Some Thoughts of Sharing Birds

Years ago I ran into some hunters in a parking lot of a wildlife area. I asked how they had done and they showed me three woodcock.

"Want 'em?" one asked. "We don't like the taste of liver!"

I said, "Thank you very much." But I wanted to say was: "If you don't like them, why did you shoot them?"

The follow-up question would have been: "What were you going to do with them if you didn't run into some guy who wanted them in the parking lot?"

At the end of a hunt, people start passing birds around. Some are being generous, and sharing the bounty. Others are merely lazy. They like to hunt, but don't want to bother with cleaning and cooking birds. On the one hand, I feel that if they don't want their birds, they shouldn't have killed them in the first place. On the other hand, I'm usually happy to take more birds home.

When I share birds, which, frankly, is not as often as it should be, I am being generous. That's because I would rather yank out a tooth and hand it to someone as I would surrender a pheasant, a fat, late-season Canada goose, or a greenhead. I'll bring birds to landowners who let me hunt, although just as often I give them some other gift of food. And, on those occasions I give birds away, I take them home and dress them before handing them over.

A lot of people give birds away because they have too many already; they don't want to clean them; or, they don't like eating them. You're doing them a favor if you take their birds.

That makes the after-hunt bird sharing tricky. I'll usually make a polite, pro forma offer of birds, hoping no one takes me up on it. But, if people really want them that's okay. I don't want people taking my birds thinking they are doing me a favor. Likewise, if someone says, "You want these birds?" My immediate answer is "Yes!" (I can be grabby. It's a flaw I'm working on.) But I don't want to take birds from someone who genuinely wants them for him or herself. On the other hand, I do want to take birds from someone who will otherwise just put them in the freezer then throw them out before next season.