By Brad Quilici
At various times over the past twenty years, I was a member of a county game board to manage wildlife. When I was not a member, I attended these meetings on a regular basis. At these meetings, it was always Nevada Department of Wildlife’s (NDOW) position that no one from a county game board, ranch, farm or a hunter knew anything about fish and game matters. This was in spite of the age of the individual or how many years experience they had pertaining to wildlife matters.
Anybody and everybody who hunts, fishes or traps has an idea about how to do it or how to make it better. This is only natural for people who care. Now let’s go further into this. Lots of these people will give their ideas to their buddies down at the local gun shop, coffee shop or sportsmen’s fundraisers. But the die-hard and outspoken and the truly concerned will go to a county game board or even a Wildlife Commission meeting to voice their opinions.
I have heard these concerns at both levels as I have been both a game board and a Wildlife commissioner. Most of these people are truly serious sportsmen, ranchers, farmers or just interested outdoorsmen. I have seen all of them at these meetings.
Many of these people are truly knowledgeable in their individual fields, whether it be a rancher who has lived in the same area for thirty years or the die-hard deer hunter who has hunted a certain mountain range for twenty years or a fisherman who knows a few streams like no one else. Like it or not, these types of people and there are lots of them are not only knowledgeable but are a very valuable tool in game management.
These people take the time to come to a meeting and present their honest, hard earned opinion and relate their ten, twenty or thirty years experience. Whether it be a low deer count, too many lions or too few sage hens, we should listen and take that information into account. After all, these people are out there in their counties way more than most of NDOW’s biologists.
To prove that only NDOW’s opinion counts, I have heard time and time again at local meetings and at statewide meetings the following statements from NDOW higher-ups:
“We need to listen to our biologists.”
“Our people are trained in that area.”
“They are the experts.”
“They know what they are doing.”
“They have the education.”
“How can we listen to a rancher? He is not a biologist.”
“That deer hunter doesn’t know what he is looking at.”
And the list goes on as we have all heard them point blank tell us that we don’t know as much as these super-duper trained college boys.
In other words, all these dedicated people are stupid. I remember NDOW Game Bureau Chief Greg Tanner telling (then newly appointed) Commissioner Ford that he and Commissioner Moran wouldn’t know anything for at least four years. He also told other NDOW personnel that they (NDOW) would have to teach the two new commissioners how to wipe their butts. At their first Commission meeting in Tonopah, Ford and Moran showed up with a roll of toilet paper and placed it in front of their microphones. I didn’t see any NDOW personnel showing them how to use it! But I did see some butt kissing!
In the five years I served as a commissioner and the fifteen years of attending game board meetings, I have heard at least thirty or forty people speak about our deer herds which is the most talked about subject. Lots of times, these are the same people year in and year out, hunters, ranchers and very importantly, trappers who say the “deer are down, close the doe season” or “we need to kill some lions”. The NDOW reaction is always the same, “What does he know? He isn’t a biologist!”
Or what about the trapper who tells us he is losing bobcats to lions and he tells us that he knows of 5 or 6 different lions in a certain area. Ha! Another stupid one! “Hell, he has only been in that area for the last 3 months, every third day or so and only trapped it for the last 5 years. So what could he possibly know?”
What about the die-hard deer hunting family that hunts a certain range every year for the last 20 or 30 years. They come to a meeting and want the quota cut on bucks and want the doe season closed. They have basically monitored the area free of charge every year for the last 20 years with two, three or four people with spotting scopes and binoculars, spent all day on the mountain and fifteen or twenty days of a thirty day season. When they say the deer are down or there are not many does or the bucks are not there, who do we believe? It can’t be them, they are not biologists, they don’t know anything…they are not trained!!
Case in point. When the southern region head biologist retired, that left a vacancy for that position. NDOW wanted to and tried to fill the position internally. Nobody wanted the job because they would be directly under Greg Tanner or “Big Red” as he is known in NDOW circles. So the Pope as Terry Crawforth is known in the NDOW family forced Tanner to hire Dr. John Himes, this highly trained biologist from of all places, Mississippi. He went right to the top–head man, chief, supervisor. Yes, right to the top, supervising biologist of the southern region–sheep country–Ah, yes! The highly trained, college educated, brilliant biologist with a doctorate now was in charge of the southern region–sheep country. The pride of Nevada, our state animal was being overseen by a biologist from Mississippi. All of the dedicated sheep enthusiasts with hundreds of years of combined experience needed to step back as the new sheriff is in town and he is highly trained, just like NDOW likes ’em.
Now for the moral of the story. This was an actual event. At a winter commission meeting in Las Vegas, I happened to have an 8 x 11 enlargement of a nice trophy moose that a client of mine killed in Alaska (Alert for little Stevie Albert-better check on this) while I was guiding for an outfitter. The picture was taken in the fog and in low scrub willow. It almost looked like brush. No mountains or trees were visible in the picture. It was mostly me and the large palmated moose horns. I was showing it off to members of the Commission when Mr. Himes came up to take a look. He was quite impressed and asked me where I had gotten the moose. I told him “The Sheldon”. He asked where that was and I told him the northwest corner of his state. “Wow” he said. “How many moose do we have there?” I said, “Not many” at which time Commissioner Ford said “We only gave out one tag and Brad drew it.” As Dr. Himes walked away he said something about not being able to wait to go there and see those moose….True Story!
Mr. Himes sadly did not get to the Sheldon to see those moose. He only lasted a few months with NDOW. Dr. Himes was a highly educated individual, highly trained. He was an expert, everything a biologist should be…his expertise was tree frogs and tree snakes…Thank you, Mr. Crawforth for hiring someone so inept. It certainly reflects your leadership.