Words on current issues, from 1948

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Words on current issues, from 1948

Postby FlaWoodie » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:47 pm

Perhaps some of these issues on etiquette and other public land issues arent as new as we think they are.....sorry for the length, but the words resonated with me anyways so i felt obliged to share them.....enjoy!

"The pioneer period gave birth to two ideas which are the very essence of split-rail value in outdoor sports. One is the "go-light"
idea, the other the "one-bullet-one-buck" idea. The pioneer went light of necessity. He shot with economy and precision because he lacked the transport, the cash, and the weapons requisite for machine-gun tactics. Let it be clear then, that in their inception, both of these ideas were forced on us; we made a virtue of necessity.

In their later evolution, however, they became a code of ethics, as self-imposd limitation on sport. On them is based a distinctively American tradition of self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, and marksmanship. These are intangibles, but they are not abstractions. Theodore Roosevelt was a great sportsman, not because he hung up many trophies, but because he expressed this intangible tradition in words any schoolboy could understand. A more subtle and accurate expression is found in the early writings of Stewart Edward White. It is not far amiss to say that such men created cultural value by being aware of it, and by creating a pattern for its growth.

Then came the gadgeteer, otherwise known as the sporting-goods dealer. He has draped the American outdoorsman with an infinity of contraptions, all offered as aids to self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, or marksmanship, but too often functioning as substitutes for them.Gadgets fill the pockets, they dangle from neck and belt. The overflow fills the auto-trunk and also the trailer. Each item of outdoor equipment grows lighter and often better, but the aggregate poundage becomes tonnage. The traffic In gadgets adds up to astronomical sums, which are soberly published as representing "the economic value of wildlife". But what of cultural values?

As an end-case consider the duckhunter, sitting in a steel boat behind composition decoys. A put-put motor has brought him to the blind without exercise. Canned heat stands by to warm him in case of a chilling wind. He talks to the passing flocks on a factory caller, in what he hopes are seductive tones; home lessons from a phonograph record have taught him how. The decoys work, despite the caller; a flock circles in. It must be shot at before it circles twice, for the marsh bristles with other sportsmen, similarly accoutred, who might shoot first. He opens up at 70 yards, for his polychoke is set for infinity, and the advertisements have told him that Super-Z shells, and plenty of them, have a long reach. The flock flares. A couple of cripples scale off to die elsewhere. Is this sportsman absorbing cultural value? Or is he just feeding minks? The next blind opens up at 75 yards; how else is a fellow to get some shooting? This is duck-shooting, current model. It Is typical of all public grounds, and of many clubs. Where is the go-light idea, the one-bullet tradition?

The answer is not a simple one. Roosevelt did not distain the modern rifle; White used freely the aluminum pot, the silk tent, dehydrated foods. Somehow they used mechanical aids, in moderation, without being used by them.

I do not pretend to know what moderation is, or where the line is between legitimate and illegitimate gadgets. It seems clear, that the origin of gadgets has much to do with their cultural effects. Home-made aids to sport or outdoor life often enhance, rather than destroy, the man-earth drama; he who kills a trout with his own fly has scored two coups, not one. I use many factory-made gadgets myself. Yet there must be some limit beyond which money-bought aids to sport destroy the cultural value of sport.

Not all sports have degenerated to the same extent as duck-hunting. Defenders of the American tradition still exist. Perhaps the bow-and-arrow movement and the revival of falconry mark the beginnings of a reaction.The net trend, however, is clearly toward more and more mechanization, with a corresponding shrinkage in cultural values, especially split-rail values and ethical restraints.

I have the impression that the American sportsman is puzzled; he doesn't understand what is happening to him. Bigger and better gadgets are good for industry; so why not for outdoor recreation? It has not dawned on him that outdoor recreations are essentially primitive, atavistic; that their value is a contrast-value; that excessive mechanization destroys contrasts by moving the factory to the woods or to the marsh............" Aldo Leopold. A Sand County Almanac. 1948

Just part of a great book, written by a man who had alot to say that still resonates today....

"Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?" AL. :thumbsup:
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