When I went for a flu shot today, the young woman who attended to the initial paperwork saw my address and remarked that she knew the road well. She said she also works for the Green Mountain Shooting Preserve. That's the place that moved in and took over what was once a beautiful area in which to take little walks, ski jaunts and mountain bike rides. It was where I used to be able to nip over for a quick dose of rising sun long before that light would reach my house. It has been barred to me since the early 1990s when the present owner posted it with warning signs about the gunfire that rakes it whenever the guys are practicing or the clients are actually there for a nice killing spree.
"Have you met Dave?" she asked. "He's such a nice guy."
I knew she meant the owner. I did not say, "Has anyone asked what the birds think?" I did say I had not made his acquaintance.
The nice young woman said she takes care of the birds. I assumed that she meant this was before the clients "take care" of them in the manner of Guido the hit man.
When I got home and went out back with the cats, we met a refugee from the shooting preserve's recreational death factory. I don't know enough about game birds to know the species of this particular survivor. It was speckled, seemed taller than a quail, and not terribly afraid of humans. I was able to walk quite close to it, talking quietly. It blended so well with its background that I could not get a clear photograph even from a few feet away.
These birds are unrescuable. They don't live in this climate naturally. They become easy meals for local predators or the winter kills them. I suppose I could build a nice chicken house for them and call it the Real Green Mountain Preserve (where we actually preserve something), but that could turn into a pretty big operation. Probably better to let the foxes, weasels, coyotes and bobcats clean up after the wasteful humans.
The Green Mountain Shooting Preserve website is full of happy talk about bonding with your fellow humans, and -- get this -- "enjoying the solace of nature." I'm sure nature enjoys the solace of a rain of hot lead.
In another context I wrote something about hunters salivating over a picture of a deer. I was told reprovingly that hunters don't do it for the enjoyment of the kill. If the people who line up to blast a flock of pen-raised birds aren't enjoying the process of killing, what exactly are they doing it for? Be honest. It only takes a minute to explain to critics that humans are predators and that killing things is fun. Hell, I've even heard that killing people is fun. I don't advocate it, but I understand it. Once you suppress your susceptibility to the plight of your target it just becomes a game. See how many you can blast. It's cool. Everything dies eventually. Why not have some fun with it?
Hunters have referred to the clean death they offer their victims, as opposed to getting shredded alive by a pack of predators, or dying of disease, or starvation. That holds up as long as the hunter does not merely wound quarry that then escapes to finish its agony, or, as happens with many of the shooting preserve's birds, misses entirely, leaving confused and unready creatures to fan out through the woods to suffer various fates. In no case does that life amount to much of a "happily ever after."
Right before getting jabbed with a needle did not seem to be the time to fire up a controversy at the pharmacy window. I don't want to make this woman hate her job and I probably wouldn't be able to make her see her employer for what he is in the few short minutes I would have had to crap in her pool. Maybe Dave really is a sweet guy who simply hasn't connected the dots in his lifestyle. I will say I doubt it. He's selling a death sport and sugar coating it to attract clients and deflect critics. Since he's kept the place going for about 20 years now, I'd say he has plenty of customers who enjoy snuffing out baffled featherbrains. You can't argue with success, right?