” said Martin. “Local banquets are a way for just a few people to do a little extra work, and have a huge impact in their local area. It’s gratifying to look at the cumulative numbers, because when you’re working day-to-day you don’t realize how much it adds up.”

The field directors in all three states said that groups who have local projects in need of funding should call them to discuss the possibility of hosting a WTU event. “We’re always looking for people who have projects in mind to improve conservation efforts in their community, “With a good idea and a few people willing to help out, we can accomplish great things,” said Wisconsin’s Jamie Merckx. Illinois’ Darel Martin agreed, noting, “Once we get a banquet going, almost every one repeats the next year, and that establishes an avenue for funds year after year.”

Michigan Field Director Jim Kurdziel said that an excellent tool for expanding the number of events he organizes is an existing event. “People bring a friend to their local banquet and then they can understand not only how much fun everyone has, but also how much money can be returned for local projects. Then they call to organize a banquet for their own local group.”

Anyone wanting more information about a WTU event can visit the Whitetails Unlimited website at www.whitetailsunlimited.com, or call the WTU national headquarters at 920-743-6777. LeRoy Schultz (Wisconsin) can be reached at 715-762-4340; Jamie Merckx (Wisconsin) can be reached at 920-687-1099; Jim Wiltinger (Wisconsin) can be reached at 608-689-2234; Jim Kurdziel (Michigan) can be reached at 231-894-1515; Jason Maraskine (Michigan) can be reached at 989-486-1961; and Darel Martin (Illinois) can be reached at 309-389-4988.

Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national nonprofit conservation organization. Our mission is to raise funds in support of education, habitat enhancement and acquisition, and the preservation of the hunting tradition for the benefit of the white-tailed deer and other wildlife. When it comes to the whitetail and its environment, WTU’s degree of professionalism and dedication has earned us the reputation of being the nation’s premier whitetail organization. Visit: www.whitetailsunlimited.com