Two years prior to the time that Ducks Unlimited (DU) was founded, More Game Birds laid the foundations for conservation of waterfowl by securing what was at the time, the largest and most vast survey of waterfowl ever undertaken. in 1935 More Game Birds funded an aerial survey dubbed The 1935 International Wild Duck Census. The first air-based census of this kind that was conducted in 1935, the International Wild Duck Census helped determine the population of ducks from across the Great Slave Lake in Canada all the way to and including the Upper Midwestern United States. The aerial surveys were supported by ground counts which required 1,500 volunteers and the estimate was that there were around forty millions ducks in Canada and 2.2 million birds in the United States in the spring of 1935. These aerial surveys would eventually be the norm of conservation of waterfowl, and they also showed that any attempt to boost and sustain populations of waterfowl must focus on those in the prairies of central Canada, which is America’s “Duck Factory.”
With this information as a reference point, Ducks Unlimited was incorporated on the 29th of January, 1937 in the United States and Ducks Unlimited Canada was formed in Winnipeg on the 10th of March of the same year. The purpose of the two organizations was to gather funds from waterfowl hunters in order to conduct aerial surveys and restore vital habitat, specifically Ducks Unlimited Indiana in important Canadian area of nesting that were being drains for agriculture. More Game Birds provided the initial funds needed to start the Ducks Unlimited Indiana process and to market Ducks Unlimited in Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada.
in 1938 DU donated $100,000 in funds in 1938 to DU Canada to restore habitat and fund aerial surveys. DU Canada hired Thomas Main Chief of the surface water engineering to the Canadian National Railways and an avid hunter of waterfowl to supervise the work. Expert in Ducks Unlimited Indiana waterfowl Bertram Cartwright of the Natural History Society of Manitoba was appointed as the first DU Canada naturalist the following year.
On the month of April of 1938 Main, Cartwright and other prominent group members of DU Canada, organized the first restoration project of DU Canada in Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba. It was drained in 1916 to make cultivable land, Big Grass Marsh, as with other wetlands that were drained, was not suitable for farming. Farmers who had lost money in farming were pleased to accept the work that was undertaken during the rehabilitation of Big Grass Marsh, and a gate dam for control was constructed to safeguard the nearby farmland Ducks Unlimited Indiana from flooding. The other projects were followed in 1938, and by the time of 1938, and only 8 weeks in the existence of the organization, DU Canada had restored and conserved over 150,000 acres of important nesting habitat. In 1940 it was announced that the More Game Birds of America Foundation that had been instrumental in helping in the creation of Ducks Unlimited, ceased to exist. The entire of More Game Birds assets were handed over to DU.
Hunters from across Canada and across the United States began taking note of the achievements of DU and pledges grew. The three states of Texas, California, and Arkansas hunters poured in many thousands of dollars to the DU’s work and earned headlines in local papers. Gordon MacQuarrie, famed outdoor columnist for the Milwaukee Journal, praised DU’s efforts and helped to raise awareness of the organization in Wisconsin. DU began Ducks Unlimited Indiana to sell “subscriptions” that promised pledges for five years. Likewise, ammunition and shotguns were raffled at events to raise funds. As the money poured to the organization, mission and mission of DU increased. In the 1940s thousands of thousand of extra areas in Canada and the United States and Canada was converted to breeding areas for waterfowl through DU. Louisiana oil baron Alfred C. Glassell, was so impressed with the work of DU that he travelled to Canada to observe the restoration firsthand. After returning in Louisiana, Glassell called a gathering of Shreveport duck hunter. They gave $1,000 to the DU Canada’s efforts, requesting that others take the same action (rumor is that Glassell saw a check of $500 on the plate, then swept it off to the ground and then urged the donor to increase the amount (which he did). Glassell was later the president of DU in 1944 and 1945.