By Larry Dablemont
I don’t want to make anyone real awful mad here but I can’t tell you the name of one politician that I would want to go fishing with. The whole bunch of them seems a sorry lot to me and I put them all in the same sack. But then, what do I know about politics? I only know about fishing, and if I had caught any fish this past week I’d be writing about that!
I once shook Harry Truman’s hand, and I have to admit that I was impressed with him, even though I was only about 7 or 8 at the time. I also liked Ronald Reagan a lot. I can’t remember much about his presidency, as the hunting and fishing was extremely good back then and I was in the woods quite often. But I really liked Ronald Reagan in those western movies he made after he got out of politics.
I have read some things about Teddy Roosevelt that makes me think he was a lot like me, since he liked to hunt and fish so much and float rivers and did some outdoor writing. He and I looked very much alike too. But of course my favorite president will always be Abe Lincoln, who had two things no president or even presidential candidate will ever have again… he was poor, and he was honest.
Earlier in my life I too was poor and honest, and as a matter of fact I am still relatively poor, and I am being honest about that! Mr. Lincoln hunted and fished too, and split his own firewood, just like I do. Almost no one knows this, but Abraham Lincoln wrote lots of poetry. I have published some of it in my spring issue of the Ozarks magazine I put out. His poetry rhymes really good and makes sense, unlike much of what that Browning woman wrote. It is also said that Lincoln was an expert marksman and he never used a scope.
My favorite politician was Davy Crockett. He and I were so much alike that it is just amazing, except for the fact that he did get into politics, becoming a Tennessee congressman. Every man should be allowed one mistake in his life! My cousins and I watched Davy Crockett on Walt Disney when we were kids, and if you think I wasn’t influenced by him, you should know there is a big sycamore along the Big Piney river with the inscription carved in it…“L. Dablemont kilt a groundhog here.”
There were no bears in the Ozarks when I was a kid, which wound up being an unfortunate thing for that groundhog.
Crockett was loved by his constituents, just as I am loved by my readers, except for a few ladies who got mad about that article I once wrote concerning female bass. Crockett was for the downtrodden and forgotten poor country people he grew up amongst. He sacrificed his political career to stand against legislation which would take land away from the Indians the government had promised to them through treaties only a few years before.
That makes him a better man, in my mind, than anyone you will find in congress today. He was honest, and he thought of others before himself, and he would not put money above all else. Those traits are not found in people in political office today. I think I am a little like that. Once when I was a teenager, I refused to spend the day putting up hay, so I could spend it fishing for smallmouth in the Big Piney. And consider this…I very often worked as a guide for float fishermen for only fifty cents an hour when I could have made 75 cents an hour mowing lawns. Mr. Crockett would have approved of that kind of thinking.
Davy Crockett said, “to heck with politics if it means I have to go back on my word”, and he rode off to Texas and into history where, as I understand it, he went down fighting a bunch of illegal immigrants from Mexico. I would have loved to have fished and hunted with Davy Crockett, or Abe Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt, and I would have paddled any of them down the Piney in my wooden johnboat free of charge. Wouldn’t you love to vote for someone today with just a whisker of the character all those men had.
I never saw a stretch of winter weather like we just went through, but what we are going to see in the future will be worse. Birds and wildlife need help and they get it up here on Lightnin’ Ridge. I hope you have been helping them too. I have been told that it is illegal now to put out corn back in the woods for squirrels and turkeys, because deer might eat it too and for some reason that isn’t good. But I do it anyway.
You are not going to get caught doing that if you follow the rule, “Always place corn 200 yards from where a game warden can get to via pickup.” I worry about what that three weeks of ice and snow and Alaskan temperatures did to quail and wild turkeys. I have seen a decline in turkey numbers over the past eight years that is way past “alarming.”
If there was a way that state conservation agencies could cut back season lengths and gobbler limits from two to one, and eliminate the youth season, where more illegal hunting takes place than the whole rest of the year, and still make the money they want from sales of turkey tags, then maybe we could begin to turn wild turkey numbers around. They had better do something!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Larry Dablemont is an outdoor writer from Bolivar, Mo.