For the past three years the West Reading Tavern, located in West Reading PA, has hosted it’s annual Duck, Duck, Beer! event. “Come end duck season with a bang!” the Tavern exclaims. This event marks a celebration for duck hunters at the closing out of duck hunting season. The Tavern states that the event is a “special tribute to the Woodward family and Dun Wurkyn.” You are probably wondering: who the hell is the Woodward family? What the hell is a Dun Wurkyn? And what do the two have to do with celebrating duck hunting? The West Reading Tavern is owned by the Woodward family. Dun Wurkyn was the name of their families hunting lodge in the 1950’s, which they later named their Tavern’s house beer after. “The Official Hunter’s Beer” they claim. Put it all together and you have an annual event where celebrating the needless, violent deaths of sentient beings is turned into a party.
Loaded with live music, ice carvings, a dress up contest and a full duck themed menu ducked out to the nines. Normally this charade only lasts two days, but this year the West Reading Tavern extended it’s Duck, Duck, Beer! event to a four day murder party. And to be clear, I do not use the word murder lightly. While the laws may allow the killing of gentle animals, that does not change the fact that the killing is premeditated and practiced. That the animals are tricked, have their lives abruptly stolen from them and the killer feels excitement before, during and after the act. To shoot and kill another against their will is beyond abuse. It is cold blooded murder and for those of us who know killing another is wrong, regardless of species, that is a serious offense. We can’t take that lightly.
Last year we were protesting against the sales of foie gras sold at a local French restaurant, Papillon (who is now out of business). An older gentleman and a younger gentleman crossed the street over to where we were. The younger man had a huge smile on his face, let’s keep this confidential and call him Clark. Clark kept walking until he was about 5″ from a protesters face. He told us his father and he were the owners of the West Reading Tavern. Clark remained in the protesters face while talking about how our call in protest last year inspired them to have an even longer Duck, Duck, Beer! event this year. He kept repeating that there was nothing we could do about it because it’s such a popular event in our town. He handed their duck themed menu to the protester telling them to take it. The protester smiled and said “no thank you, I’m not interested”. Clark let menu fall to the ground and walked away, continuing to say there was nothing we could do about their duck hunting celebration. “And there’s nothing you can do about!” echoed over and over again as they walked across the street and back inside their Tavern.
Last year we found out about the Tavern’s event too late to pull together an on site protest. This year we were ready, and with the extra incentive of the owners threats that “there was nothing we could do about it”, we planned a huge protest. Unfortunately, or fortunately, mother nature had her own revenge in the form of a blizzard that resulted in multiple feet of drifted snow. While the Tavern claimed to remain open during the storm and have “booming duck sales”, as stated on their Facebook, we very much beg to differ. Especially since every local weather update made it clear over and over again that people needed to stay off the roads.
The bottom line is this. To extend such a despicable event speaks volumes of their establishment’s morals. But what can you expect from a family that has killed animals for fun for generations? When our local shops in our towns support and defend blatant animal abuse, we have a responsibility to speak on behalf of the victims whose voices aren’t being heard. After all, if the Tavern was hosting a four day long celebration of dog fighters with a dog meat themed menu, the town would be outraged. People would be calling from around the globe. Why? That’s where the problem lays. Why is this event not only celebrated but defended by so many in our community? We hear over and over again “how dare you pick on a small, family owned business!” What kind of twilight zone are we living in where hurting animals is cool, fun and highly defended? Why are people taking the side of the tormentors instead of the victims?
It’s because we grow up ill informed on virtually every aspect of other species we share this planet with. We’re told to separate the animals we “love” from the animals we choose to eat and we let outrageous laws depict which species we can viciously hunt down without question. This is speciesism. In the words of the great Alice Walker, “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” Other animals are not here for us to hunt, eat, drink, wear or experiment on. Nor are they here to amuse us. They are not here for us to exploit or profit from. They are not ours in any way. Saying “I love my dog, he’s family” while shooting ducks and then eating their bodies reveals a major disconnect. How can you possibly justify loving one species while turning your back to the mass suffering of other species who are just as deserving of our compassion, respect and protection? Just like racism and sexism, speciesism is just as harmful, offensive and unacceptable as we continue to grow into more compassionate and conscience communities.
Hunting down gentle and kind animals should in no way be celebrated. Hunting is repulsive and devastating to wildlife. Less than 5 percent of the U.S. population (13.7 million people) hunts, yet hunting is permitted in many wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks and on other public land. And while you’ll hear people talk about it being an over population problem, the truth remains that it’s about blood hungry, money making. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, around 13.3 million ducks were harvested in the United States during the 2014-2015 waterfowl hunting season. This is down from over 13.7 million ducks harvested the previous season, which is a good sign but also shows how much our voices are needed to speak out against it. Many animals endure prolonged, painful deaths when they are injured but not killed nor collected by hunters. SOUTH DAKOTA GAME, FISH AND PARKS estimates over 3 million ducks and geese are not retrieved every year is the US and Canada alone. These animals die a slow death of starvation, freezing or drowning. Hunting also disrupts migration and destroys families, which is a point that must be made and brought to light because the human species seems to assume that it is the only species that values its friends and family.
Hunting is not about food, it’s not a sport and it’s certainly not a game. It’s murder and violence, there’s no doubt about it. Ducks, like all species are beautiful and unique individuals. They are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. They are gentle and wise. They are kind and they are not here for us. They are here with us as we all share this beautiful planet together. Want to hunt for fun? Hunt each other. Leave innocent animals out of it.
When we speak out for one victim, we are speaking on behalf of them all. All who violently and unnecessarily lost their lives. All who are left suffering. We are speaking on behalf of the families that were torn apart and we are speaking on behalf of all those whose tragic fate still awaits them at the hands of human arrogance. Please reach out to the West Reading Tavern and invite others to do the same. Respectfully ask they end this senseless event. Send letters, post comments or call. Even if your voice shakes, please speak up for these animals; and always remember who we are speaking for. We have the power to create change, but not until we stand up and use our voice. We are no better, no smarter and in no way more deserving of respect, kindness and freedom. Let us not forget, we are ALL animals.
Address:: 606 Penn Ave West Reading, PA 19611
Duck hunting sabotaging 101, from American Hunt Saboteurs::
Water fowl seasons, for some reason, are my favorite. In the reeds with a case of shells and some friends, firing away like it’s WW2—what could be more American? The primary goal here is to fire when the birds are still out of range and to convince the flock to seek another place to land. There are sabs that use a boat for this type of action. I like the ability to change my location and fire from many different vantage points without being spotted. 4-6 people in groups of 2 will spread you out even more. Most states require you be able to shoot no more than 3 shells at a time from a shot gun (preferred weapon of duck hunters). There is a plug that is sold with new shot gun; otherwise you will need to purchase one. It must be installed in the gun if you are in the field. This is usually covered in a hunter education course. Use only steel shot if you plan to engage in this type of sabbing. There’s no reason to pollute the water with any more lead. Other possible options include: Laser pointers to cause the birds to fly away or higher. Aim for the lead bird. Mirrors may also work. Predator-shaped kites have been used outside of hunting areas before. According to some they may work.
For more info on how to sabotage hunters and protect wildlife check out::