However, there’s a very real addiction out there that does not yet have a name. For those diehard bird hunters, who live for days afield in the fall with bird dogs chasing any number of feathered fowl, the term Birdbrain may take on new meaning or even desirability. Possibly afflicted with this malady are those who always seem to have a far-off look in their eyes like a pointer searching the horizon for birds; those who long for the familiarity of their secret coverts throughout the year; those who would rather spend time with their bird dogs than with the fairer sex; those who enjoy the acrid smell of burnt gun powder from the barrel of a scattergun; or those who constantly have bird dogs and game birds on the brain. All of these individuals might just be Birdbrains.
Birdbrains love their furry, four-legged friends who hunt their hearts out for them.
Many outsiders-looking-in may see a Birdbrain’s obsession as silly, stupid, or even a waste of time and money. After all, more than one individual has walked away from a respectable job in the city to pursue their love of the outdoors and bird hunting. Just think of George Bird Evans, Ted Trueblood, and Mark Jeffrey Volk. An acquaintance of Burton Spiller actually took him to task on his constant sporting endeavors and asked, “Did you ever count the cost of your hunting? . . . Of the time you have lost and the money you spent?” This question sparked the timeless response by the Poet Laureate of Grouse Hunting, which should be the mantra of all Birdbrains:
“I replied and truthfully too, that I never lost a moment’s time in hunting: that I counted only that time lost which I spent working. . . . You think the days and weeks I have spent afield were wasted. Well, let me tell you this. If such a thing were possible, I would not trade even the memories of those glorious days for all the money you will ever possess.”
This begs the question: What are hunting memories worth to a Birdbrain? The answer is: Immeasurable. Birdbrains would much rather pursue birds with their canine companions than fame, fortune, or power. Birdbrains would choose a handful of feathers over a handful of gold any day. Burton Spiller’s friend Carney said it best when he exclaimed: “What! Me swap places with Rockfeller? Hell! I can kill more birds than he can.”
By way of warning, a side effect from being a Birdbrain is a growing discontent with the material things of this world and society in general. Birdbrains soon realize that many of the things people stress over daily—such as litigiousness, politics, or materialism—are just manmade strife that we could all live without. So their hearts lie elsewhere. Birdbrains gravitate towards that which is good, that which is wholesome, that which is real. The natural world has a magnetic pull for Birdbrains because they sense something greater than themselves underlying it all. The earth’s own rhythm and flow more closely matches the tune of their souls than the industrial grind they can’t seem to shake in society. The simple pursuit of birds with dog and shotgun is a Birdbrain’s ticket to a peaceful place where their world makes more sense.
Are you a Birdbrain? Do you suffer with this unshakable affliction? In this decadent world, there are definitely worse things one can be. Obviously, Merriam-Webster’s will need to broaden the definition. Perhaps they can change it to include “Scattergun Brain” or better yet, “One who is irretrievably addicted to the upland shooting life.” Of course, outsiders will never fully understand. Only a sufferer of this affliction can appreciate its full measure. Admitting that you are a Birdbrain is the first step . . . to enjoying the heck out of it! Have a good hunting season fellow Birdbrains.