Ducks Unlimited Podcast

Host Chris Jennings is joined by Tim Fehringer, national director of event fundraising for DU, and Lake Pickle, social marketing director for OnX, and the trio discuss the new Ducks Unlimited layer built within the OnX app. Fehringer explains how the relationship between the two companies began and shares what the new layer will offer users. Pickle goes into detail about the benefits of OnX for waterfowl hunters and some of the new features for this year.

What is Ducks Unlimited Podcast?

Ducks Unlimited Podcast is a constant discussion of all things waterfowl; from in-depth hunting tips and tactics, to waterfowl biology, research, science, and habitat updates. The DU Podcast is the go-to resource for waterfowl hunters and conservationists. Ducks Unlimited is the world's leader in wetlands conservation.

Chris Jennings: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Duck Summit podcast. I'm your host, Chris Jennings. Joining me today on the show is Tim Ferringer, the National Director of Event Fundraising for DU. Tim, welcome to the show. Thank you. Also joining us is Lake Pickle from Onyx, and he is their Social Marketing Director. Lake, welcome to the DU podcast.
Lake Pickle: Hey guys, thanks for having me on.

Chris Jennings: So, you know, before we get into a bunch of the details, the first thing I want to do, Lake, is something that we do all the time with just about every new guest that we have. Just kind of share a little bit about yourself, who you are, what you do, what you do for Onyx, and that way our audience can get to know you.

Lake Pickle: Sure. So, born and raised in central Mississippi, like most people that were raised in the Southeast, exposed to the hunting culture pretty early. Went to school at Mississippi State as a wildlife student, forestry, all that fun stuff, and then landed a job at Primos Hunting when I was 21 years old. So, I worked for the better part of a decade, nine years at Primos on the video team. And Primos and Onyx kind of started working pretty closely together. And Onyx offered me a position there. And I've been with Onyx for a little bit over a year and a half now. And it's been a lot of fun. I was a user and a customer of Onyx long before I worked for them. So it's always nice to go to work for someone that you already are familiar with and are a fan of.

Chris Jennings: Awesome. Now, that's cool. Tim, you know, I kind of forgot about this. This is probably your first time on the DDU podcast as well, so do you want to kind of introduce yourself to our audience?

Tim Fehringer: Yeah, thank you. It is. I'm Tim Ferringer, obviously, as you said, and as the National Director of Event Fundraising, I've been in this role about 11 months and recently have moved from Northern Nevada to Memphis to our headquarters. So, It's been a good change for myself and excited to be on this and talk about kind of how this started from just general memberships of OnX to our events to now this cool partnership that we have and are launching within the last six weeks. So yeah, happy to be here and provide some input and talk all things good about the new layer and our partnership.

Chris Jennings: Awesome. Well, we'll get into it now. And Tim, I'll kind of let you go ahead and kick it off with introducing the partnership between Ducks Unlimited and Onyx. And then, like, kind of as we go along, you know, we'll really get into the details and have some questions about how waterfowl hunters are using this product. And Tim, also, you know, how beneficial this will be for Ducks Unlimited and Onyx as a group together, which is pretty cool. So, Tim, go ahead and kick it off.

Tim Fehringer: For 10 years, probably maybe a little less than 10 years, Onyx and Ducks Unlimited in the event system have had just a general appreciation for each other and Some of these area chairs and regional directors would reach out and Onyx was always super good about sending over memberships to give away at the events and be involved in it in some way. And a few years ago, I was up at a New Year's Eve party in Bozeman and chatting with friends who were obviously in the Onyx world and they said, you know, potentially we should look at an official partnership or official kind of a place to co-brand or help one another. And from that, kind of its genesis became of looking at a Ducks Unlimited layer to Onyx and then figuring out kind of how our GIS team and Nick Smith who kind of heads that role could work with Onyx's GIS team to put together what we now have as the layer. So, it was just kind of two giants of the industries coming together and being able to put this application on our end for our users and our volunteers and our attendees and just hunters and fishers and outdoors people in general to understand, you know, the scope and the effect that our conservation has over the entire landscape, especially in North America. So, it was a cool kind of project for the last couple years. Our conservation team did a great job of working with OnX's team and like I said, The biggest piece was putting all of these public lands projects together and getting that data over to Uh, to them and then have them go ahead and turn it on and now we're here. So I'm excited to get it started. Uh, really, you know, appreciative of, of both our team and, and on X's. So that's what I kind of, that's what I'll start out with.

Chris Jennings: And yeah. Yeah. Like, so, you know, with the new Ducks Unlimited layer, I kind of let you kind of explain exactly what that layer is and what that means for Onyx to have, you know, the significance of showing, you know, Ducks Unlimited projects throughout the country.

Lake Pickle: Sure. So I'm going to walk through how you would even access the layers if I would like, I mean, I've got my phone in my hand right here. And I mean, if you have the app open, you go to your layers, right? And you scroll down until you see there's a folder in the map layers that say land access layers. And if you scroll down, there's one that says Ducks Unlimited, and you simply just toggle that on. And then you can also click on details, and I'll just read the detail straight off the app. It says, lands where Ducks Unlimited had a role in enhancing, restoring, or protecting part or all of the public property. For more information about Ducks Unlimited, go to But what's cool, so you turn that layer on, and you just see this swath of the DU logo just kind of cover the map. It was cool for me because I'm more of a visual learner type of guy. And so for someone who obviously is familiar with Ducks Unlimited, if you're listening to this podcast, you're familiar with Ducks Unlimited, and you know that DU works on a pretty large scale working on these projects like this. But to see it laid out on the map, all these different areas, and be able to look at those, it's really cool to have a visual understanding of how broad of a brush y'all's work has done. One of the things that Onyx stands on, one of the biggest thing we stand on is creating access and to create access, you have to have habitat. And so highlighting that and y'all's work through the app, it's been really cool. And it's I think a lot of people are going to appreciate it and have a better understanding of what y'all do because of it.

Chris Jennings: No, that's great. And that just kind of points out, you know, when you pull up that layer, it is significant. You know, you see it. It really kind of jumps out because it's showing the Ducks Unlimited logos, where these projects are. But one thing, I had to go dig into my research here to pull up an email from Nick Smith. He kind of brought out a really cool statistic that I wanted to bring up. And I don't know if you've heard this, you probably have, Lake, but if, so if you pull it up, If you're standing anywhere except Alaska, you are 250 miles from a DU project, no matter where you're at, except in Alaska. You're 150 miles from a DU project in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, and Utah also. Those are huge states, so it makes sense. But then, you're within a hundred miles of a DU project in every state except for Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Maine, and Nebraska. So, that's only 11 states. So, anywhere you are in any of those other states, you are within a hundred miles of a Ducks Unlimited project. That is just an awesome visual, but just to hear that, like, man, if you're, if you're, we're sitting right here, we're within a hundred miles of a DU project. Now, granted, we know we are because we're at Ducks Unlimited, and We know there's one right down the road, but I think that's just something for people to know. Tim, is that something that really jumped out to you as well?

Tim Fehringer: Yeah, you know, first of all, those statistics are super fun to listen to and realize the effect that our volunteers and our supporters have on conservation. But from kind of my chair and from the event side, something you hear a lot of is, what have you done in my backyard? What are you doing across the country for wetlands conservation? And this is just a really nice piece to show them. You can tell them, you can send them an email, you can call them, but having it in a location where they can look at it They can scroll in and out from, you know, a micro piece of the United States or they can zoom out and see kind of that broad scope. So, that's, you know, it really helps those visual individuals, and I'm a visual person, to really understand the effects and what we're doing and what, you know, 10 million acres or I don't know the exact number in the United States, but it's significant. And having that ability to see it and really feel it is a super, super nice piece to what we do.

Chris Jennings: Now, have you heard those statistics before, what I just read off?

Lake Pickle: I had not. That's pretty wild. I had not heard those. That was a new one for me. But again, I can believe it after looking at this map and seeing how many of those logos pop up when you turn that layer on.

Chris Jennings: Now also, I'd like to touch on just some, just general on X stuff because, you know, we've kind of discussed the DU layer and I'm sure, hopefully this is news for some people that they, you know, haven't heard about it or haven't checked it out yet and they go do that. Um, but also just, you know, on this show, we really tend to get into some tactics on occasion. I do anyway. Uh, so water fouling tactics stuff, um, which is really my angle for the show. Um, but from your perspective, Lake, and I know. Tim uses Onyx and I know you do. You know, how are waterfowl hunters using Onyx and why is that such a tool for, you know, duck and goose hunters throughout North America?

Lake Pickle: Right. I think, I mean, there's been a lot of reasons, right? I mean, the thing that would kind of our bread and butter, I mean, you got, you know, property boundaries is always huge. One of the things that I like that my mind comes to immediately because it's new for this year, but I think it's going to be a invaluable tool for waterfowl hunters is we now have what's called recent imagery inside the hunt app. And so that's imagery that's updated every two weeks and it also has historical look back. But the significance of that to a waterfowl hunter, especially a year like we've had this year where everything's just so terribly dry, is it's for checking water levels, especially when a river gets outside of its banks. Just a few weeks ago, there's a place in the Mississippi Delta that we're going to get to hunt this year that we had pulled the water off of. I mean, this was back during the summer, but we pulled the water off of moist soil vegetation. And instead of in the past having to Make the hour and a half drive that it was and see how that stuff was coming along I would just get toggle on that recent imagery can see that what was what was a brown bear spot from the water coming off and see that vegetation coming back up so recent imagery is one that I'm super excited about. Another one that I think gets overlooked is optimal wind. And I think when we made optimal wind and what I mean by that is you can drop a waypoint and you can set your optimal wind direction on that waypoint. I think that was more geared towards whitetail hunters, but I know guys, I do it as well. If you're, you know, spots that you hunt you know, year after year, you know, what, when, what winds work best for that spot. And so when you're getting ready for the morning, instead of having to, you know, toggle back and forth between your weather app or what have you, you just hop in the app and see what winds are going to be good for the upcoming day. And those are just, there's several others I could ramble on for hours, but those are just some of my favorites.

Chris Jennings: And Tim, you know, do you have anything that you specifically use Onyx for? I know you're from out West, you know, at least historically, 10, 15 years ago, Onyx was really, really handy for people out West, where now everybody's using it. So, what specifically, what features specifically do you use?

Tim Fehringer: You know, right now, probably with The offline map is clearly my favorite, and just not having any sort of access to cell service or Wi-Fi. The offline, to me, first of all, it helps you prep your hunt. It helps you think ahead instead of just assuming when you land, you get there and you can jump on. So probably more than anything, and all of these tools together, but historically in my use, it's been the offline function, downloading it, and then being able to use it from there. And now, on top of that, kind of one thing that, you know, in kind of your history of OnX is that they've done a really good job of listening to people's needs and adding things every year. Obviously, that comes with member base and money. Um, so just being able to, to add those, those new, those new features are, are super helpful, but you know, one thing for sure is just the offline maps is incredible to use.

Chris Jennings: I could have swore. You're going to say the D layer.

Tim Fehringer: He's walking around at events, hold the D layer up, right? That's the new as we, as we're at the tip of the iceberg. So.

Chris Jennings: So like, you know, Tim kind of touched on it, you kind of touched on a little bit and I mentioned it briefly, but you know, kind of the history of Onyx, you know, can you share some information about, you know, how Onyx got started, you know, what it was, and then now you were already talking about what it has kind of morphed into and some of these newer features, but I know a lot of people like to hear about the history of some of these, you know, companies and especially apps like this.

Lake Pickle: Yeah, so on X was they were started in 2009 and it was made out of necessity. You know, I mean, obviously I wasn't there, but that, you know, it was, I mean, it was made out of, uh, we found it in Montana, you know, big out Western, you know, it was a lot more big swaths of public land and, um, legitimate back country, you know, wild stuff. And it was made out of being able, you know, wanting to satisfy a need of being able to go out confidently in these truly remote areas where there is no cell service, where there is no quick access to a vehicle or a road, and being able to hunt confidently that you could get yourself back there safely. And they started as a chip company. Like, you know, remember the old handheld GPSs that people would carry around? That's how it all started. I should know this, but I don't off the top of my head when they moved to mobile device, iPhones and Android and all that. But it started out CHIP, handheld GPS, strictly in Montana. It was called Montana Maps or something right when it first started. But then they moved into cell phones and apps and went nationwide and it kind of just snowballed after that. I haven't had this conversation, but if I had to bet, I would say when they started this, they didn't plan on it being as big as it was or as useful as of a tool or that it would have as many applications as it does. You know, I mean, I was talking to a guy the other day that runs a I mean, he operates a bulldozer for a living and he uses the app every day just to track where he's cleared roads at. I mean, there's There's a million different uses for it. We learn more of them every day just from how people tell us, but that's kind of a short, very condensed history of the company.

Chris Jennings: Now, that's cool. And, you know, I was going to actually ask that question and see if there's any, you know, if you guys get a lot of feedback on, you know, other uses for Onyx that aren't necessarily related to hunting and fishing, you know, I know that's kind of the, The focus, but you know, there's so many cool tools in there. There's gotta be, uh, you guys probably have tons of stories about that.

Lake Pickle: Oh, yeah. It's going to sound like I'm making this up because it's convenient that we're on a, you know, a DU podcast, but I went to film a friend of mine, there's property right on the Mississippi river, historically good duck hunting, obviously. And they were just kind of mulching some areas, opening it up and trying to create some more, some more green tree reservoir type stuff. And I show up just to try to film some of that habitat work. And the guy who's running the mulcher doesn't know me, doesn't know I work for OnX. And he just pulls out his phone and he shows Brad, who I was with. He's like, this is what I've done so far. And I'm just like, man, this is crazy. I mean, this is getting used in so many different ways, which was cool to see.

Chris Jennings: Yeah, absolutely. Tim, did you have anything else you want to talk about with the actual partnership and what people should look forward to? Maybe what's the next step in the next layer or something like that? I don't know if you can foreshadow any of that, but if you have that information, it'd be awesome.

Tim Fehringer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think, you know, we take pride in just like them. I think we take pride in listening to our supporters, listening to our people from what their needs are. And, you know, you're going to see Onyx inside of the events much more than we have. But the layer itself and kind of the details around that, I think we have just started with kind of the 6,500 polygons that our projects are on. But inside of that, just the details inside of that, the projects going forward, and really focusing and having our GIS team put in just added benefits inside that layer.

Chris Jennings: Lake, did you have anything you wanted to mention to our audience about Onyx or something that, you know, people should definitely know about Onyx?

Lake Pickle: Yeah, man. If you haven't tried it, I would say, I would say give it a try. I would think, hopefully, if they're listening to this, they're familiar with this and use it already. But know that, I mean, we are a brand that cares about our customer. We care about land and access, and we care about creating habitat. And that's why we partnered with organizations like DU.

Chris Jennings: Fantastic. Well, hopefully after this podcast goes out, you'll have 10,000 more downloads. You guys can check the analytics on that. Let us know. Our faithful podcast listeners, uh, we're just going to be down. Most of them probably already have it, like you said, but hopefully you pick up a few more for sure. Guys, I appreciate y'all coming on. This is fantastic. You know, if there's anything else about Onyx that comes out, we'll be sure. Hopefully the podcast will be the first ones to get it out to our audience. We'd love to have you back on like.

Lake Pickle: Yeah, would be happy to come back on. Thanks. And you as well, Tim.

Chris Jennings: Thank you, Chris. All right. I'd like to thank my guests, Tim Ferringer, National Director of Event Fundraising for Ducks Unlimited, and Lake Pickle, Onyx Social Marketing Director, for joining us today and talking about the new partnership between Onyx and Ducks Unlimited. I'd like to thank the producer, Chris Isaac, for putting the show together and getting it out to you. And I'd like to thank you, the listener, for joining us on DU Podcast and supporting wetlands conservation.