Yield: How the times have changed
Sometimes interesting or humorous true stories from the distant past just morph their way into my columns. Such is the case of this true story which emerged out of a conversation with a good friend about how times have changed since we were children.
My friend told me this story from the Arkansas Ozark Mountains that dates back to World War II days. The story involves a hillbilly lad named Jay. Ol’ Jay and his widowed mother lived on a small rocky farm where a small swine herd provided bare subsistence for the pair.
When WWII started, Jay wanted to do his part for the war effort, so he volunteered for the military. The military initially would not accept Jay because he was the only son in the family. However, Jay wuz persistent and prevailed upon his mother to sign a waiver that gave her permission for Jay to join the military. Early in the war, Jay put on the uniform and went to war.
Before he left, he asked his mother if they should sell their small hog herd before he left for the military because she would have a hard time caring for the herd in his absence.
His mother told Jay to just cut the fence on the back side of their farm and let their hogs go feral in the woods until he returned from the war. The hogs, she explained, could live on the nuts, acorns and any other sustenance they could root up in the woods. Jay agreed that her idea was a good one since he expected the war would only last a year or two. So, that’s what they did — let their hogs run free.
Well, history shows that Jay significantly underestimated the length of WWII, and what he figgered would be one to two years turned out to be more than five years.
But, Jay survived his war experiences and eventually returned to his Ozark mountain home and his mother. It didn’t take long thereafter until Jay realized that the woods around his home were alive with feral hogs of all sizes and descriptions. He saw all the hogs with dollar signs on their backs — if he could just round them up for sale.
Thus inspired, the Great Jay Hog Roundup commenced. With support from friends and neighbors, dogs and horses, bells and whistles, Jay’s feral hog herd was gradually trapped or driven home. Each week, Jay took the hogs caught to the local sale barn and gave the money to his mother for safe keeping.
Within a few weeks or months, the feral hog population plummeted to close to zero and it wuz time to cash out of the hog bizness.
Jay’s patient mother counted up the proceeds and announced to her son that he’d accumulated sufficient funds that he could purchase a little Ozarks farm of his own if he chose to do so.
So, did war hero Jay take his mother’s sage advice to get a head start on his life after the war? No way! Jay took most of the money and bought himself a brand new Chevrolet Impala!
However, Jay did accomplish a lot with his life. He went to college and earned a degree in agricultural economics and had a long and fruitful career working for a land-grant university.
However, Jay’s story does prove the point that times have changed since Jay wuz a young man. You couldn’t buy much of a farm these days with the same money that you could buy a new Chevy.
As an avid hunter — if that’s still possible when you get too old to hunt much — it irks me that hunters too often get tabbed as folks who are only “takers” and not “givers.” Nothing could be further from the truth, so I want to set the record straight: Much of the wildlife that Americans both hunt and enjoy often owes its very existence to hunters.
Here’s how: The money spent on guns, ammunition and hunting licenses fund much of the wildlife conservation efforts in the U.S.
Congress — back when it actually did smart things — did something wise when in 1937 (during the Great Depression) it passed the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. That act placed a 10 percent tax on pistols and revolvers and 11 percent tax on all other firearms and ammo and archery equipment,
These funds go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and through a complicated formula the USFWS partners with state wildlife agencies, through grant applications and matching funds, to: Restore, conserve, manage and enhance wild bird and mammal populations; Acquire and manage wildlife habitats; Provide public use benefits from wildlife resources; and, Construct, operate and manage recreational firearms shooting and archery ranges.
Since 1937, Pittman-Robertson has contributed just short of $10-BILLION for the above purposes. The funds have helped re-introduce wildlife species from the wood bison to the wood duck to the wild turkey. It would take a thick book to list all the ways P-R funds have contributed to wildlife conservation in the U.S. If you want to learn more, look up Pittman-Robertson Act on the internet.
Above and beyond their tax dollars through the P-R Act, hunters are the driving force behind the dozens of private wildlife conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited, the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Pheasants Forever, and The Rocky Mountaln Elk Foundation.
Hunters raise millions of dollars of private funds for establishing wildlife habitat, sponsor outdoor youth clinics, hunter safety schools, etc.
My point is that American hunters should be celebrated, not castigated, for their enthusiastic support of the wildlife populations we all enjoy.
Those are my words of wisdom for the week. Hope you’ve survived this yo-yo weather pattern. And, have a good ‘un. ❖
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