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Honoring Three Hunting Heroes

1/3/2007

Aldo Leopold
Conservationist, philosopher, scientist, visionary, Aldo Leopold is the man who founded the modern field of wildlife biology.

An avid hunter and archer, Leopold followed in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt to champion the ethics of man's relation with nature, tirelessly writing and speaking wherever he could.

In 1949, shortly after Leopold's death, his book, A Sand County Almanac, was published. A Sand County Almanac took 12 years to write, but it is written as a collection of essays on nature during the course of a year from the perspective of the family "shack," (an old chicken coop converted into a cabin), and subsequent reflections on the creation of a "Land Ethic" as being the basis for a "ecological conscience" to wisely guide mankind's development.

When A Sand County Almanac first came out it met with little fanfare. When it was republished in 1973, following Earth Day 1970, the book promptly sold 270,000 copies.

To date, some two million copies published in nine languages have been sold. The book is compared with Thoreau's Walden.

"The Shack" where Leopold went to write and seek refuge, has been preserved right where it always has been, on the banks of the Wisconsin River in Baraboo, Wis., on land that Aldo bought for $8 an acre. Nearby, this April 22, the brand new 12,000-square feet Aldo Leopold Legacy Center will open its doors.

The new Legacy Center is a three-building campus designed to carry on education, research and outreach programs. For details on the opening contact: Aldo Leopold Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 77, Baraboo, Wis. 53913-0077, tel: (608) 355-0279, fax: (608) 356-7309, www.aldoleopold.org.

Fred Bear
Fred Bear, the godfather of bowhunting, deserves his place in not only the Archery Hall of Fame, but as one of the conservation heroes of the 20th century. Fred Bear was another Jacques Cousteau.

Dick Lattimer, who was Bear's right-hand man and spokesman for decades, has just come out with a new book, Hunt With Fred Bear: Walk The Trails With Him and Face The World's Most Difficult and Dangerous Game (IHUNT Communications, (866) 837-3135, www.ihuntbooks.com, 304 pages, $24.95).

In Hunt With Fred Bear, Lattimer has gathered 25 chapters of Bear's most amazing hunts all over the world. This book marks the first time that all of Bear's greatest hunts have ever appeared together in one volume.

Fred Bear understood that the future of archery and bowhunting was tied to how the public perceived the bowhunter. So, Bear made a concerted effort to appear on primetime TV, produce mainstream TV shows and films and introduce celebrities to the sport.

Responding to the low-blow CBS Special "The Guns of Autumn," Bear teamed with filmmaker Wally Taber to produce a 26-part TV series, "American Outdoors," exploring not just archery but wildlife conservation. Bear spent nearly $75,000 of his own money to air the series on 50 stations across the US.

Wally Taber
Filmmaker Wally Taber, along with Martin and Osa Johnson, were the people who first brought hunting adventures to the big screen and then television.

Taber was the first to bring back color film of his African safaris in the mid-1900s. He was a colorful character who would draw huge crowds to personal showings of his films that he would narrate, sometimes wearing an outfit like he was on safari. His TV appearances in the l950s were sacred time in our family.

Wally Taber passed away several years ago. His estate has donated a large collection of prints of Taber's films to the Cornette Library at West Texas A&M University.

The collection consists of over a thousand reels of 16mm and 35mm film, recording Taber's hunting expeditions on every continent from the 1950s through the 1970s. The entire run of his "The American Outdoors" television series, on broadcast-format videotape, is also in the collection.

The collection comprises a remarkable record of hunting and fishing practices, images from remote, scenic, and geographically noteworthy locations around the globe.

West Texas A&M wants to preserve Taber's films, publicize their existence, and allow access to them by researchers and the public, but the proper processing and storage of such a large collection of films is costly, and the university seeks financial assistance in carrying out the project.

According to Librarian Paul Coleman, the following is a listing of Texas A&M's major goals for the Wally Taber collection, in order of priority:

1) Have the films inspected, cleaned, and placed on archival cores by a film
preservation laboratory.

2) On a one-year contract, hire a person with training as a film curator to
catalog the collection, create archival finding aids for researchers, and
establish policies and procedures for the long-term care of the films.

3) Purchase and install a cold-storage unit for the films.

4) Refurbish the current lecture room with appropriate lighting, acoustics,
and projection facilities to serve as a theater in tribute to Wally Taber.

5) Adjacent to, or within the Wally Taber Theater, construct exhibit
facilities to display artifacts of Taber's career on a rotating basis.

In conjunction with curating of the collection, the university will establish a website devoted to Wally Taber's career and informing researchers of the
existence of the collection.

If you would like to contribute to the Wally Taber film collection, contact:
Paul Coleman, University Librarian, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas 79016, phone: (806) 651-2225, fax: (806) 651-2213.

James Swan — who has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, including "Murder in the First" and "Star Trek: First Contact," as well as the television series "Nash Bridges," "Midnight Caller" and "Modern Marvels" — is the author of the book "In Defense of Hunting." Click to purchase a copy. To learn more about Swan, visit his Web site.

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