Group honors Luegers’ memory with duck box projectFebruary 16, 2021
By LARRY LAGRANGE
Jasper native Jim Luegers spent more than 40 years in the local wood industry — both in purchasing and later in sales. In his spare time, he became skilled at creating all sorts of wood items. Nesting boxes for wood ducks became one of his specialties. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 77. To mark 10 years since then, his sons, Greg and Steve, thought up a fitting project—creating more duck boxes in his honor.
Steve noted that his dad became interested in hunting and fishing, making friends with Dubois County Sportsmen’s Club members Bob Verkamp and Wes Settle. Jim joined the club as a charter member. The group was first called Dubois County Sportsmen Against Poaching. Jasper High School teachers Settle and Verkamp were the first presidents. Officers serving with Bob were Vice President Al Astrike, Secretary Pat Tretter and Treasurer Jim Luegers. In 1981, the club built 200 wood duck boxes. Luegers along with Norm Fromme oversaw the project. Club members and Conservation Officers Tom Jahn, Steve Woolwine and Tony Sanders hung the boxes on trees along rivers, lakes, and ponds in the county.
“Bob Verkamp introduced Dad to deer hunting, and they became fishing friends, too,” Steve recalled. “Dad was very handy with his tools. If something needed to be built of wood, he could do it. Dad was one of the first treasurers of the Sportsmen’s Club, and that’s how he got involved with various projects the club sponsored. At that time poaching was just out of control. Some guys were really taking advantage by shining lights at night and killing multiple deer. The club donated a lot of money over the years to back conservation officers’ efforts to get control of the problem and offer reward money for providing information to assist their work.”
Sportsmen’s Club member John Toy noted that not only deer were being poached, but cattle as well.
“Guys would pull up in a loading vehicle at night, and in five or 10 minutes, could load 10-15 head.” Money the Sportsmen’s Club put up for public tips about these acts helped discouraged would-be thieves. The Turn in a Poacher concept developed by the club was later adopted by the state.
This year many hours were spent getting materials ready prior to assembly of the latest project. With the help of Sportsmen’s Club members and neighbors, Patoka Lake Wildlife Specialist Brian Finch, and Glendale Property Manager Rob Sullender, 75 boxes were assembled on Jan. 30. The plan is to give 10 to three wildlife areas—Sugar Ridge, Patoka and Glendale. The remaining boxes will be given to club members and other volunteers who helped with this project.
Sullender noted that the Sportsmen’s Club has assisted Glendale with youth hunts for several years during the put-take season. “This is the first time they’ve done a project like this…they are a very active club with a lot of dedicated members. To have…people show up on a weekend to assemble boxes says a lot about the organization. I stopped by the shop during the assembly…a line was set up, everyone was working hard and they were having a good time, lots of camaraderie. Jim’s wife Betty had donated the material…Dave Schwartz from Hoosier Laser in Huntingburg donated the engraving, and the metal posts were also purchased as well as donated. The boxes will be placed on Glendale sometime in early spring. The Division of Fish and Wildlife put a post on their Facebook page about the project.”
According to John Toy, the Facebook post has been noticed by other clubs who are planning their own duck box projects.
Jim’s wife Betty had these comments, “Jim was very talented in working with wood. He enjoyed many hours in his outbuilding making many various projects. He also liked the outdoors—hunting, fishing and golf. Being a member of the Dubois County Sportsmen’s club was very important to him. By making duck boxes, he felt he was doing something worthwhile for wildlife.”
A Ducks Unlimited website noted the first use of man-made boxes for “woodies” happened in 1937, when 486 boxes were constructed by what is now the US Fish and Wildlife Service at a refuge in Illinois. Around half of those were actually utilized by nesting hens, a successful ratio. Since then, thousands of boxes have been constructed by individuals and groups. Wood duck females usually build nests in tree cavities near wetlands. In some areas ducks have trouble finding suitable nest sites. Boxes provide a man-made alternative in which hens can nest in safety from predators.
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