I belong to a secret society of mostly middle-aged white men. We don't talk about it much to outsiders too much drama nowadays if we mention what we do in a mixed crowd. We have a strict dress code, the dues are steep, and the meetings usually start at 4 a.m. in a cold, dark December swamp. To a man, we don't like the government and our goal is to blend in at all times, making what I'm proposing a tough mission for my fellow society members.
Duck hunters: We've got to get behind the plan to grow the valley wildlife refuge system ("Forums to detail plan for refuge," Nov. 28, Page B-1). And loudly.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to buy massive tracts of land all along the San Joaquin to "create an unbroken stretch of protected river corridor from Merced County to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta." This "critter corridor" would double the area for waterfowl to breed, grow up, rest, then let us do our thing.
The society of duck hunters loves farmers and distrusts Fish & Game, but jumping into bed with those bureaucrats is our best shot at saving our beloved waterfowl with projects such as these. Boys, it's time to get out of the tules and into the streets!
We sacrifice our health, wealth and even marriages just to sit in the frigid rain for a chance to shoot a goose so we should darn well be able to write things such as this and go to those "public input" hearings, hunters. In those meetings, be ready to hear the farmers saying, "You're sidin' with the land-grabbers!" and the bunny-huggers will call us self-serving, crying, "You just want more ducks so you can shoot them!"
Here's how the big boys answer that one: "Fish," he said, "I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends."
Ernest "Papa" Hemingway laid out the hunter's paradox beautifully when he wrote that in "The Old Man and the Sea." We love ducks, we kill ducks. Both things are true.
Here's another true thing: We'd allow Ernie into our society, but only if he wrote a couple of good letters to his local paper in support of the refuge expansion plan and dragged his depressed carcass to a hearing or two.
If you own a camouflaged shotgun, that goes for you, too.
Taylor is a behavioral analyst who lives in Oakdale. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.