Duck stamps. A duck on a stamp? Postage stamps with cute ducks that you can mail to your best friend? Neither. A duck stamp is a federal hunting license that is required for any hunter over the age of 16. It’s the inspiration and motivation behind why my author, Martin Smith, wrote his book The Wild Duck Chase. As I was scanning through the list of topics that would be talked about, I was intrigued instantly by my favorite animal, duck. I know, a duck isn’t exactly a popular animal that a teenage girl would like, but I like to think of myself as unique. As I was reading through the description, I had no idea there even existed such a thing as competitive duck painting. Though I was more skeptical than eager to go, I thought why not just be open-minded for once and I can attend and write about a different session if I didn’t enjoy this one.
As I climb up the four sets of stairs to get to Beckman 404, I ended up a sweaty mess. I thought I was doing myself a favor for taking the stairs as exercise but boy did I think wrong. I wiped the droplets of sweat away from my face as I opened the door into a huge seminar room. There were only about fifteen people present so instantly, doubt and disappointment filled my mind. I fought my instinct to bolt to the door for escape but the thought of keeping an open mind overcame me so I reluctantly took a seat in the third row to the speaker’s left. The speaker, Martin Smith began his panel by introducing to us the history of the waterfowl population through the years but instead of making the subject dull and boring as I would normally think, he spoke with such enthusiasm and passion that I can’t help but be drawn into his “conversation”. Mr. Martin started his history from the time European settlers sailed to America and claimed the already claimed land from the “Indians”. He would continue to talk about a time period and when he’s done speaking about that period of history, he would skip a couple centuries and move on to the next. However, in between his speech, he would offer interjection such as “see how I just skipped over a hundred years there so gracefully” and give the audience mental “breaks” but only to draw us in closer. The more he spoke, the more I learned the essence of what makes a good writer. A good writer is someone who will make the most dreary topic interesting and relate it to their audience to make it relevant.
It wasn’t until half an hour into his speech that he finally revealed his purpose to writing the book, which is to raise money and awareness to conserve natural habitats. I love how he didn’t bombard me with the idea of that I should be a tree-hugger right away because if that were the case, I would have lost interest in him right away. Mr. Martin slowly eased me, his audience, into his purpose by discussing the history of the duck stamp and the various silly but interesting facts about the duck stamp painting contest. The way he subliminally primed me into caring for the waterfowls and conserving the environment cannot be done more beautifully and through him, I saw the art behind the power of persuasion.