SMOKEY BEAR AND THE GREAT WILDERNESS
Selected Essays and Memoirs
“New Mexico’s ‘Grand Old Man of Conservation’ has written another book about his adventures and long career in the fields of wilderness preservation, big game hunting and park management. Here are stories about elk, deer, mountain lions and antelope and the men who protect them as well as those who hunt them. And, of course, there is the story of Smokey Bear, the cub rescued by Barker who went on to become the most famous bear and a living symbol of forest preservation and care. Illustrated with photos, this is also a book of western history of the land itself.”
—Marcia Muth, “Book Chat,” Enchantment, May 1983
“This is a book of recollections by a New Mexican who worked as a forest ranger and rancher in the early twentieth century. It is chock full of homey yarns and lore about hunting deer, elk, and mountain lions, and contains some details about the fledgling days of professional forestry and wildlife management in the Southwest.”
—The Bloomsbury Review
“Most people picture Smokey the Bear as the cute cartoon figure warning people about the evils of forest fires. Smokey was more than a cartoon figure; he was the official mascot of the U.S. Department of Game and Fish for 26 years. Author Elliott S. Barker recounts how he had a hand in Smokey’s life from its start in his latest book, Smokey Bear and the Great Wilderness.
“In 1950, a friend of Barker’s found a five-pound bear cub clinging to a charred tree after a devastating forest fire. The tiny bear’s feet were burned and bleeding, and his rear end was blistered. Barker says no one at the time knew the whimpers of that bear cub would be heard worldwide for a quarter of a century.
“Smokey stayed with Barker until he recuperated. Then Barker, as the game warden of New Mexico, donated Smokey to the U.S. government. Barker says donating Smokey ‘had the most far-reaching conservation benefits of anything’ he ever did. And Elliott Barker had done quite a bit in his career. But then, few people have had the opportunity to match Barker’s 95-year career in wildlife management.
“Barker was born in 1886 to a pioneer family and grew up loving New Mexico’s wilderness. During his boyhood, Barker promised he would dedicate his life to the single purpose of working in the outdoors. In Smokey Bear and the Great Wilderness Barker shares 95 years worth of wilderness memories.
“Hunters will, without question, enjoy this book. Barker has peppered it with endless stories about trailing big game. You can almost see the 97-year-old author smiling as he recounts the story of ‘stopping’ a grizzly bear with 12 boxes of Ex-Lax. Be warned, Smokey Bear and the Great Wilderness is not for the squeamish. Many chapters are devoted to Barker’s hunting stories, which leave nothing to the imagination when it comes to the blood and gore. But people who want to hear a grand collection of hunting stories won’t be disappointed with a single page in Smokey Bear and the Great Wilderness.”
—Shari Fey, Beaumont Enterprise and Journal
“Barker summarizes his long career in conservation in this book. The volume is made up of extremely interesting short stories based on experiences of the 96-year old author who is a legend of the New Mexico back country.”
—Wildlife Management Institute Outdoor News Bulletin
“Barker’s book is a valuable contribution to the literature of the wilderness. He’s no Thoreau, but that’s not to say Thoreau could not have learned a great deal from him.”
—The Washington Times Magazine