Then, in the
realm of human ecology, the state and federal game administrators should learn
that for most waterfowlers building blinds is part of the sport. Hunters don't
really want to be guided to the marsh by reflecting markers, and no sportsman
deserves the indignity of being watched over continually by a Big Brother.
It may be, of
course, that these state and federal shooting slums will become a permanent
part of our North American culture. There are, in fact, not a few conservation
officers who believe in public shooting. Said one official at the Carlos Avery
Refuge, a public duck-hunting area in Minnesota, "Sometimes when I talk
with the hunters who come here, I'm sure we're doing the right thing. You
should have seen the look on the face of one guy coming to the checking station
with a little green-winged teal. He was overflowing with joy on bagging his
first duck in three years. Some say they don't care if they ever get a duck,
just want to come out to feel the marsh wind on their face and listen to the
chuckle of blackbirds. I stopped beside a fellow wearing $400 worth of new
shooting clothes, leaning against the fender of his Cadillac. 'Any luck?' I
asked. 'No,' he replied with a big smile, 'but this is a duck pass, and I got a
bird here last year.' "
Before joining in
the enthusiasm for subsidized reserves, however, both administrators and the
public must realize that stand-in-line shooting or gunning by appointment on
state or federal lands is not cheap; the dollar or so sometimes paid covers but
a small fraction of the cost of these operations. Nor will state management
bring about more or better hunting opportunities. According to Charles E.
Friley Jr. of the Michigan Department of Conservation, "Because the
shooting pressure is so great, it is going to be a continuing necessity to
limit the number of hunters.... Available private lands will continue to
decrease, with the result that we will have to extend restrictions to cover
state areas not now regulated."
Finally, we must
face the hard fact that there aren't enough ducks in North America to supply
every able-bodied man with a single yearly bird, let alone a daily limit. Why,
then, build access roads, graveled parking places and provide state
transportation so that anyone strong enough to lift a shotgun can come out and
blaze away? The end result of this policy will not be good hunting for
everybody but, rather, no hunting for anybody. As James W. Kimball, director of
the Minnesota Department of Conservation, said only a fortnight ago,
"Winning the race to provide hunting for all who seek it would be a shallow
victory, and leave us with an empty prize."