OF MAN AND BEAST
This is an article from the Nov. 26, 1956 issue
Last week in ill-advised, but rather spectacular, catch-as-catch-can combat, two men tackled big game and emerged victorious.
In Ontario, Eiler Maki of Beaver Lake was cutting picket lines when a 200-pound black bear scooped up his 65-pound dog, Brownie. Armed only with a 1-pound ax, Maki rushed to the rescue and clouted the bear above its right eye. The bear bellowed like a diesel horn and dropped Brownie. Maki delivered four more swats with the ax and dropped the bear. "I don't know if I'd take the chance again," said Maki, "but that's an awfully nice dog."
The other Donnybrook occurred in the Maine woods after Jim Thomas of Rockland loosed two ineffectual .12-gauge-shotgun blasts at a 300-pound buck deer. Thomas followed the slightly peppered animal and eventually caught up with it. Out of ammunition but not determination, he jumped on the buck's rump and grabbed an antler. The buck tossed him into a thicket. Thomas picked himself out and belabored the buck with his gun butt. When that shattered, with the buck still upright, Thomas took to his hunting knife and, after 15 thrusts, the day and deer were his. Elapsed time for this bizarre and not entirely commendable skirmish: five hours.
FOUTS vs. FOWL
When Bellingham, Wash. City-County Health Officer Dr. J. D. Fouts ordered all waterfowl off nearby Lake Whatcom by December 1 as "a public nuisance" and an "unnecessary hazard to our water supply," lakeshore residents drew up a petition proclaiming that wildfowl are "an asset, serving to beautify the area." For years the birds had paddled in peace and plenty on the reservoir preserve, freeloading from the lakesiders. Now, hundreds of heretofore uninterested persons came bearing sacks of crackers, stale bread, popcorn, chicken feed and vanilla wafers, bent on defying Dr. Fouts. A local columnist pointed out that a duck is "a kinda sensitive creature" and if you remove him from safety to hunting water he'll come back right where he started from. Another wag suggested that Dr. Fouts equip himself with a glass-bottomed boat to see if any "dirty old trout" were hanging about the intake. And Dr. J. K. Neils, a local pediatrician and duck hunter, with a particular interest in duck-transmitted paratyphoid fever, pointed out that "Lake Whatcom's a damn big lake. The probability of human contamination is so much greater, I can't be stirred up about ducks or dinosaurs." Back to the wall, Dr. Fouts resorted to the designs of providence. "I have a wistful hope," he said, "that the imminence of Thanksgiving will solve the problem in a natural manner."
MAN THE GOOP
Famed British ornithologist and nature writer, James Fisher (he was coauthor of Wild America with Roger Tory Peterson), attended the National Audubon Society's annual conclave in New York last week and dropped a few pithy remarks on Homo sapiens in particular and conservation in general. "Man," stated Fisher, "is the filthiest animal who has ever walked the face of the earth. He is ineradicably, utterly filthy." Bats? "They're relatively filthy. Lousy, crowded...but I can't help liking them because they are interesting." Pigs? "...singularly clean compared to people. They're considered dirty because they wallow in mud. But mud can be quite sanitary, you know. It depends on the mud." What Mr. James Fisher was talking about was man's pollution of air and water through industrial expansion: "It's so smoky in Britain that one kind of wild moth is turning black from the air." More particularly Fisher bemoans the dumping of waste oil into the sea. It has not only decimated some species of ocean birds, like the auks around the Firth of Clyde, he says, but it "is mucking up our bathing beaches." Yet, when he is not delivering perorations on pollution Fisher is a dedicated bird watcher. "Bird watching," he told an OUTDOOR WEEK reporter, "is one of the best games for extroverts. Naturalists and bird watchers are very unjealous people." Did he like New York? James Fisher displayed consummate diplomacy: "A great lady [it was Edna Ferber] once said that New York is the dirtiest city in the world. Honestly my view is that New York is a lot cleaner place than London."
A MAYOR'S MEAT
In his 19 months as mayor of Mountain Home, Idaho, Willis Carrie has not been the most popular administrator the town has ever had. In fact, his 5,000 constituents have been heard to complain of highhandedness and boss-type rule in his conduct of affairs. Thus, when he was brought to court recently on a charge of killing elk out of season, the case aroused considerable interest. "Political axing and skulduggery," huffed the mayor; all he had done was tag an elk carcass he had found the day before the season opened. The local court, unimpressed, convicted him; on appeal to District Court last week, Mayor Carrie managed to get off with a $300 fine by pleading guilty to the lesser charge of illegally possessing elk meat. The citizenry was satisfied "Gee, if I could get off with a $300 fine for tagging Carrie," said one of the mayor's critics, "I'd try it tomorrow."
When 300 wildly trumpeting rampaging elephants suddenly appeared along a section of the new Rhodesia-Portuguese East Africa railway a fortnight ago, authorities were faced with an improbable nightmare. Driven out of Portuguese Mozambique by widespread bush fires, the thirst-crazed animals were instinctively trying to reach the Nuanetsi River, 17 miles beyond the rail line. But, panicked by the loose stone rail bed ballast which shifted under elephantine bulk, they would not cross, instead stampeded along the tracks rooting up telegraph poles and disrupting communications. A variety of other animals milled blindly about, and already vultures were tearing at four dead elephants and uncounted zebras. Unless Game Ranger Rupert Fothergill, who had jeeped 300 bush miles to the scene, could do something, that remote section of railway was certain to become one vast game graveyard. Fothergill did something. While trains gingerly crept along damaged track past frantic herds of parched wildlife, he directed railway hands in a crash rescue operation. Sand was excavated and used to bind the loose ballast. Road-wide causeways were laid across the line. Animal after animal was herded over and a major disaster averted. Then, as Fothergill completed his uniquely merciful mission, the elephants' celebrated memory proved woefully short. Several ponderous in-grates charged him. Happily, Game Ranger Fothergill escaped to continue the hardly prosaic business of guarding African wildlife.
FROM THE FLYWAYS
GDW—good duck weather; BW—bluebird weather; S—snow; R—rain; F—freeze-up; T—temperature; SF W—spotty flight; FF-fair flight; GF-good flight; EF—excellent flight; PG—poor gunning; FG—fair gunning; GG—good gunning; EG—excellent gunning; OP—outlook poor; OF—outlook fair; OG—outlook good; OVG—outlook very good; SO—season opens (or opened); SC—season closes (or closed)
MASSACHUSETTS: EF of blacks in vicinity Plum Island Marshes. GF of bluebills under way, OG generally as weather hardens.
MARYLAND: Oldtimer advises EF of honkers and many limits from Kent Island area in spite of BW. EF of canvasbacks on Susquehanna flats but PG, thanks to calm weather.
LOUISIANA: Estimated 1,200,000 mallards arrived in state with GDW last week. Best spot southwestern areas around Lake Charles with EG. Agent also reports EF most birds but dispatches particularly cheery news on blue geese, which for the first time in years instead of sticking to inaccessible mudflats at mouth of Mississippi River are scattered all through southeastern sections, and bags are excellent. EG particularly in Chef Menteur area, Bob's Lake in back of Bayou Biloxi and the Hopedale-Delacroix Island area. Only raccoon retriever of season reported by Hurley Campbell and Jerry Breaux of Baton Rouge, who were gunning greenheads on Atchafalaya River last week. The pair quacked in a wedge of birds, killed two and dropped two cripples in some nearby willow trees. A few moments later large commotion heard in willows and out sped a wounded mallard with a raccoon in hot pursuit. Duck ran right into blind and was dispatched forthwith. Coon retreated unscathed.
NEBRASKA: Unusually EF of mallards along North Platte River, Platte River and the Missouri River. FF of honkers in North Platte Valley and dopester advises big Canada push imminent; statewide OVG.
IDAHO: EF of mallards in vicinity of Deer Flat Refuge with 250,000 birds in residence as of last week. EG Boise River, Payette and Snake for pintail and teal. Strike and Paddock reservoirs report EG and Silver Creek sneakboaters limiting. SF of honkers using Crane Creek, Paddock and Cascade reservoirs. EG south shore Cascade. Most gunners happy except for Jim Watkins and Art Smith of Boise. While chasing two crippled honkers on Payette River last week Watkins first shot Smith in posterior, then fell on gravel bar, sprained arm, leg and splintered stock of his $500 shotgun.
CALIFORNIA: Northern storms have trigered EF of pintails and mallards with gusty winds resulting in EG. Limit bags reported from upper Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. In southern state hunters now averaging four birds in Finney-Ramer, Hazard and Wister public shooting areas of Imperial Valley. BW in Owens Valley short-circuiting results. Best all-round bets now in Klamath-Tule Lake region where on-the-spot observer advises EG for mallards, honkers and speckled geese. Salton Sea and Blythe area enjoying EF of snow geese. Statewide OG but storms needed along northern Pacific Flyway to really spur southern flights.
OREGON: BW dampening results in Willamette Valley and main flight still not under way. Best of state offering only FG with exception of Columbia River bars where mallards, cans and teal are in good supply.
ONTARIO: GDW has made for GG. GF of pintails and mallards in Lake of Woods district and head of Grant Lakes. FG for blacks and sawbills in Sudbury area, and FF of honkers reported from Goderich on Lake Huron shore near Sarnia. Best bag of week reported by Patsy Roberto of Welland and Larry Wales and Owen Abbie of Caledonia. Roberto notched 26 ducks, the other two men eight geese. Only sour note: Roberto's ducks were all tame Muscovys owned by area resident. All eight geese tame, also owned by area resident. Resident's reaction not reported.
SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F falling.
WT50—water temperature 50°.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OVG—outlook very good; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor
STEELHEAD: OREGON: Coastal streams R and fresh runs of fish taking. FG from the Nehalem River on north coast to Siuslaw River in central coast area; OG.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: Big run of steelhead reported through Hellsgate in the Fraser and should be showing in Thompson River shortly. FF there now but some good catches being taken near mouth of Nicola.
CALIFORNIA: After three-week lull on Trinity River, FG from Burnt Branch to Trinity Center. Lower Eel M but Russian, Gualala, Big and Noyo rivers report FG. Sacramento River between Los Molinos and Red Bluff also yielding nice catches on single salmon eggs and OG.
IDAHO: FG from Brownlee Dam to Swan Falls on Snake. Good Results also reported from mouth of Little Salmon, mouth of French Creek and Mackay Bar. Spy reports fantastic fishing at mouth of Marble Creek on Middle Fork of Salmon, but biggest steelhead of Idaho's year was taken last week on Snake River by Elwin Hamme of Colton, Wash, who subdued 24-pound three-ouncer in 40 minutes on spinning tackle and 10-pound test line.
STRIPED BASS: NEW JERSEY: FG/OVG for surf slayers from Lavalette south through Island Beach. Bunker spoon trollers scoring below Sandy Hook on fish to 45 pounds and smaller models to 15 pounds hitting rigged eels, plugs, squid and pork rind.
MARYLAND: Chesapeake Bay Bridge rock piles teeming with two-pounders and FG, but to northeast on the Mud Dumps fish to six pounds are breaking early and late. Best bet for chunkier editions just off Matapeak in the Hole where some fish are topping 15-pound legal limit. Favored bait at moment is large minnow hooked through lips on deep-trolled bucktails; OVG. Some surf action off Ocean City where 10-pounders seem to be hitting bucktailed tin squid and nothing else; OG.
BLACK BASS: LOUISIANA: Lake Bistineau, Cross Lake and Cado Lake in Shreveport area report FG with anglers ducking duck blinds and shot as they battle fish. J. D. Courtney scored best catch of week when he netted a four-and-a-half-pound smallmouth in the Calcasieu River at Bender's Beach in spite of broken rod; OG with one eye on duck hunters.
MISSOURI: Runnel Dam Lake C and L but FG on medium running plugs and live bait. Lake of Ozarks in Niangua area also advises FG/OG as long as fair weather holds.
HAVOC ON THE WILLOWEMOC
On the Willowemoc, the revered trout stream which flows into the once-garbage-littered Beaverkill at Roscoe, N.Y. (OUTDOOR WEEK, April 23), power shovels last week were busily dredging gravel for road-improvement work. The dredging destroys spawning beds and insect life. If the Willowemoc was the only available source of gravel, conservationists could hardly complain, but pits abound in the area. The dredgers are within the law as it is now written, but anglers hope state officials will shortly find a way to halt the practice and protect dwindling trout fishing resources.