Brian Edwards Media

Out for a Duck


Duck shooting season about to start. Human versus duck. It would be a fairer contest if the ducks had guns and could take aim at the assholes who take pleasure in shooting these beautiful creatures out of the sky.

In an interview some years ago I put this suggestion (rather more politely) to the Duke of Edinburgh, then a keen hunter. We went on to discuss ‘the hunter’s melancholy’, a passing sadness which hunters apparently feel when they make a kill. His Royal Highness was familiar with the feeling and, if memory serves, suggested that hunting served a useful purpose in controlling the populations of certain species.

I wasn’t aware that we were about to be overrun by ducks in Godzone or that population numbers of lions, tigers and elephants were out of control in Africa and other tropical climes. But I left it at that. It would have been neither appropriate nor acceptable to harass the husband of the Queen. And actually I rather liked him.

I’m not entirely on terra firma in this matter. I’m a meat eater. And I have never seen how chickens, cows or little lambs are dispatched. Nor do I want to.

If there’s a difference it is this: that none of those creatures are killed for sport. And the manner of their dispatch is controlled by law to avoid unnecessary suffering.

But really, I ought to be a vegetarian.


  1. 1

    It’s a lovely day.
    Let’s go out and kill something.

  2. Ducks can be a pest if uncontrolled in some places, especially paradise ducks which cause massive crop damage. They also cause serious water pollution.

    • I understand that the paradise duck is as much goose as duck. But the point is probably academic. In my book sport and killing make uncomfortable bedfellows.

  3. If things don’t die, nothing can live. Further, humans are creatures of this planet, and have a natural predator instinct that is essential to survival. Instinctive behaviour like hunting or eating or sex have evolved to be deeply instinctive pleasures. Hunting is called a sport now because we don’t have to rely on it any more to survive, but really it is humans enjoying doing what all predators do.

    The pleasure for humans is in the thrill of the hunt and the acquisition of wild food, rather than in the act of killing itself – although for sure, there is a savage joy in the act of killing that almost everyone feels, whether or not they like to admit it.

    Sure, humans use guns but guns are a result of technology, which is an aspect of culture, which is an innate trait of humankind.

    it is tough on the ducks, but at the end of the day they are only ducks and there are plenty more of them. I wouldn’t get to worried about them.

    • 3.1

      OK. Let’s set aside areas where human “natural predators” can hunt each other. No laws would apply in that area.
      At the end of the day they are only humans and there are plenty more of them.
      I’m not silly enough to go near such an area and I suspect few if any duck hunters would either.

    • Sensible comment. I’m along the lines of if you kill it, eat it. What gets me is the absurdity of the TV fishing programmes…..the maniacal whooping and cackling you see amongst the gleeful fishermen whenever they hook a big one suggests to me that the thrill is in the killing, and there’s no pretence of “sport” at all.

  4. “…K. Let’s set aside areas where human “natural predators” can hunt each other. No laws would apply in that area…”

    We do, it is called ‘war”. You may have heard of it.

    • 4.1

      War is not natural predators hunting each other. “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” to quote
      von Clausewitz. The two are quite different.

  5. Humans have become greatest pest on the face of the earth. A danger to themselves and every other living thing. Collectively too clever for their own good and too dumb to know it.

  6. Guns make me uneasy.People having guns makes me uneasy.Its not only the ducks we should be concerned about.

  7. Brian, have you experienced the culinary delight which is Peking Duck? Mouth-watering slivers of duck flesh together with its crispy skin wrapped in a delicate palm-sized pancake with julienne-sliced spring onions, carrots and celery; all coated in an Asian flavoured-infused plum sauce?

    Please, you must try this dish. You will not only do an about-turn but experience nirvana.

  8. For what it’s worth, recreational hunting is covered by the Animal Welfare Act, not just meat processing plants. That said, it’s undeniable that some ducks, not to mention other game animals, have a pretty unpleasant demise. Hunters often talk disingenuously about the merits of a “clean kill”, but in reality that’s a bit of an aspirational goal. Dave Hansford, in his excellent book, Protecting Paradise, tells it like it is. “Clean” kills are a little messy in a lot of cases.