Milton Cooper — a man to be reckoned with. At age 91, Cooper admits he doesn’t go out in the duck blind anymore. But until just a few years ago, he was still out there, shotgun cocked, listening, waiting.
He said he’d started hunting ducks and geese at age 10, so that’s more than 75 years on the marsh. Cooper’s had his highlights — he was Delaware’s state-champion goose-caller for five years running (1970-1974), with a Maryland state championship thrown in to boot (1973).
It’s become something of a family tradition, his wife Ruth pointed out — and their son Jack notched a state championship himself, for duck-calling. Their grandsons, Greg, Chad and Guy, are coming along as hunters, too, she added.
But it will most likely take them a few years to outwit waterfowl like their grandfather. Especially since he never used any wooden reed to call them in — just his natural voice.
Cooper added another glory day on Nov. 20, when part of the Ducks Unlimited (DU) leadership honored him at the Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge (north of Lewes).
Cooper, the original founder of DU’s Rehoboth Beach chapter (since 1970) joined the national organization more than 50 years ago. The chapter has become one of the top-five producers when it comes to donations to DU, Cooper noted. (DU uses member contributions to support wetlands conservation and habitat restoration.)
For his long-timer support and loyalty, Cooper was recognized atop a plaque at Prime Hook (along with 10 or so $10,000 donors).
“It felt pretty good,” he said, a note of happiness in his voice. “It was a really nice ceremony.”
There was a luncheon afterwards, and even a cake with his name on it, Cooper said. And the party just keeps going, as the Rehoboth Beach chapter prepares to meet for its 35th annual dinner next weekend — another opportunity, if he attends, to send a little praise his way.