OF MAN AND BEAST
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)