There are no dull, dark days for them , to whom all Nature's fair and good. Who swiftly treads her deepest snows and glories in her solitude. Ye of the firesides temperate zone all huddle ' round the roofed in heat, Could you but know the joys that grow along the path of hunters feet.
ALASKA WATERFOWL PHOTOS
SPORT HUNTING and the sporting ethic.
The real value and intent of sport hunting has nothing to do with hunting. Real sport hunting is more a philosophy and code to live by. It's development comes from Western Europe and is enshrined in the cultural development of the Western World and is closely related to the ideas of freedom and democracy and carried out to the letter in America.
Sport hunting is not about killing and eating. In fact the essence of sport hunting is the idea of "fair play" and democracy and giving as much leeway as possible to the hunted animal to have advantages over the superior technology of gunpowder, which by gunpowder's nature has the upper hand in the sporting endeavor most of the time.
By purposely having disadvantages to the hunter like being only (by law)able to have 3 shells in the gun, give waterfowl for example a more equal footing to be able to avoid the sportsman's gun. Some sportsman go even further and limit themselves to only 2 shells or even 1. It seems the longer one hunts, the less there is the need to kill.
There are many ways to conserve the game and fowl, where the sporting ethic and self imposed limitations play their part. It is proven that when these self-limiting aspects of the hunt are not followed, government is sure to step in and create limitations.
The real sportsman strives for a clean quick kill which is far more humane than being torn apart while still alive by some animal predator. Hunting actually prevents overpopulation and starvation of animals by reducing their numbers to manageable levels as all game animal populations on earth have been affected by human presence,
no matter how remote. In fact many millions of animals die a cruel death from disease than guns by an epic margin. If not for the idea of sport hunting and the billions of dollars contributed by groups such a Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl, there would not be the epic great flights today people enjoy across the North American continent. In fact, eating - as in Market Hunting - almost did destroy waterfowl populations in the late 19th and early 20th century if not for new laws and conservation to protect them and increase their numbers.
The idea of "sport" seems unique to Westerners in many respects. In most of the world this concept is foreign and hunting is strictly about food. On time I came back from a duck hunting trip and met an Asian couple that were about to go waterfowl hunting in a canoe. I could detect that they were very inexperienced. I told them that I could give them a few of my ducks. The couple were overjoyed and I overheard the man telling his wife as I was leaving that " Look Mary, we do not have to go duck hunting now".
The crowned heads of Europe still hunt even though they have little real need of the game animal for table fare. The hunt is the real quest, and servers the human soul as a great philosopher said for that "treasure most hard to find". A close connection to the natural world is part of reason many sportsman hunt. We look for what is missing in the modern world and makes us real humans again doing what we did since the dawn of humankind, gaining insights into Nature unavailable any other way.
Even Hitler has been said to have told Churchill, when the 10's of thousands of British soldiers were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, and were not purposely slaughtered by German aircraft and tanks, that "Mister Churchill does not seem to understand the sporting ethic. Churchill could not understand why the troops and the easy picking they presented were not eliminated and annihilated by the otherwise normally bloody dictator.
Thus in war, and life and on the field of spectator sports and hunting the sporting ethic is what separates civilization from the dark past of human culture - thru the centuries - (no matter societies potential evil) - from total anarchy, dissolution and utter folly. It's roots are deep.
Long may it live
THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE
I have hunted big game in Alaska in years gone by and was never that impressed with it as a challenge. Sure, there can be lots of work climbing after sheep or packing out that Moose. But it is still just hunting a single species that is usually not that smart. One of my patent saying is that one smart Mallard is smarter than ten Moose. A lot of Alaska big game hunting is just riding in a motorized toy of some sort until you see an Animal and then shooting the animal.
With waterfowl hunting, to be good at it, it helps to know the many various species and their habits. Sure, almost anyone can go out on opening day and be sucessful as the ducks are not smarted up yet, and if you just shoot at anything flying you have a chance to fill the bag. The art of decoying and calling are important if you want to really challenge your self to be able to be selective in what wildfowl you harvest. Being able to select the species of bird you harvest, when there are many species on the wing is the ultimate challenge of hunting
Just shooting anything that crosses your decoy rig, is not that hard to do. Being selective in your waterfowl hunting also is very sporting as you are not shooting ducks that can continue down the flyway and hopefully make it back next spring to raise new ducks. You are thus limiting yourself which also is a great exercise in self control and has a limiting effect on the greed factor too.
It also limits skybusting (that is all too common on the Palmer Hay Flats) as to be selective you usually need to see ducks up close so that you can tell their kind and sex. Many think that having a retriever dog is proof that the hunter is all in on the conservation of waterfowl, but yet are poor shots and skybust. More ducks will be lost to poor shooting and blasting at the moon because the ducks will go off to die over in the next watershed where dogs or hunters cannot see them and both will be no wiser to this real waste of the resource. Skybusting also paints hunters as amatures no matter how many years they have hunted.
To be selective when you waterfowl hunt, you must make a plan before the hunt as to what ducks you will shoot at and stick with the plan. If you determine that a lot of the species that you wanted to target for that day are not showing up, you might want to alter that plan and have a shoot for other species. Knowing how to decoy and call and set up properly is where the knowledge and excitement of the Ultimate Challenge in Hunting beacons you just as the call of the wild goose.
Perfect matched pair of Canvasbacks
(King of Ducks)