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First published in 1993
in The Morning News
of Northwest Arkansas
Aubrey's Notebook:
White Halloween a Special Birthday Treat

Writing a column on my birthday always means writing a column on Halloween. Pretty strange, sometimes.

Nature gave me the gift of an early snowstorm.

At 4 a.m. the Saturday before Halloween, I was on a snowy Ozark mountainside under a bright moon watching my retrievers run wild and listening to a flock of seemingly confused geese working overhead. I arrived too early to hunt squirrels, but I knew dawn wouldn't match such a night; so I hit the woods as early as possible to enjoy a scene rare in late October.

Daylight brought extraordinary beauty. The sun hit the snow on the still-colorful leaves. I had seen snow on autumn leaves a few times, but that morning was special, because weather reports suggested that some of the snow would remain on Halloween morning.

Acorns were plentiful in the area. I had spotted a limit of eight squirrels before the first daylight hour had passed. In my 20s and 30s I made a habit of always getting a limit on my birthday. But, on this my 53rd birthday, I was satisfied just seeing that many. I didn't need to take all of them home.

My retrievers, of course, wanted all the squirrels in the woods shot. They actually help find squirrels, but often their immediate rush to give chase puts a squirrel up a tree and into a hole before I can get ready to shoot.

They love to retrieve squirrels, although not as much as they love to retrieve ducks. That's why I sometimes take them squirrel hunting, because I love to watch their excitement when they occasionally get a chance to grab one of those little gray fuzz balls that drive them crazy so frequently.

Little Rock was the place to be the Friday night following Halloween. The second-annual Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame induction banquet started with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7:30. Tickets cost $50 for dinner and a year's membership.

The event is much like the fund-raising events held by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, The Wild Turkey Federation and other conservation groups.

There was great food, plenty to drink and numerous opportunities to donate money and in some cases take home a prize or auction item.

The Hall honors outdoor sportsmen, biological scientists and conservationists.

One particularly sad fact, however, is that two of the honorees are not alive for the event. Harold Alexander, however, was alive when the first Hall induction ceremony was held in 1992. Many of us would have loved to see him inducted then. But at least he died knowing he was to be inducted in 1993. No one likely ever will more surely deserve the honor than did Alexander.

Alexander educated many outdoorsmen, writers and other scientists about the relationships among people, animals and the environment. Many of the best environmental decisions made in the state in the past few decades were initiated by Alexander.

Anyone concerned about water quality in Arkansas or other aspects of the environment as it affects people and wildlife ought to become familiar with the writings of Alexander.

Joe Mosby or another member of the Game and Fish Commission staff can help guide a reader to some of Alexander's works.

A casual walk around Game and Fish Headquarters is all it takes to find several people who can relate stories about Alexander's contributions to the state's environment and especially to the outdoor sportsmen of the state.

For ticket information or details of next year's fund-raiser and induction ceremony, contact Steve G. Smith, director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation at 223-6396.


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Aubrey James Shepherd
Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

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