The Bounty of Nature I have many memories of hunting, fishing, and camping. Growing up as a boy in East Texas between the Neches River and Kickapoo Creek, on the western edge of the eastern timber zone, I watched the pileated woodpecker hammer, saw the great flights of ducks and geese and blackbirds that filled our skies fifty years ago, and marveled even as a boy at their numbers. The frogs, the copperhead, the moccasin were near the borders of our sloughs and ponds there, and the gar and trout were near their surfaces, herons and egrets and cranes waded their shores or perched on lookout points, kingfishers and water turkeys sat on the bare boughs of dead trees over the water, more patient than human fishermen. The virgin hardwood forest was unfenced. Not old enough to possess a gun, I roamed the woods with my fish hooks and my dogs, alone, and watched the birds as I fished for catfish and perch. I feared only the wild, razorback hogs and the scrub cattle which ranged the river and creek bottoms. I muddied the waters and grabbled for fish in hollow logs and holes in the bank and got hold of loggerhead turtles and snatched a powerful moccasin, and came out of all of it without being bitten, although a few times I was very much shaken up. On fishing trips when I was a boy, we just slept on the ground under the trees, without benefit of any camping equipment, and slapped the mosquitoes all night. I. enjoyed camping ever after that until World War II, when I had to sleep on the ground, even though in a sleeping bag, for a hundred consecutive nights on Louisiana maneuvers during the coldest Ralph Yarborough recorded winter since St. Denis camped at Natchitoches in 1717. Icecovered limbs broke off of trees, killing several of our men in our division and injuring a number of others. While I still camp out on deer hunts, I do it for the hunting, not for the camping. Before I announced for governor ten years ago, I spent something like four to six weeks each year hunting and fishing. Since the day I announced for governor against Allan Shivers on May 1, 1952, I have spent only six days hunting and fishing, one day for deer, one day for turkey, one day for doves, one day for ducks, one day for geese, and one day fishing. Six days in ten years are not enough. I want to hit the fishing and hunting trail again. But I don’t want to create the impression that I am only interested in hunting and killing animals. Nature is greater than the chase. Man’s habitat is the outdoors and all living things, and if he destroys a part of it, he destroys a part of himself. If he recklessly kills off species of birds and animals, he impoverishes the .human race forever. Although a fencedup America has ended wild, free, open, uncrowded woods forever, I still feel akin to the things I saw, hunted, lived with, and loved in those East Texas woods half a century ago. There was food in the woods for a boy, wild plums and mulberries in spring and summer, grapes in abundance in summer and fall, muscadines and persimmons, red haws and black haws, chinquapins and hickory nuts, mayhaws and the kernels of nettles. Wild birds sought all the wild fruit, and I raced with them for choice bites. I ate from the field and forest and fried my fish on the river bank, carrying only salt with me; As I sat alone on the banks of spring branches or creeks and fished and watched the birds and other wild life, Virtually as free as an Indian boy except for my store bought clothes, the wind rustled the leaves of trees; and I imagined, as a boy will, that the trees were talking to me, but they seetned to be saying Indian words, like I had heard from Hiawatha, that I didn’t understand. But now I understand, they were crying out for the salvation of our trees, our wildlife, our heritage. T HAS BEEN DISAP-POINTING to me that so few of the candidates for the governorship of Texas have seemed to have much recognition of the need for a large number of parks in Texas to serve our more than ten million people, not to mention the millions that we hope to lure into our state as tourists. ‘If we expect them as tourists, we must have something for them when they reach Texas. Some Texans seem not to have realized that. Texas screams for tourists, but our state government will do nothing to attract them. People will go where there are attractions and opportunities for recreation. Someone with vision is needed in the state government who will push a program of state parks to supplement and complement the one national park that we now have and the second that we are about to obtain. With our population and an area of more than 265,000 square miles, Padre Island, the Wheatley Ranch, if it December 27, 1962 3
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