Visual display of the Aldo Leopold papers : 9/25/10-3 : County, State and Foreign Files

Tale of the Month: Here's one    we 
received from Warden Virgil Johnson 
of Custer that takes the sky-blue rib. 
bon. It's so unusual and interesting 
that we can't resist printing it here 
in the Warden's own words: 
  "It seems as though Mr. Beaver got 
hungry Monday night, August 18th, 
so he went to the local grocery store, 
which in this case happened to be a 
grove of quaking asp. There he pro- 
ceeded to gnaw down a 'quake., This 
'quake' did not fall all the way down. 
It lodged   against the  wires on a 
high-voltage  power   line  that ran 
along the edge of the beaver dam. 
Undaunted, the beaver cut down a 
much smaller tree and had his sup. 
per (or maybe it was breakfast). 
  In the meantime the aspen that had 
lodged against the power line caused 
the wires to be grounded. After some 
time the wires melted. One wire fell 
in the beaver dam and the other along 
the bank. This was the starting   of 
the end for Mr. Beaver. The line that 
fell on the bank burned a path about 
12 feet long and a foot wide. For- 
tunately the grass was too green to 
burn and a fire was prevented. But 
the beaver and all other inhabitants 
of the dam were not so fortunate- 
they really got the 'hot seat., Three 
muskrats, two beaver, and about fif- 
teen trout were 'shocked to death' as 
a result of the hunger of one innocent 
  (Ed. Note: Would you say the bea- 
ver had 'amps in his pants,' Virgil?) 
  Paddy Baker, who     works in the 
Highway Department, has another 
beaver story for us. He tells about an 
acquaintance of his who nearly lost 
his Chesapeake Bay   dog   to one of 
those furry wood-choppers. The dog 
was swimming in a beaver dam when 
suddenly an angry (or hungry) bea- 
ver appeared from nowhere and pro- 
ceeded to chew, gouge, and drown the 
pooch in one devastating attack. The 
dog's master was finally able to hold 
off the beaver with a barrage of rocks 
while the exhausted  dog   struggled 
ashore. We'll bet that mutt will never 
again retrieve anything from a beaver 
dam or, for that matter, from any wa- 
ter that even looks like it might have 
a beaver in it! 
  All this talk about beaver reminds 
me of the time last spring when I was 
standing out in the middle of a fairly 
shallow beaver dam, whipping      its 
upper reaches with a trout fly. Sud- 
denly, five feet behind me, there was 
a tremendous ker-splash! A guyser 
of water shot up from the thumping 
tail of a beaver and completely soak- 
ed me. I made a bee-line for the bank, 
but underwent two more splashings 
before I reached the shore. Dripping 
and drooping, I continued to fish up- 
stream, carefully avoiding the vicin- 
ity of the beaver dam and house. As 
I disappeared around a bend in the 
stream I could still see the big beaver 
aitting on the face of the dam, liter- 
ally daring  me   to come   back for 
another encounter. 
  The logical conclusion to this inci- 
dent would of course be that the mo- 
ther beaver had a house full of little 
kittens and so she used the 'immer- 
sion' method as the most practical and 
efficient means of driving off the 'in. 
  Hats off to Representative Karl 
Mundt for the excellent talk he so 
ably presented at the 6th Anniversary 
meeting of the Flandreau Chapter of 
the Izaak Walton League. Delivered 
extemporaneously and straight from 
the shoulder, Karl's speech contained 
a tone of conservational thought not 
often displayed in these days of "all- 
out' destruction, waste, and war. It 
is impossible to reprint here the full 
text of the speech. However, we can- 
not resist outlining some of the prin- 
ciple definitions and   observations 
which were offered to those present 
at the Anniversary meeting. 
  First of all the motto of the speech 
could be defined as "Conservation for 
Future   Generations."  Mr. Mundt 
spoke briefly on the tragedy of 1917- 
18 when (in a grand, patriotic, and 
selfish effort to produce) natural re- 
sources and wild life were ravaged by 
the draining of lakes and sloughs in 
an attempts to create more farm land 
-raise more food. The results    all 
of us know. It has taken a score of 
years to even partially restore our 
bird populations  and   water levels. 
Karl warned that once again deprada- 
tions on Conservation policies are be- 
ing conceived and the possibility is 
strong that pressure will be brought 
to bear for the duplication of the 1917- 
18 ravages against Nature- He cau- 
tioned all those interested in Conser- 
vation to consider the situation care- 
fully and approach each 'emergency' 
with a level head. It was pointed out 
that if we fail to do this we will pay 
more heavily than we ever have be- 
fore and our descendents will surely 
feel the  weight of   any   hasty or 
thoughtless decisions made now on 
our part. 
  Mr. Mundt defined Democracy as 
the "design or pattern of Nature"- 
thus Conservation of Nature in our 
country protects our present and fu- 
ture government and is THE 'First 
Line' of defense. 
  We   congratulate   Representative 
Mundt on his sound   reasoning  and 
foresight as pertains to the national 
and international aspects of Conserva- 
tion. We also wish to thank him for 
bringing to us a sound, authentic, and 
first hand interpretation of the pro- 
blems that now confront Conserva- 
tionists during this era of interna- 
tional chaos. 
  Al Roesler, of Deadwood, tells one 
about a tourist and   the new   deer 
signs. The signs were recently erect- 
ted along the highways in the Black 
Hills in order to warn motorists of 
the presence of deer along the high- 
ways and thus prevent deer-car acci- 
dents. (See "Deer vs. Car" article in 
this issue.) 
  The signs say "Caution! Deer on 
Highway."   Mr. Roesler observed  a 
tourist who really took the signs li- 
terally. This tourist saw one of the 
signs, stopped the car, grabbed his 
camera, rushed back to the sign, and 
carefully looked around-his camera 
cocked and ready to take a picture of 
(he hoped) a deer! 
  Too bad deer can't read. We're cer- 
tain the  tourist was   disappointed 
when he failed to see a herd of White- 
tails or 'Mulies' clustered about the 
sign waiting patiently to have their 
pictures taken! 

History Of The Chinese Ringtail Pheasant 
  The pheasant hunting enjoyed in 
South Dakota today is the result of 
an investment of less than $20,000.00 
in the purchase of the stock. The first 
pheasants were introduced into our 
state in 1912 when about 300 birds 
were released by the Game Depart- 
ment. During 1912 and 1913 a number 
of birds were purchased with funds 
contributed by a group of sportsmen, 
but the real program was not started 
by the Department until in 1914 when 
some 2,000 birds were purchased. Dur- 
ing 1915 another 2,000 birds were lib- 
erated. In 1917, 1918 and 1919 small- 
er purchases were made and in all, 
approximately 7,000 birds were pur- 
chased. From this original stock, the 
birds have increased to such an ex- 
tent that It is conservatively esti- 
mated that approximately two mil- 
lion birds were taken by licensed 
hunters during the open season of 
1927 and 1928. Unfavorable weath- 
er conditions somewhat reduced the 
kill in 1929, it being estimated that 
about one million were taken. 
  In 1930 the kill was estimated at a 
million and a half. In 1931, due to 
        Take A Boy Along! 
  Here is 14 year old Gerald Brady of 
Marion with his first pheasant, 1939 
season. If some of you old-timers 
need a companion some time, take a 
boy along! 
the grasshopper scourge in     South 
Dakota, it was deemed advisable to 
place restrictions on bag limits and 
length of season, and as a result not 
to exceed one million birds were legal- 
ly taken. In 1932 birds were more 
abundant than for two or three prev- 
ious seasons but much less hunting 
was indulged in, presumably because 
of economic conditions. Lack of funds 
prevented many from     indulging in 
hunting as extensively as usual. We 
estimate that approximately the same 
number of pheasants were killed as 
during the fall of 1931. 
  An estimate of the 1933, 1934, and 
1935 seasons' kill of pheasants ranges 
from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000. In 1933 
a split season (two 14-day periods) 
proved attractive to hunters and fully 
2,000,000 birds were legally taken. 
In 1934 and 1935 the kill is estimated 
at 1,500,000. This annual take has not 
appreciably reduced the state's stock 
of pheasants in spite of the fact that 
drouth   and  grasshopper invasions 
have resulted in almost total crop 
failures throughout the state. There 
was a slightly greater kill In 1936 
than in 1935. As to the total kill of 
pheasants during the season of 1937, 
during a normal season at least one 
and one-half million birds are legally 
taken, but we are confident that not to 
exceed 5% of this number were taken 
during the fall of 1937, due largely to 
the severity of the winter and a lack 
of normal food supply on account of 
successive crop failures.   Approxi- 
mately one and one-half million birds 
were taken each open season in 1938 
and 1939. The anticipated kill for 
1940 is over two million birds. The 
length of season varies in the several 
counties, based on the abundance of 
  Since the winter of 1926, the South 
Dakota Game Department has, through 
trapping operations, transferred ap- 
proximately 25,000 pheasants into sec- 
tions of the state into which pheasants 
were not originally introduced. 
  It is highly desirable and very Im- 
portant that discretionary authority 
be vested in a Game Commission so 
that desirable regulations governing 
upland shooting may be had to fit ex- 
isting conditions. 
  The pheasant, like many other good 
things, can become a pest if not prop- 
erly controlled and once this bird 
gains a foothold there is little danger 
of extermination. The danger lies in 
that he might multiply to such an ex- 
tent as to prove detrimental to farm- 
ing operations. We have had some 
trouble in this respect in South Da- 
kota and the trouble we have had has 
been due to the fact that in first de- 
claring an open season on birds, the 
regulations did not permit the taking 
of a sufficient number of birds to 
keep them within reasonable numbers. 
Those who have made a study of the 
habits of the pheasant have ;been con- 
vinced that as an insect eater he is 
far more beneficial than destructive 
to  agriculture and, as previously 
stated, if controlled he is a real friend 
to the farmer. 
  It is generally conceded that South 
Dakota pheasants are perfect speci- 
mens of the species, which fact we 
attribute largely to climatic conditions 
  See "History of Chinese Pheasant" 
       Continued on Page 10 
          -Photo by Bert Popowski 
  South Dakota's Ringneck Hunting 
Leads the World!