Jim Burge loves football and duck hunting. In the fall, and when time allows, the University of MO (MU) senior defensive lineman (#91) can often be found at one of his favorite spots in the Columbia area, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. Since January, Burge has been interning at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Columbia regional office. A Parks, Recreation and Tourism major, Burge spent the 2012 spring semester learning about MDC. As part of his semester internship, Burge had a project requirement to fulfill. While enjoying an afternoon at Eagle Bluffs, it occurred to Burge it would be nice to have a duck blind for any hunter to use.
“I came up with the idea to construct a duck blind for my semester internship project,” Burge said. “I not only wanted to give back to the Conservation Department, but I want to enhance the duck hunting experience for other local duck hunters at Eagle Bluffs.” Burge spoke with Eagle Bluffs Wildlife Biologist Vic Bogosian III about raising funds and building a duck blind in the area. Bogosian agreed a new duck blind would be a welcomed addition to Eagle Bluffs’ hunting program and expand the hunting opportunities in the area. Currently there are two ADA-accessible duck blinds available at Eagle Bluffs.
To raise the necessary funds to construct a new duck blind, Burge held an online auction on eBay to auction off three autographed official Missouri football game jerseys and three autographed footballs from the University of Missouri football team. He raised $879. All proceeds were donated to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and were dedicated to this specific project.
“I think Jim’s project is a good example of how invested our local community is in Eagle Bluffs, and not just duck hunters,” Bogosian said. “Here we have a young man who is taking the initiative on his own to solicit funds for our waterfowl program at Eagle Bluffs.” Burge grew up duck hunting near his hometown of Houston, Texas. Upon arriving in Columbia, he was hoping to fit in some duck hunting between football practice and school. “I don’t have a lot of spare time, especially during football season,” Burge said. “But, when I can find the time, I like to get to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area as much as possible.” Hunting was something new for Burge. “I grew up hunting private lands in Texas,” he said. “I had never even thought about hunting on public lands till I came to MU. Since I’m not from around here, I wasn’t sure where I should go. Then, I was told about Eagle Bluffs. I was blown away by all the public hunting opportunity MDC provides, and Eagle Bluffs has definitely become my favorite.”
Burge says his semester with MDC has motivated him to work in conservation upon graduation in December 2012. “I would ultimately love to go back to Texas and work with Texas Parks and Wildlife, or working for MDC would be pretty cool too,” said Burge.