Waste Not!

I've have something stuck in my craw that I want to talk about. I have been increasingly disappointed with game and fish in trash cans and roadside ditches over the years and what happened recently was simply too much.

Sunday January 29 was the final day of the 2011 duck season and Seadrift was a hotbed of waterfowl hunting as duck boats of every description filled local motels and restaurants. Traffic in the marsh hit an all-time high and lots of ducks were taken. Fishing was good too as cold weather had them hunkered down in predictable holes.

Now I live on Lane Road, the county blacktop that affords the only launch access between Port O'Connor and Seadrift, and I also hunted the bay that weekend, so I know firsthand how many hunters and anglers turned out.

Heading into Seadrift that Sunday afternoon, something in the ditch caught my eye where Lane intersects TX 185. To my disappointment I found four redhead ducks. Good enough to bag for bragging, but evidently not good enough to be taken home, cleaned and eaten. I muttered to myself at the shameful lack of ethics and tossed the ducks into the back of my truck for disposal later.

Pulling into Dick's Food Store I noticed my buddy cleaning his boat at the car wash and strolled over to say hello. There it was again two more redheads lying on the driveway smashed by passing vehicles. Same story, neither had been cleaned. Now I had six in the bed of my pickup.

My blood was close to boiling. I find it disgusting that some slob would discard unprocessed waterfowl in a public place. Thanks for the thoughtful and responsible display of hunting ethic - you wretched scumbag.

I exchanged pleasantries with my friend and tended my shopping at Dick's, and then headed back home. What I saw next just blew me away. Right at the end of Lane Road were two buzzards feasting upon a pile of fish carcasses that were not there 20 minutes earlier.

Two nice big sheepshead and a black drum of about five pounds. Not exactly glamour species but darn good eaters. None had been filleted although the buzzards were making a job of it. Now I'm really mad.

I live by a simple rule: Fish or game - if you take it, you eat it.

Fishing is easier. Release what you do not plan to eat. In the case of a deeply hooked or injured fish, do your best to revive it and then send it on its way. It'll have a better chance if you release it than it will in a roadside ditch. Worst case scenario nothing goes to waste in the natural world.

Hunting is not so easy, there being no shoot and release option. But we can darn sure identify our targets carefully and take only the ones we will use on the table. If you do not eat game or plan to process it and give it somebody who will DON'T KILL IT!

I'll get off my soapbox if you'll promise to waste not... and that includes freezer burn!