I was going through some boxes of books and found this book by Zane Grey called Roping Lions in the Grand Canyon. Hoping to learn more about Zane Grey as a person, this book caught my eye because it was fact, not fiction.
The book is dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America and I was also hoping to tie it to President Roosevelt, since he was an ardent supporter of the boy scouts. This is an older book, written in 1922.
In the summer of 1998, I chose to take my physical science course as a summer hiking trip. One of the five canyons I hiked for that course was the Grand Canyon from the North rim to the South rim, nineteen point five (19.5) miles. Since, I have hiked the Grand Canyon, researched the area, and studied about the Anasazi Indians. I thought I knew a lot about the Grand Canyon. I knew about the gray squirrels, but not about it being mountain lion country. Maybe, my professors did not tell me because we were alone quite a bit as we hiked.
It is reported by GrandCanyon411.com there are mountain lions in the Grand Canyon. Mountain lions will generally avoid humans. Most people will never get even a brief glimpse at a mountain lion, and lion attacks on people are extremely rare. The number of mountain lion- human interactions has been increasing in recent years, largely because more people are living and recreating in areas where lions live.
After reading the book, I began to wonder if it had been controversial in its time, especially to the Boy Scouts of America. The following is what I found out:
This is a true account of Zane Grey’s Adventure, at the age of 36 years, traveling in 1908 to Powell's Plateau in the Grand Canyon in order to rope mountain lions, with legendary plainsman Buffalo Jones, James Simpson Emmett (simply "Emett" in the book), Jim Owens, an unnamed Navajo man referred to only as "Navvy", and a pack of very lovable dogs (who are as much real individuals as their masters) set off on this hunting adventure with camera and lasso.
Everyone has heard of roping cattle and wild horses, but roping mountain lions on their home ground is another matter. The book never explains why they are roping mountain lions. (Perhaps, they were trying to translate catch-and-release in a hunting context or maybe they were collecting live specimens, they never make that point clear). Things go badly more often than they go well. Several lions die in unnecessary deaths. The five men survive almost unscathed.
I don’t feel I learned much about Zane Grey, except that he was a hunter and supported the Boy Scouts of America. Later, I read another of his non-fiction books, Betty Zane. Still, I learned more about his grandmother than I did about him...I’m still curious about Zane Grey the author.
I had also read that President Roosevelt was an ardent supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. Boys Scouts of America began in 1910, which was after President Roosevelt was out of the office of President. (Dates in office; Sept. 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909) Mr. Roosevelt was associated with Troop 39 out of Oyster Bay, N. Y. He was honorary Vice President of The Boy Scouts of America and the only man designated as “Chief Scout of America”. Although, both Grey and Roosevelt were alive in the same period of time, there does not seem to be a connection between them, other than the fact that they were both supporters of Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scout troops in Arizona are recorded to have had the Roping Lions in the Grand Canyon book as part of their reading materials and often visit the Grand Canyon. Mr. Grey was not connected to that troop though.
The following is quote by Zane Grey regarding his feelings on writing this book:
“Every boy has a heritage. It is outdoor America. Our open country, that is to say, our uncultivated lands, forests, preserves, feeding and nesting swamps are threatened by the march of so-called progress and commercialism. What is needed is two million Boy Scouts to save some of our green, fragrant, untrammeled land for the boys to come.”
I enjoy reading older books. I find it interesting how differently we view things now, than we did back then. Obviously, we feel differently about hunting. Contemporary nature-lovers, animal-lovers, or environmentalists will be appalled by elements of this book. (And the representation of Navvy, too, will offend readers, but that's a story for someone else to tell.)
I checked into current care of lions found in the Grand Canyon and the following is a report from Rangers of The Grand Canyon;
“R. V. Ward, Wildlife Program Manager in 2003 has research the lions of the Grand Canyon and if they are captured they are immobilized with a mixture of tranquilizer chemicals, delivered via blow dart. Immobilized lions are fitted with radio collars, weighed, and morphological measurements taken. Blood is collected for genetic analysis. All capture methods and drugs used are approved by National Park Service veterinarians.”
Sounds a lot different than roping mountain lions, huh?
If you are interested in Boy Scouts of America, the Grand Canyon, mountain lions, old books, or just enjoy Zane Grey books. Here is a controversial read for you.
This book can be found at Grandma’s Attic for $8.00.
Have you read Roping Lions? Tell us what you think!
-The GA Gang