By Roger Brunt
Closer in, a hen mallard shepherds her string of ducklings along the shore, then makes a detour around a muskrat preening itself on a clump of marsh grass. I point out how the muskrat uses its front claws to carefully comb its glistening fur. A soft quack from the hen hurries her brood along.
Earlier in the evening we witnessed a fierce battle between two great blue herons. One chased the other low across the lake, eventually forcing it to land in the water, then attacking it by pecking furiously at its head and body. The heron being attacked eventually managed to fly away, only to be forced down on the water again. Finally the aggressor flew off, leaving its much bedraggled victim alone. It was the kind of thing you might see once in a lifetime, and I knew we’d talk about it all the way home.
I have long been concerned that the intimate knowledge of our land is slowly being left in the hands of “the experts”; the foresters, the biologists, the fisheries agents, the wildlife managers, while those of us who have a real feel for the land, and valuable knowledge gleaned from years of practical experience gained hunting and fishing and trapping, are slowly being pushed aside.
All things change, I know that, but I am fighting hard to make sure my girls get a good grounding in knowing and appreciating the natural world the way I learned about it. An appreciation based on the idea that it is not wrong to hunt and fish and trap. That those skills are part of our Canadian birthright. And I hope that by knowing about nature and the outdoors, my girls will fight to preserve and protect this land as I have.