More Burkina Faso- and what one man can do…

Tom wrote this to an even better- known hunter:

Dear +++

I guess I don’t see a downside to “saying something.” Fear of looking ineffectual? Isn’t that exactly what we are being by not at least trying?

Slowly, by barking from the end of my chain, I have caught the attention of the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso (I will copy you on our e-mails) and Congressional staffers on the Hill and the US embassy in Ouagadougou. Sound pathetic? Perhaps, but I see progress.

OK, tune up the harps, what did Theodore Roosevelt hope to accomplish by raising the issue of saving North American big-game through the Boone & Crockett Club in 1887, or your country’s own John Harkin in the early 20th century? For that matter, what good did “Walden” or the writings of John Muir or “A Sand County Almanac” or Ding Darling’s cartoons do for shaping modern conservation? On the other hand, think of the immeasurable havoc “Guns of Autumn” continues to wreak upon us.

I think that before people act, they need to have an idea about what they are acting for. And I believe that hunter’s like you can help foster that idea.

Speaking entirely for myself, I feel obligated to raise this matter, even if nothing concrete comes of it. I owe habitat and wildlife and native peoples and, yes, the spirit of the hunt; and it’s time to try to repay.

We are certainly quick enough to rail against anti-hunters and PETA and “emotion-based” wildlife management and about all the “chassis,” to turn to O’Casey, in the world we once hunted so freely and all the other usual suspects when we think, often rightly, that they threaten hunting, even if that only amounts to “Oh, I didn’t know. Too bad…what’s for dessert.”

If you want a specific to-do list, and I certainly should have one to offer, start by informing at least the following of this, to make sure they are aware, or should that be “woke,” when it comes to Burkina Faso?:

Safari Club International
Dallas Safari Club
Boone and Crockett Club
Wild Sheep Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Your Congressional delegation–or for you your Parliamentary one
Public figures (if you want to write the Prince of Wales, you must address the envelope by hand, include your initials in the lower left corner, and use “Dear Sir” for the salutation, to stand a ghost of a chance of its reaching his own desk and not halting at some equerry’s)
Fellow hunters, especially the rich ones, and in particular those looking for a”cause”
Broadcast News
Talk Shows

For myself, I have done that, and am even contemplating contacting, God forbid, the World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, Clinton Foundation. If I could get Sarah McLachlan to write a song about Burkina Faso, I’d ask her, too.

I can understand your thinking I’m chasing my tail, or that I’m purely delusional. I won’t argue with you about either score. Maybe when it comes to caring about the situation in Burkina Faso, you had to be there. I have been there, as have you, and calling it “beautiful” country is not enough for me. But I can only speak for myself about speaking for Burkina Faso.

If you want a completely grandiose, probably megalomaniacal, statement about what we may ultimately stand to lose when Burkina Faso burns is the entire system of hunting-based conservation in Africa that we have so fervently championed now for generations. And that for some reason, in this case, we seen disinclined to voice our support for, if by nothing else than decrying its destruction.


He then got this from a former ambassador, and also got Doug Peacock, through me:


Which narrative do you want me to send to the Embassy? This email or the concern expressed in a document you send to various places?

World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, Clinton Foundation, and multiple others are attempting to address many of these issues. Of course most need public support. They do in fact have programs to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with environment and wildlife, as well as programs to educate the populace and do such things as micro-finance that helps women, especially, to contribute to their family. It has long been proven that focusing on girls’ education will make a big difference in population, economy, good governance and health. And good governance includes environment and wildlife. We were making extremely good progress in Malawi on strengthening the country’s policies and processes related to the environment and wildlife management. Funding was cut last year however.

I urge you to continue looking at what you and others with the same passion can do to make a difference short term and long term.


Burkina Faso

TOM McIntyre writes:

I am trying to bring the ongoing critical wildlife situation in Burkina Faso to the attention of people (literally anyone) outside that country. As you may know, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger provide habitat for the final viable herds of savanna big game in West Central Africa, including the last few hundred endangered West Central African lions. Now terrorism threatens the system that has supported the conservation of these animals and habitat. If allowed to go on unchecked, the herds, if not all the animals, in Burkina Faso, then Benin and Niger, will be gone in a disastrously short time. I would invite you to click on my timeline at Facebook (Thomas McIntyre) and read my several postings over the last few days on this unfolding tragedy. If there is a way of contacting you directly, I hope that I may. I wish you the best, and I am, very truly your, Tom McIntyre.

Background: For all of my nearly sixty-seven years, I have been fascinated by Africa, its environment, people, and wildlife. Over forty years ago I was able to make my first safari to Kenya, and have returned to the continent more than a dozen times. This has led to a career as a writer on outdoor topics and numerous books, including my latest, Augusts in Africa.

Last January, I was able to travel to and hunt in the nation of Burkina Faso; and it was extraordinary to see so much large wild fauna in West Central Africa–everything from elephants and lions through buffalo, Western roam, kob, hippo, crocodile, francolin, guinea fowl, all wild and free ranging. It was a small piece of Africa, but the concept of giving the wildlife value through safari camps to give the local people a stake in wildlife and wild-land conservation was clearly working. Then last week, in a series of e-mails from a contact of mine [Arjun Reddy], there was this (I will leave my friend’s words in their raw, unfiltered state so you can better judge the level of his outrage, frustration, and profound sorrow). Regrettably, in the current climate, I don’t think we can count on our government to take any action, at least not without its being prompted So it may be, indeed, up to us:

I am very sorry to inform you that the jihadists have burned down our camp in Burkina Faso last week as well as several other hunting camps. We had already cancelled the coming season! The eastern part of the country was always quiet but has suddenly become a hot bed of terrorist cells of al Qaeda SOBs.

Fortunately no one was in camp! The caretaker had gone for lunch…

They have burnt many camps now. Government is useless…if they [al Qaeda] set up camp in that area and make it a no-go area it will be the end of the wildlife. The elephants are already killed off, all the big ones, now they will finish the rest. Its very sad Tom. I want to set up a FB page to bring the world’s attention to this issue!!!

It’s a very sad situation as their plan is to create a base in that forest area and get rid of all the wildlife and government authorities. No doubt the game will all be gone if nothing is done about it soon…
Is there anything we can do to bring it to the attention of SCI [Safari Club International] and DSC [Dallas Safari Club–and I would add the conservation community in general: This is clearly a matter of wildlife, human rights, and terrorism] so they can lobby our government to put some pressure on the government of Burkina or raise attention to this situation!? Everything can be rebuilt but the game will be gone forever if this goes on for a few years! As it is they have wiped out the elephant bulls and now working on the cows and anything with even the smallest ivory!

Rather unwelcome words to share this time of year, even more so for me to hear–I knew this place, these people, these animals.

This letter represents a portion of what I am trying to do to raise awareness of this potentially tragic, for all of the three mentioned above, situation.

If there is anything you can do to bring attention to what could be the end of some of the finest savanna wildlife left in West Central Africa, I can only hope, with respect, that you will.
Thanking you for taking the time to read this letter, I am

Two Autumn Poems

Every year I print these two poems. One was composed in the Connecticut River Valley in the 1950s. The other is from Provence ca 1925…

October Dawn

October is marigold, and yet
A glass half full of wine left out

To the dark heaven all night, by dawn
Has dreamed a premonition

Of ice across its eye as if
The ice-age had begun its heave.

The lawn overtrodden and strewn
From the night before., and the whistling green

Shrubbery are doomed. Ice
Has got it spearhead into place.

First a skin, delicately here
Restraining a ripple from the air;

Some plate and river on pond and brook;
Then tons of chain and massive lock

To hold rivers. Then, sound by sight
Will Mammoth and Sabre-tooth celebrate

Reunion while a fist of cold
Squeezes the fire at the core of the world,

Squeezes the fire at the core of the heart,
And now it is about to start.

By Ted Hughes, Collected Poems


I love to seem when leaves depart,
The clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
That kills all forms of life, and feeling
Save what is pure and will survive.

Already now the changing chains
Of geese are harnessed at the moon:
Stripped are the great sun-clouding planes:
And the dark pines, their own revealing.
Let in the needles of the moon.

Strained by the gale the olives whiten
Like heavy wrestlers bent with toil
And, with the vines, their branches lighten
To brim our vats where summer lingers
In the red froth and sun-gold oil.

Soon on our hearth’s reviving pyre
Their rotted stems will crumple up:
And like a ruby, panting fire,
The grape will redden on your fingers
Through the lit crystal of the cup.

By Roy Campbell, Selected Poems

Tommy Mac and Beckett plus

Ace big game hunter Tommy McIntyre (who is disturbed about Burkina Faso the way I am about Turkish Kurdistan , for the same reason and with about as much effect), has been healing his soul by dabbling (I hope he forgives the verb) in Beckett. Here he is in Endgame

I thought he might like to see my personal Beckett photo, taken by my friend Michigan fisherman and artist Dellas Henke, in Paris of course — that’s him with Beckett.

The last pic is us at our first meeting in our heedless youth, in the North Plains of Catron County.Time is not kind.

The Illustrious Cripple, the late Bill Wise (so self -described ) amidst haunts and passions…

Bill broke a vertebra surfing with Hobie Alter at 26 and forgot to pay attention. He lived and adventured, shot deer and geese, sailed, collected guns, and built up a wise portfolio. He died at 56 from complications from his quadrieplegia, and left no stone unturned.

More :

The last are the exquisite Moscow 1890′ s live bird gun that his son ¨¨used to keep them jn groceries in the 80’s….

Bob French, RIP

One of my oldest and best friends, Roberts French, died in Santa Fe a few days ago. I believe he was 84. He survived a year longer than the docs gave him, but the cancer finally wore him down.

When I first met Bob and Jenny, in the early seventies at U Mass, Amherst, he was a young English prof and I an eccentric older student. (Jenny was even then a serious painter, as she still is).We soon both found ourselves on the board of English Literary Renaissance, a job for which I was not even remotely qualified for. Nevertheless, under the guidance of Arthur Kinney and Bob I became a somewhat competent nuts and bolts editor. The high point of my job was asking Philip Larkin to write something for our Marvell anniversary edition. (They had both been librarian of Hull). He was perfectly pleasant and wrote us an essay, but as I said to Bob many times, if I had known of his reputation I would not have dared to call him.

Bob was the only other ourdoorsman on the staff — a flyfisher and mountaineer, thus we gravitated toward each other. When he showed me some wonderful fishing poems he had written, I immediately bought them for Gray’s Sporting Journal for more money than poems were going for then.This gave rise to a comedy routine which we performed to the end of his days. I would say “I bought Bob’s first poem”; he would say “No, you didn’t.You bought my second and third poem. My first went to an academic review for seventy-five cents; then you bought the second and third for five hundred dollars.”

Improbably, when I first started seeing Libby, she had a friend named Muffy Corbet Moore in Wyoming, who turned out to be Bob’s sister. Bob and Jenny had retired to Santa Fe and very shortly became our best friends in Santa Fe and virtually in the state. They brought provisions to Libby’s mother’s funeral where we were stressed by being the only family members present because of the suddenness of the death. Bob and Jenny always knew the right things to do. Sometime I’ll tell here what she said to my mother after taking that mad woman over for three days during Jackson and Niki’s wedding celebration. Suffice to say now, it reduced my mother to horror and laughter at the same time. Today, with Bob barely gone, Jenny was worried about getting a chair I could sleep in down to Magdalena. Need I say that I love these people?

A colleague wrote of him: “To me, Bob French epitomized the best of the academic profession. He genuinely cared — about everything and everybody. I kept hearing how his students worshipped him; he was an ideal colleague; whenever things got tough at UMass, and they often did in those early building years, there was Bob, shoulder to the wheel. Roberts W. French led an exemplary life from which we can all learn. I am diminished and profoundly saddened at his loss.”

Here are the poems that I bought:


He stands waist-deep in swirling waters,
brooding, brooding…
when he casts his line, he shapes the sky;
clouds are formed to new precisions,
and light is flashed to sudden brightness.
When he drops his line upon the waters,it falls
as gentle as a hand on shining hair.
He gathers the river around him,
he draws the mountains into a circle.
The trees and rocks lean forward
to see him fishing, fishing.

Junkins dropped a glob of worms
over the side. They’re here,
he said. You wait. He rolled
about his beard a bright cigar.
I waited. Junkins beat his worms
upon the waters These goddam fish,
he said. I just don’t trust them,
not at all. I just don’t trust them,
Junkins said.


“Writers are usually embarrassed when other writers start to “sing”–their profession’s prestige is at stake and the blabbermouths are likely to have the whole wretched truth beat out of them, that they are an ignorant, hysterically egotistical, shamelessly toadying, envious lot who would do almost anything in the world–even write a novel–to avoid an honest day’s work or escape a human responsibility. Any writer tempted to open his trap in public lets the news out”

Dawn Powell, Diaries. Thanks to Tommy McIntyre

Walter Becker, RIP

Walter Becker slipped away last year, causing barely a ripple in the media. He was half of the writing team of Steely Dan, along with the more forward Donald Fagen, since their days together at Bard College. Their music defined my 1970s,along with that of many of us who were more cerebral than, say, Eagles fans. It is said that they wrote the charts for every so-called solo that their “band” (which also needs to be put in quotes because they never were a band) played. This drove some of the better musicians associated with them, like Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, nuts, but he returned again and again. It was perhaps typical of the hipness and oddness of the Dan of steel that Baxter became a national security expert after 9-11, and was responsible for catching many terrorists, though he still looks like a California hippie and still plays occasionally with the big band, the current incarnation of Steely Dan.

Since Bard days, Steely Dan was really only two people, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, with the entire American jazz and pop songbook in their heads (listen to their arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “East St Louis Toodle-Doo”), and what some say was darkness in their hearts. Jay of Jay and The Americans, who used them as a backup band in days gone by, called them Manson and Starkweather. A critic at, I believe, Time, called them The Grateful Dead of Bad Vibes, showing an almost willful contempt for and ignorance about both the Dead and the Dan. But despite the fact that they were named after a dildo in a William S Burroughs novel and occasionally wrote about mass murderers and cheating gamblers, the most typical Dan hero was a failed romantic, a loser of some essential thing, a melancholic and a stoic, living as best he could. From the Midnight Cruiser on the first album (“I am another gentleman loser…”) through the fellow who until his ship comes in lives “Night by Night” to Deacon Blues, to besotted lovers pursuing pornstars, old men in love with unsuitably young women, the entire populace of Puerto Rico (The Royal Scam) and the fool begging Rikki not to lose his number in what must the beautiful song about a deluded lover ever written, all of Becker and Fagen’s heroes come at last to a worn door in an Asian (or universal? after all, “Klaus and the Rooster”, who sound like Euro- trash mercenaries, are also patrons) bar and whorehouse where they “knock twice, rap with their canes” to find a kind of false peace and security that may be the only kind that exists, here at the Western World.

Such realism is not usually the province of rock bands, nor such musicianship; nor, for that matter, so much submersion of the ego to the music. Walter Becker, the more self- effacing of the pair, died in Maui months ago, and I didn’t even find out until last week. That I am still playing their songbook almost weekly, when they closed entirely in 1980 but for rare big band tours doing “archival” material, is a tribute to the quality of the music they made.

With Baxter, recently


I am proud to be published by Karen Myers’ Perkunas Press, and even prouder to be the first writer in her Beyond The Ridges imprint. Karen chose her title well. Kipling was my first and is finally my favorite writer; as he wrote about “Janeites”, obsessive fans of Jane Austen, so I am “Rudyardite”, with a love for strange trails. I have asked Libby to have the following lines, from “The Song of the Dead”, chiseled on my grave:

We were dreamers, dreaming greatly, in the man-stifled town;
We yearned beyond the sky-line where the strange roads go down…

But the imprint is from another poem, The Explorer:

“There’s no sense in going further— it’s the edge of cultivation,”
So they said, and I believed it—broke my land and sowed my crop—
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes 5
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated—so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

So I went, worn out of patience; never told my nearest neighbours—
Stole away with pack and ponies—left ’em drinking in the town; 10
And the faith that moveth mountains didn’t seem to help my labours
As I faced the sheer main-ranges, whipping up and leading down.

March by march I puzzled through ’em, turning flanks and dodging shoulders,
Hurried on in hope of water, headed back for lack of grass;
Till I camped above the tree-line—drifted snow and naked boulders— 15
Felt free air astir to windward—knew I’d stumbled on the Pass.

’Thought to name it for the finder: but that night the Norther found me—
Froze and killed the plains-bred ponies; so I called the camp Despair
(It’s the Railway Gap to-day, though). Then my Whisper waked to hound me:—
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Over yonder! Go you there!”

There is more….