Ducks & Geese
When we enter the swamps and lakes that we hunt, what do we feel about the space we occupy? Is there a reverence for the area, or do we just “use” it to get what we want out of it? Most of us spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about how to become better hunters – we seek out the most advanced decoys, guns and boats. We put enormous energy into grassing our boats, practicing our calling, building our blinds and perfecting our strategies for high and low water. It would seem that these things that mean so much to us would garner considerable respect since we seem to love them so much. We profess that we respect and admire all that is wild and beautiful, yet some of us still behave like children, who when they don’t get that spot that they want, act in an immature and jealous manner. Here is what I mean. My partners and I have built and maintained a blind in a legal manner for the past 8 years. It takes us approximately 30 hours of hard work to build it. We enjoy the work and value the challenge. We have planted wild rice in the spot and always welcomed others to use the blind when we are not there. It holds plenty of ducks and has been a very productive location for us. Some of you may know that I run a mentoring program (http://www.traditionsoutdoormentoring.org/) for at-risk young men in an attempt to teach them the previously mentioned respect and appreciation for nature. I thoroughly enjoy taking these young men out and showing them how waterfowlers hunt. We talk about values and how they can use them in their everyday lives – dealing with problems at school and home – and what it means to be a part of a brotherhood of duck hunters. These boys are deeply influenced by what they see and hear from us. So when we rounded the bend in the creek last Saturday to find that someone had burnt down our duck blind, I bit my lip and decided that rather than get angry I would use the episode as a lesson in how to respond to the ignorant and maladjusted element of our fraternity. Instead of expressing anger we tried to understand what would have motivated someone to do this. Could it have been an anti-hunter? Doubtful, because most anti-hunters don’t carry a can of gas in their canoe or kayak. Could it have been someone who was jealous of our spot? (When I say “our” it goes without saying that we do not “own” any real estate in this place – we just stake out a claim by building there on the first Saturday in September each year – according to VT law) We do shoot a lot of ducks from there in most years and I’m sure that others who have witnessed it might wish they could be there instead of us. They COULD wake up earlier and build there – no one is stopping them – but typically people who do this kind of thing are lazy and angry about others “stealing their opportunities.” Truth be told, the majority of us are mature enough to seek the next best spot and make the most of it. Or, in my case, if I’m not there, go ahead and jump in my blind and use it. Just leave it like you found it and enjoy yourself. From that point the day became about teaching how karma works. It can be simplified like this: It’s a scientific fact that all energy never dies or ends – it just changes into other forms and continues to return to its source. What kind of “energy” did those who burnt down our blind put out into the world? Was it anger? Resentment? Jealousy? Now, if energy does indeed return to its source, it’s just a matter of time until these individuals receive it back – in one form or another. And instead of feeling defeated or angry I will revel in the knowledge that it will indeed come back to them. And next year my blind will be bigger, better and more productive. A little jealousy never kept me from my passion. And a little gas just adds fuel to my fire.