Thursday, December 21, 2006

We Hurt The Ones We Love

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned a duck that I killed. I thought it would be interesting to explore that a bit more. By nature I am not a hunter/killer, and in fact have only been hunting once in my life. I don’t imagine I’ll ever do it again.

A friend of mine, Troy, invited me to join a group of gents I know to go dove hunting. They had received permission to hunt on Gary and Amy Grant’s Franklin farm northwest of Franklin, TN. I remember being extremely envious of the vast tract of land they owned, 1/3 of which was surrounded by the wide and gently flowing Harpeth River.

After we got to the farm, Greg, another friend, drove his truck around dropping off hunters in 1s and 2s at various spots around the property. I had borrowed his shotgun for the day since I didn’t own one. Greg picked out a nice spot for me along a line of soaring trees and a stones throw from the river. I was given a quick tour of the gun, a refresher on how not to get killed by myself or another hunter, and a briefing on what a dove looked like. Yikes.

I jumped out of the truck, took my spot, and watched them drive a short distance away to drop off Grant, another friend. I got comfortable, loaded my gun, and wondered why the heck I was out there. If I did bag a dove, I wasn’t about to clean it, and I can tell you for darn sure, Michelle certainly wasn’t going to cook it.

On several occasions I spotted what might be a dove, and half-heartedly took a few shots, but didn’t hit anything other than tree tops. After a few hours, the group decided the dove count was too low in this area and we decided to head to another farm that Greg had lined up as a back-up just in case this happened.

We got to the new farm, and stood in the middle of the field in small groups of 3s and 4s. The doves were flying. Over the next couple of hours the group bagged dozens and dozens of birds. I got a few too. I remember one in particular.

Dove’s are small and delicate birds. If hit with a chunk of buckshot they almost always succumb to it instantly, and fall to the ground with a slight thud. Once in a while, the job is not done. That happened to me. The dove fell to the ground and started fluttering, and wouldn’t stop. I asked Troy what to do, and he told me to pick it up and twist it’s little head off like a 2-litre bottle top. Nope. Wasn’t gonna do it.

Instead, I decided to put it out of its misery with the gun. I don’t think I truly understood the power of a shotgun at close range until after I pulled the trigger. I did put it out of its misery- all that was left was feather vapor and a six inch hole in the ground, eliciting much laughter from the group. That was it for me- I was done. I handed over my six doves to Troy for him and his family to enjoy, and spent the next hour or so just watching the others.

Oops. I forgot this was supposed to be about the duck I killed. Well, I can get that one out much more quickly. I was about 2 years-old and my mother brought home a baby duck she had rescued from a local farm. As my mother tells it, the baby duck was rescued from being bitten, pecked and harangued by its siblings.

The previous Christmas I had been given a little duck shaped tricycle, kind of like a big-wheel, but it was white and in the shape of a duck. When ridden it would make quacking sounds. Evidently I was a big duck fan, what with my duck-mobile and Donald Duck toys.

My mother thought I would be thrilled to have a real live duck as a pet, and so was presented with the little guy that I appropriately named “Duck.” As I would travel to and fro in my duck-mobile, Duck would be right behind me, waddling as quickly as he could to keep up. My mother thinks Duck became attached to the toy and though of it as his mother.

One day, while I was out in front of the house with Duck, my mother noticed the familiar sound of my duck (the riding one) had ceased. She was used to hearing it constantly, and the silence was an alarm of sorts that I was up to no good. When she went outside to check my status (was I eating a poison berry? Eating ants? Eating dirt?) she saw me squatting down next to Duck, who was laying lifeless on the sidewalk.

“C’mon duck. Go duck. C’mon duck.” Were the words she heard me saying as I poked at Duck to get him moving again. I had run over Duck and ended his short little life. What really pains me now thinking about it is not that I was the one that killed Duck, whom I loved dearly, it's that Duck must have been horrified to think his mom took him out.

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Tom Bailey said...

I didnt read this in your profile but it sounds like you could turn vegetarian.

DigitalRich said...

Ha! Very interesting. I have noticed my blog leaning a bit animal-centric, but that is not by design.

I don't think I will ever give up being a carnivore unless I end up moving to New York City and the local government bans meat along with trans-fats.

DigitalRich said...

FYI to anyone that read this- I glanced at this post again after making the last comment, and I thought I should clarify that while the pic is adorable, it is not me. I found it via google image search and figured it fit the story just right.

Anonymous said...

Love that last line. Run me through the wringer and then...zing! Humor when you least expect it. Deadpanned.

Anonymous said...

daddy...i want a duck!!=]

DigitalRich said...


We can't get you one. The coyotes would eat'em.



Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I actually had a pet duck too name "Ducky" for "Flandor" as my Dad liked to call her. She was like our family dog as my dad was against having a family pooch. Ducky would quack at people when they came in our yard and even chased away the random tourist who wandered too close to our property. (I grew up a block off the beach)We had Ducky for about 4 years until one day Dad found white feathers in our back yard. Still not sure to this day what happend to her. I like to think she is in heaven, swimming around with the other "Duckies". Maybe even your old Duck too.
Thanks for the few moments of remininscing... :-) Ondie

DigitalRich said...


Exactly why I will not K or her sisters get a small outside animal. The coyotes will eat them in one bite the first night. I just heard a pack of about 20 or so outside the other night.