Flipping through: ‘Duck Walk: A Birder’s Improbable Path to Hunting as Conservation’

Texas artist Margie Crisp shares her journey from birdwatcher to duck hunter, along with its major takeaways


“Duck Walk: A Birder’s Improbable Path to Hunting as Conservation” (Texas A&M University Press, 2023) chronicles Texas artist and naturalist Margie Crisp’s journey to understanding the role duck hunting plays within the larger conservation efforts of waterfowl species and their wetland habitats.

Chockablock with Crisp’s illustrations, the publication is compiled of short narratives from her lived experiences coupled with related facts and information gathered along the way.

Margie Crisp
“Wood duck drake and hen” illustration by Margie Crisp; Courtesy of the artist and Foltz Fine Art, Houston

Margie Crisp

The publication’s foreword is written by Andrew Sansom, one of Texas’ leading conservationists, who has also penned forewords for some of Crisp’s other books, including “River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado” (2012). Setting the stage Sansom writes that “Crisp uses thorough research, humor, delightful anecdotes, and beautiful illustrations to portray the seeming disparity between birders and hunters, the joys and perspectives that bind them, and the successes and opportunities of each in improving wildlife conservation.”

Crisp’s narrative begins with her revelation that “duck hunters could be doing more to preserve and create wetland habitats than birdwatchers” and that she ultimately might “need to be a duck hunter” despite her lifelong aversion.

Crisp goes on to share her experience purchasing her first gun — a 12 gauge Benelli Montefeltro with a twenty-six-inch barrel. She continues to recount everything from target practices to shooting her first drake, detailing her thoughts and emotions surrounding each event.

Throughout the publication, Crisp intermingles an astonishing amount of facts related to conservation efforts directly related to wildlife hunting activities and organizations. She draws attention to the purpose of Federal Duck Stamps, the fact that gun and ammunition taxes benefit the Wildlife Restoration Fund, and the history of the Boone and Crockett Club, among many other noteworthy endeavors.

Overall, the publication lays out a compelling understanding of both a birdwatcher’s point of view as well as a hunter’s, and why those ideologies don’t have to be independent of one another. Crisp herself claims that she “will be a birdwatcher and a bird hunter.”

Encouraging all of us to do our part for the environment, Crisp winds down with this: “I will dream of a disparate alliance of birdwatchers, hunters, ornithologists, biologists, hikers, farmers, artists, and gardeners who will work together to save our wildlife and wild places. Again.”

‘Duck Walk: A Birder’s Improbable Path to Hunting as Conservation’
By Margie Crisp
Foreword by Andrew Sansom
272 pages
49 drawings

Margie Crisp
“Northern pintail drake” illustration by Margie Crisp; Courtesy of the artist and Foltz Fine Art, Houston

Caleb Bell
Caleb Bellhttp://www.cbellprojects.com/
Caleb Bell is a writer and the curator at the Tyler Museum of Art. Bell’s writing and curatorial practices work to expand the conversation around creativity and connect audiences with art.

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