About 25 years ago, I got a call from Neil Selby up in Remington.
“Can you be up here about 5 tomorrow morning? We’ve got geese and lots of them.”
Neil, a long-time friend, owns Shady Grove Kennels, a hunting preserve. Neil also is a master dog trainer.
“Sure,” I replied. “See you at 5 AM.”
It happened to be on a Monday in early February and I remembered I had not bought a Duck Stamp, since I had yet to go waterfowl hunting. So, I headed for the Post Office to buy the necessary stamp, but they were closed. It was Martin Luther King’s birthday and the only place to buy a duck stamp was at the Post Office. I had a state hunting license, a turkey license, a deer license, a bear license, an archery license, a National Forest license, a trout stamp, a fishing license, but no duck stamp
Hmmm. Should I risk it?
Since we would be hunting on Neil’s preserve, there was very little chance I would meet up with a Game Warden, and if I did, I would simply explain that I tried, but was unable to buy a duck stamp because it was a federal holiday. That would probably work, so I didn’t think any more about it.
I packed my shotgun and all my gear that evening, and before the crack of dawn, I was headed to Remington, about 45 miles north of Charlottesville.
Neil met me in the parking lot and then introduced me to John, the other hunter.
“This is John, a friend of mine,” Neil said. “ John is the Game Warden in Fauquier County.”
I didn’t know what to do or say, but since John didn’t ask for my license right there on the spot, I figured I might still be safe.
So we went goose hunting and we banged them. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Game Warden of Fauquier County, we each got our limit of 6 birds. After a few hours, we had a pile of geese in the back of Neil’s pickup and that’s when John asked for both Neil’s and my license.
Damn. Busted. I almost made it.
I figured I’d just through myself at the mercy of the court when the judge reads the violation:
“Failure to have a federal duck stamp because Monday fell on Martin Luther King’s Birthday and you didn’t plan ahead!”
But it turned out that John wasn’t asking for all our licenses, he just needed our hunting license number to give us a permit to transport 18
geese in Neil’s pickup.
The next day I went to the Post Office and bought my duck stamp, even though I wouldn’t go waterfowl hunting again that season.
The Reverend King would have wanted it that way.