Each and every fall since the 1970s, the Texoma Chapter of Ducks Unlimited hosts the group's annual big fundraiser, a loud and happy event out at North Texas Regional Airport in Denison.

A regular autumn fixture on the Texomaland calendar for more than 40-years now, that annual DU fundraiser draws in a few hundred quacker backers eager to support the ducks.

There's a lot of Texas barbecue, plenty of sporting firearms and hunting equipment, a number of hunting and fishing trips, and a slew of Ducks Unlimited collectibles, artwork, and decorative items, all given out through the night's live and silent auction, numerous raffles, and some special drawings.

One of the biggest DU fundraisers across the Lone Star State most years, the October event is Texas-sized big, raising upwards of $75,000 dollars or more each year.

It's a fun event to attend — especially if you like Texas' famed smoked brisket — but sometimes, it's kind of nice to have a simpler, quieter affair where the night's aim is to enjoy some good food and company, raise some wildlife conservation money, and support the ducks.

And that's exactly where next week's mid-February Texoma DU Couples Dinner comes in.

If I'm truthful, the annual wintertime gathering is one of my favorites each year although last year was an exception since my friend and longtime local waterfowl guide J.J. Kent passed away on the same night. Rest in peace, J.J. - we sure missed you this duck season.

With the 2018 version of the Texoma DU Couples event slated to take place on Friday, Feb. 16 at the Sherman Municipal Building Ballroom (across from Bearcat Stadium), the event has long been popular despite the occasional threat of winter weather.

If Old Man Winter has the air conditioner turned on full blast late next week, never fear because the annual Grayson County DU event is returning to a catered Cajun meal format by way of the folks at Savoie's of Shreveport.

As a former resident of southern Louisiana, that's fine by me — and plenty of others here in Texomaland — since a menu including fried chicken fingers, fried shrimp, crawfish etoufee, and more serves as a good dose of late wintertime comfort food.

According to my friend and longtime DU worker Jim Lillis of Sherman, this year's DU Couples event will not only sport a menu of Cajun food once again, but it will also continue to provide a modest yet high quality selection of banquet merchandise to be offered in live and silent auctions, raffles, and special games.

Such merchandise will include 13 sporting firearms to be raffled and auctioned off, plenty of collectible DU artwork and merchandise, an assortment of decorative and home items, and even a number of prize packages designed for the ladies in attendance at the 2018 event.

In short, you'll consume plenty of good hot food and beverages, gaze upon a lot of great auction and raffle prizes, and even have a chance to win some door prizes, all for a ticket price that is among the area's most reasonable fees for admittance to a conservation fundraising event.

According to Lillis, advance ticket prices this year are $45 for singles and $50 per couple. Please note that while tickets will be available at the door next Friday night, those ticket prices will increase there by $10.

“Your ticket includes dinner, beverages for the evening, the opportunity to participate in the live and silent auctions, and the chance to get in on several special drawings that will feature some great prizes,” said Lillis. “Your ticket also includes a one-year membership to Ducks Unlimited and a subscription to DU's superb magazine.”

Interested in a night of piping hot Cajun food and some conservation fundraising for the ducks? If so, Lillis said that tickets can be purchased at Risk Shoe Repair in downtown Sherman or from Dr. Mark Smith's dental office in Sherman. Tickets are also available online at DU's event website address of www.ducks.org/Texas/events .

For additional information on next week's Texoma DU Couples event, contact local 2018 chairman Kris Spiegel at 903-820-8882 or 2017 chairman Eric Kloppers at 903-815-2229.

As an FYI, if you're busy next Friday night — or if you prefer Texas barbecue to Cajun food — then don't forget that the following evening on Saturday, Feb. 17, the Red River Valley Ducks Unlimited Chapter will be hosting its 2018 fundraiser over in Gainesville.

That barbecue brisket dinner will be held once again at the Gainesville Civic Center with doors opening up at 6 p.m.

For information on that Cooke County banquet, contact either Phil Bellows at 940-736-3885 or Jared Groce at 940-390-0081.

Finally, to find out more about Ducks Unlimited and its 86-year long history of conserving and restoring wetlands and the waterfowl habitat that such wet spots and surrounding uplands support, please visit the DU website at www.ducks.org .