I’ve been making pleas for photos of dead birds for the Field Guide lately, and lucky for me, we’re into seaduck hunting season again when I have a good chance of acquiring some pictures of trophy specimens. In service of this goal, I emailed our friend Jack Renfrew of Coastline Guide Service, who is part of the network of hunters emailing each other photos of their takes. Thus, I am hopeful that Jack can dredge up some of the pics we still need for the Field Guide. Jack also wrote an article on hunting sea ducks in Massachusetts for this month’s Coastal Angler Magazine, South Coast edition (check out page 32).
Jack is a true outdoorsman and a responsible steward of the environment, as you will sense when you read his piece. I am writing about Jack today partly to remind everyone of the partnership and shared goals between SEANET and hunters. Sometimes, when I travel around speaking about SEANET to conservation groups, they pull affronted faces when I mention our work with hunters. I suppose that, as hunting has grown less common, some of these people have never had a positive experience with a hunter and think of them all as destructive, bloodthirsty brutes blasting away at everything that moves. I know many of you don’t think that, but I do want to help correct the misperception. It’s deer hunting season now, and my house is surrounded by woodlands on all sides. We grant permission to hunters to use our land, and they often head into the woods in the afternoon, stay out there for several hours, and most of the time, never fire a shot, emerging after dark empty handed. All that time, they are sitting quietly in the woods, observing. This quiet observation of the natural world is what we’re losing as a society. Kids aren’t going outside much at all, let alone spending hours in the woods, or the fields, or out on the water. Hunting is one way to get them out there. And we all know that people will protect only what they love and what they understand.
So aside from the scientific uses of the specimens we acquire from hunters, I group them with the birders, the hikers, the photographers, the backpackers, and all the other people getting out there and bringing other people along with them to teach them about the world around them. Jack is a guide and a teacher just that way.
It wouldn’t do justice to Jack’s personality if I didn’t leave you with a lighter note. Should you try to find Jack’s article on sea ducks by googling “Seaducking in the Bay State,” Google will ask, “Did you mean seducing in the Bay State?” This may not be too far from the truth; one of the most popular features in Coastal Angler Mag is the monthly “Angler Babe.” She certainly looks outfitted for a day out on the open water, yes?