1 Mar 2008, 11:32pm
Wildlife Habitat
by admin

Cattle and Wildlife on the Arizona Strip

Gardner, Cliff, Edwin R. Riggs, and Newell Bundy. Cattle and Wildlife on the Arizona Strip. 1993. Gardner File Nos. 3-a. and 8-b.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

TED RIGGS is one of the best known Mule Deer hunters in the West. During a lifetime spent in the Country known as the Arizona Strip, Ted has killed 40 bucks with antler spreads exceeding 30 inches, ten of which measured over 36 inches, and fifteen in the 34 to 36 inch range. His widest buck had a spread of 43 1/2 inches, and scored 249 6/8 Boone and Crockett points.

Ted is best known for the many Mule Deer he has taken, but to those that know him best, his real prowess is as a trapper and tracker.

“I’ve been trapping for 65 years now. When I was 8, I can remember my father would set the traps for me and I would go bury them. By trapping, I was able to put myself through High School during the Great Depression.”

Ted was born in 1916 in Kanab, Utah. After being discharged from duty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1945 he went to work for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“At that time Ranchers were losing 4500, of their calves and lambs to predators. We shot coyotes, used coyotes getters, poison (strychnine and arsenic and later 1080). Four years after we began the ranchers’ calf crop jumped to 90%. ‘1080’ was the most effective, we would inject it into the meat of mustangs or burros and scatter it across the desert once a year.”

Ted spent 28 years as a guide, mostly hunting Mule Deer. …

The following is Ted Rigg’s transcribed oral history and testimony:

By Edwin R. “Ted” Riggs

Yes, I’ve seen Desert Tortoise eat cow pies. I’ve never seen them eat dry cow pies, but I’ve seen them eat a lot of fresh ones. They eat them for the moisture and their food value too.

Being a trapper, it was always my practice to stop every quarter mile or so and walk up a draw or wash to check for tracks and sign, so I had occasion to see those kinds of things.

Desert tortoise not only eat cow pies in dry years, but they eat cow pies in good years too. The two best feed years I remember were 1949 and 1958. Of the two, 1949 was the best. That year the grass and filigree were clear up above your knees everywhere, on the ridges and in the draws.

Indian Wheat was the most abundant plant found on the ridges, but, in the draws and washes it was filigree. I remember stopping my pickup in a draw where the feed was so thick I couldn’t get the pickup going again without first backing up to get a run at it.

The feed was just like an alfalfa field. Except for the trails they made, you couldn’t even tell where the sheep had been. I had one herder told me that he hadn’t had to take his sheep to water for three weeks (there being sufficient moisture in the vegetation to meet the needs of the animals).

When I first went to work as a trapper there on the Arizona Strip in 1945, there were 32 different outfits that wintered their sheep on the strip. I covered all the country from Lake Powell to Lake Mead, and from Kanab, Utah to the Southern tip of the Kaibab, a country 150 miles long and 85 miles wide. …

The following is Newt Bundy’s transcribed oral history and testimony:

By Newel “Newt” Bundy

I was born and raised at Mt. Trumble, on the Arizona Strip. There were 12 of us kids, 6 boys and 6 girls. I never received many years of formal education. When we kids were still pretty young our father was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis and for the rest of his life the only way he was able to get around was on crutches and on his knees. He used to attach sections of old car tires to his knees to prevent them from getting sore.

About this same time our oldest brother accidentally drowned in the Colorado River, so things were pretty rough for a while. The year I was supposed to be in the fourth grade, my older sister and I spent the winter herding our family’s sheep down in Whitmore canyon. The only people we saw all winter were other members of the family when they brought us food by pack horse.

After I got out of the Service in 1946, I cowboyed for a number of years in Wyoming and all down through Southern Arizona. Then in 1952 I married Aileen Empy and I had to settle down. My brother Dave and I bought a permit on the Bunkerville Mountain that ran about 90 head of cattle, and I began working in construction on the side.

In 1957 I went to work for Vera Krump. She had a cattle outfit that ran about 800 cattle just west of Las Vegas. It took in all the country around Blue Diamond, Red Rock, Slone, and on over just below Pahrump and south to Sandy. In the summer the cattle run on Mount Charleston.

There were cattle run all through the country at that time. Ed Davis was running cattle right there between Las Vegas and Henderson.

I can tell you right now, livestock haven’t hurt the turtles. It’s the other way around. If grass and other plants aren’t grazed on a regular basis, they become unhealthy. Then the feed’s no good for turtles or anything else. And when it gets hot the turtles will eat the cowpies too. That’s the way they get their moisture.

If the turtle people really wanted to protect the turtles, they’d be controlling the predators. Crows and coyotes are awful hard on turtles. Whenever there’s a good year and there’s a lot of new turtles around, the coyotes just go along picking the young ones up one after another. And when coyotes get hungry, on years when there isn’t a lot around for them to eat, they eat the big turtles too. They just turn the turtles over on their backs and pull their back legs off and let the crows have the rest.

17 May 2008, 10:32pm
by Gayla Keiger

Ted - I have a feeling you are the Ted Riggs that trapped in Kaibab and we use to visit with around the Grand Canyon area back in the early 1960s. I was at the North Rim with my folks (Jesse & Lois Keiger)and had the little grocery/souviner/gas station. If you are one and the same would love to hear from you. Gayla

20 May 2008, 4:37pm
by Carol Schick

Great Story! I’d like to sit around a campfire and listen to you all night.

20 May 2008, 4:49pm
by Mike

I believe Ted has passed. The stories are oral histories collected by Cliff Gardner, who is himself an old-timer (no offense intended, Cliff).

As oral histories they are worth much more than their literal content; they are treasures that rightfully belong to history and to all of us.

Cliff Gardner has done a remarkable and praiseworthy job of recording many such oral histories of Nevada. He and his wife Bertha have recently set up a website, The Gardner Files [here], that will contain many of these priceless pieces. I encourage you to visit The Gardner Files and search them out. Think of it as treasure hunting.

I placed these pieces in the Wildlife Sciences Colloquium because of their wildlife-oriented content. But I have also linked to The Gardner Files and to some other compelling rural voices at the Rural Culture Colloquium [here]. As time goes by I hope to add more. If you know of other excellent rural story sites, please let me know, and I will add to those links.

20 May 2008, 4:57pm
by Mike

Also, if YOU have similar stories (Gayla for instance) I would be proud and grateful to post those at Rural Culture. That is our intent with that site, actually, to collect and present your stories.

18 Sep 2008, 10:39am
by JoAnna Zumwalt

Rural Culture - Sept. 18, 2008

Just ran across this blog. Wanted to let you know that my father, Joe Zumwalt was raised on the strip, his parents Edward Zumwalt and Georgia Lann-Zumwalt ran cattle up there for many years. He had a sister Evelyn (just passed away last Tuesday), and his brother Jimmy (also passed away years ago) My dad was born in 1932ish in St. George. He has tons of great stories and memories about growing up in that area, was great friends with the Bundy family too. I would love to put him in touch with anyone that lived up there then.

I think it would be really cool to arrange a reunion for anyone that lived on the strip sometime soon, and have a great weekend of story telling and sharing memories and making new ones and a little bluegrass music.

How could I get in touch with these folks?? If anyone reads this that would be interested in something like that please contact me. I would love to make a documentary for this.

JoJo Zumwalt
Sacramento CA

Email W.I.S.E. for info on contacting JoJo



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