Dr. Wifey has figured a way to get two anniversary gifts six out of seven years. Our actual anniversary is on Nov. 26, BUT the year we were married this occurred on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Therefore, by proclaiming the anniversary to be celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, she has assured that my male paranoia about missing something important, even if she says it is not important, will always prevail.

I was lamenting this fact in conversation with a fairly recently married young couple, and they began to carry on about how they were looking forward to such traditions, how wonderful their honeymoon had been, and how they might “re-honeymoon” for their subsequent anniversaries.

We will never voluntarily re-honeymoon.

We married in the evening, later than planned because I got “delayed” hunting. After the reception, at which my brother tried to steal a firetruck, we went back to Argyle to collect my duffel bag, and head back to college. Just before we left, in a nasty ice storm, the phone rang — my new mother-in-law. One of the guests was a former boyfriend of Janice’s. He had hitchhiked from Schenectady to Hudson Falls for the wedding and was preparing to hitchhike back, in the dark. Mother-in-law liked him, wanted him to stay overnight and leave in daylight.

Father-in-law was having none of that and a big hoorah ensued. I said not to worry, I would solve the problem. We drove back to Hudson Falls, picked him up and left on our “honeymoon” with her old boyfriend in the backseat of our Rambler American. Dropped him off in Schenectady, the Rambler blew a wheel bearing around Herkimer, and we discovered my duffel bag did not make it into the car. I changed the wheel bearing with lock-grip pliers and a flashlight held in my teeth, in the sleet beside the Thruway, in my suit pants and white shirt (the jacket we saved to fight off the inevitable hypothermia). We stayed in the Herkimer motel for a few hours so I could warm up, next morning Janice dropped me off to prepare for a physics exam at Syracuse, and she went on to Buffalo. It was almost two weeks before I saw her again. Not an experience to repeat but it does bring me to this month’s questions, the first of which was new to me.

Is it true that bald eagles find a mate and then go on a honeymoon for a year before nesting?

Imparting human characteristics to animal behavior is called anthropomorphizing and this seems like a classic, but it may refer to actual behavior on the part of the young eagles. It can take up to five years for a bald eagle chick to become sexually mature, signaled by the development of the distinctive white head and tail. Even at this, the female is sometimes not likely to produce eggs the first year or so of their union.

We saw this at one of the nests along the Hudson for the past couple of years. The pair, one of which still did not have a completely white tail, started nests in three different spots the first year. Last year, they got a good nest going and hung around it all summer, but no eggs. I am looking forward to some greater success in the coming summer season. If you call this a “honeymoon,” then they are on one. If you call it mating failure, well, you are just less romantic.

Dave Barry? I thought everyone loved him!

Several years ago, I had a great story line going. Zebra mussels had just been detected in one of the great lakes, the first location in New York. They were found encrusting, of all things, a truly mammoth brassiere that had somehow found its way to the lake bottom. I was ecstatic to be able to pun about Z-bra mussels.

I was just about to send my column in when Dr. Wifey said, “You have to read Dave Barry this week. Too bad you did not find out about this first.” His topic? “Z-bra mussels.” I was incensed, sent him a note to that effect, accused him of some sort of literary espionage, and received in reply a post card saying, “Imagine my concern.” He is actually a pretty cool guy.

This is hunting season and I wanted you to know that it is by no means easy for a single mother to access this closed fraternity. I asked at (a chain sporting goods store) and was flatly told there was nothing. My twins (one of each) are avid and I have to learn so I can mentor. Know any chinks in the armor?

I am sorry you had that experience but I do not think it is all that unwelcoming. You and your children will have to take a mandatory Sportsman Education class. I taught for 40 years and toward the end my classes ran about 50/50 for both gender and children/adults. Classes may be found on the DEC website. While you are there, go to the NRA website (the organization, not the ILA lobbyists) where you will find a wealth of available training materials — that is what they do.

Finally, ask at a real sports shop, not a big box. They can point you to clubs and county organizations, many with programs specifically geared toward women and novices. I am not sure where you live but in this county (Washington) the Sportsmen’s Federation hosts a Women’s Shooting Sports Day, which takes you through everything from archery to skeet and features a game lunch with a truly amazing dessert table.

Also, look locally because many individual clubs offer similar programs. Once again, in this county, one I know of is the Hudson Falls Fish and Game Club, which hosts the “Women on Target” programs. These are a series of more in-depth seminars on all the different types of firearms, intended for all levels of experience. The next one (on Dec. 19) focuses on rimfire rifle shooting. Try their website or Facebook page. If all that fails or you are not in this area (I could not tell from your message), give me a call and I will see what I can do to help because armor-free is important.

What is a teal? Is there a green-winged one and is it endangered?

Teal is not actually a color but actually a very active small wild duck. The green-wing species is not endangered and in fact they are found all across North America. They breed from the Midwest and New England to the Arctic Circle and Alaska, wintering all across the lower half of the United States, into Mesoamerica, the Caribbean and Cuba. They use all the migratory flyways but have always been a little less common in the Atlantic. We tend to see more of the blue-wing teal in this area.

I know I did not get to all the questions but I am still recovering from my anniversary — at least that is my excuse. ...

NOTE: This column has been updated to correct the spelling of Dave Barry.

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Bob Henke writes a weekly Outdoors column for The Post-Star.


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