Friday, May 23, 2008

Now That's Gay

This colorful fellow was at our feeders yesterday and today. A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak comes as a nice late season surprise, considering how few neotropical migrants have graced our yard this spring. Aside from the grosbeak the only other migrant seen here in recent days was a Yellow Warbler in our pecan tree on the 15th.

On the 14th I saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly from that same pecan tree (bird #213 for the year list). That day I also had a Common Yellowthroat singing in the shrubs around the Burger King on Eastex Freeway in Beaumont. A mall parking lot is not the sort of place where you would expect to find one on territory, but during migration birds sometimes appear in odd places. I also once had a yellowthroat in the garden dept. at Lowes.

What are these strange contraptions, you might wonder? If you live in this part of the world you should already know. If not you may indeed be wondering. Enlarge the photo and you'll see that they carry the name "All Seasons Feeder." Yup, they are big grain feeders, like the ones we have in our yard to attract birds like grosbeaks. But these put out corn to attract deer.

How do you take the hunting out of hunting? Well for starts you set up a feeding station so the animals habitually return to the same site. Then one morning you hide in a tree overlooking your feeder and wait until your new pets come in for breakfast.

This is how most (if not all) of the so-called deer hunters in Southeast Texas get their venison. When I described this Texas tradition to some real deer hunters a while ago they expressed utter disbelief. Now I'm not against hunting, and I don't object on ethical grounds - by all means, blow bambi away. I know he tastes good and fewer deer means we're all safer on the road. But this is totally gay. It's the laziness that bothers me. It's hunting for people who don't have the time, energy, or skill for real hunting. There's more sport in playing video games, which is how these "hunters" probably spend their time when they aren't sitting in a tree "hunting." The part I haven't figured out is how they get their lazy asses up in the tree to begin with - I mean that would involve effort and even a little exertion. Then again, considering that nationally one out of every three hunting injuries involves a tree stand I guess they aren't all so adept at climbing either (not all of those injuries involve climbing accidents, some result from falling asleep in the tree stand).

Local hunters have told me they do it because they just love that venison. Look at the price tag on that feeder - $249. After you pay for that, and the cost of the deer lease, and all that corn, and the motion activated camera to see if any deer are eating that corn, and the tree stand and ammo and all the other equipment, and gas to drive the truck out there and back...hey, why not just buy some goddamn venison? But then you wouldn't be a "hunter," would you? Well you might as well save some money and buy your venison at a market, because THAT AIN'T HUNTING. If I shot the doves that come to my seed feeders I wouldn't be a hunter, I'd just be an asshole.

Most of the time when I'm birding I'm actively searching for birds. Sometimes it's just a waiting game, but it can also mean hiking, climbing mountains, canoeing, etc. It may only result in a sighting or a photo, but birding by almost any definition bears more resemblance to the sport of hunting than deer baiting does.


At 6:03 PM, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Amen to the birding and deer baiting.

I try to visit regularily,
but don't always leave comments.
Too many good blogs,
so little time.

Alaska Sunday is posted.
Come visit,
Troy and Martha

At 1:20 AM, Blogger John said...

I like your blog - cool arctic photos!


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