Apparently, the ducks have won. There are, according to the public radio, fewer people hunting them these days – thirty percent fewer, for the statistically obsessed among us. And of those thirty percent fewer doing the hunting, the average age is apparently increasing. If nothing else, that second point is vaguely unsettling. Ever been trapped behind an Oldsmobile with its left blinker on going thirty when the signage indicates sixty is perfectly permissible? Now add a shotgun or a flintlock or a surface to air missile or whatever firearm one uses when hunting ducks, and you’ll understand the exact nature of my concern.
The concern of the DNR relative to the dearth of duck downers is that, and I quote, “Hunters tend to be strong advocates for conservation.” I suppose that’s fair enough. The closest I’ve ever come to duck hunting involves a light gun and the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
As to my attitudes on conservation, here is a subject I feel I can speak on with authority, as I have, in my day, been out of doors once or twice for upwards of twenty minutes at a time. My observations are as follows:
The primary purpose of nature is to either suck your blood and/or make you itch. When at all possible, it will perform both of these tasks simultaneously via any of the almost innumerable members of the mosquito family. However, it is not averse to subcontracting the respective duties to thistles and thorny bushes for the blood sucking and wild parsnip and poison ivy for the itching. This is why, when going outdoors, the first thing one should remember is not to let any of it get on you. Assuming one does not have authority to call in a tactical nuclear strike or a few surplus drums of Agent Orange, I recommend a hazmat suit.
The secondary purpose of nature is to give you the willies. Remember those nature documentaries showing baby deer frolicking or young bunnies hopping innocently through the woods? Those are the sort of scenes you will not witness. Instead, you will blunder face first through a trampoline-sized spider web only to end up eye-to-eyes with a trampoline-sized spider.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you might stumble across any number of snakes, which you will be unable to immediately recall whether are venomous or not. As for adorable members of the mammalian genus, there is only one you have any chance of encountering – its Looney Tune equivalent is Pepé le Pew.
As a tertiary goal, nature will make you as uncomfortable as possible for as long as you are in it. The postal service has long understood this with their whole “neither rain, nor sleet, nor Saturday delivery” pledge. And, at least here in the Midwest, it is entirely possible for there to be rain, sleet, and a daily high that puts the Sahara to shame within the confines of a single day. We also have the occasional reenactment of the first fifteen minutes of The Wizard of Oz. You can click your heels three times. I’ll be in the basement.
I conclude by reiterating that, while less than an avid hunter, I am proficient with all manner of weaponry – most of it Nerf. That there is a dip in the amount of ammunition being expended on waterfowl and an increase in the age of those doing the expending…well…may I point out that Nintendo Wii has a gun module? If you want to blame someone for the lack of hunters, I’d start looking for Mario. As for what we can do on the conservation front, I have a humble suggestion. Pave it. All of it. It’s the only way to be sure we get all of the spiders.