University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)

Ellis, Mel
Metamorphosis of a hunter,   pp. 9-12

Page 11

plume hunters had ravaged their flocks. Even blue
herons became scarce because irate duck hunters,
having no legal targets, began wholesale slaughter
of the birds, wiping out entire rookeries. Wildlife had
come upon a time of crisis, and there were too few to
champion the cause of these species which seemed
destined to follow the passenger pigeon into
  My hunting days temporarily ended then. I was
packed off to a boarding school, and in fall when my
gun should have been booming, I was learning that
it was not only prudent but wise to save today if a
man wanted any wildlife tomorrow. When I wasn't
studying I was tramping the flatlands of northern
Indiana and I never knew before how one wild place
after another had been turned into a dump site.
  The ugly dump sites surrounding some of the
nearby heavily industrialized cities affected me
deeply. After graduation, and a few depression years
washing dishes and scrubbing floor, I finally made
it to Sheboygan where I became a reporter on The
  For me it was a most fortunate connection. The
Sheboygan Press in the thirties was a splendid
example of dedication to the best conservation
principles. I was overjoyed to be working for such
a responsible paper, and it was then I resumed my
hunting. Only now I discovered that it was more fun
to sit in a duck blind and watch a marsh wren hunt
for insects or a muskrat build its thatched house,
than it was to shoot ducks.
  These then were the great formative years, not
only in the metamorphosis of a writer and a hunter,
but the great formative years of conservation with the
likes of Aldo Leopold paving the way for the present
ecological revolution.
  It was a revelation and a deep source of
satisfaction for me to be working for a publisher
like Charles Broughton, who also happened to be a
Democratic national committeeman and a tireless
worker in the field of conservation. He fought for,
and got, Terry Andrae park, a wild goose refuge at
Horicon, a rich impoundment for wildlife along the
Sheboygan river    many, many worthwhile
  I was inspired by Leopold, by a man named
Dahlberg who wrote some of the first ecology text
books . . . and so I began finding new prey on my
hunting horizon. I began hunting for cleaner creeks,
if only so I could fish for trout. I began hunting for
great marshes, if only so I might shoot more ducks.
  Then Broughton gave me a full page of the
newspaper to do with what I wanted in the outdoor
field. Since advertising was slack on Monday, that
was the day I got my page. Still, the metamorphosis
of the hunter was a long way from yielding a
beautiful butterfly, and I'm afraid I turned my page
into a hunting and fishing page instead of one
devoted to conservation.
  But things were stirring. Simultaneously across
the country other newspapers were looking to the
outdoors for news and features. Quite suddenly the
hunting and fishing magazines gained new respect,

Go up to Top of Page