Glenwood Gazette

                A Monthly Publication for Frontier Communities in Southwestern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona

 

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Perspectives

November 2010

Unique perspectives by the following Glenwood Gazette contributors:

Larry Lightner | Dexter Oliver | Jesse Hardin

Out There
Larry Lightner


 

The Oooh-Aaah Factor
by Larry Lightner

Recently during a rare slow time with no one in the store, Dave Donaldson suddenly turned to me and asked, "What is the number one reason that people go to Cabella's?

My first reaction was to blurt out, for the guns, but I thought better of that. After all, I didn't go to look at guns; in fact I very seldom looked at them; I went to see something else, but to be honest, I really didn't know what that something was. So I admitted that to my cohort.

Dave went on to explain that we/they/you go for the ooohaaah factor. We wanna go to just gawk and see and to find what is new and exciting. Then we exclaim, "Oooooh-aaaaaah!"

Eureka! Dave was right! What a revolutionary thought; I just wish I'd have originated it.This was pure gold-nugget wisdom!

I began to cogitate on his words and thoughts about the times when I visit Cabella's, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain Sportsmens Warehouses and other mega-outdoor worlds.

I go in and look at the bear mounts, and all of the other myriad mounts and wonder of wonders, I can't help but make my own noises of delights.

I go up and down all of the isles packed with goodies and oogle. Goodness knows I never go with the intent to buy those stores out; I go to gaze and wonder! That's the main reason we all go to gun stores, gun shows, yard sales, flea markets and other such places.We wanna see what's there!

Thinking back over the many years when I was but a sprite in the 1940's and early 50's, we didn't have indoor bathrooms on the farm; we had things called "outhouses" (Oh you poor folks who are under the age of fifty; who have never experienced the joys of a cold sit (yes I said sit!) when the temperature is near zero, or the aromas of such a building when the temperature is hovering above 100! Gag, gag, gasp, wheeze!)

During such adventures, a common practice was to page through the Monkey Wards, Sears and Penneys catalogues as we whiled away the time.These were truly the original Oooh-aaah moments!

And I still gaze at catalogues; I know every item on every page, yet with each new arrival, that night I sit for hours going through each and every page, oooohing.

So don't you be the least bit embarrassed when you come into the store; go ahead and ooooh-aaaah as much as you want. After all, you're in awful good company.We can identify with you completely. As the old saying goes, "Been there, done that."

As usual, there is always something to do and see "out there", all ya gotta do is get with it! Keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may The Forever God bless you too!


DEXTER OLIVER


Border Solutions
by Dexter Oliver

Wildlife Consultant & Writer
Duncan,Arizona

Borderline Solutions

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.
I wake up in the bed of my truck hearing the sound of ten or twelve people crossing the dirt road heading north fifty yards away. The white camper shell on my truck shines in the starlight, so they know I am here. I put a hand on the holstered revolver by my head and hope they just keep on going. It is two a.m. and I am camped forty miles from the nearest paved road in the United States and thirty feet from the Mexican border. Wilderness areas of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge are immediately to the north and Mexico's Highway 2 is a couple of miles to the south. The sounds fade away and I drift back to sleep.
I have spent a lot of time during the past four decades working on the border with Mexico in Arizona and New Mexico, as a laborer, a wildlife researcher, a hunter/trapper, and as a biological consultant/monitor. From August 2007 through January 2008 I spent six months living and working out of a truck 24/7 directly on the line as a biological monitor for the construction of the new border fence and patrol road.

Despite what one may hear from FOX News about federal land managers on the border being a problem to Border Patrol (BP) doing its job stopping undocumented illegal aliens, drug smugglers, or terrorists from entering our country that has not been my experience at all. We should all remember a couple of things: from the California Coast to the Rio Grande River in Texas is a sixty foot wide strip of land right on the border called the Roosevelt Easement that belongs to Customs/Border Patrol for the sole purpose of stopping such undesirables right there. And Homeland Security has the authority, and has certainly used it, to go wherever it really wants.

The problem is that Border Patrol at any given time has seventy-five per cent of its field agents far from the border itself. As I have learned firsthand, from agents on the ground, there is a very real fear factor involved here. In six months living and working right on the line in the remote desert I saw not one single patrol vehicle at night, the preferred time for illegals to cross into the United States. I did see flashlight signals back and forth at night from Mexico to people already in our country.
BP agents told me I would probably be killed there and didn't seem concerned when I suggested it was their job to keep me safe on U.S. soil. I was also told I couldn't have a firearm to protect myself, an idiotic regulation I ignored. Since I was near the dividing line between the Tucson and Yuma Border Patrol sectors I came to learn that they had a vast communications problem, one group not knowing what was going on with the neighboring group which made them even less efficient. And none of them liked the lonely, empty stretches of desert that were boring for long periods of time and then could suddenly become a little too exciting. They told me it was too dangerous for them to be out there on the line after the sun went down. Hmmm. I thought they were told the potential dangers when they signed on for the job but apparently not.

I heard or saw groups of individuals crossing from Mexico and hiking north on a fairly routine basis. I would tell Border Patrol agents about this if they happened to show up during daylight, figuring they would immediately get on the fresh tracks and shortly make arrests. This never happened in the six months I was there. BP favored waiting until the targets came out on a paved road far to the north, perhaps because of the proximity of coffee shops, I never could figure it out. Of course, they never caught a lot of these people.

Back in 1904, before the Border Patrol Agency was developed, along the exact same lonely stretch of border badlands I was working, a single man patrolled the area for illegal aliens. At that time the Immigration Service was dealing with an influx of human smuggling involving folks from China. Jeff Milton (see the book: Jeff Milton, A Good Man with a Gun, by J. Evetts Haley) was hired to ride the border, track down, and apprehend them. This he did on his own, from horseback, with positive results that make a mockery of all our money wasted on technological bells and whistles that fail as often, or more so, as they succeed in today's "border battles". Think of what the thousands of Border Patrol agents could do if they actually were patrolling the border in this fashion.

So many Border Patrol field officers have been hired in the past decade that surely, if Washington and their regional supervisors would let them, they could stop the illegal immigration and smuggling problems where they are supposed to be halted, on the border. No more need for costly check points twenty-five or more miles north of the border that most smugglers easily go around. No more need for ranchers and other U.S. citizens being harassed in our own country. No more need to throw money away on drones and failed Boeing surveillance towers.

Private citizens have been working the border lands for way too long for the Border Patrol to use "rough, remote country" as an excuse explaining why they can't stop this bleeding into our land at the frontier. Rotating agents because of fear of bribery by drug cartels is another excuse for agents not being more familiar with the border territory. Many agents are around a border area for forty-five days then transferred. Maybe some different qualifications and psychological testing would weed out those who are too afraid, incompetent in the back country, or potentially corruptible. Jeff Milton didn't have these problems, so we know it can be done.


RINGING A BELL IN DUNCAN

By Dexter Oliver

Back in 1958 Chuck Berry went to Chess Records in Chicago and cut the seminal rock and roll song, "Johnny B. Goode". One of the lines in the song described a young country boy who couldn't read or write so well, "but he could play a guitar like a-ringing a bell". I happened to be at the Duncan Farmer's Market last Saturday when there was some bell ringing of a different type going on, performed by a group of young country boys.

It seems that the owners of the Country Chic arts and crafts store next to Centennial Park where the Farmer's Market meets just happened to own a portable climbing tower for would-be mountaineers try their prowess in a safe environment. Alan and Sharon Hjorth (pronounced "Yort") are both teachers in the Morenci School system as well as the proud owners of a travelling climbing tower.

Years ago this same fiberglass monument could be found in Tucson, at the well-known Tanque Verde Swap Meet. It was purchased used by the Hjorths for about the same price as a basic Toyota Tacoma truck. A new one, from the company in Orlando, Florida that manufactures such things would run as much as a new Mercedes Benz luxury coupe. The fact that this spire was now reaching for the sky in Duncan seemed as unlikely as it was welcome.

The trailer was positioned in the parking lot at Centennial Park and the hydraulic system lifted the tower upright. Half a dozen of Duncan's ever vigilant youth immediately realized a good time was about to be enjoyed. They could hardly wait to be strapped into safety harnesses and begin their ascents. The British mountaineer, George Mallory, would have understood. When he was asked why he was attempting to climb Mt. Everest his famous reply was, "Because it's there". Such was the attitude of Duncan's young adventurers.
The toe and hand holds used to scale the vertical walls seemed perfectly sized for either full-grown monkeys or Homo sapiens of more tender years. Chalk was available to help provide a better grip with the fingertips. The safety harnesses and a belay straps and ropes assured that the fate of Mallory and his climbing companion wouldn't be repeated in southeast Arizona. Unfortunately those two hadn't made their climbs under such controlled conditions.

The climbing tower has three sides, each of varying degrees of difficulty. At the top of each is a cowbell that must be rung to verify one's success at making it to the top, something that is still questionable about George Mallory. The bells were ringing often when I was there and the agility shown by the climbers was truly impressive. There were a lot of times in my career doing wildlife surveys that I climbed some pretty hairy cliffs while monitoring desert bighorn sheep or peregrine falcons, but never with such ease and assurance as the young climbers from Duncan.

Hopefully the Hjorth's moveable climbing tower will see a lot more use from the local kids - they surely do enjoy it.



Wolf Hiatus

By Dexter Oliver

Ah, November, in an election year. Along with the sweet scent of burning leaves and piñon smoke from fireplaces is the not-so-pleasant odor of American politics. The finger pointing, name calling, lies and deceptions that we all seem to take for granted for some odd reason. These are not restricted to those seeking elected seats in state and federal offices. Wildlife projects that offer a whiff of agency power or influx of money also brings out such attributes.

I just read an article in the Durango Herald (10/09/2010) stating that the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program is delaying the release of eight more wolves that had been planned for later this fall. The action has been put off indefinitely until sometime next year. Terry Johnson, the Arizona Game & Fish Department's lead endangered species coordinator was quoted as saying, "We've been doing the same old thing with the same negative results for twelve years now…We've got to try different approaches to management."

Hmmm. This a statement from one of the top "experts" who has been telling the public for even more than twelve years that they knew what they were doing when putting pen raised wolves back onto the land along the border between Arizona and New Mexico like so many feral dogs. Now it seems the two main players (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and AZG&F) in the politically charged project can't agree on where they want to dump out the next pack of "nonessential/experimental" animals.

The same problems exist that loomed when the first wolves were released in the Southwest. They were all inbred from the last small number of specimens; they had spent twenty years (ten generations) or more in zoos; and they were fed dried dog chow along with the odd chunk of road killed wildlife by humans who couldn't resist having some contact with their sexy charges before the wolves were tossed out into "the real world".

Despite the wolf "managers" wanting them to stay in places easily designated on maps and having them eat the "proper" prey species, the animals simply try to survive by whatever means possible. Wolves developed those long legs for travelling, not for remaining where biologists hoped they would. Supplemental feeding at different times has helped, as well as wounded or lost game from hunters and lion or bear kills that can be scavenged. Protein is obtained in the most opportune ways, killing, or sometimes eating without killing, live prey whether it might be domestic or wild.

Defenders of Wildlife, whose highly touted but flawed system of sometimes repaying citizens for domestic animals lost to wolf depredation, ended that program last month. Supposedly the federal government and private donations will now cover such costs.

A look at a map of the original range of these wolves shows that most of the population lived in Mexico (hence the name) where no elk lived in historical times, yet we are being told that elk now make up the bulk of the wolves diet. As of 2006 when I asked the wolf field team leader in Alpine, AZ if any video or sequential still photos of these wolves routinely killing elk existed I was told "no". This was after eight years of biologists following their every move from trucks, ATVs, on foot, and from planes. Odd since there is plenty of footage of Yellowstone wolves killing elk. There are, however, sequential photos in my extensive file on the Mexican wolf reintroduction project showing a cow elk easily driving two of the Southwest wolves from her calf.

Back in the early years of this reintroduction effort, wolf scat was suddenly hard to find in the forest. A variety of people were collecting it and having it analyzed to determine what the wolves were eating. One researcher doing a master's thesis found it mostly contained elk hair, but she was funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. A rancher on Eagle Creek in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest had a private laboratory out of state do his wolf feces analysis and the results were dominated by domestic cow and mule deer hair. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

But none of this determines what the wolves are killing, just what they are eating, be it fresh meat or carrion. Mexican gray wolves are the smallest North American subspecies, evolving over eons by subsisting on smaller prey. Perhaps, if the AZG&F and USFWS can be trusted and these Southwest wolves are taking down full-grown elk with little difficulty evolution might reverse itself and they will develop into larger individuals similar to their northern cousins that routinely kill bison, elk, and moose. Such a metamorphosis should give ranchers something to think about. Preposterous, of course, but much about this whole show is that way.

Mexico was also supposed to turn loose some of its own zoo raised wolves near the border with Arizona and New Mexico, but that has apparently also been put on hold. Of course, south of our border where the use of poison baits and firearms are still common methods of controlling predation on livestock, wolves would have a tough time surviving. And they probably wouldn't have the same number of biologists running around trying to keep track of them in the back country where marijuana is grown and drug cartels don't like strangers on their turf.

 

Dexter Oliver is a free-lance writer, field research biologist and consultant, and reluctant operator of Action Wildlife Services, based in Duncan, AZ. He has written a humorous novel, Animal Crackers, about the nuisance wildlife business.


 


Jesse Hardin

Local Versus National Elections:
The Straight Shot Endorsements

by Jesse Hardin

County and state elections never seem to generate the interest or turnout that the presidential elections do, which doesn't make a lick of sense to me! No matter which candidate gets into the top slot, we will still end up with the same one-world corporate banking cartel calling all the shots. This is true regardless of whether it is a Republican or Democrat that is president, and all the arguable differences in policy actually serve as a smoke screen blinding us to the true puppet masters. Both presidents and senators answer to the same privileged few and their financial interests, the 5% who control 85% of our wealth, and their elite counterparts in Europe and Asia. Their work is often secretive or inscrutable, they are influenced not by their constituents so much as by lobbyists, and are largely unapproachable. On the other hand, the not always just or honest machinations of state representatives are likely to be more visible and their intentions more evident. While they too are besieged by special interests, they are more directly accountable to their state electorate. We tend to really know who they are, identify their skeletons and recognize their contradictions, readily feel the effects of their choices and legislation, and more quickly turn them out when they fail us.

County elections are in many ways even more crucial, and in all ways are easier for us to influence or impact. County officials can do little to affect national policy, but neither can we count on so called leaders in Washington DC to do the right thing. What county officials can do, is to guard the freedoms, rights and values of distinct communities, while administering something close to justice in matters of land use and law. We know them best of all, and thereby have the best chance of electing someone we can count on to represent our needs and address our concerns.

It is in this spirit that I want to encourage less national distraction and more regional focus... and do herby tender my generalized endorsements:

In our local county commission races, I'd always like to see winners demonstrating strong resistance to big government and tacky illuminated billboards, folks that value keeping the West wild... by which I mean wide open spaces and personal liberties over comfort, convenience or profit, who value rural community and rural aesthetics above "the benefits of increased industry," towns without traffic jams, wild game and neighbor's chickens running loose, kids who know how to climb trees and not just play video games, architecture that celebrates history and the still-rural Southwest. I'd pray for the success of any school board candidate that put the real feelings, needs and dreams of the students ahead of national dictates and increasing conformity, bureaucratic regulation or the security of their own jobs. And as for the village mayor's post, it should always be filled by the one who cares about their town the most.

A sheriff can't stop every evil or unpleasant act without stomping on the precious few constitutional rights remaining to us common citizens of the Republic... and so I have to support any past, present or future badge wearer who responds whenever they are needed, without trying to over manage the lives of the many individualists of our rural county. I'm all for those who stop the true evil doers whenever they can, while allowing everyone else their unique ways and proud hearts, those who understand we're in greater danger of losing our freedom to future governments than being hurt or killed by any thugs they've yet to catch.

And when it does come time for the electing of national figures and presidential hopefuls, I think I'll be withholding my endorsement until some big-hipped, big-hearted old grandmothers run. Grannies know how to be tough when they have to be, breaking up fights between the boys, standing up to bullies, and making sure that Grandpa's S.S. check comes on time. When globalized corporate bosses start squeezing the working American, she takes a stick to them. And whenever not busy kicking ass, a granny would likely impress us with us her caring side: Rolling up her sleeves and doing any work she's able, all to keep food on the American table. Making the best of any situation, and loving all of creation. Opening her heart and listening to every woman, man, girl or boy... sensing their pain and sharing their joy. Providing a comforting lap to any lost or wayward child, and teaching hardheads like me to be just a lil' more meek and mild. She'd care not just about financial growth but personal satisfaction of her free citizens, how everyone's garden is growing and how clear the skies, about the fate of abused children and the dieback of monarch butterflies, legislative threats to what's left of our Constitutional rights and the fate of rural lifestyles.

Until then, we just might be better off giving our attention to the more local elections, to what are allies and neighbors with the right predilections.

Jesse Hardin has been living and writing in Catron County for 32 years now. His book on the history of Old West firearms and N.M. characters can be ordered at: www.OldGunsBook.com

 
         
 

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