An Unlucky Ducky

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

May 18, 2005

An Unlucky Ducky

When Steve Schneider returned to his Normal, Ill., home Friday evening, things were anything but, uh, normal. He discovered his driveway covered with broken glass and a huge hole in the picture window. In his living room he found a full-grown duck! Oh, did we mention it was Friday — the 13th? Also this week, you’ll read about a possible clinical use for one of the country’s most notorious invasive plant species, important hunting and fishing legislation signed into law by the President last week, and more.

Just A Normal Day

Steve Schneider said he approached his front door with great caution after seeing the shattered front window of his Normal, Ill., home last week.

J.R. Absher

“I peeked through the front door,” he told the Bloomington (Illinois) Pantagraph. “There was this duck in my living room. It was just sitting there.”

Schneider said he tried to lure the waterfowl from the house using bread as bait, but the disorientated bird crashed into the walls and ceiling, flying through several rooms and finally retreating into a closet.

That’s when he decided to call for professional help.

Police and animal control personnel threw a blanket over the duck’s head so it could be safely handled and caged. It was subsequently transported and released at a nearby lake, apparently unharmed from its unlucky series of events.

“When I pulled up I couldn’t believe it. But, what can you expect from Friday the 13th?” quipped Normal Police Sgt. Dan Kelley.

A Beer And A Shot Of Kudzu, Please

The results of a recent scientific study indicate that an herb derived from the root of the invasive kudzu plant may help curb alcohol binge drinking.

Researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found moderate to heavy drinkers given the herb extract in capsule form for a week prior to participating in a “scientific” (yeah, right!) drinking experiment consumed significantly fewer beers than those given a placebo. Those ingesting kudzu also drank more slowly, increasing the number of gulps or sips they took to consume each beer.

The findings were published in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

“Alcohol consumption was almost cut in half,” said lead author Scott Lukas, director of the hospital’s Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory. “All of the subjects except one reduced their intake.”

The kudzu plant was introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s to help fight erosion in the South. Today, the fast-growing plant continues to infest forestlands and everything else in its reach, including buildings, utility poles, and power lines.

OK, next researchers need to find a clinical use for invasive foreign species such as zebra mussels, nutria, and bighead carp!

New Law Supports License Quotas

President Bush last week signed into law federal legislation that strengthens the authority individual states have to regulate hunting and fishing, specifically whether residents should receive more favorable treatment than non-residents in their application for hunting tags.

The measure, sponsored by several Western lawmakers, was in response to a 2002 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an Arizona case filed by three New Mexico outfitters who claimed restrictions on non-residents in some big game hunts were discriminatory. The judge ruling in the case interpreted hunting by non-residents to be “interstate commerce,” rather than outdoor recreation.

The Senate and House of Representatives passed versions of the bill, and it was attached to an emergency appropriations bill for defense, terrorism and tsunami relief that was signed by the President Wednesday

One of the bill’s most outspoken supporters and sponsor, Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, said he believes that residents and state agencies know how to manage the wildlife in their individual states better than the courts or the federal government.

“Wildlife is one of Wyoming’s most important assets and this bill reaffirms that Wyoming citizens, who bear most of the costs associated with managing wildlife, will remain in control,” Sen. Enzi said.

No Boone & Crockett Tabbies

All the Fluffies, Tabbies and Kitties in Wisconsin breathed a collective purr of relief last week.

That’s because the executive committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress decided not to support a proposal to allow hunters to kill feral cats in The Dairy State. Last month, Wisconsin became the target of cat lovers from across the nation when 57 percent of about 12,000 sportsmen representatives approved the proposal, which sought to protect game birds and songbirds from predatory, stray felines.

While delegates at the group’s convention in Manitowoc, Wis., voted Friday to recommend the change to the Natural Resources Board, the group’s executive committee, which has overall say, ruled against moving forward with the proposal.

“There is no need to push it any further,” said Wisconsin Conservation Congress chairman Steve Oestreicher. Oestreicher said the committee needed to provide the group with some leadership and common sense on the issue. For the proposal to become law, it required legislative approval and the governor’s signature.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said his office was inundated with letters and e-mails from angry cat lovers and that the proposal to shoot wild cats was making the state a laughingstock.

“The governor has indicated he would never sign a bill,” Oestreicher said. “It’s time to let it go.”

Quote Of The Week

“To be out on the land in all weathers, the gun barrels warm in the sun or shelved with snow or beaded with rain, the light wan or blazing, the wind rattling leaves down the hollow that yesterday brimmed with fog; to be out among stones and trees and streams, among the animals who reside here day in and day out: grouse and pheasants, deer and bear, rabbits and squirrels — and the ones who steal mysteriously, the ducks and the woodcock, arriving by night from unknown origins and bound for unknown destinations; to be out on the land with a silent companion whose boundless, instinctive energy clarifies and intensifies one’s own; to listen as fall segues into winter, to walk upon one short segment of the ever-repeating cycle; to come home fully spent, empty-handed or bearing food for the table; to sit by the fire and feel the day dying down: That is what it is to hunt. This is what it is to live.

-Charles Fergus

“Out On the Land”

“A Rough Shooting Dog,” 1991

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom ( and The Outdoor Weblog ) to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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