Ah, the fickleness of fowl. To be a waterfowl hunter means throwing many parties where the guests of honor are no-shows. After hours of planning, booking the venue, arranging the party favors, sending out invitations – a large amount of effort and expense – you are too often sitting there alone, looking around, checking the clock until you finally realize: they’re not coming.
Socialites and party planners would crumble. But we hunters bravely press on, undeterred.
Of course, we shrug off the absence of ducks and geese and point to one good reason or another why getting up at 3am, driving for two hours, and sitting in the freezing wind all morning wasn’t a complete waste. We marvel at the sunrise, which is indeed a grand view that non-hunters rarely enjoy. We take time to get some really great photos of the dog. We’re mesmerized by some moment we wouldn’t have otherwise seen or experienced; a twilight pond is a good place for things like a hawk killing its breakfast or a finch landing on the barrel of a gun. We text friends or family on the East Coast, just so they’ll ask what the hell are you doing up at 4 o’clock in the morning?
In other words, we’re in constant search of a silver lining.
Yesterday’s hunt on a Wilderness Unlimited property was like that, a party that only Schatzie and I bothered to attend. It was a nice enough spot; flooded rice ponds just north of Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Since these places are in the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area, the white-fronted geese that tried to crash the party were out of season and so, not on the guest list. We watched them from the cold metal sunken blind on a dike between the ponds until around 10am, and then faced the fact that something we could shoot was not likely to show up.
Trudging the half-mile back to the truck, I realized I had no silver lining. The foggy morning had canceled the sunrise. All morning the scene and everything in it had been gray and brown and flat. There was no cellphone reception. Nothing noteworthy had happened. With a sour expression, I flung my muddy gear in the back, fed Schatzie and loaded her up, too. And hit the road.
Driving south on i-5, it was still rumbling around in my head that I couldn’t recall a hunt where there was not a single thing to say after the “but” in I didn’t get any ducks, but…
And then I saw it. It was only for a few seconds; a great black beast to my left, speeding north:
Milo Yiannopoulos’ “Dangerous Faggot Tour” bus.
I recognized it instantly, and some quick mental fact-checking confirmed I wasn’t seeing things. I knew he had been at UC Davis for an event this past weekend (which was shut down by some protestors who – surprise, surprise! – seem very opposed to anyone’s speech, ideas or beliefs except their own).
For those who don’t know, Milo is a very controversial, quick-witted journalist, entrepreneur and public speaker for the “alt-right.” He’s gay. And he a strong supporter of President-elect Trump. The contrast between those last two certainly makes heads explode.
Love him, hate him, or something in between, there’s no denying seeing THAT bus on a hunt is a very rare thing. So Milo, thanks for the silver lining.