I never ever thought I would find myself in that situation
Alexa McFadden is not a hunter. She had never touched a gun. She quailed at the thought of witnessing a duck fall from the sky.
Yet, when her father, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) director Kevin McFadden, asked her to participate in a mentored waterfowl hunt near Pitt Addington Marsh in B.C., she agreed.
“I wanted to educate myself. I realized this was a really unique opportunity to meet with experts on wetlands and conservation — experts who were also hunters — and to gain a fresh perspective that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.”
In the fall of 2020, Alexa joined her father along with mentors Dan Otway, Eric Balke and Josh McFaddin for the experience.
“In that moment, when the birds were coming in, everything came crashing back. I thought, ‘what am I doing here? I’m not a hunter.’ But I tried to stay present and remember why I was there, to gain an experience that I wouldn’t in everyday life.”
What I understand now is that conservation and hunting have a surprisingly symbiotic relationship. I realize that a lot of conservation is done by the hunting community, because they really care to protect the habitat. To anyone who’s skeptical about it, like I was, I challenge them to open themselves up. I know it’s not possible for everyone to have an experience like I did, but seek more information and just be open to a conversation with someone who’s a hunter.