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July 18, 2009

Roosevelt’s Other Famous Hill

Theodore Roosevelt hiking with his family at Sagamore Hill. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service.

Hermann Hagedorn (1882-1964) was one of the most prolific biographers of Theodore Roosevelt. A friend of T.R., Hagedorn served as the first director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. Among his books about the 26th president was The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill, first published in 1954.

I first was given a copy of Hagedorn’s book by a TRCP supporter. It includes a quote that I’d read a number of times before, but never tire of. Roosevelt, excusing himself from a meeting with a visiting dignitary said, “I must ask you to excuse me. We’ll finish this talk some other time. I promised the boys I’d go shooting with them at four o’clock, and I never keep boys waiting. It’s a hard trial for a boy to wait.”

With a smile on my face, I reflected for a moment about myself as a boy and all the boys I’ve known, many now with gray hair, who still can’t be left waiting. While so many works about Roosevelt detail his early life or his political life, Hagedorn’s was the first I’d read that focused on his home life, his daily interactions with his wife and children and the extended Roosevelt clan, many of whom had homes on New York’s Long Island, near Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill.

Hagedorn brings to life the president’s wild races through the woods and mad dashes down steep embankments, with his children and their cousins in tow. He writes of T.R.’s long cross-country rides on horseback and of rowing boats for hours on Long Island Sound to secluded camping spots, where the president and the children would dig clams and he’d tell stories of big game hunting and Cuba around a campfire.

Reading the book you get a sense of the rhythm of a house overflowing with visitors accompanied by an endless series of activities: children putting on plays, shooting contests, afternoon hikes and more. I especially liked learning that T.R., always ready to play, often ignoring the rules of a game (tennis for instance) in order to make it more fun or available to everybody. When I finished the book, I liked Theodore and his wife Edith a great deal more. They seemed more human and easier to relate to than they’d been previously.

Used copies of Hagedorn’s book are available through Amazon and a number of other booksellers for as little as $3, although a collectible copy in perfect condition can cost $100 or more. Either option is worth the read.

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July 14, 2009

Mike “Animal” Bailey

Mike Bailey (left) holding a Fletcher's Cove striper with the late Jim Range, co-founder and former board chairman of the TRCP.

Mike Bailey started fishing in the late 1960s in farm ponds and swamps in southeast Georgia. “As I aged (mature doesn’t seem like the right word for me) my passion for fishing grew with my ability to pursue larger quarry,” says Bailey.

Settling in the Washington, D.C., area, Bailey began fishing the Potomac River for smallmouth until discovering what he calls “the best-kept secret in Washington, D.C.,” Fletcher’s Cove, a small boat launch on the Potomac River. At Fletcher’s, Bailey was introduced to the shad and striped bass that run up the river.

In the 1980s, Bailey met Jim Range, a fellow member of the unofficial anglers’ club at Fletchers, who helped him define and understand the importance of conservation. “Through his work and as one of his many fishing buddies, Jim shared his thoughts on the importance of preserving the outdoor resources we enjoyed together,” says Bailey.

Bailey continues to support D.C.-area conservation efforts, helping form the Congressional Casting Call with Range to expose law makers to natural resources available in their own backyard.

“Having spent many hours with Jim in the confines of a rowboat, car, greenhouse and kitchen, I was exposed to many of his thoughts, ideas and dreams,” says Bailey. “One of them was the formation of the TRCP.” As a small business owner, Bailey helped Jim explore operational infrastructures for small groups, which would help lead to the formation of the TRCP.

“Jim has goals that I’m hopeful the TRCP will be able to achieve on his behalf,” says Bailey. “As the organization realigns itself, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to participate in helping the TRCP make all of Ranger’s dreams come true.”

Click here to contribute to the Jim Range Conservation Fund


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June 14, 2009

John Gale

Q: How did you get into hunting and fishing?

A: As soon as I could hold a rod and gun, my parents and grandparents had me fishing and shooting all over Idaho’s wild country, where I grew up as a sixth-generation native. When I was of legal age to hunt, I never missed one year of elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunting. I knew I had “come of age” as a hunter when my father started pulling me out of school for a whole week to go elk hunting every year. I’ll always remember that first year and that first elk. (I’ll also vividly remember missing a large mule deer buck that first year at elk camp … win some, lose some.)

Q: Why is conservation important to you?

A: From an early age, my family, and my father in particular, instilled in me a conservation ethic to treat the land, wildlife, and natural resources with great respect. He showed me what it means to be a responsible steward of the rich public lands we’re borrowing from future generations and the wildlife that inhabit those landscapes.

Q: What do you think is the most important conservation issue facing sportsmen today?

A: This is a challenging question but I’d say in general it’s the loss of quality habitat. There are a tremendous amount of contributing factors here, but to name a few: public lands management policies that have rejected the multiple-use philosophy in favor of one use at the expense and exclusion of others through irresponsible energy development, antiquated mining laws from 1872, etc.; invasive species; climate change and the resulting loss or migration of flora and fauna to higher elevations and latitudes; migratory corridor fragmentation from poorly planned infrastructure building and the loss of access over time sparks an interesting and at times, lively debate about indirect impacts to wildlife and habitat.

In a recent survey conducted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, access surpassed gun rights as the primary concern of sportsmen for the first time ever in history. Loss of access isn’t always about private lands; if you can’t hunt or fish in a place anymore because we’ve done a bad job of balancing our use of natural resources, that is, in essence, access lost.

Q: How do you, personally, hope to address this issue?

A: Its not an easy issue to address, but working together with strong conservation organizations like the NWF, TRCP, TU and others, we can effect change at the policy level administratively and legislatively by joining forces and empowering our grassroots to advocate and speak loudly. Whether you’re the Idaho Wildlife Federation fighting for bighorn sheep or a chapter of Trout Unlimited working on local watersheds, the cumulative impacts are bold, and decision makers are listening to us.

Q: How do you hope to work with the TRCP in the future?

A: I’ll always be ready to help and support my friends and colleagues at TRCP as we work together to grow bigger, stronger and more prepared to face the challenges of wildlife conservation. I’m currently working with [TRCP Associate Director of Campaigns] Joel Webster and many of our professional colleagues in the conservation community to ensure that America’s wild roadless areas maintain their integrity and continue to be the best places to hunt and fish in the world. We’re working with decision makers, federal and state land and wildlife management agencies, and reaching out to other stakeholders in a moderate, balanced approach that fosters the development of responsible solutions to threats on our roadless public lands. In the end it’s about healthy habitat, abundant wildlife and inspiring future generations to be the stewards of tomorrow.


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May 15, 2009

Roosevelt’s African Library

What did T.R. call his collection of books that he took with him to Africa?

Congratulations to Lex Morgan for correctly identifying that Teddy called the Grand Canyon “beautiful and terrible and unearthly.” Send your answers to this month’s question to Brian McClintock. The first person to correctly respond will receive a DVD collection of TRCP’s TV show, Life In The Open.


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April 19, 2009

April Pic of the Month

Ross Tuckwiller, TRCP field representative for New Mexico, shot this Merriam tom near his hometown of Durango, Co. earlier this month.
Send your hunting, fishing or conservation photos to Brian McClintock.



Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

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