By Jack Spaulding
In the course of over 30 years writing about the outdoors, I have had access to a lot of “confidential” facts given me on the QT from the conspiracy theory crowd.
There are always eyewitnesses or a staunch, believable individual, who is the source of the confidential information. It usually goes, “I know for a fact, because my next door neighbor’s uncle knows a guy whose cousin worked with a good friend whose buddy saw this firsthand.”
I think I have heard them all. Here are a few:
The DNR stocked rattlesnakes in the Hoosier National Forest. They were using black helicopters and flying at treetop level dropping them out of the helicopters.
Actually, the Drug Enforcement Agency, along with local police agencies, was looking for good old home grown marijuana. They have photo imaging which makes the marijuana stand out differently from almost all other vegetation. The problem is… some evergreen trees look exactly like the illegal weed, so they have to fly in low and visually determine whether it is weed or just woods.
Here is a somewhat little known fact… the DNR doesn’t have to stock the Hoosier National Forest with rattlesnakes. The area is already home to some of the largest diamondback rattlesnakes in North America.
Another popular outdoor myth is the DNR had to stock wild turkeys in Southern Indiana to eat all the rattlesnakes which came about because of the rattlesnake stockings.
Sorry… rattlesnakes are not high on the dietary intake of a wild turkey. Maybe once in a while a turkey will snarf up a tiny rattlesnake thinking it is an overgrown nightcrawler, but it would be a very rare occasion.
The DNR stocked mountain lions to help control the deer population.
Once again… no large predators have been stocked by the DNR. There have been rare, random sightings of a mountain lion, but it usually is a pet which escaped its owner.
Indiana isn’t the only state bombarded with outdoor myths. Sometimes an entire country or many countries can be flummoxed by false field reporting.
As a boy, I learned in times of population explosions of the little mouse-like lemming in the Arctic, the little critters would amass by the thousands and march off a cliff in mass suicide.
The myth came about following the release of a 1958 Disney feature, White Wilderness. In the making of the Arctic “outdoor documentary,” filmmakers herded a group of lemmings off a cliff to create a dramatic scene. In one falsified scene of the movie, an entire nation and a lot of the civilized world was duped into believing an over population of lemmings will bring on mass suicides.
In the case of the lemmings, it seems the source can be verified… the next door neighbor’s uncle knows a guy whose cousin worked with a good friend whose buddy was a film maker for Walt Disney.
Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.