Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
Talking about duck hunting, as I was a few days ago: Coincidentally, the week I received the invitation to the Delta Waterfowl banquet I received a catalog from Mack’s Prairie Wings. Mack, in Stuttgart, Ark., says he’s “America’s Premier Waterfowl Outfitter.”
I went duck hunting once. I didn’t like it. It was cold and wet, foggy, impossible to see what few ducks ripped past us at about 100 mph. Once was enough.
For someone who has told more than one person that all you need for bird watching are binoculars and comfortable shoes, Mack’s catalog is a revelation. Granted, my duck-hunting experience was so brief as to have nothing to do with average. There certainly were/are better duck-hunting days. If I had stuck with it, if I was a duck hunter now, imagine what I might buy from Mack.
Mack’s catalog is 168 colored pages, a work of art. Guns are for sale, of course. No prices given. Please call. Very expensive guns, no doubt. I mean, if Mack sells six goose decoys for $249.99, imagine what a gun could cost. There are duck decoys that flap their wings (Super Mojo Mallard, $149.99, batteries not included). There is a decoy “tree” to which you attach decoys so they look airborne, about to land ($69.99).
There are dozens and dozens of different duck and goose calls, many for well over $100. Expensive honking. There are parkas for your hunting dog. A camo blind in which to hide your dog ($89.99). There are camo seat covers for your truck. To get your lady in the mood for hunting or whatever there are camo bras and panties (mossy oak breakup pattern, $19.99 and $7.99).
Jewelry, boot dryers, meat grinders, sausage stuffers, floating gun cases (woops!), motion-triggered trail cameras, a lineman’s climbing strap, it goes on and on. Not to mention clothing for outdoor use. This I paid attention to. I think you could find very serviceable clothing here for any outdoor need, including birding, warm and weatherproof clothing. I’m going to take a second look at those pages.
You can buy Great Blue Heron and American Egret decoys. No, not to lure those birds into gun range. You use them to create the appearance of safety for incoming ducks. If the heron’s there, it must be okay. I guess that makes herons complicit in hunting.
The point here, beyond simple admiration for imaginative product creation, is the money floating around in the duck world. It’s no wonder that they can sell $350 ticket packages to waterfowl banquets. As a birder, I envy the hunter resources. Birders can buy hats to keep the sun off our necks, and jackets with pockets to hold books, binoculars, and lunch. That’s about it. The American Birding Association, which once sold clothing, never had women’s underwear in its inventory.
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