a nicely satirical piece.
Hunting a 'game' ducks can't win
The birds are no contest for the brave masculine shooter
with his gun cocked and stubby at the ready.
March 22, 2012
The contest is an intrinsic part of sport. All those muddy knees,
firm handshakes and cold showers in the visitors' rooms seem
meaningless otherwise. Equal and opposing forces, heads butting in
the scrum, balls repelled over taut nets, touch gloves and retreat
to your corners. That's sport as we know it.
Of course occasionally the home team wins by 20 goals, for no
amount of mandated meddling can ensure that every contest is even.
And that's where sporting shooters come in, eagerly checking the
fixture each year for the start of the duck season. Pencil in a
win boys - we can't lose. The ducks, quite frankly, are hopeless.
The bookies aren't taking much money on the opposition as the
hunter with his arsenal and his portable cooler sets out for a bit
of weekend sport. Once the shotguns start firing in northern
Victoria the ducks better have a damn good interchange system
going. The shooters, meanwhile, are just taking it one duck at a
time. It's not their fault if the ducks haven't put in a big
pre-season or evolved larger brains to invent their own weaponry.
Adapt or die, that's the way of modern sport.
And what capital sport it is! Blowing defenceless creatures from
the sky and standing splay-legged over the broken carcasses in
quiet triumph. Birds darken the morning sun with their frenzied
wings in pitiful efforts at escape. But they remain no match for
the brave hunter, gun cocked at the shoulder, stubby set
momentarily to rest on a nearby log. If it's not quite the
colonial foot on the dead tiger's head, then snapping the neck on
a broken mess of bloodied feathers may still elicit a faint
stirring in musty loins.
The wrong-headed say this is not an even contest and seek to
throw in the towel on behalf of the duck - that craven avian
weakling. Greenies - the word spat rather than spoken - see wanton
cruelty and pointless death. But the sporting shooter sees a
bigger picture; a lineage back to his hunter gatherer forebears,
locked in a life or death struggle to feed the family. There are
still some places in Victoria where a man can drive to forget that
there's a shop down the road in case supplies start getting low.
So let's give it to them with both barrels. The modern world
seems bent on leaving a man emasculated and worthless. All those
ordinary, nondescript lives, helpless against forces beyond
comprehension or control. He's retrenched, divorced, impotent at
the end of the bed, shrugging away the consoling hand. But out
here, as the clock inches towards 7.20am and fingers itch over
triggers in anticipation, a sense of power courses once more
through hardened arteries.
As for kids, there's nothing like a weekend up to the elbows in
warm viscera to teach the young a few life lessons. Some day all
this will be yours, son. In the meantime, it's feathers and beak
over there and hand me the rest when you're done. Frankly it's
woman's work but who wants to bring the missus on a hunting trip?
As the clamorous, disapproving world grows ever more insistent,
the sporting shooters stand united under the one menacing banner:
I hunt and I vote. Stripped of all Churchillian rhetoric, this is
the clarion call of a one-sentence, one-issue, political force,
sending its monosyllabic message straight to Spring Street.
In their offices the timorous politicians cower with fleshy,
uncalloused hands unused to wrestling anything wilder than the
free-range pork at their favourite bistro. Out of earshot of the
shotgun's fatal report perhaps, but fearful of collateral damage
nonetheless. Away from the primordial wilds of the hunting grounds
it's all swings and polls and demographics and lobby groups. So if
generation on generation of harmless ducks must keep on wearing a
bit of buckshot that's just the price of politics.
Andrew Cox is a freelance writer and a songwriter with
the rock band The Fauves.