The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Ducks Unlimited of Nebraska launched the state’s first Duck Slam in 2019. This challenged hunters to spend more time afield by harvesting four birds — an American wigeon, mallard, northern pintail and a teal – in Nebraska during the 2019-2020 season.

In its first year, the Duck Slam drew 370 hunters from Nebraska and eight other states, including 11 youth and 11 women. Of the 139 hunters who completed the Slam, seven were from states outside Nebraska.

Everyone who completed the Duck Slam received a pin and a certificate, and were entered into prize drawings for outdoor gear, hats, a print, and a grand prize — a Benelli Super Black Eagle III Ducks Unlimited Edition shotgun. Monty Mathews of Omaha was drawn as the grand prize winner at the Ducks Unlimited state banquet Feb. 22 in Lincoln.

When Mathews entered the Duck Slam, he thought the prospect of earning a logo pin for completing the challenge was “kind of cool.”

Mathews hunted with friends near Tekamah and in the area of Fremont, Valley and Colon. “It was kind of a competition among the other guys I hunt with,” he said.

One duck species gave him a little trouble. “I was worried about getting a pintail,” Mathews said. “We’d seen them, but they were hard to decoy. They’d come in waves and then be gone.”

Mathews, a native of St. Paul, Nebraska, calls himself a “lifelong outdoorsman.” Besides being an angler and camper, he has been a hunter “since Dad started taking me when I was 7 or 8 years old. I was one of those kids who got a BB gun. Dad would take me out and shoot rabbits. When I was big enough to shoot a shotgun, we’d shoot pheasants.”

He never thought he’d also win the grand prize. “This is such a surprise,” the 61-year-old Omahan said. “I thank Ducks Unlimited for such a nice prize.”

Challenges such as the Duck Slam and Upland Slam are great for the state, Mathews said. They provide incentives for hunters to go afield and bring someone along to share the experience.

Mathews learned about the Duck Slam in Nebraskaland Magazine, then went to Game and Parks’ website to enter. He had previous experience with Slams, completing the 2018-2019 Nebraska Upland Slam. He went for another Upland Slam last fall but came up short by a sharp-tailed grouse. “I’ll keep trying for these Slams,” he said.

Jeramy Sedlacek of Ord won the Ducks Unlimited print of the year, and more than 20 additional winners received prize packages from Ducks Unlimited. Congratulations to everyone who completed the 2019-2020 Duck Slam. For more information, go to OutdoorNebraska.org.