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Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Duck Tales

Rather than showing you pictures of dead ducks, I thought I’d tell you some tales from working the hunters’ check station tonight.  You may have guessed that I’ve enjoyed working with these hunters, and you would be correct. 

One of the things that amazes me is that they often arrive very early to get in line for the following day’s hunt.  We had one hunter show up at 8:00 this morning so he would be first in line for tomorrow’s hunt.  They line up outside the refuge gate along the side of FM 1985.  They stay overnight in their trucks for the 4:00 AM opening of the gates.  Today, we asked this fellow what he did for food while he waited 20 hours to get in.  He said he brought along snacks like chips and such, but also fixed some hot food for supper.  Sure enough, as I passed the gate late this afternoon, he was wrapping up a sausage in tin foil to warm up on his truck’s motor block!

Later in the morning, Kay and I asked some hunters how they prepared some of the not as tasty species for consumption.  With a smile on his face, one of the guys said, “You cut out the breasts, wrap them in bacon, and then grill them.  When they’re done, you throw away the breasts and eat the bacon!”  This was a joke, folks, as I’ve found that these hunters do respect the birds they’ve taken.

Along those lines, a reader recently commented that she didn’t think the hunters cared much about the birds that they shoot.  It’s been my experience that the opposite is true here.  Whenever I ask to take pictures of their birds, you would be amazed how happy they are and what care they take to preen the feathers for the best presentation.  Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications.  It’s rather touching to me to see these guys smooth the feathers back into place with their gentle hands, and I’ve had many a discussion with them about the beauty of individual feathers. 

The best duck tale of the day came from a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) while working on our sister refuge, McFadden NWR.  As he approached a group of hunters coming out from hunting, one of them had a large naked inflatable doll under his arm!  Sounds a little kinky, eh?  Well, the LEO just had to ask what they were up to.  Here’s the story: It seems every time the hunters were at a certain pond, the ducks always landed at the other side of the pond that was beyond their guns range.  So they tried setting up on the other side of the pond.  As you might guess, the ducks then landed at the side of the pond where they first set up.  That’s where the doll comes in.  They planted that naked doll in the reeds on one side of the pond, and set up on the other side.  Sorry to say, I don’t know if it worked or not…

After the hunt was over today, I drove in to the Visitors Center in Anahuac to meet up with fellow full-timers and bloggers, Evelyn and Kevin (RV Khronicles of Kevelyn).

Evelyn and Kevin Breutzmann

They’re staying in the area for a few nights, and I told them I’d give them a tour of the refuge.  Evelyn was hoping to see one of the huge flocks of snow geese, but they were hiding somewhere else today.  Sad smile

IMG_5521

They’re not big birders, but we were able to find the vermillion flycatcher once again on the Skillern Tract.  We spent the afternoon getting to know each other in person as we drove around the refuge.  I hope they enjoyed our time together as much as I did.  They’ll soon be on their way to take a cruise out of New Orleans with their sons.  Good sailing, Kevin and Evelyn!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

37 comments:

  1. I hope folks recognize that a large portion of funding for wetland reclamation, habitat protection, and even funding for the National Wildlife Refuges themselves come from duck hunters, as well as other hunters and fisherman. I too have found that most take their hunting seriously and have respect for their quarry. Waiting 20 hours to get in is pretty hard-core though!!

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  2. One of these days ... We too will be stopping by whatever refuge you are at. Meetin Judy is one of my top goals. Or maybe it's meeting Emma!

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  3. Geese land in the rice fields here and they seem to know just how far to get from the road.

    Since you talked about liking sponge candy I looked for a microwave recipe for sponge candy so I could try it. I can't make candy on the stove without burning it so use the microwave. I made some the other day and my husband wanted to know what the cement on the stove was. lol Since I have never eaten it before I don't know how mine compared to the real stuff. We finished it off but I have to say you need good teeth to eat mine. lol I will have to order some to see what it's suppose to taste like.

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  4. I just can't imagine heating a sausage on the engine block! And I love the doll story....very creative use for a naked doll!
    Looks like you had a pretty day for touring with new friends. What a treat they had!

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  5. Great stories. Now the one with the doll seems like a stretch that it would work. I just think there were some very lonely hunters.

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  6. Thanks for the duck stories ... had a chuckle or two at the expense of those hunters ... or maybe it was with them.

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  7. I wonder if the doll had to wait in line ... poor thing was probably quite cold.

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  8. This brought a little tear to my eye with your descriptions of the gentle hands of the hunters. Native Americans gave thanks to the animal they killed to feed their families. I'm sure these hunters are, in their way, respectful of their prey, too. The blow-up doll vignette will find a place in your Great American Novel, right Judy?

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  9. As with most things, a few bad hunters can influence the thoughts of many folks. All the hunters I know, and I used to be one, respect the game they harvest. Without their license fees, there would be far fewer wildlife refuges, and wildlife, for all to enjoy. Love the doll story. Sounds like something I would have tried once upon a time.

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  10. At least in Virginia deer hunters are necessary to thin the populations to what the available land can support so they don't starve to death. I do understand that hunters and fishermen's fees help to fund many of our wetlands. My only qualm is those who hunt for "sport" and don't actually eat what they kill. That seems disrespectful to me to take a life for "fun".

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  11. Preening the feathers back on a duck you've just shot to death is a little late in the game to show kindness if you ask me. But then, no one really asked me!

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    Replies
    1. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    2. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    3. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    4. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    5. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    6. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    7. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    8. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
    9. No one has ask me to reply to your comment but I am going to do so!

      Preening the feathers has absolutely nothing to do with kindness. As Judy wrote in her posting above, " Even if I’m not photographing, most of them respectfully groom the birds as I verify their identifications." The preening of the feathers is an act of respect, honor and the modern equivalent of the Native Americans practice of giving thanks to the animal they killed.

      Delete
  12. I have a friend whose son-in-law loves duck hunting. I am sending him a link to your blog explaining the duck hunters feelings..love it.

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  13. I'm happy to hear the hunters have such respect for the ducks. Funny story about the inflatable woman! I'd love to know if it worked, but I'd guess one plastic smelling item wouldn't fool the ducks flying overhead and seeing and smelling the hunters in their hiding places. :)

    Beautiful photo of the Vermilion Flycatcher! :)

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  14. Most hunters are true sportsman and most are pretty nice guys and gals too. There is a reason that hunting is allowed...wildlife numbers and revenue..and why not? I wish there were more deer hunters in our area, because that would be less deer kill along the highways.

    Yes I think it was a professional who painted the sign posts...one with a sore shoulder. :(

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  15. I agree most hunters are respectful of the game they harvest. Sometimes I think we forget that the meat we buy in the store wasn't grown pre-packaged in plastic wrap. It's part of the cycle of life. Trophy hunting is something else altogether and that I strongly object to.

    Beautiful picture of the vermillion flycatcher.

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  16. You have such an interesting life! You donate your time and you get great experiences.

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  17. It was a real pleasure meeting you. Thanks so much for the tour and sharing your knowledge with us. We might drive through again tomorrow to see if the geese are around. Have a great winter and enjoy your trip north. Hope its not too cold :)

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  18. It seems hard to understand, but hunting is good for the duck (and deer) populations and the fees for the licenses go to replenish the habitats for ducks to live and grow in. Plus a well cooked duck is delicious! ;c)

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  19. Thanks for the duck tales...I especially enjoyed the one of the naked doll. When your out and about in the woods, you find many ways of cooking and prepping your foods.

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  20. your waiting in line story reminded me of opening day for trout here. my dad was an avid fisherman. we had get up in middle of the night so we could drive to the head waters of the Meramec River for opening day of trout season. Everyone lines up along the bank, I mean elbow to elbow just waiting for the horn to blow at 700 a.m. the horn blows and dozens upon dozens of lines are cast into the water everyone hoping the would get the first catch of the season. I thought I had it one year, turned out I had cast to far and caught a guys shirt. I was a teenager, last time I went I was so embarassed :-)

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  21. Bwaahaaahaaa on the blow up doll trick. Wonder if it worked?

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    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
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  22. Getting to photograph the ducks up close(even if dead) helps us to understand if this duck looks so different up close, that we need the knowledge of up close views. Bird banding gives those close up views as well. I can tell you're having great fun!

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  23. Funny story.... no doubt you hear and see a lot of "interesting" tales while working a check station. (Had to laugh when I first saw the title of this blog... remember the "DA" haircuts guys had in the 50's? Well, I'm one old lady who still can picture that greased back look ;-)

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  24. Love to watch Snow Geese. As the daughter of a game warden, I grew up eating game. Venison, duck, pheasant, etc. I only cooked duck one time, the grease flew around the oven in sparks. Not going to try that again. I often order duck when on a menu. Even had it in Ireland once. Just won't cook it.

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  26. Your duck stories reminded me of how well I sometimes ate when I lived in the bunk house with four avid hunters. The biologist, who stayed several nights a week during hunting season, also threw poker parties. After drooling over the food, the first night, I offered to maid for them in return for getting to eat. Duck poppers were on almost every menu. Start with a jalapeno pepper, stuff it with a block of cream cheese, wrap it in a duck breast and then in bacon. Hold everything together with a toothpick and grill. We all ate as many as there were duck breasts for.

    I don't hunt but am always grateful to be able to eat wild game. It is not only yet another way to connect with nature but offers meat that is healthier than than that raised commercially. And I know hunting will keep the hunted species alive, while other quietly go extinct.

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  27. Nice post.Thanks for sharing this in your blog

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