February 16, 2010
Bourjaily: "Weary" Ducks, Bucks, and Gobblers
By Phil Bourjaily
“Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.”-- Elvis Costello
I do my best to be amused by the gradual decay of the English language, much of which I blame on computer spell-checks, but it isn’t easy. The one that sets me off? “Weary” vs. “wary.”
Somehow w-e-a-r-y has become the preferred spelling of “wary.” “Weary” means “tired” while “wary” means “cautious.” Yet if you read a few ads in outdoor magazines or posts on hunting forums you will be surprised as I was to learn that our woods and wetlands are filled with weary gobblers, weary bucks and weary ducks. In fact, a google search of “weary gobblers” this morning turned up 289,000 results. I found this entry on the website of a certain outdoor mail order giant. It includes a bonus misused apostrophe:
“Submissive Sally: Take any tom's attention away from you and direct it towards Submissive Sally. Not only does she look realistic, but the inviting pose will have the most weary gobbler's running to get to her.”
Perhaps it is weariness that makes spring turkeys so hard for me to kill after all. Maybe they are so tired from fighting and breeding they don’t have the energy to come to my calls. And, you would think with all the weary bucks around, I should be able to walk right up to one and shoot him in his bed as he snores, but it hasn’t happened yet.
On the other hand, as any duck hunter can tell you, weary waterfowl are the least wary of all: they are tired, hungry, and ready to plop down in the decoys, no questions asked. You can keep your weary bucks and gobblers, but let me at those weary ducks.