In only her fourth year as a member of the Payson Ducks Unlimited Chapter, Sandy Gunderson is spearheading the effort to make the annual DU Banquet an event members won't soon forget.
"We want it to be the best ever," she said.
Among the reasons for the popularity of the banquet is the extensive list of prizes and raffle and auction items.
Among the prizes this year is a Ruger Mark II Bull Barrel. .22 caliber stainless steel pistol that will be given away at the early bird drawing.
To be eligible to win the firearm, tickets must be purchased by Sept. 8. Single banquet tickets are available from all DU members for $60 which also includes a DU membership. Mixed couple banquet tickets are $90 which includes DU memberships for two.
For the younger set (18-years-and-under), Greenwing banquet tickets are $35.
Also available are sponsor banquet tickets in two categories -- $300 and $500.
The $300 tickets include dinner for two, recognition from the DU national chapter and sponsorship of a firearm or print to be raffled. The sponsor is also entered into a drawing that has as prize a Marlin 17V HMR rifle. One gun is given away for every four sponsors.
Sponsors who contribute $500 receive all of the privileges of the $300 sponsor plus $100 in raffle tickets and a chance to win a Winchester Black Shadow 300 WSM rifle.
New to the DU scene this year are corporate tables.
"Any group of 10 persons may reserve a special table in their name," Gunderson said. "It can include corporations, a small business, family and friends or just 10 of the best hunting buddies."
Each $500 corporate table will include dinner for 10 and special acknowledgement during the dinner.
The $1,000 table will include dinner for 10, ten engraved wine glasses with the DU logo, special acknowledgement and surprise knickknacks. Also, the table receives $200 in raffle tickets and one ticket in the drawing for the Marlin 17V HMR.
The best advice from Gunderson is to reserve tables early. "They will be limited," she said.
The dinner menu will include filet mignon, twice-baked potato, vegetable, Caesar salad and dessert.
The doors open at 4:30 p.m. for a no host cocktail hour. The dinner will be served at 6 p.m. The banquet, raffle and auction will follow.
Ducks Unlimited is a volunteer organization that boasts about 700,000 members in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America.
Gunderson said she joined the organization because "I've always been a hunter and I'm interested in conservation."
A part of DU's mission statement is to "conserve, restore and manage wetland habitats for North American waterfowl."
If those goals are attained, the habitat also will benefit a variety of other species of wildlife, DU officials claim.
Since its founding in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has raised more than $172 billion.
About 83 percent of the money raised goes directly to wetlands and waterfowl conservation.
In all, DU has completed more than 35 projects in Arizona at a cost of about $2,000,000.
For more information about Ducks Unlimited, call Gunderson at 476-2168.