What is it about my birding gear that gives people the urge to bully me about it?
Is it the large number of zippers and straps on my clothing, like I'm supposed to be an S&M guy or something? Hmmm? Is it my short shorts? Hmmm? My long boxers? No. Good guesses, but you're wrong. The real reason is not the gear (the gear is dope), but the fact that I'm a man, and birding is considered to be a feminine activity. Like "reading" or "volleyball," it is beloved by many men all over the world, and everyone knows this, but it's feminine anyway because it isn't violent. The more violent something is, the manlier it is--this is the 1 Rule of Man, laid down by the Ancient Bully-Alphas--and even though women and out-of-shape men like you and me think it's bullshit, we're also not going to fight anyone about it.
So, Tesse, you say, given these circumstances, how do we fix birding's P.R. problem?
You KILL THE BIRDS.
This might seem reckless and counterintuitive to you at first. And in fact, that is an accurate view of it. (Like stomping on the ping pong ball after a game...) But despite its immorality--and illegality, in many areas--the technique actually dates back to the very earliest days of birding, when the caucasian explorers had to shoot all of the birds out of the trees with guns, so they could draw pictures of them easier. To this day, it remains the most effective technique for getting close to birds and drawing pictures of them without them flying away.
The bird you're going to want to start with, I think, is a chicken. They're easy to catch and identify, and they taste extremely good. Find a chicken coop near your house, sneak into it at night (the chickens are going to make a lot of noise, so wait until the farmer goes on vacation before you do this), and scoop one of the chickens into a sack. Kill it (via swinging), draw a picture of it in your notebook when you get home, and never, ever tell anybody.