Heroes . . .

Before Instagram and Youtube, Duck Dynasty and Meateater and Charlie Moore, before Facebook and viral videos and podcasts, there were heroes.

Not the kind in Marvel, or Justice League, or whatever the franchise du jour is . . . Real, honest to God heroes.

These were men that packed a metal lunchbox and drove ’83 Oldsmobiles and worked their 40 at the office or the yard or the site, then came home and kissed their pretty wife and, exhausted, helped with homework, or played catch, or watched the game.  Sunday’s were for Sunday School and church, and maybe, if you were real lucky and the paycheck had been kind, a trip to Morrison’s cafeteria or Quincy’s buffet for lunch . . .

But, on Saturdays . . . On Saturdays, these men were heroes.

Remember the time he took you and Billy Hester to the boat ramp at Lake Cannon and you guys caught bluegills off the bed as fast as humanly possible?  Bream bigger than your hand, slurping earthworms . . . that picture is still floating around somewhere, of you with your goofy t-ball hat and him, looking strangely like you do now, and a stringer full of fish and smiles . . .

Or how about the time you all chipped in for a dove field . . . $80 a person, 20 guys, and Mr. Baker planted the millet just like he had all the other seasons, but this year, well this year something just went right and the birds came in, wave after wave after wave, from every direction.

Can you remember him coming home with a Brittany from the classifieds in the paper?  He worked with Copper just enough to drag the pup to the quail grounds one Saturday, and, just like in so many paintings, there was a point, a flush, and birds brought to hand . . . You wondered how did he know how that would work.

There were nights at the trestle, snook after snook over the side of the boat, every bait resulting in a fish or a break off.  There were bull redfish and bull sharks, flounder and snapper and sheepshead and trout.

There was the trick to unhooking a catfish with a stick . . . Or how to remove a hook that had embedded into the skin . . . Turning a zara spook into a marionette and watching it dance 30 yards from the boat . . . Calling owls up to the campfire . . . Somehow, intrinsically, always knowing where the turkey would come out of the swamp . . .

How about the love for it, all of it, that he passed on to you . . . the yodel of a gobbler bouncing off cat-faced pine trees, sounding like it was right in front of you and all around you at the same time . . . the blue on a redfish tail when it caught the sun just right, a blue not like you’d find in any crayon box, heck, maybe not anywhere else in nature; electric and soft at the same time.  The way he could tell, at 125 yards, that those were redheads or wood ducks or herons, and how calm he stayed as they approached.

Saturdays were full of snacks, of Vienna sausages and powdered donuts and Pepsi made with real sugar and tasting coffee straight out of the thermos.  Folded up baggies with PB and J’s, so soaked in Granny’s blackberry jelly that your fingers would get sticky on the outside of the bread.

In a time when the world seems to have tilted just a hair too far off it’s axis, when virtual reality has somehow supplanted reality, when boys seem to endeavor to stay boys as long as possible, isn’t this the time to remember those men?

Before there were Xboxes and Nintendos, Google and iPhones and WaypointTV, before there was HeviShot and Mojo’s and surface drives, there were heroes . . .

We usually called them “Dad.”

Happy Father’s Day!

On Teachers and Legacy . . .

Mrs. McCarty had this contest.

It was 4th grade, and it was me or Carey Corbett, and the idea was to see how many of Florida’s counties we could name.  We tied.  Then we had to name the county seats.  Carey won.  But I gave her a heck of a fight.  We read a Land Remembered and studied the Seminole Wars and Flagler and Plant. It was that year that I realized that I loved Florida, that I understood her, that she came easy to me.

Mrs. Long accompanied us to the PEER center, a local wildlife rehab facility.

The first pine snake I’d ever seen, a scavenger hunt through the boardwalked swamp.  As a 6th grader I possessed only a handful of real skills: I could blush on demand within 50 feet of Jessica George; I could recite the batting averages of the ’84 Cubs; and I felt at home in the woods.  My teacher saw that, and encouraged it in me.

Mr. Partain complemented me on the in depth project I did on wood ducks, and another on bobwhite quail.  Mrs. Turner encouraged me to write the way I wanted; sure, I’d need to write to a standard to pass the tests in other classes, but she told me not to lose my own voice.  Mr. McGuire told us to chase what we loved, and to always have fun, to never stop being who we were supposed to be.

Mrs. Kurz placed the roots of math that I would never use, but that helped sprout logic and reason.  Mrs. Hough talked about her love for Florida’s barrier islands.  Mrs. Ordian taught discipline, my first “D” in an elective, for failing to practice the violin up to her standards.

Mrs. Brantley. Mrs. Carpenter.  Mrs. Buckley and Zotti and Parker.  Mrs. Farthing, who encouraged my writing more than anyone I’d ever met.

Looking back, I don’t know if any of my teachers hunted, or fished, or had any impetus to affect conservation in any way.  I don’t know if they cared about water quality and hunter recruitment and seatrout regulations, about nutrient loading and spray plans and migratory birds.

The butterfly effect is this bizarre idea predicated off the premise that a buttefly flaps its wings in Africa, and 2 months later a storm hits Florida . . . In simplest terms, it’s long term cause and effect.

I don’t know if my teachers knew the long term effects they’d have on a scrawny 11 year old, a clumsy 13 year old, an awkward 15 year old . . .

But they did.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of one of these teachers, some lesson they taught, now rote behavior.

As a dad, I recognize even more the importance of what goes on for 7 hours every day.  There’s never been a more important time to be a teacher . . .

To those who get up every morning at the crack of dawn, and plant themselves in a garden they’ll never see . . . day after day, year after year, student after student . . . to those who poured into that crazy kid all those years ago or pour themselves into his crazy kids today . . .

“Thank you” doesn’t quite seem enough . . . We can only hope you know how much it means . . .

#73: Marie Kondo Your Boat

How do we go about getting our boats ready for chasing tarpon?  This week, we’ll take you through the process, through the lens of Emily and Marie Kondo.

Also – Emily has Geography issues, Nate almost dies, and Travis dominates a draft!

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An Open Letter about Carlos Beruff

Governor Desantis,

I am writing to implore you to rescind Governor Scott’s egregious overreach of naming Carlos Beruff as an FWC Commissioner last week.

In case Tallahassee is so out of touch with what real Floridians think, let me recap Commissioner Beruff’s resume, as seen by those in the Florida Outdoors community:

  • He is currently facing an ethics commission complaint over how he helped one of his former development partners while serving as chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. He resigned from SWFWMD after this action.
  • He has been accused of illegally moving an eagle’s nest.
  • Manatee County investigated his company, Medallion Homes, for ripping up a county-owned conservation area.
  • In December of 2011, as a governing board member of SWFWMD, he voted against expanding hunting in Cypress Creek Preserve, Hampton Tract of Green Swamp, in Green Swamp East out parcels, in Halpata Tastanaki, in Conners Preserve, in most of the 16,000 acre Lower Hillsborough Tract with the exception of the small tract opened (2600 acre Washburn tract) for youth and family hunts only (5 permits each).
  • He planned a Marina that would require a 60′ wide channel through 2,100′ of sea grass, but declared it would do no harm to the environment.

I recognize “growth” and “Florida” are synonymous in this day and age; however, this appointment is such an egregious overreach and beyond the pale as a political favor.  It is an embarrassment for the state.  It is a blatant abuse of power.  It is a slap in the face to outdoorspeople statewide.

This decision MUST be rescinded immediately.  Failure to do so immediately  can only be viewed as an adversarial position for this administration towards hunters, fishermen, and, ultimately, Floridians.  Mr. Beruff may very well be qualified for some position on development, or growth, or any manner of other areas; it is unfathomable to any reasonable stakeholder that he be given any authority over Florida’s Wildlife Commission.

Thank you,

Capt. Travis Thompson
Host, Cast and Blast Florida Podcast
travis@castandblastfl.com
Guide, Gasparilla Charters
travis@gasparillacharters.com
@travisthompson – @castandblastfl
(863) 206-0762

Coleman

It’s the hardest thing, losing a dog.

I was just reminded of that truth.

We’d had a good day.  A good walk that morning.  A leisurely nap together on the couch.  He’d eaten the last of my roast beef sandwich for lunch, just the way it should be.

For 16 years, he was my constant.  I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my wife or my son.  When I was single, I had a twin bed that he was always in – me, 6’3″ and full-figured, and a 45 lb puppy.  He never left my side, day or night, never out of ear-scratching distance.  Any knock on the door was met with barks that belied his stature.  My wife.  My kids.  He was our dog, and we were his people.  That was indisputable.

I carried him home from his last walk.  It was time.  His fight was over.

What you’re never ready for is the little things.  I don’t want to vacuum, little tufts of his hair in the corners.  I don’t want to change the sheets.  I absentmindedly saved a piece of cheese when making Will’s lunch this morning – I always gave him a piece of cheese.  I came home last night and went to check on him, only to catch myself halfway down the hall . . .

There’s never been a dog who had such infectious joy.  He was truly happy, all the time, unless you were scolding him for his latest counter surfing shenanigans.  He once broke into my office and “retrieved” my mounted ducks, the room looking like a malfunction at the world’s prettiest pillow factory.  His grin melted my anger in a moment, a look of “Dad, you’ll never believe what I found in here!”

Sedatives settled his angst, and he looked up at me with his faded, whiskey colored eyes, still smiling.  I tried telling him it would be okay, even though it most certainly would not, ever, be okay.  I laid on the floor holding his head and talking in his ear.  I made sure he knew he’d done his best.  I made sure he knew I was there.  I made sure he knew he was a good dog.

It was over in a minute.  The vet looked at me, misty-eyed herself.

I scratched those amazing, floppy ears one last time.  I smelled his wonderful head, and closed his eyes, rubbing them the way he loved.

I stood up from the floor, and for a moment, so many memories flashed – playing in the snow and chasing deer and fetching doves and swimming pools and ice cream cones and stealing muffins from the kids and snuggling my wife, a furry wedge in our bed every night for 7 years.

And I came back to a simple memory, of he and I sitting on a borrowed couch in our empty house, right after my divorce.  We were watching TV, in as much as any dog watches TV.  We had no food. We had no money.  We were sharing a jar of peanut butter – I’d take a bite, then let him finish the spoon.  At that second, I wasn’t sure which way life would go; I mean, it pretty much sucked right then.  And clear as day I can remember looking at his head as he smiled, almost as if to say “hang in there Dad – this is the best day ever . . . “

That’s the thing I remembered as the vet handed me his effects.

16 years is a lot to lose in a moment.

I stuck his empty collar in my pocket, and stood there alone in a vacant room, and sobbed, a 41 year-old man heartbroken over his dog.

Just the way it should be.

The Old Man

An ode to Ruark.  And also our grandfathers.

The Old Man watches as the steam rises off his coffee mug, just poured from the old rusty thermos his wife gave him so long ago.

He drinks his coffee black.  No cream.  No sugar.  It’s just easier that way.

His pale, grey eyes scan the darkness for the faintest flicker of movement.  His hands caress the checked wood grain of his father’s Remington, each scar and carving familiar to his touch.

The Kid is drifting in and out of sleep at the other end of the small boat.

He drew the short straw among his brothers and cousins and Grandpa picked him up at 3:30 this morning.  He’d piled into the cab of the old truck, next to the greying Labrador, barely awake but knowing it was his turn.

They’d launched the boat by moonlight, loaded with heavy cork decoys and an outboard older than both of them, kicking them along to an unnamed oxbow just upstream.

The Old Man scratches the labs ears, causing that unmistakable thump in the bottom of the boat.  The dog whimpers his appreciation, anxious for the hunt to begin.

The sun begins to win, and nature begins to stir . . . Egrets and ibis and herons and hawks . . .

The Kid awakens, wiping the sleep out of his eyes.  He looks at the Old Man, grizzled, leathery, his face stoic as his eyes sweep the landscape . . . He wonders how many times the old man has done this . . . How many ducks has he shot, how many mornings has he set decoys . . . In a rare moment of awareness, the Kid finds himself wondering how many more times the Old Man will be able to do this . . .

The Old Man sees them from a hundred yards out . . . Even at his age and this distance, he catches the glint of green signaling an impending landing.  He taps his duck call, cementing the mallards into his trap . . .

The Kid grips his gun . . . His mouth feels dry, the wood stock cold and strange . . . He fingers the safety, nervous he’ll forget to push it when the opportunity comes . . . He reminds himself to breathe . . .

The Old Man calls the shot, the Wingmaster coming easy to his shoulder, a motion perfected by a thousand rehearsals over dozens of years . . .

The Kid rushes his gun up, unsure of what’s happening until the first recoil pounds into his shoulder . . . Aim . . . Pull . . . Pump . . .

The echoes harmonize as the ducks splash into the creek, both brought to hand shortly by that old grey lab . . .

The Old Man holds his aloft, admiring the iridescence in the now high sunshine . . . The Kid takes his duck and mimics the Old Man . . . He notices the hidden purples in the green, the brilliance on the speculum, the sharp lines and the subtle shading.  He notices the smell of the recently fired shells, the lab happily panting, the other ducks moving up and down his field of view . . . He hears the clucks, the chirps, the swirl of a fish, the sound of a distant road . . . He begins to take in the feel of his gun in his hands, the smell of the coffee, the rattle of shells in his pocket . . .

The Kid looks at the Old Man again, now with admiration . . . Maybe this is why he does it . . . Punishing himself with middle of the night wake ups and laborious decoy spreads . . . To come to this, this sort of “church” out here in the middle of nowhere . . .

The Old Man sees a small pod of birds turn their way.  The Kid has seen them too.

The Old Man smiles.

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To the Hunt

Here’s to 2 am alarm clocks and ice on the windshield.

To us not being sure why our hands are shaking – is it the bitter cold, or the monstrous 10 point that just stepped into the clearing.

The sound of a wood duck whistling his way unseen through the darkness seconds before shoot time.  The rattle of the dog boxes as the pointers bang their tails against the side, desperate to find their next quail.  The snap of a twig behind you in the tree stand – Unknown yet full of promise.  The whistles, of bobwhites and pintails and dog handlers . . . The clucks, of hen mallards and hen turkeys . . .

Here’s to the game we respect and pursue . . . The bucks and drakes and Toms and boars . . . The shots we take, the shots we miss, and, sometimes more importantly, the shots we pass on completely . . .

To the old-timers, here’s to one more fall in the field . . . To savoring the moments with friends and family . . . Hunting the same bend where a long gone retriever made an unbelievable fetch on what was thought to be a long gone mallard . . . Walking the same trails you walked with your grandfather so many years ago, now with a grandson of your own in tow, a legacy and heritage prayerfully safe for another generation . . .

Here’s to the kids . . . 5 year olds and 12 year olds and 20 year olds, bribed with powdered donuts and packs of Twizzlers and the promise of unlimited Mountain Dew . . . That sense of wonder in their normally iPad-glazed eyes as they see the indescribable colors in an Osceola as he steps into the sunshine . . . Their enlightenment to the “edges” of the hunt – the snakes, the palmettos, the birds of prey soaring overhead, memories that will grow and shrink through the years but placeholders nonetheless of a world unplugged . . . Their pride in their first harvest, be it a squirrel or a dove or a deer . . . And to a hope that they’ll think nothing and everything of being standard bearers for a new generation of sportsman, ethical and honest, future evangelists of conservation . . .

Here’s to those gone to soon, but never forgotten, in this chapel lined by pine trees and sun rays trying to burn off a fog, while a chorus of cardinals and chipmunks and cicadas raise their voices in song . . .

Here’s to the hunt . . . To pursuing our game, our way, be it with bow, or gun, or spear, with dogs or decoys or by ambush.  To gas station hot dogs and four wheel drives and campfires and more stars than you ever thought possible . . . To pheasants and puddlers, divers and deer . . . To the men and the women and the youngsters . . .

May your straps be heavy, your campfires surrounded by laughter, and your thermos never empty . . .

Here’s to the Hunt!

 

Together.

I’m sick of this mess.

I’m sick of Big Sugar, and Discharges, and Red Tide and Mosaic and Cyanobacteria and Septic Tanks and Glyphosate.

We’ve ravaged Charlotte Harbor, the Indian River Lagoon, Florida Bay, and the Kissimmee Watershed, from Shingle Creek all the way down . . .

We’ve posted up our allegiances – BullSugar, Captains for Clean Water, The Rivers Coalition, Everglades Trust . . . “Vote Water” is the chant . . .

We adamantly defend our choices – Desantis was at this rally, Levine really seems to have a handle on things, Graham’s family didn’t really want to destroy wetlands for a mall, maybe Chris King or Andrew Gillum can find Clewiston on a map, Putnam is a mult-generational native . . .

Yes, our water is bad.

Yes, this is a lousy political cycle.

But the worst part is us.

We allow ourselves to be divided.  To attack and wheedle at narratives that don’t fit our agenda.

Sugar’s at fault.  Sugar is innocent.  The Army Corp is in cahoots with Big Sugar. South Florida Water Management District just wants to keep the EAA happy.  The Fanjuls have paid for the election.  Blow up the dike.  Stop the discharges.  #senditsouth.

We’ve lost a huge part of what makes Floridians special.

We’ve never seen eye to eye on guns or marijuana or immigration or religion . . . But surely we can all agree that we all want better water.

Is the answer simple?  Of course not.

SFWMD.  The Department of the Interior.  The Seminole Tribe.  The Army Corp of Engineers.  SWFWMD.  Florida Wildlife Commission.  National Parks Service.  There are a million moving parts to this.  Not to mention, we’ve placed 20 million plus people on a peninsula that’s supposed to be a swamp.

“The way nature intended” left the conversation the second we swapped out our horses for F-350’s.

So.

Which politician wants to talk about limiting the capacity of the state?

Oh – that’s right – none of them.

Which one wants to address growth and the thousand new residents moving here each day?

I’ll wait.

Just kidding.  Because it’s none of them.

Do I like all the candidates? Of course not.

But I don’t think Putnam or Graham or Desantis or King or Levine is hellbent on destroying our way of life.

I don’t think they’re interested in growing green slime and charging up the red tide to better destroy their constituents.

Meetings around the CERP and all the other funny-sounding “RP” plans have been going on for decades.  The Kissimmee River restoration began when I was in high school.

Which is all my way of saying:

Be nice.

We’re losing our way more and more each day, feted by a social media mob and fertilized by content.  We are a different kind of Red Tide and Blue Tide, intent on destroying way more than our beaches and rivers and waterways.  We’re intent on destroying each other.

Are there real issues that need to be addressed?  Absolutely there are.  And water is at the top of my list.  But so is my kids’ school.  So is my wife’s job, and my town’s infrastructure, and my aunt’s healthcare situation.

There is nuance in life.  I can’t pick anyone in the world and say “See that guy, right there – his name’s ‘Pete’ and his life matches up to mine exactly down to the second . . . “

Yes, there are moments, and causes, and for me this is absolutely one of them.  For a hotel operator, a sugar farmer, a fishing guide, a snowbird, a transplant, a computer engineer, a nurse, a lawyer, a retailer – this moment and their moment may look drastically different, there are nuances and splits that shape our discourse and visions.

This election is important for Florida.  It is important for you.

Just remember it’s important for other people, too.

And tomorrow, we’ll all still be Floridians, no matter the outcome.  And we’ll all still have our same issues that need to be fixed.

Together.

Graduation

Today’s the day.

You’ll walk across the stage, and shake the principal’s hand, and we’ll eat all the seafood and laugh and cry and take a million pictures. This is the tipping point, the entry into adulthood. Everything is in front of you. But, if you’ll allow your dad a few minutes, I just want to press pause for a minute to reminisce about what’s behind us.

I remember the steps up to Watson Clinic Pediatrics. I had been a father for 3 days. I didn’t understand car seats or copayments. Did you know there was a room for “well” kids? Not this guy. I’d say I was braving it alone, except I wasn’t, a tiny little girl in a Noah’s Ark blanket somehow surviving alongside me. Everything she did was amazing, from her toothless grins to the way her little fingers would seemingly tangle around mine. It was perfect.

Your first steps were more of a tumble, a bullfight with gravity that you never seemed to lose. I can remember the dress you wore, and your hair in a pigtail that only a dad could’ve arranged, cackling with your raspy voice as you bounced from couch to chair.

Do you remember the Longhorn Song?

Longhorn, food long on flavor
Steaks you can savor
MOOOOooooooOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Every day, as we’d careen into the HCA parking lot, you’d say “Daddy, I’m glad you didn’t sing the Longhorn Song” and I’d sing it in my absolute loudest voice, and you’d feign anger and outrage until the giggles won out.

Man, do I miss that.

Fishing. We’ve fished about as much as a dad and daughter could fish. Dock lights and mangroves.  Snook and redfish, snapper and catfish and trout. Every time the boat would leave, you’d be on it. Every fish that came over the side was met with the question “is it a keeper?”

How about Harry Potter? I’ve always believed Harry and Ron and Hermione and Snape helped both of us through the divorce . . . there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think about the time we went to Universal, and the wand choosing you somehow in that shop, and how you believed, if even for a moment, that it was magic. And how I never had any doubt.

Road trips to Alabama . . . Duck hunts and goose hunts and Exploding Kittens . . .  Midnight movies and The Incredibles . . . Band concerts and Art shows . . . Talent shows and Hurricanes and Pixie Hollow . . . Up and The Grove City Motel . . . Space Camp and Gary’s Oyster Bar and Little Gasparilla Island . . . Sundresses and Sunsets, Georgetown and Charleston . . . Tornado warnings and first ducks and fishing in the rain and Pub Trivia and Knowledge Cards and Science fairs and Beymer town and Cinnamon rolls “the size of ya head” . . . Meg and Brittany tangling your hair in a fan . . . Gilly taking you shopping for clothes for school . . . Emy babysitting you over summer vacation . . . I remember boat rides, and birthday parties, and trick-or-treating and church . . . bunk beds and room makeovers . . . school dances and radio sing-a-longs . . . Horse drawn carriage rides and looking at Christmas lights every night . . . running around DC with your $2 flip-flops . . . being snowed in and snowball fights and “a ragtag army in need of a shower” and Hamilton and Broadway . . . shrimp boils and peanut boils and frying more chicken and crawfish than should be allowed, just to see your face light up . . . making you clean your room and do yard work and wash cars and load the dishwasher and say “yes ma’am” and write sentences . . . Linkin Park and Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift and High School Musical . . . teaching you to swim, and feigning disapproval at your bathing suit choices . . . taking you for a ride in a convertible and in the bed of the pickup and teaching you to drive in the woods . . .

You’ve conquered the hardest high school program we could find. You’re taking college and life by the horns. My little girl will hold up her diploma and smile a smile of accomplishment and pride.

And I’ll smile too, but more from the sidelines, your biggest cheerleader and fan . . . a dad with no clue, just like so many years ago in that doctor’s office, the little girl in the Noah’s ark blanket replaced by a young lady in an electric green cap and gown. A dad unsure of what’s coming next, but still certain that everything you do is amazing . . .

Congratulations Livjos!

Love,

Dad

Who Killed Waterfowling?

Does it seem like everyone is grumpy these days?

Not enough ducks, not enough land, too many hunters – the list is longer than a goose gun in the 40’s.

It felt like, maybe, it was time to lay out who, exactly, is to blame for the state of our waterfowling.

Is it Duck Dynasty, and Duck Commander, and the entire Robertson crew, spreading waterfowling from the swamps and speakeasies of rural America into 10 million living rooms every Tuesday? Or is it Social Media, a medal-less competition to see which Instagram account can post the most dead ducks each season?

Was it too many wannabe pro-staffers, stacking piles upon piles on top of their Yeti’s and tailgates?  Or was it too few guides taking a personal responsibility and a stewardship view of the resource, trading a few bookings for a generation’s future hunts . . .

Maybe it was all the Duck ID posts, driving folks like me up the wall as we answer, for what seems like the billionth time, whether that’s a Mottled or a Mallard . . . Or maybe it was too few of us taking the time to answer, thoughtfully and respectfully, which choke is best, or which gun is best, or, maybe, just maybe, actually identifying the Mottled in that picture . . .

Kids, there was a time not that long ago when you went waterfowling, shot ducks, and the only folks who may have known were your friends at school and your family, maybe 10-15 people.  Now, we don’t get out of bed for less than 250 likes . . .

Was it motorized decoys, and e-callers, and e-collars?  Was it surface drives, or maybe longtails, or airboats, or all of them?

Is it the number of hunters at the ramp, or in the blinds, day in and day out?  Or is it the number of ramps, too few to accommodate the growth, leaving swaths of public land completely unreachable?

Perhaps it’s the sale of hunts in previously unmanaged fields north of wherever you are . . . the lease rights to a cornfield driven up by a second crop of bands and bills, leading to short stops and slower migrations?  Or landowners de-icing ponds that should’ve been frozen solid by early December, convincing the mallards that, hey, snow ain’t that bad . . .

Was it the $28 boxes of shells, or the $2000 guns, or the $40k boats?  Maybe it’s all the brands with their logos stitched and hashtagged and @ symbols on the side of their truck wraps . . .

Can we blame the Game Commissions doing a lousy job of managing your state’s resources, or would it be better to blame one of the non-profits for spending your money somewhere else entirely, making sure that only the upper echelon sees the fruits of their labor?  Or maybe the Federal system for making a mess of the NWR’s all over the country?

Is it YouTube, and Vimeo, and Facebook, and Snapchat?  Or was it the podcasts and TV shows and magazines and books?

Who, exactly, is to blame for the state of our waterfowling?

Maybe we should all take a look in the mirror.