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October 29, 2008

Ruffling Our Feathers


            The Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was addressing the membership in attendance at the New York State Outdoor Writers Association annual fall conference.  The commissioner is the head of the state agency that includes the Division of Fish, Game and Marine Resources, and he spoke about the accomplishments of his agency and the challenges that lay ahead.  He made a point about his agency’s management efforts regarding “ruffled grouse,” and he repeated the misnomer later in his talk.

            Let’s not hang the man for his ignorance.  It wasn’t the first time we came across this mistake, even seeing it in print, but a person in charge of the agency that manages New York State’s ruffed grouse should know better.  An error like that damages credibility.           

            Hunters themselves perpetrate and perpetuate incorrect references.  “You should have seen the horns on that whitetail,” is something we’ve often heard, even though “antlers” is the correct term.  Antlers are shed; horns, typically, are permanent.

            Ever read about a hunter’s recollection of a year-old buck coming under his tree stand? We have.  Problem is deer are typically born in the spring and hunted in the fall and early winter.  According to our math, that makes the deer a half-year old.  Call it a fawn.

            How many times have you read or heard references to Canadian geese?  The correct name is “Canada geese.”

            You can only laugh to yourself when a friend or acquaintance, uninitiated to the world of hunting, asks if you “caught anything” after you return from a day afield. It’s not so funny, however, when a hunter misuses the sport’s jargon or misstates a biological fact.  Worst of all is when the media or a wildlife management official offers an inaccuracy.

            Have you come across errors like these that particularly bug you?