As the son of a game management agent for The United States Fish And Wildlife Service, Department Of The Interior, decade 1940 found my dad and me residing on
Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge near Round Oak, Georgia. Into 1944, I had attained
the blossoming age of four, and I relish the memories and experiences associated with
my dad's occupational choice. Every day of my life is filled with stories to share
along a path least chosen by man- living in somewhat remote areas and associating with
other men and living creatures with us sharing planet Earth.
One particular experience was for some unknown reason retrieved on this day; causing
an itch of sorts- a kind of impulsive urge to compose; to be relieved only by the sharing of its content. Regardless of what may be the consequences, if my memories were
to be an enticing lady, here she comes.
The Department Of Biology were into an investigation as to the health of mammals
native to Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. One reason was that from 1944 through
1947, an epidemic of rabies occurred in Jones County, Georgia and surrounding areas.
Rabid foxes and dogs became a risk for pedestrians and hunters in our area. Even schools in the cities of that county were on daytime alert for animals showing symptoms
of rabies. Students on school playground were returned to their classrooms when any canine or feline entered the grounds. People were frightened for reason that rabies
was often a deadly disease without pre-vaccination or painful treatment following the bite of an infected mammal, and slobbering dogs were sometimes seen in areas inhabited
by humans and their pets. Were the pets drooling for reason of hunger_ or were they
Raymond J Fleetwood was refuge manager during those times. In order to assist government biologists, Mr Fleetwood and my dad set steel traps among an extensive
radius within the boundaries of Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Those traps were
checked daily for several days until several samples of foxes, raccoons, rabbits, bob
tailed cats, and skunks had been ensnared; Mr. Fleetwood checking one run and my dad
Accompanying my dad on one run, (There's a town in The State Of Virginia named
Fulks Run) in this manner, he asked me, his four year old son to go with him.
"Son, I want you to go with me and see what I have to do. I wouldn't have taken the
job here if I would have known that I have to do this. I just want you to see it! I hate to kill the animals here on the refuge."
Some of those small, steel traps were sprung but empty. "Nothing in that one!" Dad
would proclaim. "Thank God for that!"
Several other traps had not been tampered with by any mammal. The victim had somehow
stolen the bait and escaped unharmed. "That was probably a raccoon." Dad might have
But from the traps set, Dad and I eventually came upon our prey. Among those ensnared that day were a beautiful female red fox, a cotton tailed rabbit, a single
female bob tailed cat, and a skunk. That is all the traps had captured that day. The
foot of a cotton tailed rabbit was in another.
Using a 22 caliber rifle and long rounds, I saw my dad do things he hated. That red fox was sad as it anticipated that it was about to die, that it would endure pain, and that it
it would not again have life or experience the freedom of roaming that forest freely.
As do men, it seemed to understand that it's time of death had come. A shot was then fired and the fox entered immediately into sleep.
With a sharp pocket knife, my dad removed the foxes bladder; pouring its urine into a clear glass tube. That dead fox was then placed in back of a government pickup. It would later be returned to the wildlife refuge headquarters for its disposal.
Handling the trapped rabbit, bob tailed cat, and skunk by that same manner, my dad and I returned to those traps, reset and baited them all. There would be several other days such as that for my dad, but that was the only Fulks Run for me.
Rummage Ira Fulks was that day disheartened by the duties he had been required to
perform. Both he and I were sad, but the work was felt necessary. It was necessary that urine samples from several mammals be submitted to The Department Of Biology.
Were any of the animals rabid?
It was later determined by biologists that none of the mammals Mr. Raymond J Fleetwood and my dad that had killed during that project were infected with rabies. That's just here-say from words of my dad had chosen to use, but there is no
reason to doubt his oratory.
A bit of what might be wisdom was shared by my dad. That I, his son am now seventy-two years of age, I remember precisely his words. And they indicated some wisdom from
Dad's point of view. He said:
"Son, don't get into anything like this unless you can be manager. This
job doesn't pay anything. This is what I'm required to do, and I hate this part of it. Try your best to get a good education. Then you can choose your employment. I
don't have that, and this is the price I have to pay."
That one rabies epidemic eventually ended there in Jones County, but for a time,
it was a genuine concern for humans and animals. The mammals infected with rabies died, and
so did a handful of humans; either bitten or becoming infected from saliva excreted by
whatever had rabies.
Clay and Effie Maynard, our close neighbors there on Piedmont Refuge, had an harrowing experience with a rabid fox. One fought with a hound they owned on their
farm. It made efforts to enter onto their front porch. Their courageous hound caught
that fox behind its neck and held it on the porch until Clay Maynard restrained the fox
with a large club. Clay struck that fox and killed it. Sharing that story with us, I
feel confident that Clay Manard's story is credible.
Not certain that it's out of character that mention be made of it, but both my
father and Mr. Fleetwood were dedicated wildlife conservation people. However; Mr. Fleetwood
transferred to another refuge- in Arizona. Some Jones County residents commenced to
threaten him, and I can relate to readers some of the reasons.
"Mr. Fulks": I heard Fleetwood tell my dad. "Some of the people here are threatening to kill me because I'm trying to work to save the animals and birds here.
They're cursing me when I go into town to buy things and when I drive down the roads
here. I'm afraid somebody might kill me or set our house on fire. There comes a time
when a man should leave a place and get somewhere more secure."
Much later on, Dad transferred to Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge for some of the same reasons. But certain people continued threatening him
and me at both locations in that same manner. As a matter of fact, some have threatened to kill me everywhere I've lived; not continuously- but frequently enough
to warrant some concern. Sometimes humans do indeed kill another person-even close family members. How about you, Charlie?