Duck season underway

History of Lee Brown Waterfowl Management Unit

By Shelly Wiebe

Almost an entire square mile that includes 550 acres of marsh and 150 acres of upland, the Lee Brown Waterfowl Management Unit was established in the mid-1970s when Lee donated the land to the Long Point Region Conservation Authority.
Today, managed by the LPRCA, this thriving eco-system helps to enhance and create suitable wetland habitats that cultivate native waterfowl and other marsh species.
Kim Brown, the current Marsh Manager for the LPRCA, has plenty of educational and work experience in the field of Fishing, Game and Wildlife Management but working for the LPRCA in this role and capacity reaches the very root of his childhood.

Above: Guides at Lee Brown Waterfowler Management Unit shown above are Trevor Brown, Kim Brown, Mike Starling, Rob Tully and Bob Dewdney. Guides provide their own dogs to retrieve ducks that are shot by guests. 

“My grandfather, Blake Brown, managed this marsh back when it was a muskrat ranch before the depression hit… my father, Leighton Brown, grew up next door to Lee and became like a son to him, working in the marsh as well.”
Kim tells the Good News that after the Depression, until the mid 1950s the marsh saw the occasional hunter but it was mostly used for raising and releasing ducks which could reach up to 1000 per year. In 1959 the Cottage was built by Lee Brown himself with the intention of hosting hunters during the hunting season.
In the 1970s, Leighton took over from Lee and Kim took over for Leighton in June of 1989. As generations of hunters continue to seek the unique tranquility of Long Point, Kim says that he feels lucky to occupy this residence all year long.
“We have had repeat customers for the past 50 years and in the 30 years that I have managed we have been reserved full each season.”
The beginning of duck season was September 28th this year and the Lee Brown Waterfowl Management Unit has been full of camo clad hunters since opening day. Traveling from all over Canada and the United States, men come for the experience of a guided hunt with knowledgeable locals who are familiar with the area, the sport and the species.
“Most of the men that come, have been coming for decades and each season is a reunion of old friends. We have a 99% repeat customer base, with a waitlist that’s been years in the making,” says Kim. “To keep quality hunting, we don’t let our guests shoot at high birds or big flocks and we keep the hunting pressure limited and controlled.”
A typical day of hunting starts with a 5:30 am wake-up call to ensure the hunters are suited and in the marsh for the start of the legal hunting time (which varies each day throughout the season). Usually staying out until 9 am, they come in for lunch and rest then head back out by 2:30 pm until their 5 pm dinner call.
“We always make sure we rest the marsh for two hours before dusk and our guides never allow hunting within 400 metres of their two sanctuary ponds and rest areas,” says Kim.
Each hunter is only allowed 25 shells per shoot and are able to shoot their limit, which is six ducks per day. The birds are then cleaned by Keith MacDonald, who is known widely by locals for this skill, which he has been doing for the LBWMA for the past 15 years.
While playing host to many of the same guests for decades, Kim says that their appreciation of this area is shown through their collective contribution of $100,000.00 which was used to start a scholarship program that has been running for the past 12 years.
Scholarships are awarded to local watershed students who are graduating from high school and pursuing a degree in an environmental or natural resources field at a post-secondary level. The Leighton and Betty Brown Conservation Scholarship, in memory of Kim’s parents, has been awarded annually since 2007 in honour of the significant contributions they made to waterfowl management over the years.
Kim speaks proudly of his personal history that connects him and his family to this wonderful corner of the world. Having seen the changes through his own eyes and through the stories told by his father and grandfather, Kim is proud to pass that sense of tradition down to his son Trevor, who helps guide during his time off as a Special Constable of the OPP, and to his grandson Wyatt, while only 10, already enjoys spending his time at the marsh.
Waterfowl season will continue until the 15th of December at the Lee Brown Marsh (Jan. 11th officially in Norfolk County) or until the harsh winter freezes the lake but this year’s mild temperatures have hunters hoping for an entire season of successful shooting.