November 03, 2010
I'm always in a good mood when I walk into my local sporting goods store in the fall to buy my state hunting license, because I know it won't be long before I'll be sitting in a duck blind with my whining, slobbering companion. Or maybe my dog. Of course, I'll also have to buy a federal duck stamp, which I am more than happy to do because I know the money goes for a good cause.
I like the fact the Feds give me an actual stamp, with a pretty picture of a duck on it, to stick on my hunting license. The folks at the capital in the state where I hunt figured out a long time ago it isn't necessary to actually give me a stamp. They call it a state duck stamp when it's really just a tax. But like the federal stamp, the money goes to a worthy cause, so I don't mind paying it.
In fact I'm happy to pay it. I'm so happy, I can think of several other worthy causes for more hunting-related stamps. But while the federal and state stamps provide money for ducks and geese, the stamps I propose would generate money we hunters could draw from in times of need.
For instance, I wouldn't mind paying a nominal sum for a stamp to provide attorney fees for guys who go duck hunting so often their wives are divorcing them. It could be called The Divorce Stamp, and would feature a picture of a hunter's belongings all piled in his front yard. You know, several shotguns, lots of camouflage clothing, maybe even a retriever or two.
Speaking of retrievers, another worthy cause would be a stamp to raise money for dog food and veterinary bills. It would of course be called The Dog Stamp, and would feature an artist's rendering of a hungry Lab eating from a bowl of expensive dog food. A 25-pound bag of it costs about $30, and my Lab goes through it like it was a bag of cats.
Toss in her yearly vaccinations and the odd time or two she gets sick from catching and eating a whole rabbit or squirrel, and I've got a substantial vet bill on my hands. A little help from my fellow duck hunters would be more than welcome.
What about clothing? Nowadays, if a hunter showed up in one of those retrograde coats with an old-fashioned military-type camo pattern, he'd be laughed out of the duck blind.
A new pattern that makes all of the others obsolete comes out almost every season, and of course, we've just got to have it. So I propose a Camouflage Stamp. Logic dictates its design would feature a camo pattern, so make sure you don't drop it on the ground or you'll never be able to find it.
To help hunters avoid having to take advantage of the funds provided by The Divorce Stamp, we should have a Gifts For The Wife or Girlfriend Stamp. This stamp design should feature a box of chocolates or maybe a bouquet of flowers. As a married man, I only have to spend money on these items several times a season, but what about the poor single guy with a whole covey of girl friends? It's not hard to imagine his candy-and-flowers bill running into hundreds of dollars. I, for one, am glad to donate a little money to such a worthwhile endeavor.
I would also be willing to pay for a Things We Can't Live Without Stamp. Fess up! How many of you guys hunt without some sort of mechanized, battery-powered gizmo? How long has it been since you've looked out over a spread that didn't have a fleet of splashing, swimming, bobbing decoys or a whirligig mallard on a pole with a handy remote-control feature? All of these things cost money, they're all delivered to your local sporting goods store by trucks, and trucks run on gasoline, so the price is going up fast.
Better run out and buy that battery-powered flapping, quacking shoveler decoy right now, because next season it'll be even more expensive!
And what about taxidermy? Have you checked out the cost to have a 10-pound Canada goose mounted in flying position with an eye screw in the middle of its back so you can hang it over the dining room table like it's coming in for a landing right on your broccoli casserole? (See Divorce Stamp.) The under-privileged hunter would be hard pressed to come up with that kind of money without tapping into the Taxidermy Stamp fund.
Any hunter having trouble making ends meet would be eligible to apply to his state game and fish department for a grant from the fund generated by these stamps. Of course, the hunting license would have to be enlarged to make room for us to stick all these stamps on it. In fact, we might need a brief case to carry it in, but that's no big deal. We already carry so much stuff to the blind with us, what's another 5 or 10 pounds?
So, if you want to apply for financial aid from the fund, be sure to enclose a copy of your last five years of income tax returns, because payments will be doled out only to those truly in need.