Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let's do the risk-averse math, shall we?

In the comments section of a noted internet blog a famous grouser has written:
"So much for the 'skewing by merganser/trash duck' argument. Makes it hard to justify 100 + bird seasons and the dedication required- also makes it hard on a Chesapeake Bay Retriever."
Let's do the math, shall we? The famous grouser's wife has helpfully provided information from the NYS Dept. of Health, to wit:

Thou shalt not eat more than two waterfowl per month. (I paraphrase. The exact quote is: "• You eat no more than two waterfowl per month.")

Let us assume a family of four.

Furthermore, the Health Dept. gives no indication of whether we're talking big ducks or little ducks. Let us therefore also assume a smallish mallard as the norm, with teal and wood ducks on the low end of the weight curve and largish mallards on the high end of the weight curve.

Moreover, the NYS Dept of Health does not indicate whether the "eat no more than two per month" dictum is for individuals or spread out at dinner parties for 100 guests. I therefore will assume it is for individuals. (I have in my mind as the ideal individual an image of a cranky old bachelor who lives only to duck hunt and who lives alone. He probably drinks a lot. Perhaps he has a dog. For mathematical purposes, it matters not.)

Finally, let us assume that the famous grouser is in possession of a freezer, and that once reduced to possession, the possessed ducks of said grouser do not put him in violation of waterfowl possession limits once said possessed waterfowl have been reduced to Saran Wrap.

Two waterfowl per month is 24 waterfowl per year. For ease of addition, let us round up to 25 per year and hope that the twenty fifth waterfowl is an extra-small wood duck.

Famous grouser is thus entitled to eat 25 ducks a year. Famous grouser is married; his wife is thus allowed 25 ducks a year. (following me so far?)

Famous grouser has two kids. Let us say that they shall split an adult portion of 25 annual ducks two ways; or, 12.5 ducks per duck-loving child.

We are up to 75 ducks per year.

But wait!! we're not done.

Let us assume the grouser and his wife like to entertain, and that they occasionally serve (gasp), duck! at their familial and friendly functions. Let us say that the entire list of duck-lucky guests who are treated to duck dinners or appetizers in the famous grouser's home gets to split another individual allotment of 25 ducks. (I believe that this is a conservative number, given the famous grouser's penchant for entertaining.)

We are now up to 100 ducks per year.

I think it is safe to say that the famous grouser will occasionally hunt with his less duck-lucky friends, sharing the wet and cold pine seats in his duck blind. I think it is also safe to say that the famous grouser will sometimes, with a nonchalant wave of his hand, allow his departing duck-luckless friends to leave with one or more ducks-of-the-day so that they may spread the good cheer and mercury poisoning to their friends and family, wherever they may live.

I will allot this last group of duck-luckless friends an additional individual annual allotment of 25 mercury-laden ducks to be spread amongst themselves. Lucky devils.

At 125 ducks per year, we are now facing the limits of what a sporting waterfowler can responsibly harvest and consume. If the famous grousing waterfowler would like to add 25 more retrieves to the total, you know, "for the dog's sake" on those quiet days when edible ducks ain't flying, we will allow 25 more "bonus trash ducks" to be added to the annual total but not consumed by humans or pigs.

Perhaps we can grind up the mergs , diving ducks, grebes (if you're name is Illegal Reigel), coots, and other retrieved specimens to serve as tasty dog treats.

kids, don't eat this duck at home

So I think we can legally and ethically get our famous grouser up to 150 ducks annually retrieved for his Chesapeake Bay Retriever and stay within the guidelines posted by the all-knowing and all-benevolent NYS Dept of Health.

Beyond 150 ducks per year, if it is dedication and dog retrieves we care about, then I will allow that some of the famous grouser's friends be allowed to claim waterfowl that they believe to have shot and take them home as appropriate. Now, I know famous grousers like to claim every kill as their own, so I will limit the collective take of non-famous grousers to be split amongst themselves to another conservative individual allotment of 25 annual ducks.

I believe we are up to 175 ducks harvested per year, and harvested safely, ethically, and risk-aversely. If someone wishes to kill more than 175 ducks per year, perhaps we simply might condemn that individual as a good old-fashioned game hog. (I'm just sayin' . . . . )

As numbers are not my metier, you may wish to check my math and run the data your own way to form your own conclusions.

My conclusion? I think the following statement, "Makes it hard to justify 100 + bird seasons and the dedication required," is only so much whining and sour grapes.


Time for some famous grouse.


Dr. Dirt said...

Wow, and to think of the calculations you'd be capable of if numbers were, indeed, your metier. I can only comment that there are a dozen or so labels that need to be tied to this post. Tantillo's theorem, if you will. I can only imagine the corollaries. Brilliant. Riveting. Better than... calculus.

KGT (aka Cagey) said...

Uh...who the fvck IS this famous grouser? What makes HIM so famous, anyway? What a dope.

My likes Famous Grouse.

Thank God for your post, Jim. I was at risk of being an unrecruited and unretained waterfowler. I feel so much better now.

The mergansers being added to the bag limit was still a crap argument, by the way. But after the latest solid effort,after applying yourself, though a bit wordily, you seem to have made a worthy point... Rat bastard. I HATE it when you do that.

The only rebuttal is that I disagree with your final assessment, about whining and sour grapes and all. I believe the original point was about a threshold; a straw that breaks the camel's back.

Consider the following factors:
1. Ducks Unlimited tries to market itself as saving threatened ducks and waterfowl habitat... so we can shoot them?
2. Wives wonder about the excess... "why do you have to go out and kill ducks every day?"
3. Along comes a health advisory.
4. Hubby is gravitating towards big game hunting anyway.

So, there was a specific point where a decision was imminent about whether to focus less on waterfowl (given the above factors)and more on other pursuits. This decision was hastened by the cook's new-found ace... health implications. What I tried so obviously unsuccessfully to accomplish was to commiserate with fellow hunting enthusiasts about the sea change on the horizon, a turning of the page if you will, from being a die-hard waterfowl purist to "moving on" to other "more palatable" hunting pursuits. Where I sought empathy from my brothers of the chase, I received instead manly solutions, equations, suggestions, and fixes. No sense of misty-eyed nostalgia shared, no understanding of seasonality, changes, the passage of time, cycles. No attempt to console, or share in the sublime. Numbers. Math.

I share my blind, and cast pearls to swine.

Cold, cruel, unfeeling, numbers. Math. You give me math.

Damn fine piece of grousing there, by any measure. Rat bastard.


Anonymous said...


Two points:

1. Professor Filosophy did what he do best. Mad props to the prof.

2. NYS health advisory on eating waterfowl is a problem, despite the algebra showing otherwise.

But I view the problem as one of communicating context to the duck hunter. From the info NY provided, I have no idea if the risk involved in eating more (way more?) than the recommended duckie dosage is more or less than ...

enjoying a smoke now and then?
eating grilled commercial meats?
drinking "city" water?

I don't claim to feel the frustration you do about the advisory, but I think I do understand why you're cheesed.

Do what you enjoy, and don't read any of those damned warning labels.