The beauty of blogs is that the blogger gets to set the rules. There are no moderators, no list “owners” piping in to squelch a perfectly worthy and lucid elucidation. No wonder blogging is so popular.
The discussion of hunting is verboten on the Virginia birding listserv--just too darn controversial--even though every couple of years or so someone new to the list gets in a few licks before being clobbered by the moderator. So, I plan to express an uncensored view on this barbaric activity.
I drove the George Washington Parkway again today, hoping to have close views of the ducks that have been concentrated together in the Potomac River in the little open water amidst the ice, often near the shore. In just two days, with temperatures as high as 55, the river again has become all liquid, beautiful and blue. Alas, the ducks were widely scattered and distant.
At Riverside Park, hunters were distant too, across the river in Maryland, shooting from a blind off shore. In front of the blind, they had their cute little decoys assembled, with fake wings spinning. A couple of guys in smart camo attire were walking the shoreline. With my spotting scope I could see one of them using a duck whistle, while the other carried a gun. I certainly recognized them as human machomen, not a walking forest, but they were counting on the fooling the ducks.
They were having a good day, I gather, judging from the many gun blasts and some splashing in the water. I wonder how they retrieved their prey, since no dogs or boats were apparent. I also wonder about those hunters on foot when hunting is legal only from duck blinds. I plan to spend more time watching next time and have the Maryland Department of Natural Resources police phone number in my cell phone. 410-260-8888
How many more generations will pass before ducks will realize that the only humans to fear are those wearing camo. The rest of us enjoy watching ducks, identifying ducks, photographing ducks. Some who really shouldn’t, feed them, and some just plain ignore them. We’re all harmless. But ducks need to be on guard only for those walking forests, machomen in camo. I hope and trust they will learn that in time.
John Burroughs, writing in Wild Life about my Cabin, had it exactly right. In the end, he said, the hunter will have “only a dead duck” whereas the rest of us will have “a live duck with whistling wings, cleaving the air northward.”