An Old Coot in Vegas

And you thought I was talking about “me”, didn’t you?

This story is only tangentially related to SHOT 2020, but provides some human interest in what is otherwise a week full of marketing, noise, and glitz.

You may recall my recent piece about having a traipse in the woods to find some quiet time. Well I was having that kind of spasm yesterday – except I was in the middle of Las Vegas Strip. After a night of interrupted sleep due to pounding music outside, I was despairing of finding any peace at all for the entirety of the week.

But – a random wander through my hotel led to a most unlikely oasis. I had never stayed at the Flamingo Hotel before, so I did not know this island of succor existed. Out a side door, there it was – a garden “habitat” full of waterfalls, fish, ducks, and of course flamingos. It was admittedly planned and artificial, but it gave me what my irritated nerves were craving. I slowly wandered – the splash of the water drowning out most of the din from the Strip. It was glorious!

Wood Ducks tootling along.

At one point I stopped on a bridge and enjoyed watching some Wood ducks tootle around, while huge orange fish swam lazily underneath. As I was video-ing some of them, the wildlife specialist arrived for feeding time.

Feeding her “kids”.

We had a lovely chat while she did that. She told me that when she tells people that she works on The Strip, they make sympathetic noises. But then she tells them that she gets to work in a lovely garden habitat and she tells them about her “kids” – the ducks, flamingos, etc. She used to work in wildlife rehabilitation, but it apparently got too depressing. 

She told me that though the original various duck species were brought in for the purpose back in the 90’s, some of the ducks actually nest in secluded back corners of the grounds and have raised broods here. Some of the ducks I was looking at were second or third generation hatchlings.

Then there are those who just find the place and decide to stay. She pointed out a certain Mallard as an immigrant adoptee. Then she pointed out one dark little fellow who she identified as a Coot. He apparently has a misshapen leg, found this shelter and has also taken up permanent residence now.

The Coot is a bit akin to this young woman I think. They both were on different paths and arrived here a bit “injured”. The Coot has found his shelter in an unlikely place and so has this wildlife specialist. Though she was originally a country girl, now she tends her flock on the Las Vegas Strip.

 I’m so glad that I found this spot and met this young lady. Now that I know it’s here I’ll be back for a recharge every day this week after I’m all SHOT-ed out.

That reminds me – I need to visit the Ducks Unlimited Booth at the Show this week. As maligned as we sometimes are, hunters provide one of the largest conservation income streams there are. Also stand by for a review of the Mossberg 940JM Pro – and anything else I can get my hands on at Range Day today!