INTERVIEWEE: Glynn Riley
INTERVIEWER: Diana Dwyer
DATE: July 10, 2006
LOCATION: Brownwood, Texas
SOURCE MEDIA: MP3 audio file
TRANSCRIPTION: Trint, David Todd
This recording is generously provided with the gracious permission of the National Wildlife Research Center. It can be cited as follows:
Riley, Glynn A. (2006). Oral history interview by Diana Dwyer. 10 July 2006. Transcript. NWRC 0005 Trapping Oral History Initiative Records, National Wildlife Research Center Archives, Fort Collins, CO. https://nwrc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16473coll10/id/581/rec/7
Diana Dwyer [00:00:01] Yes. And we should be recording right now. There should be no background noise and we should be … Let’s try this. This should be picking up now. That’s what was wrong.
Glynn Riley [00:00:12] Okey doke. Hello?
Diana Dwyer [00:00:20] That’s what was going on with it. Go ahead and say something.
Glynn Riley [00:00:23] Okey dokey. Can you hear me now? Yeah, OK.
Glynn Riley [00:00:28] Kind of like a cell phone. Can you hear us now?
Diana Dwyer [00:00:31] I just feel like I’m surrounded by gadgets anymore.
Glynn Riley [00:00:35] Yes, we are.
Glynn Riley [00:00:37] I’ll pull this wire.
Glynn Riley [00:00:39] OK? Out of the way, so it don’t turn my cup over.
Diana Dwyer [00:00:48] OK.
Glynn Riley [00:00:50] All right.
Diana Dwyer [00:00:51] All right. Now we’re going to start with questions, just the basic questions, going through your bio.
Diana Dwyer [00:00:59] You started out in the oil field?
Glynn Riley [00:01:01] Oh yeah, a long time ago I worked in the oil field.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:04] You were born in this area?
Glynn Riley [00:01:07] Wortham, Texas.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:10] And your family’s been there for how long?
Glynn Riley [00:01:13] Oh, they were there forever, I guess.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:16] Where you went from a big family?
Glynn Riley [00:01:18] No, no. It was just me. I’ve got a sister, but there’s 19 years difference in us.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:26] Wow, same marriage?
Glynn Riley [00:01:27] Yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:27] Oh how interesting.
Glynn Riley [00:01:28] That’s right.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:28] That’s good. It’s like I’m going through your bio. It said you worked in the oil field, a furniture factory. Did you serve in the army? Were you in the service?
Glynn Riley [00:01:40] Well, I was in the National Guard. I went in there in ’58, I think. May the 5th or the 3rd or something of ’58. I got out in ’64. Did I put it on here?
Diana Dwyer [00:01:54] I don’t think so.
Glynn Riley [00:01:55] Yeah, yeah. I didn’t say what it was, though, did I?
Diana Dwyer [00:02:03] It says you went to high school and college. What did you major in in college?
Glynn Riley [00:02:03] Oh, I was majoring in wildlife management, but I started work when I was pretty young. I had a year of college then.
Glynn Riley [00:02:18] And so, later on, after I got married and everything, I decided I needed to go back. So, I went on Saturdays at, at night, whenever I could, for a long time. I finally got a federal rating and went for – I have about, oh, I guess, three years. Took a lot of biology, wildlife course, stuff like that.
Diana Dwyer [00:02:48] So, you started working for the government when we were part of USDA in the beginning. Fish and Wildlife?
Glynn Riley [00:02:53] No, when I went to work was December the 1st, 1960. I went to work for the Texas Rodent and Predatory Animal Control Service.
Diana Dwyer [00:02:53] We have some of their old reports.
Glynn Riley [00:03:10] Yeah, which was part of the, it was a cooperative program the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state and the Texas Animal Damage Control Association, which is still in existence.
Diana Dwyer [00:03:26] The Research Center was called the Extermination and Eradication Lab at that time.
Glynn Riley [00:03:31] Yeah, right.
Diana Dwyer [00:03:32] Well, I just wanted to have you start out talking about your trapping. Did you grow up trapping, when you were a kid?
Glynn Riley [00:03:38] Yeah. You want to go, how far back?
Diana Dwyer [00:03:42] As far back as you want to go and you want to talk about.
Glynn Riley [00:03:44] Yeah, oh gee. Well, I started trapping when I was a kid.
Diana Dwyer [00:03:47] Who taught you how to trap?
Glynn Riley [00:03:52] Well, I had, gee, I started out because a ‘possum got in my pigeons and killed 19 of my pigeons one night. So, my dad killed the ‘possum. I didn’t know anything about it till the next morning, I went to school telling the kids about the ‘possums. So, one boy says, “Did you skin him?” I said, “No, why should I skin him?”
Glynn Riley [00:04:19] He said, “Because you can sell his fur.” So, we skinned the ‘possum and stretched him on a shovel. We didn’t have a stretcher board.
Diana Dwyer [00:04:19] That works.
Glynn Riley [00:04:30] That was Jamie White. But he had a trap or two. He didn’t know what he was doing, but I got one or two, and that’s where it started. And then I had some cousins that trapped mink. They were worth a lot of money back then. So, I kind of followed those guys around.
Glynn Riley [00:04:47] And then in the early ’50s, let’s see, they brought deer to Freestone County, and released them in 1948. We didn’t have any deer. They put a bounty on wolves, which were coyotes, at $25. That was a lot of money then. So, I started wanting to do that.
Glynn Riley [00:04:51] There was a fellow named Cliff Whittaker that lived in Steerage Mill, Texas. He trapped and I went down there and go acquainted with him, and went with him a lot. And that’s what got me started catching coyotes. It was quite interesting.
Glynn Riley [00:05:32] His wife had been a schoolteacher and she had retired and he had a little country store. And he drove a Model A coupe. He had had polio or something when he was young, and he had a bad leg. Couldn’t, couldn’t walk too well, so he always took somebody with him. I went with him and that’s what got me started trapping coyotes. That was in the early fifties, somewhere along in there. But it was a lot of fun.
Diana Dwyer [00:06:08] So, what did you like about it? Was it being out there? What did you like about being out?
Glynn Riley [00:06:12] I was just an outdoors person. I spent all my time, I didn’t, while everybody else was playing football and doing things, I was in the woods. Been that way all my life. That’s kind of where I belong.
Diana Dwyer [00:06:27] How did you hear about the Wildlife Service’s job, and what made you want to go work for them?
Glynn Riley [00:06:31] Let’s see. I knew that they had government trappers. Let’s see, I’m trying to remember. There was a fellow in my head that had worked as a government trapper one time, and I talked to him. His name was McKinney. I don’t remember his first name.
Glynn Riley [00:06:42] So, they had a College Station office. I wrote Jimmy Poore. He was the district supervisor there. I got his address and wrote him a letter when I was about 17 or 18, wanting a job, you know, and they sent me a letter back. I don’t know if I’ve still got it, probably not, that they had put my name on file and all that, you know.
Glynn Riley [00:07:22] So, I rocked along. I didn’t pursue it any further. Got married. But I always had this in mind. I went out to College Station, to A&M, in 1953. Over to the Wildlife Department and Dr. Davis. I went over to his office, and he had a book up there, The Wolves of North America, by Stanley P. Young. I saw that book, and that was what I was interested in. So, I got the book down and I got home and I ordered me one. I’ve still got it.
Glynn Riley [00:08:00] Read all about the program. So, that what I always wanted to do.
Glynn Riley [00:08:00] Like I said, I got married. I was working at a furniture factory. I worked there for about four and a half years. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And I was trapping all the time – bounty trapping, too. Some people had goats and whatnot over there and I was trapping while I was working.
Glynn Riley [00:08:31] So, I contacted the, oh, went to the meeting, a Freestone County Game Association meeting. Buck Aday and Tom Polton were there. Buck worked out of the Fort Worth office, and Tom was a young guy. He was Assistant District Supervisor there. And I talked to them and told them that I was interested in trapping. That was right before Thanksgiving, so they called right then in November. I went to Fort Worth the last day of November in 1960 and got my stuff – traps, and coyote-getters and strychnine and paperwork. John White was my District Supervisor and he went over there to the wall and pointed at Boonesville, Texas. And he said, “Go see Lloyd Wood right here.”
Glynn Riley [00:09:12] He said, “They’ve got a pair of coyotes out there. They’ve been trying to catch them for a year, and they’ve offered $500. Go see what you can do.” I never took any training.
Diana Dwyer [00:09:38] You’re kidding. You just hit the ground running?
Glynn Riley [00:09:39] Just hit the ground running. So, I went up there to Lloyd Wood. He had an old house there, and I moved in. Moved in – one room had a fireplace – and I moved in there. Some window things were out. I started working. I caught my first coyote the 22nd of December. Anyway, when I started out, I had a cot. Still got that cot.
Glynn Riley [00:09:59] And I put it against this wall and the fireplace was over here, and I froze all night long. So, the next night, I put the cot in the middle of the room and built me a fire, and I froze all night long. So, the next night, I put the cot right up next to the fireplace where I could pitch wood in the fireplace without getting up.
Glynn Riley [00:09:59] I went by a place, a little station down there, got a bunch of newspapers and put them on my cot under me and that helped a lot.
Diana Dwyer [00:09:59] Oh, God. I don’t think it’s changed that much.
Glynn Riley [00:09:59] So, anyway, that was at Boonesville, Texas, in Wise County, and I stayed there till the end of March and caught eight coyotes. That deal was a 30-day-at-a-time thing. They’d say, “Well, we’ve got money enough to go for another month.” Denton County was going to come open. Tom Polton told me about it and Mr. Floyd was going to transfer out of there. So, I told Lloyd Wood and the fellows, I said, “I’d appreciate it if you all would let me go, because there’s a better job over in Denton County.” And they said, “OK.” And I moved to Denton the 1st of April 1961, and I stayed in Denton County for about four years, four and a half. I don’t remember exactly.
Glynn Riley [00:11:23] Lived in Denton a while and then I moved up on a ranch at Sanger, Texas and lived up there. There was more jobs. Rodent control job came open. And so, I told Mr. White and Mr. Aday that I was interested in that, so they hired me. I had 19 counties along the Red River from Texarkana back west. I really didn’t know what I was getting into.
Glynn Riley [00:11:37] I was not, I was very shy, and to get up and speak in front of people was a big chore. And that’s what I had to do. That’s what my job was.
Diana Dwyer [00:11:37] Did you have to go to the Farm Bureau meetings, or what did you do?
Glynn Riley [00:12:21] I talked to 4-H clubs, FFA clubs, Farm Bureau, anybody that would listen. One year, Billy Bass was working over in east Texas. He’d worked that area up there before. We kept up, had to send in reports on how many talks we made and stuff, and one year I think I was a talk every three days. I forgot how many thousand people it was. So, I had to learn to speak in front of people.
Glynn Riley [00:12:56] And then we put on gopher demonstrations and we sold poisoned grain and stuff, manufactured in San Antonio, rat bait, anti-coagulant bait. We’d have programs from the county agent, have a rat control program in the county, and we’d go all over the county telling people how to use anti-coagulant rat bait and selling it to people. It was quite a deal.
Diana Dwyer [00:13:27] That was the time before permits.
Glynn Riley [00:13:31] Yeah. Oh yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:13:32] And what kind of damage did they have? Was it mainly grain to grain?
Glynn Riley [00:13:37] Oh, and the pocket gophers, pocket gophers – they damaged the pastures. They were improving their pastures at that time, putting in coastal bermuda. That was a little git – just barely getting started but they had some other stuff, crimson clover and stuff like that. So, they were trying to get rid of the gophers on account of that. And then rats – there were more commensal rodents at that time than there is now. And we’d go, like, we’d go to Texarkana one time and the city health department would have us come over there and we’d go through all the businesses, cafes, and even private homes, in people had problems, and show them, tell them what they needed to do to get rid of rats.
Glynn Riley [00:14:27] So, I did that for, I don’t remember, a couple of years or so. And I transferred to Lubbock, Texas. And we did a little prairie dog work and a little bit of rat work, but most of it was predator work. And we spent, in the fall, it was 1080, we’d put out 1080 stations, you know.
Diana Dwyer [00:14:28] That’s mainly for coyotes. Did you deal with bobcat?
Glynn Riley [00:14:28] Coyotes.
Diana Dwyer [00:14:28] Coyotes?
Glynn Riley [00:14:28] Yeah, coyotes. We’d start up at the top of the Panhandle and work south, get down into the sheep country, and then we’d go back in the spring and pick it up and burn it, bury what was left. I enjoyed working up there. I had a good bunch of people to work for. Jimmy Hellard was the district supervisor there. That was, let’s see, from ’67 to ’69, a couple of years there.
Glynn Riley [00:15:34] Then, let’s see. The red wolf thing was kind of brewing. I’d been interested in them all my life. I’d read everything I could find on them. They had a little program starting down southeast Texas. I would up going down there, and stayed 11 years. We initially, I guess, started off trying to find out where those things were, and how many there were, and what damage they did and satisfy, try to keep the ranchers satisfied.
Glynn Riley [00:15:34] Anyway, it went on and we finally wound up trying to catch them and put them in a captive breeding population, which was successful and they now have them in the wild again. But not down in that part of the world.
Glynn Riley [00:16:31] And then I came up here as a district supervisor and been here ever since. Been here since. 1980.
Diana Dwyer [00:16:33] You settled down?
Glynn Riley [00:16:33] Yup. Now I’m an old man.
Diana Dwyer [00:16:33] You’re not old!
Glynn Riley [00:16:33] I’ll be 71 the first day of September.
Diana Dwyer [00:16:33] Are you serious? You don’t look 71.
Glynn Riley [00:16:33] Well, thank you.
Diana Dwyer [00:16:33] I’ve just turned 55, so my idea of middle age has changed quite a bit.
Glynn Riley [00:16:33] Yeah, right.
Glynn Riley [00:16:58] And I don’t feel any older now than I ever did. I’ve got a few aches and pains I didn’t used to have.
Diana Dwyer [00:17:00] I imagine you have enough time in to retire.
Glynn Riley [00:17:00] Oh, I don’t want to retire. What would I do? That worries me, it really does, because I’m, my interests are so narrow that it’s not a good thing. I can’t sit around the house. I don’t want to rake leaves.
Glynn Riley [00:17:00] So, but the next, I realize that I’m a short-timer, and I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do, because I’m afraid if I just quit, I’d die.
Diana Dwyer [00:17:00] You could teach or something. You’ve got a lot of knowledge.
Glynn Riley [00:17:44] I get me… I told Gary Nunley, I said, “When I retire, I want a trapping job. But I I won’t go to meetings!” He says, “Sorry.”.
Diana Dwyer [00:17:45] We all would like to do that.
Glynn Riley [00:17:45] Yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:17:45] Did do you do any work for the Research Center or any of the special project that have come along?
Glynn Riley [00:17:45] Yeah, I’ve collected a lot of bones and stuff.
Glynn Riley [00:18:08] Worked with Dr. Fred Knowlton a lot, and Curtis Carley, and oh, let’s see, mostly those folks. I don’t remember what-all we did. Of course, when I was down there on the coast, I collected a lot of skulls, calcaneae, blood samples, and all sorts of stuff. And then I worked with David Mech in Minnesota.
Diana Dwyer [00:18:09] On wolves?
Glynn Riley [00:18:09] Yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:18:09] What did you like about that? That must have been fascinating.
Glynn Riley [00:18:40] Oh yeah, that was … I nearly moved up there. Yeah, it was fascinating. And I’d like to go back some day. I’d like to go to Montana or somewhere. I can’t remember now – I think I made seven trips up there. I’d go…
Diana Dwyer [00:18:41] [Can you hear me?]
Glynn Riley [00:18:42] [Perfect.].
Glynn Riley [00:18:42] The first time I went up there was about 1970, I think, maybe. I hadn’t been at Liberty long. I stayed a couple of weeks. Then I went back, I think the next fall, and spent a couple of weeks. And then it got where I’d go up there about the first of September and stay till November. One year, I went in August and stayed till November. We trapped wolves and put radio collars on them and just did the whole deal. It was a lot of fun. It was kind of a different experience, too, because all that was public land, and I’d never worked on public land. You had a lot of people to contend with, and that go awfully aggravating.
Diana Dwyer [00:18:42] Did you ever get confronted by people when you put the traps out or anything?
Glynn Riley [00:18:42] What?
Diana Dwyer [00:18:42] Confronted by people?
Glynn Riley [00:19:55] Oh yeah. Yes and no. You’d run into some folks that are confrontational, but not too many. You just have to deal with it, you know? You just have to deal with it. And sometimes, it’s distasteful. Sometimes you can lose your temper. Yeah, I’ve had quite a bit of that.
[00:21:01] I noticed on this thing: “What was the tightest spot you got in and how did you et out?” I’ve been in so many of them, I don’t know what was the most interesting. I’ve given that a lot of thought, and I really can’t pick out a specific situation. There’s been so many times.
Diana Dwyer [00:21:03] Have you had any of your traps destroyed?
Glynn Riley [00:21:05] Oh yeah, a jillion times. A lot of them. Minnesota was terrible. I bet we lost, oh, the times that went up there, I don’t know how many we went through. People would steal them. We had some guys that were professional at it. We had one year there, I had buys driving a little gray Jeep. They’d wave at me when they passed me in the morning. He was picking up traps. He was looking for them.
Diana Dwyer [00:21:05] Was he just stealing the traps? Was it an environmental group?
Glynn Riley [00:21:05] He was stealing the traps.
Diana Dwyer [00:21:05] Stealing traps.
Glynn Riley [00:21:05] So, the game warden, I got acquainted with the game warden there. One day he came along and stopped and I said, “You’re just the fellow I’m looking for. There’s a guy in a little gray Jeep – he’s stealing my traps.” He said, “I just got one from him.” So, he gave me the trap back and said the guy said somebody was setting these traps, and he didn’t know who it was, but he lied. He knew who it was.
Glynn Riley [00:21:05] So, we lost a lot of traps up there – and good Newhouse traps. David Mech and I and some of the other people working there, we talked a lot about putting a radio on one. So they did. We cut a piece out of the drag and put the little radio in there and ran the antenna down the drag and blacked it all up good, left it kind of conspicuous, and the guy got it and they took an airplane and went to his place and he had a whole bunch of those traps.
Diana Dwyer [00:21:05] Oh, jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:21:56] I didn’t go up there after that, but they got their traps back. But I don’t know, they were going to prosecute him, but I don’t think they did. I think he had about 60 or 70 of them – one guy!
Glynn Riley [00:21:57] I lost nine one day up there. You did pretty good when grass season opened up and there was a lot of people in the woods. We had to run those traps every day. At one point, I had about 90 – something like that. It was about 160 miles around the loop every day.
Diana Dwyer [00:23:01] Jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:23:17] We’d get up and just drive like crazy trying to beat everybody to them, you know.
Glynn Riley [00:23:17] And let’s see. One time I had a deal there where right over from the lab, we stayed there at the Kawishiwi Field Station – Forest Service place, big log house. Anyway, I went over there one morning, and I had a trap set and it was gone an there was a wolf that had been in it, and the wolf was gone, and there was a note scratched in the dirt inside of a circle: “Too bad, A-hole!”
Diana Dwyer [00:23:17] Oh, God.
Glynn Riley [00:23:17] I had a couple of kids with me, college kids, and the guy continued on down the road. But it was a dead-end road. He was coming back. I heard him coming back, and he stopped me. He had a nice-looking blond-headed lady with him. I asked him, I said, “Did you see a wolf here?” “Yeah, I saw a wolf here.” I said, “What did you do with it?” “I turned it loose.” I said, “What’d you do with the trap?” Sitting in the back of my pickup.” I got the trap out of his pickup, and I can’t tell you what I told him.
Diana Dwyer [00:23:17] Wouldn’t you get bitten if you tried to turn a wolf loose?
Glynn Riley [00:23:17] Not if you knew what you were doing.
Diana Dwyer [00:23:17] Know what you’re doing. Jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:23:17] Of course, we had drugs – we’d put them down. But it wasn’t a lot of trouble. Some of them, I just tied them up. But an alpha animal – a big old male or something – they’d bite you if they go the chance.
Diana Dwyer [00:25:05] I’d think so.
Glynn Riley [00:25:05] I went to, oh, what do they call them … one summer they wanted me to come up there and they had a depredation problem below International Falls there, at Ash Lake. They asked me if I’d come up there, so I said, “Yeah, I’d come early. I went up there and who were the guys that met me in Minneapolis? Dick Wetzel and …
Diana Dwyer [00:25:05] I’ve heard Dick Wetzel’s name before.
Glynn Riley [00:25:05] I cannot remember. Oh, it’ll come to me in a little bit. Wes Jones! Anyway, they had me a GSA pickup and two dozen traps. I said, “What do you want me to do?” They said, “Well, there’s this guy named Julian Broznowski. He and his father have about 1000 or 1200 acres up there in the middle of Superior National Forest and they’ve got Hereford cattle. They’ve lost some calves and whatnot. They’re unhappy. They sent somebody up there and they called a wolf or something, and the gal left, one of the Fish and Wildlife people, research people, I suppose, but said another wolf came up hanging on a fence. They said a gravel truck ran over him.” I said, “What do you want me to do? What’s your rules and regulations?”
Glynn Riley [00:25:05] “Well you can’t trap over a mile from where the thing was caught,” this, that, and the other. Finally, they said, “Mr. Broznowski has contacted Congressman Oberstar.” I said, “Oh, you want the man happy, right?”
Glynn Riley [00:26:56] They said, “Yup.” So, I went up there and got hold of Julian Broznowski. Being from Texas, with cowboy boots and a cowboy hat on, he wondered about me. So, I told him, I said, “I need you to show me around. Can you go with?” “Yeah.” I took my cowboy boots off and I put my walking shoes on. After a while he said, “You get around pretty good in the brush.” I said, “Well, we’ve got a lot of brush where I come from.”
Diana Dwyer [00:26:56] They’re the two wolf trappers that we interviewed up there. I don’t think they had been working for the government for that long. Halverson’s been there a long time. He’s a teacher.
Glynn Riley [00:26:56] I think I met him while I was up there. There was a couple of guys, when I was staying at Ash Lake, and I could go back and look at my notes and see, but I think he and another fellow came over there and visited with me. The name sounds right.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:56] When I interviewed him, he had gone out the day before and caught a wolf that had killed 300 turkeys in one night.
Glynn Riley [00:26:56] Yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:56] It was a couple that had gotten into a turkey farm.
Glynn Riley [00:26:56] Yeah, coyotes do that too.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:56] They start grabbing into an enclosed area?
Glynn Riley [00:28:02] When I was in Denton County, there was some turkey producers there – Binghams was there name – brothers. They were kind of redheaded and light-complected, and in the sun they always wore a great big hat and long-sleeved shirts. And they called me every May, about the second week of May. They’d put 50,000 turkeys out on the range. I could mark my calendar a year ahead of time.
Glynn Riley [00:28:55] Well, they called me one time and said there was a coyote got in their turkeys and killed 98 in one night. So, I went over there. The next night, it killed about 60, and the next night, less, and it finally settled down. So, there was a county road with a lot of traffic to a gravel pit on the north side of the place, and all you could find was dead turkeys.
Glynn Riley [00:28:55] So, I said, “Let’s try putting some lanterns up.” So, we got some coal oil lanterns and put them on poles out there. Then the coyote stopped for a few days, and then it had lamplight to dine by. So, I said, “Let’s put some…” They had transistor radios. I said, “We’ll put some of those transistor radios.” They put them on to Dallas. It wasn’t far to Dallas, an all-night station. They played minority music, real loud.
Glynn Riley [00:30:28] So, the coyote quit for a few days, and then it had lamplight and music to dine by.
Glynn Riley [00:30:30] I was about to … I didn’t know what to do. I went over there one morning, really early. I had to go early because the trucks would start coming down the road.
Glynn Riley [00:30:31] Well, they’d graded the road, and there was a little roll of dirt came off the end of that blade. There was a kind of low place under a fence, and there was a coyote track in that roll of dirt.
Glynn Riley [00:30:31] The guy over there where the coyotes came from was a hound man, and he wouldn’t let you work, so I didn’t know what to do.
Glynn Riley [00:30:31] I set a trap right there and set the pan right where the track was, and seven night later I caught her.
Glynn Riley [00:30:31] That stopped that. Those old boys brought that coyote to the house one Saturday morning or Sunday morning. They were tickled to death, and I was too.
Glynn Riley [00:30:31] That’s one I remember.
Diana Dwyer [00:30:31] Well-fed coyote.
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] And the wolves up there, that was lots of … very interesting. I don’t want to say a lot of fun. It was fun, but it was very interesting, too. And then…
Diana Dwyer [00:31:28] Are they harder to catch than coyotes?
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] Well, they are in the fact that they travel…
Diana Dwyer [00:31:28] [Beeping noise]
Diana Dwyer [00:31:28] [Oh, jeez. My batteries are gone.]
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] [Your batteries gone?]
Diana Dwyer [00:31:28] [On my cell phone.]
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] They weren’t any harder to catch that a hard coyote. Matter of fact, I’ve seen a lot of coyotes that were harder to catch. Wolves travel so far. You have to wait on them to come back. You’re always trying to get ahead of them.
Diana Dwyer [00:31:28] How do you track? Do you go to the kill site where they’ve been?
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] It depends on what you’ve done. If you’ve got a depredation situation, you go there and see where they did their deed and then try to locate them. When we were trapping them and just putting radio collars on them, we just caught them wherever we could. Most of them we caught on forest roads and whatnot, because they travel just like people do.
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] On wolf, 2406, I think, they kept the radio on that wolf for about, nearly, 10 years. I never did catch her, but I caught her mate a time or two. She’d have different ones.
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] One particular time, I was over there and they had a pretty good-sized territory. Late one afternoon, I found a lot of wolf tracks in the road. One of them had two middle toes gone, the male did.
Diana Dwyer [00:31:28] Oh, God.
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] So, I set two traps there right before dark and went back the next morning and I had the two-toed male caught. He wasn’t tangled, he just hadn’t got in the trap. He was out there wrestling around, so I loaded up my syringe and started out there to him and he came to meet me.
Glynn Riley [00:31:28] So, we went back and forth a few times, and finally the drag got caught on the bush. So, I got him and tied him up and took him in. That was kind of interesting.
Glynn Riley [00:33:52] And let’s see. Oh, I’ve got his picture in there, too. I caught a wolf one morning on a moose trail. This was the biggest one I caught there. It was an alpha male of the Manawakee[?] pack, they called it. It was about 40 miles from where he was supposed to be. We put a radio collar on him and turned him loose, and later on [sigh], I don’t know whether it was Steve Canick [John Winship?], yeah, I think Steve was flying, and that pack of wolves had trespassed over into another pack’s territory, and they cut that wolf out and killed him. They stopped and got the carcass and everything. That was quite interesting, that was.
Glynn Riley [00:34:46] Then another one, one time that was interesting was, we were, let’s see, I don’t remember if we was in the BWCA, anyway, somewhere up there, there was an old logging road and a tree had fallen across the road and you couldn’t go any further. There was a little bridge there and it snowed and there was a fresh wolf track. No, I had some traps set up there in the road, just blind sets in the road, and we went there one morning and there was a wolf track in the snow and it went over the log and it went up there and we just hadn’t caught him. He was still there going around and around in the road, wasn’t hung up or anything. So, we put him down. That was about 11 o’clock in the morning. We put a radio collar on him and did all the stuff we do – ear tags, measures. And by the time we left he was staggering around trying to get up, you know, and it was about 1.
Glynn Riley [00:35:45] That afternoon when we got back to where we were staying, the lab over there, Jeff Ranneburg [?].
Glynn Riley [00:35:49] Stay in the lab over there. Jeff Ranneberger [?] came in. He had been flying that day. So, he was going through the frequencies. He hit that frequency. He knew that collar had been in the vehicle with us. So, he zeroed in on it, and that wolf was 20 miles from where we turned him loose.
Diana Dwyer [00:35:52] That fast?
Glynn Riley [00:35:52] That fast.
Diana Dwyer [00:35:52] God!
Glynn Riley [00:35:52] And that wolf turned out (I have a picture of it), that wolf was a pretty dark wolf. It wasn’t black, but it was just dark. Jeff said he was the most accomplished deer killer that he had ever seen. He said he’d catch them and just eat the lungs and the heart, part of it, and go kill another one. They usually stay there and eat the whole thing, but he said that one, he saw him kill a deer one day. He said the wolf was chasing the deer, and there was a little ridge, a kind of ledge, and the deer went along the bottom and the wolf went up on top and just leapt off [claps hands] and hit him in the back, knocked him down, got him by the neck [snaps fingers]. It was just like that.
Diana Dwyer [00:35:52] God, he must have really known what he was doing.
Glynn Riley [00:35:52] He really known what he was doing.
Diana Dwyer [00:36:51] Jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:36:51] Those things are really interesting. They’re showing back up a lot of places. I’m glad.
Diana Dwyer [00:36:51] They’re in Colorado. It cuts down on the backpackers. I saw some in Yellowstone – amazing! They looked like Joe Cool: like they own the place. They’re walking around. They’re so different from coyotes.
Glynn Riley [00:37:26] Oh, yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:37:27] Big bodies, long legs. You can pick them out immediately. They’re beautiful.
Glynn Riley [00:37:27] Yeah, they’re going to do real well. They’ll go right on down into New Mexico.
Diana Dwyer [00:37:27] Yellowstone pack.
Glynn Riley [00:37:27] I think. Of course, they’re turning those Mexican wolves loose. I don’t think they’re doing as good as the …
Diana Dwyer [00:37:27] They’re smaller, I think.
Glynn Riley [00:37:27] Yeah, they’re smaller. But it’ll make the woods more interesting.
Diana Dwyer [00:37:27] We’ve got so many elk and deer where I live.
Glynn Riley [00:37:27] Oh yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:37:27] It’s just unbelievable.
Glynn Riley [00:37:53] It’s good wolf feed.
Diana Dwyer [00:37:53] Hopefully they’ll stick with that.
Glynn Riley [00:37:53] They will…
Diana Dwyer [00:37:53] And not get lamb chops.
Glynn Riley [00:37:53] They will till they get out in the calf country. There’s a lot of good wolf country left in the U.S. if you just let them eat your calves. People don’t want to do that.
Diana Dwyer [00:37:53] Have you ever had to do any lion work?
Glynn Riley [00:37:53] I never have, no. That’s about the only think I haven’t caught.
Glynn Riley [00:37:53] But it’s interesting. Those things have made a great increase in the last 30 years. As a matter of fact, if you go back to when I grew up, wildlife has increased so much in my lifetime. When I was a kid growing up, we had possums and skunks, some gray fox, a few mink. There weren’t no beaver, no otters, very few coyotes. There weren’t no bobcats that I knew of. When they brought deer there and turned them loose, there was a few wolves, and they were bigger than coyotes are today.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] Is that what you call a brush coyote or brush wolf?
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] Well, they just called them wolves…
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] Wolves.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] Over there. I know there was … Mr. Whittaker, the old fellow that I trapped with, he caught a pair down in Leon County. The male weighed 86 or something, and the female, 82. They were a little different animal.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] That was in the early ’50s. But there wasn’t many of them. But whenever they brought deer, everybody posted their land, stopped the hunting and everything, and the deer just exploded. In five years in ’53 they had their first season, and the cows just exploded with them. But it was because the land use changed and they stopped the hunting and all that.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] And now there’s so many coyotes over there, there’s more coyotes than there’s ever been in my whole life everywhere.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] They’re in all the states now, aren’t they?
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] Yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] They spread out even where they don’t normally belong.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] I remember when there were no coyotes here.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] Jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] There was a whole bunch of sheep country that was coyote-free for a couple of generations. I talked to a fellow from Colorado one time (I can’t remember his name), at some meeting we went to. We were talking about predator problems. I said, “In sheep country, we don’t have any coyotes.” And he said, “What have you got trappers there for?” “Bobcats and red fox.” But once the coyotes get thick, red fox kind of disappear. I think they hurt the bobcats, too. But anyway, times change.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] Have you done a lot of urban work around here?
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] Not around here. It’s all predator work here. But I did do a lot of urban work.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] When I was on the coast down there, dealing with red wolves and other predators and things, it was quite interesting there. I caught those things down around Houston in urban areas, where they didn’t need much room – just a little block of land that some real estate company had that was grown up. They’d live there.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] There was a fellow called me one time and he said, “I’ve got some wolves killing my calves.” I said, “Where are you?” He said, “Lomax.” It’s a little town there by Houston, not far from the San Jacinto Monument. I thought, “That’s dogs.” He said, “I’ve got a section over here that I run cows on.” So, I went down there, and we went out there and looked, and lo and behold, there was a wild canid track. So, we set some traps, and while I was setting the trap, I could hear the coach grilling the football players on the football field at Deer Park High School. On the south side of that tract of land was San Jacinto Junior College. On the east side was the little town of Lomax. On the north side was a big Shell refinery.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] We caught 40 or 50 critters out of there over the next year. Some of them weighed 55 pounds. They were pretty good-sized animals.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] There was plenty to eat, probably.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] Oh, yeah. But it was just amazing where they would live there, and all those people.
Glynn Riley [00:39:09] One time, this lady called me over there on the south side of… not far from where the Astrodome is. She said the wolves were coming up there and pulling her rabbits through the wire.
Diana Dwyer [00:39:09] Oh, jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:43:07] So, I went up there and looked. There were people everywhere. And there was this little old patch of unused land down there with a real estate sign on it. I went down there, and there was just a trail going into it.
Glynn Riley [00:43:08] So, I set me two traps. Then I was using tranquilizer tabs. So, I went back early the next morning, thinking I’d be the first one there. They were building a new road, a new freeway. And here was this shovel stuck up in the dirt with my trap chain rapped around it and a very grumpy canine attached to it.
Diana Dwyer [00:43:08] Oh, God.
Glynn Riley [00:43:08] I had another one in the other trap, but he was out in the brush. They didn’t see him. So, I never did see who owned the shovel, but I got my critter.
Glynn Riley [00:43:08] And the other one – I took him up there and showed the lady, and she said, “That was quick.” I said, “Yes, it was.”
Glynn Riley [00:43:08] I got away with that. So, I had a lot of neat experiences.
Diana Dwyer [00:43:08] What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever had to deal with?
Glynn Riley [00:43:08] People.
Diana Dwyer [00:44:08] People.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] People. Coyotes are no problem.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] People. And it’s getting worse.
Diana Dwyer [00:44:08] People having unrealistic expectations?
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] Yes, ma’am, they do. I saw last night on TV – there was a movie or something on. I just caught part of it. It was about some people that had a horse farm or something, and a wolf killed a colt or something. And they had a young lady there with multiple earrings in and a…
Diana Dwyer [00:44:08] Nose ring?
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] “Booger catcher,” I call it.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] In her nose.
Diana Dwyer [00:44:08] I can’t imagine doing that.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] So, she says, “Is there anything we can do other than kill the wolf?” So, they gather up their tranquilizer guns and go wolf-hunting. I didn’t get to see it all, but eventually they shot the female and there were some pups and they go the pups with the tranquilizer gun. So, the whole thing was: don’t kill the wolves. Sometimes you have to.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] But wolves are really neat, really, really neat. Coyotes are really, really neat. They’re the neatest thing in the woods. They’re adaptable, smart. They’ll be here when we’re all gone.
Diana Dwyer [00:44:08] I’ve been told they’re really neophobic – just paranoid about anything new or different.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] Yes and no. You’ve heard the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat?” It’s killed a lot more coyotes than cats.
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] But they’re very curious, very alert, very intelligent. Yes, they’re nervous. They have to be. They’re always looking to see who is going to be after them. If you put wolves in the situation, they have to get real nervous, because a wolf’ll kill them if he can catch them.
Glynn Riley [00:45:46] And if you put wolves in the situation, they have to get real nervous because we’ll get there.
Diana Dwyer [00:46:01] Pe got some video from Yellowstone, from the Park Service. They’ve been videotaping some of the kills and everything. And it was showing a wolf pack that had killed an elk and they were kind of laying around next to it, and some coyotes came down to feed on it. And you could just see these wolves looking at each other, you know. They got up real slowly and started meandering towards it, and they killed one of the coyotes.
Glynn Riley [00:46:20] Sure.
Diana Dwyer [00:46:20] You could just this look going back and forth between these wolves.
Diana Dwyer [00:46:20] OK, guys!
Glynn Riley [00:46:20] Exactly.
Diana Dwyer [00:46:20] Here they come, let’s get one!
Glynn Riley [00:46:20] That’s right.
Diana Dwyer [00:46:20] It’s like watching a gang.
Glynn Riley [00:46:20] They’ll kill one another, and each other. Dave Mech had a female wolf that had a radio collar on, and I’ve got a picture of this somewhere. Anyway, the collar didn’t move for a while. We went over there and the wolves had – the skull was still there, the backbone with the collar still around it. Those wolves had eaten that wolf.
Glynn Riley [00:46:20] And we caught one in a trap one time that they killed and ate. So, they can be cannibalistic sometimes.
Diana Dwyer [00:46:20] Is it because they’re hungry? Or is it a dominance thing? Or does anyone know?
Glynn Riley [00:47:16] I don’t know. It could be a hunger thing. You know, northern Minnesota was quite interesting. You had BWCA, which is a wilderness area. There’s a million acres in it. They closed all the roads, took all the buildings out (there had been lodges and things). So, you go down there and it’s just beautiful and it looks like it’d just be a wildlife paradise.
Glynn Riley [00:47:43] But it’s harsh. You see, we flew over that thing one day. It’s 50 miles long. We saw one moose. I’ve got a picture of him. I don’t think we found a wolf anywhere.
Glynn Riley [00:48:09] Everything’s kind of in little groves, and there’s lots of country where there’s not much in the way of food. So, yeah, they get hungry.
Glynn Riley [00:48:12] And down here, you know, if you go down the highway and there’s a bird flying across, there’s some kind of dead critter in the road. You’ll see deer everywhere you go.
Diana Dwyer [00:48:13] Road kill.
Glynn Riley [00:48:13] But up there, it’s not that way. Snow gets this deep in the winter time, and it’s tough.
Diana Dwyer [00:48:13] It’s hard to make it.
Glynn Riley [00:48:13] It’s tough, yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:48:35] What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? Do you ever get in a situation that was just silly?
Glynn Riley [00:48:52] Funny? I’ve thought about that, too. And yes, there’s been funny situations, but as far as putting my finger on one right off [sigh]… let me think. Yeah, I remember one funny situation.
Glynn Riley [00:49:00] One time I had an auto accident. My pickup was being repaired, so they brought me a Jeep, an old Army Jeep, to work in. It didn’t have a top or anything on it, but it had a little seat in the back. Anyway, one day, I caught this coyote, and I decided I was going to take it in alive and put it in a cage and catch some urine. So, I caught the coyote and I put a stick in its mouth and tied its mouth closed. I had a little grass rope about as big as my finger. So, I tied the coyote’s feet, the back feet, and left the trap on the front foot. Put him in the back of the Jeep, tied his back feet to one side of the Jeep and then I just pulled his neck down with that grass rope tied to the other side and left his front feet free.
Glynn Riley [00:49:00] So, I was driving down the highway and there was a guy behind me in a pickup that I knew. I saw him back there, and I was going along and my coyote goes to struggling, and I was watching the coyote. So, all of a sudden, I was slowing down: I was going to stop and re-rig him. And he got some slack in the rope, and he reached down and bit the rope in two.
Diana Dwyer [00:49:00] Oh, jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:49:00] Of course, the front end of him comes up, and I thought about me, but he started grabbing big mouthfuls of the padding out of that back seat, and I turned the switch off and ran the Jeep off in the ditch and jumped out of the thing. Then I got him and retied him back down.
Glynn Riley [00:49:00] But the guy in the pickup behind me thought it was hilarious!
Diana Dwyer [00:49:00] Oh, I’m sure he did!
Diana Dwyer [00:51:19] Oh, that was kind of funny! Let’s see. What else funny?
Glynn Riley [00:51:20] A funny thing? Yeah, I’m sure I’ve had a lot of funny things happen.
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Funny after you think about them afterwards.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] Uh-huh.
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Anything scary? Anytime you got in a situation?
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] One time I had to catch alligators …
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Oh!
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] When I was down at Liberty… I’ve got a brother-in-law that is fascinated by reptiles. And he knew I was catching alligators sometimes, and he wanted to come and go with me. So, he came down and we loaded up and went down to this catfish farm. They had these ponds. They fed those catfish every day, and they had what I call breed feeders. They’d have a deal out over the water with a lot of feed in it, and it had a rod run up through the bottom of the paddle that extended down into the water. The catfish would bump that paddle and agitate the rod and the food would fall out. And there’d be a big mass of catfish there feeding, and an alligator’d just come cruising through with his mouth wide open, and get a load of catfish and then turn around and come back. So, they had an alligator or two or three or four or five …
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Oh, jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] In this pond. Pretty big pond.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So my brother, Rand O’Brian, and I went down there in a 16-foot flat-bottomed, as a Cajun would say, “aluminium” John boat.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] You’d never get me in one!
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] With a trolling motor and whatnot on it. So, I had this little headlight that you put on your head up here, and I had a little square six-volt battery in my hip pocket, and the wire had been frazzled and broken, so it was kind of short. Got two little terminals with a screw, you know.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So we caught one little alligator and tied him up. The way you did that, we’d take inner tubes and cut big rubber bands just across the inner tube, catch the alligator, and pull his back feet up and tie him and then you walk down his back and mash his head down.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So we were in the boat, and I saw a big red eye. And I said, “Randall, there’s an alligator.” He’s running the trolling motor. I said, “OK.” I dug out a shovel handle with a coyote snare on the end of it and a rope tied to the thing so if I drop it – anyway, I’m up on the front of the boat and I said [whispers], “OK”, I said, “We’re getting close. Cut the motor.”
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So we go silently gliding up to the alligator and I loop the alligator. Holy cow! I couldn’t hold that alligator. It was jerking and carrying on, and jerked that shovel handle out of my hands and went to the bottom. ‘Course I had a line on it, so it went, the thing kind of calmed down and I pulls him up to the boat. It’s laying right beside the boat like this, and I can see that it’s longer than half the length …
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Oh, jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] Of that boat. But it was very calm. And I told my brother-in-law, I said, “Randall, I’m going to tie its feet while it’s in the water here.” So, I reached over, got the back feet, and the alligator threw its head [thumping sound] up on the side of the boat and just rolled over in there with us.
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Oh God!
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] And business picked up!
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] I would think so.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So, I retreated to the front of the boat with the only light, which had a short wire, and I had to kind of hold my head back. I hollered at my brother-in-law, [loudly] “Pull his head to the back of the boat!” And all I could hear was falling. “Oh, my ribs! I hit them on the motor!” This, that, and the other, and the alligator opens his mouth about this wide, and says, “Haaaaah”.
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Jeez!
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So, I backed up just as far as I could get. I had one foot here [pounding sound] and one foot here [pounding sound], and was about to abandon ship. I hollered at my brother-in-law, I said, [loudly] “Dammit, pull his head to the back of the boat!”
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] And the alligator said, “Haaaah!” And about that time, the alligator starts to turn around to go to the back of the boat but he went over the side.
Diana Dwyer [00:51:21] Oh good!
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] And we didn’t get eaten up or anything.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So, we went on and got him. He was nine and a half feet long. We got it out on the bank and I I tied it up and we took it out.
Glynn Riley [00:51:21] So, my brother-in-law was a big Rotarian, and he had, you know, those folks, Lions and whatnot. They’ve got to have a speaker. And so, he wanted me to come to Mexia and talk to his Rotary Club, which I did, and the first thing when I got up there, I had to pay for my meal for speaking. The first thing some gentleman in the audience says, “Tell us how Randall saved you from the alligator!”
Diana Dwyer [00:56:09] Sounds like…
Glynn Riley [00:56:09] He did. So, I related the story. It was funny after it was all over, but it wasn’t funny there for a while.
Diana Dwyer [00:56:09] God.
Glynn Riley [00:56:09] That all happened pretty quick. Quicker than I’ve told it. That was an adventure for sure.
Diana Dwyer [00:56:09] Oh, God! Oh, wow! I would think that would have been the end of my alligator-hunting career. I would have said, “That’s enough.”
Glynn Riley [00:56:09] We had one time, you know, there’s a Make-A-Wish program on TV that came down one time and I had to catch alligators and they filmed me doing that…
Diana Dwyer [00:56:09] Oh, jeez.
Glynn Riley [00:56:09] And put it on Make-A-Wish down at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. That’s where we did that.
Glynn Riley [00:56:09] So anyway, yeah, it’s been an interesting career. It sure has. I’m really about as lucky a fellow as you’ll ever see in your life, because I got to make my living doing exactly what I liked to do best.
Diana Dwyer [00:57:04] I hear it from a lot of people we’ve interviewed. They’ve found the perfect career.
Glynn Riley [00:57:07] Yeah, I found my niche I fit in. And then I’ve had a … I’ll be married 50 years the 8th of September. I’m going to be 71 the 1st of September. I’ve had a very find wife. We’ve got one boy who’s turned out to be a fine young man. No problems. No trouble. One grandson that’s going to be 20. We got him in college. And I’ve just had a very fortunate life.
Diana Dwyer [00:57:07] Do they live near here?
Glynn Riley [00:57:07] They live in Flower Mound, up by Dallas. Funny thing: they live right – I used to catch canids, well, coyotes and coyote-dog crosses right there where they live. And they’re still there.
Diana Dwyer [00:57:07] Did they, did your son and grandson, go out with you?
Glynn Riley [00:57:07] Yeah, David did when he was little, but I carried him when he was little too much, and he’d get tired and thirsty and hot. He never was interested in this stuff like I am. Christopher, my grandson, I used to keep him all we could get him. We’d go get him and keep him two or three weeks at a time. I’d carry him to the country with me. We had a lot of fun. We sure did, we sure did.
Diana Dwyer [00:57:07] Did your wife go out with you at all?
Glynn Riley [00:57:07] She did some, yes. Bless her heart, back when my son was a little baby. I decided to go back to college and I went down to North Texas at Denton there. I signed up for algebra and English. [Sigh]. I grew up in a little country school, and when I got out of it, I was very ill-prepared for a real world. I had a horrible time with spelling. So, I went down there and signed up for English and they had us write a paper, two pages, and use the dictionary. And I thought I did real good on Tuesday, and Thursday it had a big red “F”. It had 18 misspelled words. I didn’t speak English.
Diana Dwyer [00:57:07] Speak Texas.
Glynn Riley [00:57:07] I though “cavalry” and “Calvary” was the same thing.
Glynn Riley [00:59:24] And so, I got a little red Brace [?] college handbook in there on my desk somewhere, and every Tuesday we had a spelling test and I made 100 on all of them, because Patsy Jean rode around in the pickup with me in the pasture while I was trapping, calling out spelling words.
Diana Dwyer [00:59:25] That’s good.
Diana Dwyer [00:59:25] That’s a good wife!
Glynn Riley [00:59:25] Very good, very good wife, yes.
Glynn Riley [00:59:25] Yeah, she went with me some. But not a whole lot. She doesn’t ever go any more. She came to Minnesota one time and spent two weeks, 10 day or so, up there. We caught some wolves. The day I took her and put her on a plane, I came back and had a bear caught, and darn it, I wish she’d been there for that. Me and Jeff Rennaburne [?], we had chased a bear down through the woods with a trap on its foot. Sometimes it’d chase us and sometimes we’d chase him. But we finally got him.
Diana Dwyer [01:00:28] That’s what I was going to ask you. You’ve done bear work. Have you done any bird work at all?
Glynn Riley [01:00:28] Yeah, I’ve done some – pigeons. A long time ago, we used to have a little more stuff to work with and you’d have … we’d do sparrows and grackles and stuff like that.
Diana Dwyer [01:00:28] It seems like there’s a lot of damage at feedlots with starlings.
Glynn Riley [01:00:28] Yeah. I’ve got a deal here now, 3M over here, has got pigeons. They want to get rid of them, but they don’t want anybody to know about it. They’ll probably call this week. They’re feeding them, pre-baiting them, for me.
Diana Dwyer [01:00:28] Do you modify your traps or anything? Do you use them right out of the box? Any special lures?
Glynn Riley [01:00:28] I saw that question there: “What’s your favorite trap?” My favorite trap’s a #4 Newhouse trap. A bunch of those guys will go running backwards and scream and stuff, but that’s the best trap that there is, but most people don’t know how to use them. The ones that, the old ones that use, have the plain jaw in it are pretty hard old things, but we had, when I first went to work in Texas, “Special” they call it, that had wider, thicker jaws, offset jaws. And those traps don’t wear out if you take care of them. You can work on them. Of course, you can’t get them any more. They’re gone. But that was the best trap to use for coyotes. A lot of people say it’s way too big, but it’s the best trap, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve used every kind of trap that they make.
Glynn Riley [01:00:28] We’re having to go to different types of traps, and I really don’t know where all that’s going. The #3N and the Victor that the government uses – that’s a sorry, sorry trap. I don’t like it at all. I’ve caught a lot of coyotes in them, but it’s not a good trap. The chain and swivel was the best part about it. Somebody will scream about that, but that’s just the way it is.
Glynn Riley [01:00:28] We’ve got MB650s and Sterlings, and oh, I don’t know whatall, and I don’t know what the BMP thing is going to wind up doing to us. They may dictate which trap you have to use and all that, so I don’t know where that’s going.
Diana Dwyer [01:00:28] You don’t have a problem here with banning traps in this state?
Glynn Riley [01:00:28] No, not here.
Diana Dwyer [01:00:28] That hasn’t come up? It’s agriculture.
Glynn Riley [01:03:06] No.
Diana Dwyer [01:03:06] Because Colorado’s banned traps.
Glynn Riley [01:03:06] Yeah, Florida and California. I don’t know if they – I know in California they did that through a initiative referendum. Was Colorado the same way?
Diana Dwyer [01:03:06] Yes, same way.
Glynn Riley [01:03:06] Well, an initiative referendum sounds like a good thing, and it probably is, but not all the time. That’s the situation that you have there. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of politics mixed up in this business. Unfortunately, you have well-meaning citizens telling professional people how they ought to run their business, whether it be trappers, wildlife biologists, doctors or whatever. It can affect a lot of people in a lot of ways. So, where that’s going to go, I don’t know. I know we’ve got, we’ve got more wildlife problems now than we’ve ever had in varying degrees and types, and that’s going to continue because you have more people than you’ve ever, and that’s going to continue.
Diana Dwyer [01:04:31] And that’s one of my questions, is what do you think it’ll be like 50 years from now?
Glynn Riley [01:04:36] I hate to think. I’m glad I’ve lived when I’ve lived. I don’t think I’d like it in 50 years. I see she’s waving at me.
Diana Dwyer [01:04:37] OK.
INTERVIEWEE: Glynn Riley
INTERVIEWER: Diana Dwyer
DATE: July 10, 2006
LOCATION: Brownwood, Texas
SOURCE MEDIA: MP3 audio file
TRANSCRIPTION: Trint, David Todd
This recording is generously provided with the gracious permission of the National Wildlife Research Center. It can be cited as follows:
Riley, Glynn A. (2006). Oral history interview by Diana Dwyer. 10 July 2006. Transcript. NWRC 0005 Trapping Oral History Initiative Records, National Wildlife Research Center Archives, Fort Collins, CO. https://nwrc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16473coll10/id/581/rec/7
Glynn Riley [00:00:04] Can you hear?
Diana Dwyer [00:00:07] Yes.
Glynn Riley [00:00:08] Unfortunately, political correctness has gotten out of hand and not with just government things, but with all sorts of things. And I have done a lot of work with kids with skulls and whatnot and try to teach them about animals. And I used to have a bunch of slides of some bad-looking animals that had mange and this and that and other, so they would realize it’s not really a Walt Disney World. And I would always tell them ahead of time that I was going to show them the good, the bad and the ugly, more or less. And I had one, I had a shoebox top full of heartworms that I took out of an animal, and told them how it was just like spaghetti in the heart and killed the animal too. And it was wolf I had in the pen. I was in there cleaning it, and it just fell over dead. And I knew what it was. I cut him open, and his heart was about that big. Yeah. Just blown up like a balloon, there was so many heartworms in there.
Glynn Riley [00:01:15] So people, people think of the wilderness as a paradise and it’s a hard place, you know. And people need to understand that, especially people who live in town and are not associated with outdoors and wildlife at all. They don’t understand it at all.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:34] Lot of them don’t know where food comes from.
Glynn Riley [00:01:35] No.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:35] They don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a rancher or kind of production thing or a sheep rancher kind of thing.
Glynn Riley [00:01:41] Yeah. And those articles I gave you, you’ll see a lot of stuff that I’ve already told you. But one of the most interesting things I’ve had since I’ve been in this career is when I was dealing with those red wollves. I went up to Washington and went over to the Smithsonian and stayed there two weeks, measured every wolf skull in the Smithsonian. And what really made it interesting, when I first went to work at Boonesville… hmm. This is going, this is jumping back and forth, but it’s going to tie in. John White told me there was an old trapper over at Wezzard Wells in Jack County, by the name of Bill Delong. He said he was one of the first six people they hired in 1915, and he was the best lobo trapper that they had.
Glynn Riley [00:02:40] So I beat it over there to talk to him, and I didn’t go enough. I should have gone a lot more. And he told me about trapping lobo wolves or gray wolves in West Texas back at the turn of the century. And lo and behold, over there in the National Museum was a type specimen of a Texas gray wolf, Canis lupus monstrabulus. It was caught by Bill Delong ten miles, I think, southwest of Rankin in September of 1915 or so. So I knew the man called him and I looked at his skin and skull many years later, in 1972 or something. And knowing, knowing the man and knowing – I’d look at that skull: it was in the Wolves of North America, and I look at that skull many a times in the photograph. But I got to talk to him. That was a good experience. It meant a lot to me. I just didn’t – I should have stayed over there all night long. I did take full advantage, though.
Diana Dwyer [00:03:50] It’s a fascinating place. When we were still part of Fish and Wildlife, I got to go back there when we had a, the research center had an office back there. And I got to go in and see all of the specimens behind the scenes.
Glynn Riley [00:04:02] Was that John Paradiso?
Diana Dwyer [00:04:02] John Paradiso was there, and Don Wilson was there. He was a bird guy.
Glynn Riley [00:04:09] John Paradiso was there, and Don Wilson, who was Edward Goldman’s son, I think. And holy cow, I’ve got a book in there with all the measurements of those wolf skulls, red wolf skulls. And John Paradiso told me that I had the largest collection of – I’d sent more canine skulls in up there than anybody else.
Diana Dwyer [00:04:37] You should have been a scientist; you should have been a researcher.
Glynn Riley [00:04:38] Well, yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I missed something. But it was, that was a neat, neat, neat experience. And if you could go back and look again, I’d look at things that I missed. I didn’t take, I missed a lot of stuff that I should have looked at. But that was really a neat thing. It really, really was.
Diana Dwyer [00:05:07] It’s an amazing place.
Glynn Riley [00:05:08] Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And if I had, you know, I don’t go on vacation. I work all the time. I lose my annual leave every year. I’m saving it for when I retire. I can save 240 hours. Give me a little more time when I retire. But if I had to go on vacation, a vacation to me would be to go to all the big museums – one in New York, one in Chicago. That’s what I’d like to do. That wouldn’t turn many people on, but it would me.
Diana Dwyer [00:05:39] I’d like to be a librarian in a natural resource history museum.
Glynn Riley [00:05:45] Oh yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:05:46] I would like to run it, but I know all the research areas.
Glynn Riley [00:05:49] Oh, yeah. Libraries are neat places. I read a lot. And matter of fact, the fourth of July, I read an entire book. I.
Diana Dwyer [00:05:58] Must have been a slow day.
Glynn Riley [00:06:00] Well, I’ve read a pretty light. But a fellow brought me that. It was about a guy in Arizona that used to be head of the Arizona Rangers, and it had a lot of history and stuff in it, and I like that sort of thing.
Glynn Riley [00:06:14] So you got any more questions?
Diana Dwyer [00:06:16] Let’s see. What’s the biggest challenge you think facing the Wildlife Service guys, the people that are your peers?
Glynn Riley [00:06:20] Oh, dealing with people, by far that’s the biggest challenge.
Diana Dwyer [00:06:29] Like the public, or is it like other agencies?
Glynn Riley [00:06:34] Both. And even within our own agency. Gee, I don’t know where it’s going. And a lot of us spend a lot of time wondering about that. And it’s never going to stay, I mean, I’m glad that I was here when I was here, because in the future, it’s not going to be the same. And you can get so technical it takes all the fun out of it.
Diana Dwyer [00:07:03] That’s when people complain a lot about when they do the environmental assessments, and all the permits and regulations that they have to deal with.
Glynn Riley [00:07:09] And the do a lot of that is brought upon us by people who were against what we do and want to tell us what we do. And so you wind up having to spend millions and millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on stuff. And it’s unnecessary. And yeah, that’s something you have to live with. And I don’t know if it’ll ever reach a point where more common sense prevails or not, but I kind of doubt it.
Glynn Riley [00:07:44] So we’re it’s going, where wildlife management as a whole is going, I don’t really know. But it’s turned into a big business. So I think that if you look at Texas – of course, this is a private land state – high fences are going up everywhere.
Diana Dwyer [00:08:08] Is land being subdivided, like these ranchettes and stuff you see in Colorado?
Glynn Riley [00:08:15] Mmm-hmm. But even big ranches: we’ve got one out here, it’s over 3000 acres, and a guy has fenced that and he’s raising deer and people come out and pay 6000 dollars, 7000 dollars to shoot a buck that’s been fed and bred. It’s just like the cattle business. And I don’t see how you can consider yourself a hunter, you know. And that’s the way things are going.
Glynn Riley [00:08:47] First of deer season (I’m not a deer hunter; I just deal with predators, that’s my thing), but the first of deer season, I go down here to the locker where they bring them in, because I want to get stuff to make bait out of – tallow, brains, and whatnot. And it’s, it’s very amusing to sit there and watch the circus. It really, really is. I won’t say much more about that, but it’s something else.
Glynn Riley [00:09:20] You mentioned lures, baits. What’s your favorite lure? I don’t have a favorite lure or bait. I’ve made a jillion of them; I’ve bought a jillion of them. And gee, I just mix stuff up and if it smells right, it usually works.
Diana Dwyer [00:09:41] Smells bad.
Glynn Riley [00:09:43] Smells bad to most people. Yeah. But, so I don’t know, I don’t think there is the perfect lure, because for works here, won’t work someplace else. I’ve got one or two, though, that I’ve used a long time. And I’ve used them in Minnesota and they worked. There’s a game warden up there, Ray Thorpe. He went with me one day and I taught him how to make some bait, and he wrote me a letter and told me it was a great fisher lure.
Glynn Riley [00:10:15] And one time he, that when I went up to Ash Lake and caught those 20 wolves. He went with me one day, and I had a pair of wolves caught. It was neat. It came a little cool spell for August, and we found this pair of wolf tracks on the road. We were following them along; we’d come to a corner, and I think we would pull off. We followed him five miles, right to the traps. And I had the male in one, and the female in the other. And that old male was the meanest thing I ever saw. Got a picture of him too.
Glynn Riley [00:10:50] And Ray Thorpe, after he carried me across the line in Canada to talk to some wildlife people over there about catching wolves. I don’t want to lie, but he says, “Come on, what do you put in your bait?” And I sprinkle my traps. I carry some plastic drink bottles of water, and I spinkle them all, which most people don’t. He said, “I thought it was in that water, but you stopped and just filled it up in the creek.”
Glynn Riley [00:11:24] I said, “Ray, I’ll tell you what the magic ingredient is. It’s hustle. You’ve got to work.” That’s what it is.
Glynn Riley [00:11:42] He came down here to see me one time since I’ve been here.
Diana Dwyer [00:11:47] I’m going to have to change the CD because we’re almost to the very end.
INTERVIEWEE: Glynn Riley
INTERVIEWER: Diana Dwyer
DATE: July 10, 2006
LOCATION: Brownwood, Texas
SOURCE MEDIA: MP3 audio file
TRANSCRIPTION: Trint, David Todd
FILE: Riley_Glynn_OralHistoryInterview_DianaDwyer_10July2006_USDA_APHIS_Part2_ Audio_NoiseReduced&SignalAmplified_Reel4104.mp3
This recording is generously provided with the gracious permission of the National Wildlife Research Center. It can be cited as follows:
Riley, Glynn A. (2006). Oral history interview by Diana Dwyer. 10 July 2006. Transcript. NWRC 0005 Trapping Oral History Initiative Records, National Wildlife Research Center Archives, Fort Collins, CO. https://nwrc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16473coll10/id/581/rec/7
Diana Dwyer [00:00:01] OK. Now.
Glynn Riley [00:00:02] Can you hear? Do you hear me?
Diana Dwyer [00:00:05] Perfect.
Glynn Riley [00:00:05] Anyway, we were talking about bears. One time when I was up in Minnesota, there was a young fellow there that worked for the National Park Service in Yellowstone. And they said they came upon some people that had a little girl about three or four years old and they’d rub jelly on that girl’s place so the bear would lick it off. We were just talking about the stupid things that people do.
Diana Dwyer [00:00:33] I think those people should be taken out of the gene pool.
Glynn Riley [00:00:36] Yeah, I just can’t imagine anybody being that dumb.
Diana Dwyer [00:00:39] One of the Park Service guys … I went to a grizzly bear workshop up in Yellowstone about six years ago, and the Park Service guy said that he had one guy that had taken marshmallows and potato chips and was dumping it into his car. He was trying to get the bear to get behind the wheel of his car, so he could take a picture of it.
Glynn Riley [00:00:55] Gee.
Diana Dwyer [00:00:55] And other people have tried to put their kids up next to bears, and they put junk food out.
Glynn Riley [00:00:59] Down there in Brazoria County one time, I was coming down the road and there was a place where a little creek or slough or something. It had a bridge over it. And a guy had a shrimp boat pulled up in there and park, and there was a big old alligator in there. Sometimes he’d have some fish or something, and he’d feed that alligator. There was a bridge there, and I came along and there was a man standing on the bridge. And I looked down, and here’s this little kid with a cottontail rabbit in its hand. And I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “He’s going to feed that to that alligator.” And I said, “Man, get the kid up, back here. What are you doing?” I said, “The alligator might get his hands, you know?”.
Diana Dwyer [00:01:41] Poor kid.
Glynn Riley [00:01:41] Sure. And people just don’t think. I’m telling you. It was a big alligator about 12 and a half feet long. So little kid wouldn’t have had a chance, if he’d grabbed a little more than a rabbit there.
Glynn Riley [00:01:56] But anyway, so where we were?
Diana Dwyer [00:02:00] Aerial hunting?
Glynn Riley [00:02:00] Aerial hunting. What did you want to know about aerial hunting?
Diana Dwyer [00:02:00] You said you did a lot of it?
Glynn Riley [00:02:04] We did lots of aerial hunting.
Diana Dwyer [00:02:05] Is it hard?
Glynn Riley [00:02:05] We have a helicopter stationed here and it’s a good tool. It’s a dangerous tool. Personally, I think people come to depend on it too much, and I don’t think it’s worth anybody’s life. There’s been some people lost their lives in doing that. I can sit down and make a pretty good list of people that’s crashed: some that walked away and some that didn’t.
Diana Dwyer [00:02:44] They call it “hard landings”.
Glynn Riley [00:02:47] Mm-hmmm. I know some people who were present at some fatalities, and I pray to goodness I’ve never faced with that. Aerial hunting’s a good tool, but the safety factor is, I’ll go catch my coyotes. I’m kind of the old school. I see people call for an aircraft when they could catch the coyote. And so it’s a good tool. It really is. But I think we got some folks who depend on it too much.
Diana Dwyer [00:03:30] How do you know you’ve got the right coyote, when you go out?
Glynn Riley [00:03:33] How do you know you’ve got the right coyote? Okee-dokee. That’s one place where the aerial hunting thing comes in pretty handy.
Glynn Riley [00:03:44] Number one. The aircraft as a shooting platform, no more. And if you don’t have, and you’ve got a pilot that flies, the pilot needs to have knowledge of coyotes. If he’s been a crop duster, that doesn’t mean he’s going to make a good coyote hunter. They all ought to have to trap first.
Glynn Riley [00:04:05] And everybody that has sheep ought to have to trap first.
Glynn Riley [00:04:12] But here’s the way we work it here, and it’s very successful, I think. You don’t just get in an aircraft and start randomly flying around looking for coyotes. If we’ve got a situation where there’s a coyote killing your sheep, we will come over there and try to locate where that coyote is first. And we do that by, this time of year, we use a siren a lot or a tape of coyotes howling, and those pups, this time of year, they’ll answer that better than the adults. They’ll give their location away.
Glynn Riley [00:04:48] Once we locate where they are, then we will go out there in the morning, early, and have a couple of people, maybe more, and we’ll get the coyotes to howl, and we’ll get a bearing on them and call a aircraft in and say, “We want to give you a line.” And there’s a guy over here gives another line, that will tell him where to go. And actually, it’s pretty successful.
Glynn Riley [00:05:18] However, since they’ve been hunted since 1972 that way, some of them are beginning to not move. They just get under a bush and be still, and you’re through. And I’ve seen some where they would howl and you could look and you didn’t find them. So then you take some dogs and you go in there and try to make them move. And sometimes they do. And sometimes, for instance, we had a situation where Caleb said he could see the trapper on the ground with the dog on one side of a cedar tree and the coyote was on the other side of the cedar tree, and they were just going around, and the trapper didn’t know it was there. So they were talking on hand-helds. So, that’s the way we use aerial hunting. We locate the coyotes and go try to take care of the problem animals.
Glynn Riley [00:06:15] You can do that by killing the adults. Sometimes you can do that by removing pups, and sometimes it’s – you remove part of them, then you have to go catch part of them. But the aerial hunting’s real good.
Glynn Riley [00:06:31] My main concern with aerial hunting is the safety factor. I don’t gun much any more. I’ve got some fellow here, I’ve got more two really good gunners. They can kill more things with less lead than I can, you know. And I got where I can’t hear when they try to talk to me. I have to hold it and Caleb will say, “It’s turned up as loud as it’ll go!”.
Diana Dwyer [00:07:04] It’s like my husband, he’s deaf on one side, and I think he’s just not listening to me sometimes. I’ve got to sit on the right side.
Glynn Riley [00:07:12] But yeah, aerial hunting’s a good thing. It’s an expensive thing. And sometimes you wonder about the cost of it. It is awfully expensive, but it’s good, too.
Diana Dwyer [00:07:29] What about dogs? Do you use hounds? Or do you know someone who has dogs?
Glynn Riley [00:07:32] We’ve got some fellows that’s got decoy dogs, and those, if you’ve got some good ones, work real good. I didn’t tell you about old Gus, did I?
Diana Dwyer [00:07:33] Uh-huh.
Glynn Riley [00:07:33] Well, when I first started to work, Tom Holton, he went back and made a dynasty out of business in Denver, but anyway, there was a guy in Greenville, Texas, or Hunt County – Alvin Paine, a fine man. And he had some decoy dogs, that was in 1960. This was before most people ever heard of a decoy dog. And so Tom was telling me about Alvin and his dogs, and we used to get a catch report every 90 days, and we’d look at them and see, who was doing what. Old Alvin caught just as many coyote in summer as he did in the winter, and another fellow. So I always wondered about that. It was his dogs.
Glynn Riley [00:08:35] So he had decoy dogs. Are you familiar with decoy dogs?
Diana Dwyer [00:08:39] No, I’m not sure.
Glynn Riley [00:08:41] Well, if you go where coyotes have pups, and you take dogs up there, the coyotes will attack them, and the dogs will come back to you, and you shoot the coyote.
Glynn Riley [00:08:54] Works real good because those coyotes have got their mind on that dog, and they’ll come closer than the wall over there. And we have some people that have decoy dogs, and that works real good. They helped find dens.
Glynn Riley [00:09:11] We used to have den-hunters back when I was in Lubbock. We had some really, really good guys. That’s when you find out how much a man knows about coyotes – in the summertime. We had more problems in the summertime here with killing, because they’ve got to feed their pups, and they’re really good parents. They’re better players than a lot of people. They’ll kill just as much to feed one as they will the whole crew.
Glynn Riley [00:09:43] The den hunting used to be a big thing. There’s very little done anymore. I had the opportunity – I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had the opportunity to go with lots of good field people, really good field people, and see how they operated and what they did. And when I was at Lubbock, there was a fellow named Tom Sparks there. He was a fine a man as ever walked, I guess. Never heard him cuss, ever. “That old Jesse!” That was his saying.
Glynn Riley [00:10:19] And so we went to Matador one day, and I found some coyote dens and the like, but I just really didn’t know what I was doing. We went down to Matador and got Louis McDonnel. He was a trapper in Matador. He was a little Scotsman, little short guy, and he bounced when he walked.
Glynn Riley [00:10:39] So we took off to go den hunting. They’d get out, and they was just like two little old dogs.
Glynn Riley [00:10:47] They’d find a track, and they’d say, “No, this is not it.” So finally they’d find a track and they’d look at it and they’d look at one another and they’d talk, and they’d say, “There’s a den on one end or the other of this.” We killed 27 coyotes that day. We dug up three dens, and we called up some old ones and stuff. So I learned a lot from them about den hunting. In that kind of country, this is very successful. In the Hill Country down here, where a lot of brush and rocks, you’ve got to have a dog. It doesnt work as good.
Glynn Riley [00:11:23] But that was quite an experience to see some good people like that, knew what they were doing.
Diana Dwyer [00:11:34] You think that’s dying out?
Glynn Riley [00:11:34] Oh, it’s gone.
Diana Dwyer [00:11:34] The new guys that are coming in seem to be…
Glynn Riley [00:11:42] I took it upon myself at one time to tell the management we need to have den-hunting schools. They tried it. We went and I got very frustrated because they had to have an airplane involved. You couldn’t get the thing done for people watching the airplane, instead of watching the tracks that would tell you something.
Glynn Riley [00:12:15] I had a fellow named Randy Ferry. He’s down her to Austin now. They live with the urban coyote. And Randy was up there and I told him, finally, I said, “Randy, just come and go with me. Forget the group, the airplane, the whole thing. Come, go with me, and I’ll try to show you what I’m talking about.” So, we found a den. I said, “There it is.” He said, “That was an accident.” About the third one we found, he says, “That’s not an accident.”.
Glynn Riley [00:12:45] And so I think – I don’t remember how many people was there that day or that week, or however long they stayed, but we found 11, 12, whatever dens. And I found over half of them, myself, without the airplane.
Glynn Riley [00:13:04] So I just quit going. Forget the airplane, if you want to learn about coyotes. You can fly around and see a hole, but the coyotes will tell you where to go.
Glynn Riley [00:13:12] I was going to tell you, too, what I would tell a trapper, a beginning trapper? To learn your animal. He will teach you where to catch him. The coyote will tell you where to catch him. You’ve just to pay attention to what he’s telling you. Digging a hole in the ground and burying the trap is 10 per cent of it. Where you put it is the other 80 percent of it, and once you put it there, drawing them there is the other 10 per cent.
Glynn Riley [00:13:58] So you’ve got to know your animal. They’ll, they’ll tell you what to do. A lot of people think they want to be a trapper, and maybe one out of 100 or more might make it. There’s a lot of them think it’s all fun, and yes, it is. It is, it is. But it takes a special person with a special interest and personality to do it and be real good at it. You’ve got to be a keen, keen observer. And if you’re not, you’ll just be so-so at best. So that’s what I would tell young person if they were going to trap: is to learn your animal and he will tell you where to catch him.
Diana Dwyer [00:15:03] Get in on the ground floor.
Glynn Riley [00:15:03] Every time.
Diana Dwyer [00:15:03] That was all the questions I had, unless you want to talk about something else that might be helpful to John, on anything.
Glynn Riley [00:15:12] Gee, I’ve had a lot of people tell me I ought to write a book.
Diana Dwyer [00:15:12] You should.
Glynn Riley [00:15:12] But I’m not a writer. But you can get somebody to help you with it.
Diana Dwyer [00:15:12] I think so, yeah, or even start recording yourself.
Glynn Riley [00:15:12] Yeah, I should do that.
Diana Dwyer [00:15:12] As you think of things, start putting it on tape.
Glynn Riley [00:15:41] I’ve got a lot of notes. I’ve got everything written for the last, going on 46 years. And one little blank place in there when I was mad at the government and I decided a man ought not to have to write down everything he does. So, I didn’t for about six weeks, and I should have. I regret that. But anyway.
Diana Dwyer [00:16:02] What about your experiences as a supervisor?
Glynn Riley [00:16:16] That experience, that’s really something. That, that gets back to the problem we we’re talking about – people, people problems. And you’d be so surprised at what some of them are. Employee problems. I never really wanted to be a supervisor. I wanted, my goal when I started working this thing would be the best trapper they had. But they don’t pay trappers enough. And so, I finally figured if I was going to make a living, I had to do a little different. But I still trapped, all the time. I think I’m the only one that does.
Glynn Riley [00:17:03] And I couldn’t, I’d quit. So, they are kind to me and don’t fuss at me.
Glynn Riley [00:17:19] And sometimes they need me.
Glynn Riley [00:17:21] But anyway, dealing with personal problems is, that’s what I dislike the most. It takes a, you have to be very understanding of other people. And you got rules and regulations and things that you go by. But you’ve got to have some latitude, because some people have personal problems. The worst thing is divorce. When you get a person going through a divorce, they’re not themselves.
Diana Dwyer [00:17:59] It’s devastating.
Glynn Riley [00:18:05] Yes. And so, you have to be very understanding of people that’s going through hard times like that. And I try to be. And if they’ve got sickness or death or whatever, I do all I can for them.
Glynn Riley [00:18:19] Then you have people who just are no good and you got to get rid of them. And they’ve made it hard to get rid of them. If you if you could just say, “Hit the road, Jack,” you know, it would be so nice.
Diana Dwyer [00:18:43] Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Glynn Riley [00:18:43] That’s right. And then you get some real bums sometimes. That’s always disappointing. And I guess one of the greatest things I’ve learned is at one point in my life is I thought I was pretty fair judge of people, you know, and I found out I wasn’t.
Glynn Riley [00:19:03] At one time I thought if you were involved in this kind of work, you were a good old boy and all of us aren’t. I learned some hard lessons that way.
Glynn Riley [00:19:20] But yeah, the thing I dislike worst is personnel problems, and probably everyone says that. And some of the most rewarding things are personnel-related too. You know, sometimes you’ve got some really good people or you could help some people out of some situations that they appreciate, you’re glad you can do it. So every now and then you get a thank you.
Diana Dwyer [00:19:54] The last thing you put on here that you like is flint napping and archery. Do you go out and try that? Hunt like an Indian?
Glynn Riley [00:20:04] No, no. I just, I make, I’ve always been interested in in Indians. And so, I always learned about how they made arrowheads and stuff and I figured it out and finally found some other people that got to doing that. Then I’ve always liked shooting a bow and arrow. And I don’t as much as I should. When I was younger, I did. At one point back when I was a young man, I quit shooting a gun. I’d just hunt stuff with a bow and arrow. But not, just rabbits and things. I never killed a deer or anything like that.
Glynn Riley [00:20:47] But I’m not a deer hunter. I. I know why. Well, I do know why, too. Down here you’ve got to pay to hunt, and I’m not going to pay anybody to hunt. I get paid to hunt.
Glynn Riley [00:21:03] I paid one time in my life, when I was a teenager still, and some guys wanted me to go hunting with them, and I went. I just went. They had a deer lease down here in the Hill Country. It was 50 dollars for the first week, but I didn’t have 50 dollars. Now, it’s several thousand. So, I went along with them. We just had a good time, but it was back in the 50s. It was a terrible drought, and I never saw as many of does and spike bucks, and we didn’t kill a deer. And then we went back. Let’s see, we went the next year. They wanted me to go, but they wanted the 50 dollars, and I didn’t have it. I sold my 30-30 for $50 and borrowed one just like it and killed one little three-point deer. I got home and I said, “Son, you may be dumb, but you ain’t stupid. Don’t do that again.”
Glynn Riley [00:21:55] And I haven’t. And I won’t.
Diana Dwyer [00:21:55] It’s expensive.
Glynn Riley [00:21:55] It’s turned into, you go sit down in a box over a thing spreading corn out. And that’s not hunting. The last deer I killed, on my fingers and toes, or maybe one foot and two hands, you could count all the deer, maybe two hands, that I’ve killed. But the last one I killed, I said, “I bet I could slip up on that one.” And I did – a 12-point. Killed him and felled him. Happy about that. I ate him, just not the horns. I figured I could do it, and I did it.
Glynn Riley [00:21:55] The way people hunt here, you go climb up in a box and that’s, but you know, there’s so much money in it. And you’ve got so many people from towns, cities, and they come out here with enough equipment – my Lord, the money that they spend! Four-wheelers, trailers, guns, deer stands, corn feeders, corn. You can go down there and buy a lot of good beef. If I was going to spend it, I’d go down to the feedlot and shoot me a good, fat steer.
Diana Dwyer [00:22:36] Go to a zoo.
Glynn Riley [00:23:30] So hunting, I don’t know where that’s going to go. It’s kind of, I’ve outlived my whatever.
Diana Dwyer [00:23:43] Is there a problem here with some chronic wasting disease?
Glynn Riley [00:23:45] No.
Diana Dwyer [00:23:46] Are you worried about wildlife disease?
Glynn Riley [00:23:48] No.
Diana Dwyer [00:23:48] With avian influenza?
Glynn Riley [00:23:53] There’s no chronic wasting disease that I know of, and I’m not really worried about avian influenza, the bird flu. It’ll either be here or it won’t. And I don’t think there’s a thing in the world we can do about it. If it does, they have a plan since 9/11. Everybody’s worried about the introduction of things like black leg or hoof in mouth disease, and so they have a plan that if hoof in mouth disease, or foot in mouth disease they call it now, were to show up, that you would eliminate all of the animals in a 30-mile circle. If that shows, I will retire, because you ain’t gonna be a popular fellow at all.
Diana Dwyer [00:24:41] That happened in Great Britain when they had to kill all those people’s birds. It was horrible.
Glynn Riley [00:24:44] That’ll make me retire. I don’t know where all that’s going to go. I’d be interested to know where wildlife management is going to go. When I went down there to A&M to see Dr., I’ve forgotten his name. Davis? W.B. Davis, yeah – where I got the book that time. There was about 70 people taking wildlife management at that time and now, and there was about 7000 students in A&M. And now they’re 50 thousand. And no telling how many wildlife students.
Glynn Riley [00:25:27] And I was starting over here at Parker, which is part of A&M. And there were six of taking wildlife management. We were all country boys, you know. Now you’ve got all sorts of folks in there taking wildlife.
Diana Dwyer [00:25:34] A lot of young women are going.
Glynn Riley [00:25:35] Yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:25:35] Into the field.
Glynn Riley [00:25:46] Yeah. You know, and, and I don’t know what percent of them actually get a job in wildlife field, but it’s pretty sparse. You’ve just got a certain, you’ve got state and federal agencies, and a few private people, and that’s about it.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:07] Yeah, we have a lot of competition for the jobs we have.
Glynn Riley [00:26:11] Oh, yeah.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:11] The problem at the Research Center is that they usually want a Ph.D., But I know they had a lot of people applying for the wildlife disease jobs.
Glynn Riley [00:26:11] I got one, one son, and I discouraged from me. He’s got a Master’s degree and manages an insurance deal for a company – regional claims manager over four or five states, all the workman’s compensation claims that they take. He’s got a bunch of people work for him. I’ve got one grandson. He started school and he’s going to major in biomedical engineering.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:42] That’s interesting.
Glynn Riley [00:26:43] And if he’s smart enough to make it, and can pass five different calculus courses.
Diana Dwyer [00:26:43] Oh, God.
Glynn Riley [00:27:02] So maybe he’ll get rich. I don’t know.
Diana Dwyer [00:27:08] I hope you see it, live to see it!
Glynn Riley [00:27:12] Yeah, yeah. He’s a pretty smart kid. He’s taking calculus now, this summer. He’s passing, but he’s got four more to go, and a bunch of other stuff.
Glynn Riley [00:27:28] So I don’t know where wildlife management is going to go, but I’m glad I lived when I did. It’s going to get too technical, I think.
Diana Dwyer [00:27:35] You won’t be able to even go out and look at a deer any more without getting a permit for it.
Glynn Riley [00:27:35] Oh, there’s so many here. There’s a deer every place. I’ll tell you what the problem is, and I don’t know what they’re going to do about it, but the people hitting deer with cars is a huge problem.
Diana Dwyer [00:27:56] Back East especially, we’ve had a lot of…
Glynn Riley [00:28:03] My wife’s older sister’s grandson was killed coming home from college. He hit a deer in a little old sports car, and it came right through the windshield, killed him. 21 years old.
Diana Dwyer [00:28:17] Oh, God!
Glynn Riley [00:28:17] And in this area, there’s so many deer on the road, especially when it’s dry. They’ll come to the road to feed because it’s not grazed there. And there’s just a huge amount of deer that get hit. I don’t know what the insurance bill is in Texas, but I read in Newsweek or something one day, in Georgia, they had compiled all that information from the insurance agencies, and it was millions and millions and millions of dollars, not to mention I think they said there was about 250 people a year get killed. So, what do you do? The State, it’s their wildlife till you hit him with your car, and then it’s yours.
Diana Dwyer [00:29:08] Like bear breaking into your house in Colorado: it becomes your problem.
Glynn Riley [00:29:10] Right. And I saw a deal the other day in Florida or some place. An alligator was up on some lady’s porch chewing up the dog, and she killed it and they ticketed her for hunting without a license or out of season, or something.
Diana Dwyer [00:29:10] Oh, God.
Glynn Riley [00:29:10] That’s not hunting.
Diana Dwyer [00:29:10] It’s homeowners defending their home!
Glynn Riley [00:29:35] Yeah, get a Webster and look up hunting. See what hunting is.
Diana Dwyer [00:29:38] That’s ridiculous.
Glynn Riley [00:29:40] Yeah, it is. It really is.
Diana Dwyer [00:29:42] Did they think she was using the dog as bait? That’s horrible.
Glynn Riley [00:29:47] They will catch a dog. I had a friend that had one caught his squirrel dog, and he was really upset about it. He said, “What are you all going to do about that blankity-blank alligator?” And I said, “Albert, there’s nothing I can do.” “I can.” So, I’ve got a picture of him in there: front-end loader, pulling him apart!
Glynn Riley [00:30:19] It’s 2:43.
Diana Dwyer [00:30:19] Oh God. Can you think of anything else? I might have worn you out.
Glynn Riley [00:30:19] No, I could talk for days, but we won’t.
Diana Dwyer [00:30:19] Okay.
Glynn Riley [00:30:19] When you leave, I’ll think of something I wish I’d told you.
Diana Dwyer [00:30:19] You can always write me a letter.
Glynn Riley [00:30:32] Yeah, if I think of something, I’ll call you or something.
Glynn Riley [00:30:33] I hope they have good luck with their book.
Diana Dwyer [00:30:33] John’s working away on it. He said it’ll probably be a couple of years before it gets published. We’ll make sure you get a copy of it.
Glynn Riley [00:30:33] Yeah, I’ll autograph it and give it to my grandson.
INTERVIEWEE: Glynn Riley
INTERVIEWER: David Todd
DATE: July 19, 2022
LOCATION: Brownwood, Texas
SOURCE MEDIA: WAV audio file, produced on the ROTE platform
TRANSCRIPTION: Trint, David Todd
David Todd [00:00:00] Well, good morning. I am David Todd and I have the pleasure of being here with Glenn Riley. And with his permission, we plan on recording this interview for research and educational work for the Conservation History Association of Texas, and for a book and a website for Texas A&M University Press, and finally, for permanent storage at an archive at the Briscoe Center for American History, which is at the University of Texas at Austin.
David Todd [00:00:33] And, of course, Mr. Riley would have all rights to use the recording as he sees fit.
David Todd [00:00:39] And before we get any further, I wanted to make sure that’s okay with you.
Glynn Riley [00:00:43] Yeah. It’d okay.
David Todd [00:00:44] All right, well, let’s get started. I see by my watch here that it is a little past 10:30 Central Time on Tuesday, July 19th, 2022.
David Todd [00:00:57] Again, my name is David Todd. I am representing the Conservation History Association of Texas, and I am in Brownwood, Texas. And we’re conducting an in-person, on-site interview with Glynn Riley. Mr. Riley started work with the Texas Rodent and Predatory Animal Control Service in 1960.
Glynn Riley [00:01:21] Right.
David Todd [00:01:22] Okay.
David Todd [00:01:23] Over the years, he’s worked in many parts of Texas, including Brownsville, Denton, Lubbock, Liberty, and other stations, including areas outside the state such as Minnesota. And he has controlled a variety of animals, including pocket gophers, rats, prairie dogs, alligators, bears, sparrows, grackles, pigeons, coyotes, gray wolves. And he’s also worked with red wolves.
David Todd [00:01:49] And today we’ll talk about his life and career and just to simplify things and sort of cut to one part of his life and career and work, we’re going to discuss the red wolf, because he’s been so involved with its, its future.
David Todd [00:02:07] I thought we might just start by asking you to tell us about your childhood and if there might have been any people who were a big influence in getting you interested in nature, the outdoors, animals, wolves in particular.
Glynn Riley [00:02:23] Yeah.
David Todd [00:02:23] Anybody like that? You go right ahead. The floor is yours.
Glynn Riley [00:02:30] Okay. I grew up in Wortham, Texas, Freestone County. Fairfield is the county seat. Born 1935, September the first. And I lived in Wortham, until I left there when I was 25, I think.
Glynn Riley [00:02:50] But anyway, I was always interested in the outdoors and wildlife. Always. And, oh, gosh, where do I go? I, well, okay. When I was in grade school, I’m not sure which grade anymore, I was taking piano lessons. And I have my mother’s old piano over here. And I’m talking about taking piano lessons with a piano guy now. Uh, but anyway, I should have stuck with it. But being a boy and us living in a small country town, there werea lot of country boys. And I kind of lived in town. And I was made fun of about my piano lessons quite a bit.
Glynn Riley [00:03:49] But Miss Brandy Monroe was my piano teacher. And bless her heart, she tried. But for Christmas, I don’t recall which year, 1948 or ‘6 or whatever, she gave me my first little trap. She figured I probably was going to be a better ‘possum trapper than I was a piano player. And Santa Claus brought me six more that year.
Glynn Riley [00:04:20] So, anyway, so back then, you know, all the kids hunted and trapped and sold ‘possum hides and whatnot. And that’s where I got started trapping ‘possums and skunks. And I liked it really well. And so, I took to it.
Glynn Riley [00:04:44] And when I was in the, let’s see, must have been about the sixth or seventh grade, sixth grade, Mr. Mullins was my teacher. And I came to town to send some skins or hides off to Sears and Roebuck in Dallas. That’s where you sold your hides. And I had a lot of skunk hides. And so, I went down to, I wrapped them up in newspaper and took them to the post office and Ms. Dischenbusch said, kind of turned her nose up and said, “Glynn Junior, you can’t mail these in newspaper. They got to be in some brown paper.”
Glynn Riley [00:05:21] So I took them and put them in the cloakroom, behind the teacher, Mr. Mullins. And so at that point he was reading us a story about the Pacing Mustang, and I was going to tell you who wrote it and you’d know immediately – Ernest Thompson Seaton. And so he says, there is with the book, you know, “And the mustang raced across the mesa. And Dynamite Joe or whoever the cowboy was, was in hot pursuit.” And then his nose started twitching.
Glynn Riley [00:06:02] And he read a few more sentences and then he looked straight at me and he said, “Glynn Junior, have you got skunk on you?” And I said, “No, sir, but I’ve got some skunk hides in the cloakroom right behind you.” He said, “Get ’em out of here.” So, I took them and put them in the first grade cloakroom. And at noon I took them down to Mr. Monroe and we wrapped them up in brown paper so Mr. Dischenbusch would accept them and we mailed them off.
Glynn Riley [00:06:32] And in the meantime he got something. It smelled like Pine ‘O Pine and washed my hands. And that’s kind of the way I got started being an outdoorsman, I suppose. Yeah. And it just kind of grew from there.
Glynn Riley [00:06:48] Then about 1940, I can’t remember the year, they formed the Freestone County Game Association. And gathered up a lot of country and got Parks and Wildlife to bring deer there and release them. We didn’t have any deer or much of anything really. I’ll get to that in a little bit.
Glynn Riley [00:07:14] And they put a $25 bounty on the wolves. Well, I was ‘coons and fox and ‘possums and skunks. But the wolf thing – that really kind of intrigued me. So I didn’t know anything about wolves or coyotes or whatever. And we didn’t have as much stuff then as we do now – wildlife.
Glynn Riley [00:07:40] So, there was a gentleman at Stewart’s Mill, in North Fairfield, named Cliff Whitaker. And he ran a little store, he and his wife, Miss Jessie. She was a ex-schoolteacher. And he was working for some of the ranchers there in Freestone County. And they were paying $25 a wolf. That was a lot of money then. And so, I had some friends that took me down there, and introduced me to Mr. Whittaker. I’d been trapping and making hides. I had graduated up to better things.
Glynn Riley [00:08:21] So I met Mr. Whitaker and he had a bad leg. He said he had white swelling in it when he was a kid, which I think was probably polio, but he didn’t have much use of it. And he drove a Model A car. He drove Model T’s because there was something about the pedals in it that he could work better. But he couldn’t get Model T’s anymore, so he had a Model A.
Glynn Riley [00:08:49] And so he said, “Well, Jelly (he called me “Jelly Beans”), come go with me.” And I said, “Oh, boy, I’ll do that.” So I went down there and I ride with him and open the gates and go hunt the coyotes up that he called and we talked about wolves. This was in the, oh, gosh, let’s see. I started high school in 1949. I guess this was probably in ’47, ’48, somewhere along in there.
Glynn Riley [00:09:21] And so they had a big old wood stove down in the front of the store and they put me a cot up there and I sleep by the wood stove at night, and Miss Jessie would wrap some hot bricks up in something, come put them for my feet, keep my feet warm at night. Worked good till the bricks got cold.
Glynn Riley [00:09:44] Anyway, we, I went with Mr. Cliff, as I called him, and we trapped around in Freestone County and some in Leon County. And we talked about wolves. And at that time, everything in the woods that howled was a wolf to everybody in East Texas. They told me I grew up in central Texas, but, the Trinity River is the eastern boundary of the county, so I figured I probably was pretty close to East Texas. I’m not sure they knew El Paso was out there.
Glynn Riley [00:10:19] But anyway, so Mr. Whitaker kept good notes. He weighed everything that he caught and he put, he had a little snuff, a little book that the snuff companies put out. They got the same little books but snuff companies don’t put them out anymore. And he put down the date and where he caught the wolf, what he weighed, and male or female. And I would give anything to have those little books.
Glynn Riley [00:10:51] So I got older, bigger. A little bigger. I never got real big. I started out on my own. And they were paying the $25 there in Freestone County. You took the, you had to take the whole animal there. They’d cut the ears off of it so you couldn’t bring it back twice. Sewell Hill and Johnny Hill, the Hill boys, were involved in that quite a bit.
Glynn Riley [00:11:24] And that’s the way I got interested in coyotes and wolves and whatnot. And I’ve never recovered. So, so my daddy used to say (he didn’t hunt or fish or anything), you know, he said, “Well, all you want to do is stay down on the branch. You’re never going to amount to the hill of beans.” Well, bless his heart. Anyway, so that’s the way I got interested in the wolf business.
Glynn Riley [00:11:56] Well, like I say, everybody called every wild canine – it was a wolf. It was a wolf. Well, I graduated high school in 1953, and due to my own circumstance and everything, I did not pick up as much knowledge in school as I should have. I was too busy jumping out of the back window going hunting.
Glynn Riley [00:12:29] And so, this is where these books come in. So I had an aunt. There were nine children in my daddy’s family, but one passed away early in life, so I never knew Aunt Lydia. But anyway, I had a cousin, in Mexia: Aunt Prudence’s daughter. And her husband went to A&M. And he took me to A&M. He said … Oh, and one of the school teachers there in Wortham told me, said, “They’ve got a new program at A&M that’s about wildlife.” Said, “You ought to look into that.”
Glynn Riley [00:13:14] So my cousin took me to A&M. And we walked around and we went to Dr. Davis’ office to talk to him. And up on the shelf, there was a book, “The Wolves of North America”. And I spied that book right off. And I asked Dr. Davis, “Can I look at that book?” And he said, “Sure.” And so, we talked and everything. And so, my mother got me one. And here it is. She put in there who it belonged to. And I came home and but I didn’t go to A&M.
Glynn Riley [00:13:55] I went to Tarleton for a year. And unfortunately, I probably was so young, I should not have gone quite so quick. And I was one of the, I was the youngest kid in the first grade. They should have held me back another year. My birthday was September the first and we started about September the sixth, and me and Robert James’ boy were the two youngest ones there.
Glynn Riley [00:14:21] But anyway, back to the wolves. So I got this book and I started reading it. And there’s taxonomic information in there about how you identify different subspecies of wolves, which there were, I forgot how many now, but there were quite a few. And coyotes too. And that kindled my interest in that.
Glynn Riley [00:14:47] So, Mr. Whitaker, I asked him where he learned to trail. And he said, “Oh, there was a government traveler came through the country there”, and he kind of went with him. And so, I said, “Government trappers?” “Oh, yeah.” Well, my ears pricked up, you know.
Glynn Riley [00:15:04] So, when I was about 17 or 18, I graduated at 17, I wrote Jimmy Poor at A&M. He was the district supervisor for the Predator and Rodent Control deal. I wrote him a letter and applied for a job. And he sent me a letter back and I think I may still have it and said, “Well, we thank you for your letter and we’ll put your name in the file”, and all that. They should have hired me, but I was kind of young and dumb and I really wasn’t ready.
Glynn Riley [00:15:45] But anyway, so I kept poking along and fooled around and got married and everything. And but I was still trapping for the bounty over there in Freestone County and I had me a job in a furniture factory, and I was making more money trapping coyotes than I was working in the furniture factory. And my sweet little wife would go with me in my car. And I had a Ford, ’50 model Ford, I think, or maybe ’51. And I trapped out of that car, took the trunk off. And, of course, I had to haul those dead coyotes over to Fairfield. And in the summertime it got kind of bad back there.
Glynn Riley [00:16:36] But I loved it. Then, so anyway, I fooled around there and didn’t go back to school. And I should have, but I was pretty immature. I realize that now. But back then I thought I was big as I ever going to get, you know.
Glynn Riley [00:16:58] And so I went to the Freestone County Game Association. They always had a little, about October, before deer season, they’d have a meeting down there at Red Lake at Fairfield. And me and Ted Weaver, we were on our way down there to go to the meeting and we, somebody had hit a deer in the road. So we stopped and cut the deer’s throat, and put him in the car and picked it up and took him down there. And we figured the game warden would be there and was going to give him the deer, which we did.
Glynn Riley [00:17:32] But Buck Aday and, who worked for the Predator and Rodent Control deal, Buck Aday and a young fella that was a district supervisor from Colorado. And I know his name. I’ll tell you in a minute. They were there and so I talked to Buck about a trapping job. Well, John White was the district supervisor in Fort Worth. And so, he called me in November and in one month said they had a job up in Wise County, Boonesville. And I was out of a job at the time. I was trapping for coyotes and hides and whatever. So, I got the job right there on the telephone.
Glynn Riley [00:18:29] And so, the last day of November, I believe, in 1960, I loaded up, dressed up in the finest clothes I had, which back then was where everybody had some gray, had a gray jacket, pants to match. And your loafer shoes. So, I gathered up and went up there.
Glynn Riley [00:18:56] And walked in the office and when I walked in, John is sitting there. He smoked a pipe. He saw me coming, and he raised his eyebrows. I could tell he was shocked by what he was seeing. I wasn’t what he thought I was going to be.
Glynn Riley [00:19:12] But anyway, I went to work. He gave me equipment and gave me a bunch of paperwork and stuff and told me to go there, pointed to the maps, and go to Boonesville, Texas up there and see Lloyd Wood, that he should be your contact guy.
Glynn Riley [00:19:28] So I went up there and I stopped and changed clothes on the way. I took my city clothes off, and put my jeans and stuff back on, where I kind of looked the part anyway. And I moved in. They had a house there that is Mr. and Mrs. Gadbury. That was his in-laws that lived in. So, I moved in that house in the front bedroom that had a fireplace. And I had my little army cot, which I still have and everything, and set up, getting ready to go. And they told me, said, “Well, now we’ve got two coyotes here.” And said, “We’ve been trying to catch them.” Excuse me. “For about a year.” Said, “Rush Wages, he’s a local guy he’s been, old Rush has been trying to catch them.” So, I said, “Well, just two?” “Yeah. Just two and we’ve offered $150 apiece for them.” That was a lot of money then. And when I went to work, you got $225 a month, before deducts, and it was about $198 month after deducts. And they sent it to you once a month whether you needed it or not.
Glynn Riley [00:20:47] So anyway, so I set out to trap these coyotes. They had goats, you know, and stuff there then. And everybody had sheep, goats and the coyotes were killing them.
Glynn Riley [00:21:01] Well, it took me 28 days to catch the first one, and the next one was a little later. I don’t know whether I got both of them in December or not, but I stayed there till, I left there in March, the end of March. And I had called eight while I was there.
David Todd [00:21:24] How would you catch them?
Glynn Riley [00:21:26] Oh, let’s see. You know. I caught, well I killed that first one with what we call a coyote getter. And it was a little device that we had. It had a .38 caliber cartridge in there and had cyanide in it. And all it had was the primer. And you drove the stake in the ground, and then you had a little fire unit they called it. And you cocked it and you had a little top that you could put the .38 case in. And then you covered that with cloth or wool or whatever. And you had some really good smelling bait that your teacher at school would always notice. And you’d put that on there and the coyote would reach down and pick it up, pull it, you know, and it fired the cyanide in his mouth and killed it.
David Todd [00:22:30] What kind of bait would you use?
Glynn Riley [00:22:32] Oh, oh, we could write another book about that. At that time, my favorite bait was deer brains and liver, half and half. And you’d grind them up in a sausage grinder and put them in a jar and put a little beaver castor in there with them, which is a, comes from a gland on a beaver. We could talk about that too. But anyway, and a little flour to thicken it. And that’s probably what it was.
Glynn Riley [00:23:04] And what was really interesting, the first thing they said when I got there, you know, and I said, “Oh, I’ve got this.” And they said, “Did you ever try you ever tried deer brains and liver?” And I said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Oh no, they’ve already used my bait here.”.
Glynn Riley [00:23:22] But anyway, that’s where I started. Then a job opening in Denton County came and they told me I could have that job if I wanted it. It was a full-time job and the one where I was working, it just went one month to the next, they’d make up $225 a month. So I told them, there’s a job over at Denton County and it’s county-funded and rancher-funded. And I want to go over there because it’s a better deal. “Oh, don’t go. Don’t go.” I said, “Well, I’ve got to go.” They said, “Well, would you promise that you’d, would you come back and help us if we get in a bind?” I said, “Yeah, I will.”.
Glynn Riley [00:24:08] So, I went over there and started out there in Denton County. And Floyd Liggend had been the trapper there. Mr. Liggend was a wonderful gentleman. And I won’t say old man anymore because he wasn’t as old as I am now. But he should have been a politician. He could sit in the barber’s chair and get more done and catch more coyotes. And I says to myself, “Self, you’ve got to do better than Mr. Liggend.” And I did.
Glynn Riley [00:24:40] Anden I stayed there for years or so. I don’t remember. And so, then they had a little better job and they furnished you a car. And then I had to become a rodent control person then. So what my job was to do was, Buck Aday headed up the Rodent part. And so they, bless their hearts, they took this poor, dumb country boy and they carried me to some place where they were having a program that was on TV. And I watched them that one day. And so they said, “This is what you do.”.
Glynn Riley [00:25:27] And so right away, I got a gopher machine, and I went to some county and I was on TV. And I was terrified, absolutely petrified. I hid behind the door until I was 34, much less getting up and speaking in front of people on TV. But I made it work and I did that for a long time, several years.
Glynn Riley [00:25:56] So, I moved to Cooper, Texas and I continued that. Oh and, and, in the interim, you asked about my education. Well, it was sparse and not quite none, but anyway I didn’t take advantage of what the world really had to offer me, which really wasn’t all that much at that time. So, but then I was married and I had a little boy and I decided, you know, if I’m going to ever make a living, I better do something. So, I started going to school. I went to North Texas, East Texas, Lamar, Tarleton, Utah State through the mail, and I can’t remember if they was anymore or not, but I was a professional dropout.
David Todd [00:26:54] What, and what were you studying?
Glynn Riley [00:26:58] Well, there was a deal I found out about. If you had enough experience, and I guess, I don’t whether it still applies or not, but as a wildlife biologist, it works, you know. But if you got here, forgot how many hours, quite a few hours, with the right subjects – ornithology, mammalogy, biology and sciences and whatnot. And you had enough years of experience you could get on the Federal register as a wildlife biologist. In my knowledge, I made it.
Glynn Riley [00:27:42] And bless my little my wife’s heart. She, I had the best woman in the world. She helped me. I had a horrible deal with spelling. Mother always said it was because they didn’t teach me phonics, but I think I was just dumb. And it took me years and years. I would write, but I would write like I talked. And so, there were all sorts of things to trip up, like dangling participle, and I don’t know, what all – semicolons and commas and whatnot.
Glynn Riley [00:28:31] So I started to school and I went to school and then I finally got where I wanted to go. It was the hard way. It would have been much easier to go four years, and, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to do that.
David Todd [00:28:47] Well, so you talked a little bit about this sort of book learning at, you know, what, North Texas and East Texas, Lamar, Tarleton, Utah State.
Glynn Riley [00:28:57] Yeah.
David Todd [00:28:58] Were there some other trappers or biologists that you got to know who gave you some tips and.
Glynn Riley [00:29:07] Oh, sure.
David Todd [00:29:07] Taught you some things?
Glynn Riley [00:29:08] Yeah. Okay. I’ve met a huge amount of people and a lot of them were very helpful. And I was trying to remember. Well, in the early days, mostly what I knew was trappers and, but later on I got to meet a lot of other people. And Dr. Fred Knowlton got to be, oh, he was head of the research deal in San Antonio for the Fish and Wildlife Service. And I worked for Fred a lot and I don’t know, they would always, there would be some college or some place that would call down and they’d want a skull and a skin or something. And so, if something like that came along, I was the one that had to go get the skull and skin and clean it and get it on, ship it off, you know. Well, I kind of liked that sort of stuff.
Glynn Riley [00:30:08] And I was interested in a lot of things that other people weren’t interested in, like taxonomy, which I didn’t know what taxonomy was, but I found out. And so, I collected coyote skulls. Uh huh. Excuse me. I had this book, and over here, in the back portion of it, it’s all the taxonomic status of wolves. And then I got one on the coyote. It’s the same way. Stanley P. Young and Edward A. Goldman wrote it. Stanley P. Young worked for the same outfit I did, but he started in 1915, and Edward Goldman was a taxonomist in the National Museum.
Glynn Riley [00:30:55] And it wound up I went to the National Museum and met his son and he was still there. And I got to handle all the bones up there and look at them. And I sent them a lot of bones over my lifetime, quite a few.
David Todd [00:31:15] So tell me how you’d prepare a skull or hide, for preservation, for schooling, or to go to a museum.
Glynn Riley [00:31:25] Well, if you, if you’re gonna send the whole thing, you, you wrap it up and pack it in dry ice and ship it to them. You’re lucky that way because you don’t have to do anything. But if you’re gonna save skulls, you know, ask my son. I made him boil skulls. He’d tell you about that. By the tub-full. And so you’d just boil them and clean them and get all the meat and stuff, brains, out of them and dry them. And, and then you, you tag them and write down where they came from, and what sex they were, and what the date was, what they weighed, and how long they were and all that sort of thing. And the distance of the heel from the calcanea down to the tip of the toe and whatnot. So, I did a whole lot of that sort of thing eventually.
Glynn Riley [00:32:23] And where am I? I’m still way back.
Glynn Riley [00:32:27] Then though, I got to be, yeah, I got the job with the government car and, and I worked with county agents and people and, and put on all sorts of demonstrations for gopher control, beaver control, coyote control, skunk control, bat control, whatever. Just all sorts of stuff.
Glynn Riley [00:32:55] And then you’d have places like Fort Worth or Austin or whatever, you know, there’d be problems there, or Houston, and you can’t believe where coyotes show up – downtown Houston and whatnot.
Glynn Riley [00:33:12] So, moving right along.
David Todd [00:33:15] Well, I think that’s an interesting angle because it seems like, you know, there are some animals that are very skittish and they need to be in rural, isolated areas. But then these coyotes …
Glynn Riley [00:33:25] They get over that. Yeah. Yeah.
David Todd [00:33:28] Are adaptable.
Glynn Riley [00:33:29] Coyotes are the most adaptable thing in the world. When everything is over, there’ll be two things left – coyotes and cockroaches. They’re both survivors. Coyotes are very intelligent animals. And I just love them. And I’ve made a living with them all my life. And they will teach you a lot. Coyotes are a lot like people. Very much so. A lot of people would probably disagree with that, but they don’t know coyotes. Very, very few people really know coyotes.
Glynn Riley [00:34:10] So, I was thinking about that yesterday, and I was thinking about you. And we have a lot of wildlife experts and they don’t, they’ve never been in the field enough to really know. And I’ve spent nearly every day of my life that way. So in the process of the job I had, I don’t know how many people they sent to me to train. And it was quite an experience.
Glynn Riley [00:34:48] I’ll tell you one short quickie. I was working out of Lubbock and we had up in the Panhandle, west of Amarillo, we had two counties and I don’t remember their names anymore, but they hired a young man to come work those two counties. And I went up there. He was somewhere down around below Austin, somewhere down there. Nice young fellow. I was young and he was young. I was in my thirties so I could tell pretty quick he probably wasn’t going to work out. But about the second or third week we were up there west of Amarillo, on one of those big ranches. And I said, “Son, let’s sit down here a minute and have a talk.” And I said, “You see all that country out there, either side of that river.” I’ll tell you in a minute. and I said, “You’re supposed to keep the coyotes controlled in our country. You think you can do it?”
Glynn Riley [00:35:59] “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “Well, you know, you’re about 21 and you can’t keep up with me.” I said, “You.” He said, “Well, you see, I was in a bad wreck,” and said, “On our graduation night, a friend of mine had an old Cadillac. It belonged to LBJ.” And said, “We were going down the road and that thing went in over in three times.” And he said, “It stuck my ribs through my lungs. And I’ve just got one lung and I’ve just gotta.” I said, “Oh my, gosh, that’s really terrible. That had to be a horrible experience.” He said, “Yes, it was. I stayed in the hospital for months and months,” and said, “When I got out,” said, “I went to church every Sunday for nearly a month.” I thought that was funny. That really impressed him, didn’t it? Well, he didn’t make it.
Glynn Riley [00:36:59] But anyway, so I’ve had a lot of funny, funny things happen.
Glynn Riley [00:37:04] And some we can tell and some we can’t.
David Todd [00:37:09] Tell me a little bit more about what it is about coyotes that remind you of people or vice versa, and about like examples of how intelligent they are.
Glynn Riley [00:37:21] Oh, they’re very intelligent. Yeah. Now, you know, you know, just ordinary, this year’s puppy, you know when it comes out this fall, he’s just like a teenage kid. He’s going to get in trouble somewhere.
Glynn Riley [00:37:33] But once they get grown, they get to know you. They can be very smart and they’re so adaptable. I will throw a coyote story in here right quick.
Glynn Riley [00:37:49] I have had the pleasure of observing a lot of stuff that most people never see. So let me see, which one? Well, for one thing, I saw a coyote. I saw a coyote take a jackrabbit away from a golden eagle one morning. This was up in Bailey County, west of Muleshoe. So it was in February and I was going along early one morning and, and the sun was shining in from the east back to the west. And I looked out there and I saw this coyote sitting on a sand hill. And the sun was hitting his chest, it was just shining like a spotlight. And I stopped and I had some really good binoculars. And so, I was looking at the coyote through the binoculars, and I saw a little movement down in the bottom on this binocular.
[00:38:56] And I saw looked down, and there was a eagle there that had caught a jackrabbit. And so it was evident that the coyote was interested in the jackrabbit that the eagle had. And I said, “Well, I’ll just watch this.” And so, the coyote gets up and they’re both pretty high up on the side of the sand hill, and the coyote, he don’t rush the eagle and try to charge him and take it away from him or anything. He just kind of moseys around the eagle. And the eagle flopped his wings and drags the rabbit a little further. I’ll guess he was too, I guess he’s too heavy. He couldn’t fly with him. And so, this went on for several minutes.
Glynn Riley [00:39:40] And finally they got to the bottom of the hill and they would have to go up another hill on the other side. And the eagle finally said the heck with it and flew off and left. The coyote moseyed over, picked the jackrabbit up and went on his way.
Glynn Riley [00:39:55] And most people don’t get to see stuff like that.
David Todd [00:39:59] The coyote was patient.
Glynn Riley [00:40:01] Patience, yes.
Glynn Riley [00:40:02] And then one day I was going down through the pasture and I saw a coyote and a badger out in the field, and they were out moseying around out there in a little flat. There were a lot of cow chips out there, you know. You know what a catch chip is. Well, I was watching the coyote and the badger, and they were both turning over cow chips. And I said, “What the heck are they doing?”
Glynn Riley [00:40:29] So I goes out there and I start turning over cow chips and under every cow chip, there were two big beetles. And they were catching those beetles and eating them.
David Todd [00:40:42] Like dung beetles, maybe?
Glynn Riley [00:40:43] Well, maybe they were. Could have been. I didn’t really think about dung beetles, but they could have been dung beetles. About the size of a beetle. But whatever they were, there were two under ever cow chip. And they were catch those things and eating them.
Glynn Riley [00:40:59] Then another instance, we were down at Matador and we were looking for coyote dens. Well, we weren’t finding anything. So, we went in a little canyon and up high up there on a ledge there was an eagle nest. And I walked down to the bottom, I was looking up there, and I looked down on the ground and there was a dead coyote pup. And I said, “Well, this eagle caught this coyote pup, and brought it up here.”.
Glynn Riley [00:41:38] So, well, I found my way around where I could get to the eagle nest was about 20 feet away over there. And here on the deal, there was a little coyote’s back leg and bits of coyote fur, and those eagles were catching those coyote pups and feeding their young eagles.
Glynn Riley [00:42:02] And so I thought that was quite interesting and I related these things to a professor one time. I’m not going to say who he was or anything. And when I got through telling him things (he was given a paper on eagles), and so I wanted to tell him what I’d seen. And he looked straight at me and said, “I didn’t see that in my paper.” And so, so, so my esteem for him reduced.
Glynn Riley [00:42:46] Well anyway, I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences and coyotes have been an everyday occurrence in my life for all my life. And they call me, “Wolfie” around here.
David Todd [00:43:04] Now why do they call you Wolfie?
Glynn Riley [00:43:07] Oh, because I deal with wolves and coyotes and stuff, and sometimes I talk too much about them. But coyotes…
Glynn Riley [00:43:17] And we’re going, we’re going to get to red wolves. Don’t worry about that.
Glynn Riley [00:43:20] So I was always interested in red wolves and I was always questioning any and everybody that I knew about wolves, red wolves. In Texas, at the time that I grew up, every wild canid was a wolf, in East Texas. Now in west Texas, they called them coyotes. And a wolf was lobo, you know. And so but anyway, I was very interested in them. And that’s why I’ve got these books and a lot more books.
Glynn Riley [00:43:56] And now what I was going to tell you? Watching you write.
David Todd [00:44:08] Scribbling!
Glynn Riley [00:44:08] Yeah. Yeah. So red wolves, that’s what we were all talking about. Well, when I was a kid and I was going down there with Mr. Whittaker, there were some bigger animals. And like I say, I guess I told you, I don’t know if we had the recorder on, about him keeping notes in little snuff books. And he had caught in Leon County Court two wolves there. Now I say wolves: I didn’t see them, but he said one of them weighed 82 pounds and one weighed 86. That’s not a coyote.
Glynn Riley [00:44:52] Another instance would be Floyd Liggend, had trapped in Liberty County in the ’50s and he caught a wolf canine. It weighed 90 pounds, on the Maxwell ranch, George Maxwell. And they told me the same story about weighing that animal, that it weighed 90 pounds. So I take that to be correct.
Glynn Riley [00:45:25] And I wound up down there with those things because I had always been talking about them to everybody, you know? And I’d read these books and I’d questioned professors and nobody really knew. And they’re still a big quandary. You know, I have done a lot of what you are doing, talking to people in Louisiana and in Texas and various other places, and looked at all the pictures, and read all the documents and everything I could find about red wolves.
Glynn Riley [00:46:10] Well, how did I wind up down there? Okay. We’re going to get into the red wolf thing. That’s what you’re really interested in.
Glynn Riley [00:46:23] So back in the, or when I went to work for the government and you had to turn in scalps, what you caught, once a month, you took the two ears, you know, peeled the top of the head, and you sent those in, and you sent them in and you said, “Well, this is so many coyote scalps and so many wolf scalps.”.
Glynn Riley [00:46:45] And so I said, “Well, how do you know the difference? I’d ask trappers. Well, we’d just say about half and half, you know. And I said… And then they burned the scalp, but you had to send in what you’d caught. That way you couldn’t – graphite coyotes did not exist at that time, but they do today. And that’s a, that’s a bad deal. You know, I’m old school.
David Todd [00:47:18] Tell me what a graphite coyote is.
Glynn Riley [00:47:21] That’s one you write on paper with a pencil. You got it?
David Todd [00:47:30] I’m catching up. I’m slow.
Glynn Riley [00:47:34] Anyway. Oh, where am I, where am I. Red wolves.
Glynn Riley [00:47:38] So, anyway, I was always interested in down home, everything was a wolf. Everything was a wolf. And I wasn’t sure. And I would question people from some other area. You know, I’d see a guy and he’d be from out West, or from Canada and I says, “This a coyote, or this a wolf?” “That’s a coyote.”
Glynn Riley [00:47:58] Well, then I got to read the literature and eventually I got to know some of the people that wrote the literature. And I found out about their personal lives and about what they did.
Glynn Riley [00:48:11] And so, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Glynn Riley [00:48:17] Anyway, during the interim, as Mr. Caroline used to say, I had collected a lot of skulls and we had, if an animal’s total length was over 53 inches and he was, I’ve sort of forgot now how tall. But so, I wound up collecting skulls and taking measurements off of wild canines and sending them to the National Museum in Washington, D.C. And John Paradiso was the head taxonomist there. And so, I measured skulls. I had skulls. Good Lord. And I’d look at them and I’d read this book and look at these pictures and try to figure out what was what you know.
Glynn Riley [00:49:16] Well, the red wolf thing has always been a conundrum. And so in this book, if you look, according to the taxonomist in Washington, D.C., Edward A. Goldman, there were three subspecies of red wolves – Canis rufus floridanus, which there were only two skulls. And one of them was cut in half. They were from the 1800s.
Glynn Riley [00:49:50] Then there was Canis rufus gregoryi, which was the Mississippi Valley red wolf. And that occurred from about the Trinity River East. And there’s a lot of skulls in existence from the south eastern states and Arkansas and Missouri and whatnot.
Glynn Riley [00:50:13] Then there was another collection of skulls from Texas that occurred from the coast, westward and north. So, if you look in in this book, you’ve got Canis rufus rufus, or the Texas red wolf. And if you look at the skulls, they’re larger than coyotes. But if you if you look at the entire collection, there are skulls there that are certainly coyotes, that, for instance, came from west of here.
Glynn Riley [00:51:14] Dad gummit, I’m getting old. My memory is slipping.
Glynn Riley [00:51:19] San Angelo, Tom Green County. And I looked at that. That was coyote skull. That was not a wolf’s skull of any kind, just a coyote. But somebody assigned the name to it that it was a red wolf.
Glynn Riley [00:51:37] In the early years, all down on the coast. Gosh, I used to recite you all that stuff. There were larger animals and there still some down there. I was talking to Roy McBride. Roy McBride and I have been friends for many, many, many years. He was telling me about a 60-pound animal that came up in Matagorda County here a while back.
Glynn Riley [00:52:08] Anyway, so I was interested in wolves and I was always talking about wolves and the red wolf thing, the endangered species deal, came along. And the red wolf thing was getting kind of interesting. So, they hired a fellow named John Steele. You never hear anything about John. And he was going to study the red wolves and he moved to Beaumont and some way or another John didn’t worked out. And he left.
Glynn Riley [00:52:44] And I was working in Lubbock at the time and Milton Caroline called me and they wanted me to move to Liberty and work down there were those red wolves are. And we worked out a deal and we moved to Liberty. And had a terrible time time finding a place to live. And I finally found a preacher’s house, who must have been a, he was the dirties guy. I worked 8 hours in the bathroom trying to get it clean.
Glynn Riley [00:53:25] But anyway, I went out there and looked in the back of my pickup and there was a wild canine laying in the back of my pickup, a big one. And I said, “Where the heck did this come from?” Well, O.C. Jackson or somebody from down in Anahuac brought that up, put it in my pickup for me to see, I suppose.
Glynn Riley [00:53:47] And it certainly, I had never seen anything like it before. And I said, “Now that’s different!”
Glynn Riley [00:53:55] And so then I started out getting acquainted. I had from Orange all the way down to Matagorda County, down the coast there. And so, I started trying to find larger animals, and they were there. There were. It was pretty interesting. Most of the bigger animals were in the coastal prairie. And I caught, found some in Liberty County that were, you know, you got a line there where the timber starts and the prairie, coastal prairie, begins, and found some in the timber too, but not far up in the timber.
David Todd [00:54:54] How would you find them?
Glynn Riley [00:54:56] Well, their tracks. And, you know, after you follow things around like that all your life, you know how to find them. So, I, somebody would tell me about a big animal or whatever and, and so I’d look. And, of course, the tracks were bigger and they howl was coarser. And but you, you would find, on average, the animals were bigger down there anyway. But there were some small coyote animals too. But, you know, a 40-pound coyote’s a big coyote. And they do get a little bigger, but down there a 50-pound animal was not uncommon at all. And I caught some that weighed close to 80, 76 or something like that. And I’m sure there was some down there that would weigh 85 pounds. As a matter of fact, we sent them to the zoo and raised them and they did weigh 80 pounds.
Glynn Riley [00:56:07] That environment down there was very hard on wild canids. They all had heartworms real bad, if they lived long enough, you know. And it’s just a hard, hard country. When I moved down there, it’s so hot, and the mosquitoes and stuff so bad, and there’s something chewing on you all the time. And even the cattle, you got to have Brahma cattle. You got to have some ear on them. You know, you take a good cow down there, he’ll die. They just ain’t tough enough.
Glynn Riley [00:56:43] And so that’s where those things were. And so, what we started to try and identify what was there and also decided that they needed to try to capture some and put them in the zoo and try to preserve them. So, Lord, I don’t know how many animals I shipped off to places and sent a lot of them to Minnesota to Dr. Ulysses Seal.
Glynn Riley [00:57:14] He’s passed on now and he was doing electrophoretic tests on, and trying to decide what they were, and I don’t know what they ever decided.
Glynn Riley [00:57:31] Some of the larger animals went to captive breeding programs. And I don’t know what went with all of them. I know I caught … there was an animal on Pat Boyd’s place. It had two toes gone, two middle toes of one foot and…
Glynn Riley [00:57:58] Can we, can I take a break right here and go get something?
David Todd [00:58:07] Absolutely.
David Todd [00:58:07] All right. So, we were just talking a little bit before about an animal with two toes, several that were missing.
Glynn Riley [00:58:15] Right.
David Todd [00:58:16] Could you could you pick up where that leaves off?
Glynn Riley [00:58:18] Yeah. Yeah. We got interrupted there. I had to, I had to interrupt and get off on a tangent.
Glynn Riley [00:58:26] But anyway, yeah, the two-toed wolf at Pat Boyd’s ranch. Well, I know that wolf was there because I could tell by his track – very recognizable, you know. And so I’d go down there all the time tracking him, seeing if he was still and where he was going and what he was doing and all that sort of stuff. And he wound up weighing about 60-something pounds. I’d have to go look it up.
Glynn Riley [00:58:52] But anyway, they killed some calves and so they wanted me to catch wolves, which I did. And I sent that particular wolf, he went to the zoo in, oh gee, oh. I’ll tell you in a little bit. Washington State. What’s the capital of Washington state? Dadgummit all.
David Todd [00:59:25] Was it the Point Defiance?
Glynn Riley [00:59:25] The Point Defiance, that’s where that wolf wound up. Yes. Point Defiance. Yes. I went up there too.
Glynn Riley [00:59:36] But anyway, that wolf was very aggressive. And I had Monty Dawson with me the day I caught that thing. And boy, he’d fight you. He’d get up and come to you.
Glynn Riley [00:59:52] That was a very interesting thing. The animals that were alpha males or alpha females were a lot more aggressive than any coyote that I fooled with. I mean, they’d show you their teeth and here they’d come meet you at the door. And that wolf was that way. And some of those gray wolves are that way, too. Especially the alpha animals.
Glynn Riley [01:00:29] O that’s where that wolf wound up in the zoo up there at Fort Defiance.
Glynn Riley [01:00:35] While I’m talking about aggressiveness in animals, and we were talking about Jimmy Shaw. Jimmy Shaw was a young, young student. You know. Nice kid, nice kid. And he was doing his very best to learn what he could about those animals, and he did, he did learn some stuff too.
Glynn Riley [01:01:01] But one day I had gone to Louisiana and they had a wolf in a cage over there that they’d captured as a pup and had raised it. And that thing was crazy. That’s just, if you’ve ever kept dogs up in a cage or a yard or something that’s too little, especially in a cage, they just go nuts. And that, that wolf was that way.
Glynn Riley [01:01:28] And so I brought him from over there at Louisiana, and I put him in the wolf pens down there at Anahuac wildlife refuge. We had a little mound built with a set of cages up there. It had about eight cages, I think. And I put that thing in there.
Glynn Riley [01:01:44] So Jimmy Shaw shows up and he said, “You put a new animal in down there, did you?” I said, “Yeah, I did.” And he said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I said, “Well, I just didn’t think.” He said, “Well, I was going to go in the cage with it and study his behavior.” And he went in and shut the door behind him.
Glynn Riley [01:02:07] That thing came to him and bit him. I don’t know how bad, but I wouldn’t have got in there with him. Oh, Jimmy Shaw.
Glynn Riley [01:02:19] Anyway, he went on and was successful and made a professor, I think, and we were talking about his age and I was thinking about that the other day. So he was 20 something back then and that’s been. 50 years ago. So, we’re senior citizens now.
Glynn Riley [01:02:45] Anyway, back to the wolves, I guess. So, in the process, we caught a lot of animals, I did, and sent a lot of them to Dr. Uly Seal in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And he did electrophoretic tests on them, and which that’s where, let’s see if I can remember how that process goes. They take, I don’t think the blood, but the serum maybe out of the blood, and they congeal it with an electric process and it aligns chromosomes or something. I’m not smart enough. And I used to I know better, but it’s been a long time ago but that’s essentially the way it did it.
Glynn Riley [01:03:41] And what they were trying to do is what everybody else was trying to do and figure out what a red wolf was. Well, that goes back to the skull collection and the skin collection in the National Museum. And so I wound up going up there, for heaven’s sakes. Country boy went to town. I’m here to tell you right now, country boy. Emphasis on “country”!
Glynn Riley [01:04:15] And I went up to the National Museum and met John Paradiso and Edward Goldman’s son. I forgot what his name was. And I was kind of in hog heaven, looking at all those skulls. I was kind of a bone man anyway.
Glynn Riley [01:04:34] And you got, if you, when you come to taxonomists, you’ve got splitters and lumpers and they’re one way or the other. Well, when Edward Goldman classified the red wolves in Texas, the Texas red wolf and Canis rufus gregoryi, which was in East Texas but in Mississippi really, Valley drainage. There was no doubt about gregoryi. They were big.
Glynn Riley [01:05:14] But when you got over West and you had smaller ones and you had things that approached the size of coyotes and some that were too big for coyotes. So that was Canis rufus rufus.
Glynn Riley [01:05:27] Well, according to the folks in the National Museum in the office, we discussed all that, all that business. And they said that when Mr. Goldman classified all the wild canines – I mean foxes, everything, I don’t know whatall, they said he was tired and worn out. And he had this bunch of skulls there that everything from coyote-sized up to wolf-size and he just kind of lumped him in Canis rufus rufus, the Texas red wolf.
Glynn Riley [01:06:07] So in that collection of skulls, I looked at skulls, I guarantee you that are coyote skulls. And then I looked at some that were big and massive and they were whatever a red wolf is.
Glynn Riley [01:06:25] Now, I don’t know what a red wolf is. He is an animal that is larger than a coyote. And he has different characteristics about him. And, if you get right down to it, and I looked at a lot, hundreds, of animals on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and coyotes are yellow-eyed. And you find those things that are brown-eyed. And I caught some that were blue-eyed. Like you see blue-eyed dogs?
Glynn Riley [01:07:11] So that tells me that there’s no telling what they are. That’s just poor old country boy’s ideas.
David Todd [01:07:30] Well, do you see any differences in their behavior, between animals that were coyotes?
Glynn Riley [01:07:37] Yeah.
David Todd [01:07:38] Most likely, instead of wolves.
Glynn Riley [01:07:40] Yeah, you did. Yeah, there were, there were differences, behavioral differences, too. For one thing, they were more aggressive. But, I have caught a good many animals in my life that were plainly part dog. And they’re more aggressive, too.
Glynn Riley [01:08:03] So then I caught gray wolves in Minnesota. And some of those, especially the alpha animals, were, could be very aggressive. But most of them aren’t. They’d be kind of submissive, you know.
Glynn Riley [01:08:21] And where the term red wolves came up, I have often wondered about that, because they’re not red. They’re just a standard wild canine color. Now there are variations. There are black coyotes. There are black wolves. In East Texas and Arkansas, there’s quite a few black coyotes. And, what’s the cause of that? We even caught one out here, over near Santana, a black one. And the guy who caught him mounted it and kept him, you know.
Glynn Riley [01:09:07] And so when it comes to wolves, gray wolves, the black color phase in them is not uncommon at all. Red wolves, whatever they are, in the old days, there were black color phases of red wolves.
Glynn Riley [01:09:34] And so now we have people that are dealing in genetics and can ascertain things that we used to had, had to guess about. So now you’ve got people that’ll take an animal and will say, “Well, he’s 28%, wolf, and he’s 15% dog, and he’s so much this, and so much of that.”.
Glynn Riley [01:10:02] Well, that’s beyond me. You know, they are what they are.
Glynn Riley [01:10:09] Now, when you talk about wolves, wild canines, especially in the old days, when you thought about a wolf, well, that was somebody that lived way off in the deep, deep forest and had to have the whole world to himself. And that’s not correct.
Glynn Riley [01:10:30] In Italy, you got wolves that come to town and go down the street. And in California, you got mountain lions that come to town and go down the street and get on top of your house and stuff like that.
Glynn Riley [01:10:45] So in coyotes, especially, in the old term, “if they can’t beat you, they’ll join you,” was never truer. They can live anywhere – downtown Houston, all of the big cities and towns, and I think those red wolves would do too, if you just don’t kill them, you know?
David Todd [01:11:11] Well, so talking about coyotes and red wolves…
Glynn Riley [01:11:15] Yeah.
David Todd [01:11:15] And dogs for that matter, you know, and the behavior of each.
Glynn Riley [01:11:20] Yeah.
David Todd [01:11:22] Were there differences in, in how they hunted or bred or how they socialized? I mean, any things that you kind of saw when you were out there in the field that made you say, “That’s more wolf.”
Glynn Riley [01:11:34] Well, yeah, you can. You know, here’s the coyote. You know, I’m a coyote. Here I am. Well, I’m wondering what’s going on all around me. You know, they’re more nervous. And, a wolf’s more matter-of-fact at about what he does.
Glynn Riley [01:12:01] You know, you can set a trap for a wolf and you can set a trap for a coyote, and you can have whatever lure you use and depending on what it appeals to them. And you can have something, you know that a coyote really likes. I mean, he’s going to slobber and waller on it and he just loves it.
Glynn Riley [01:12:23] And a wolf will come along and he’ll maybe stop, and sniff, and pee on it, and go trotting on his way. He doesn’t get as excited. They’re more matter-of-fact about what they do.
Glynn Riley [01:12:35] And I suppose if you’re a coyote in wolf country, they can, wolves kill. those coyotes. And so when you’re a coyote, it’s kind of like those jackals and those lions in Africa. You know, them jackals are there, but they know, oh big boy over there is going to get you if you’re not careful.
Glynn Riley [01:12:56] So if the lion or the other animals, bigger animals are feeding on a carcass, that jackals out there running around waiting on a scrap, you know. And that’s kind of the way a coyote is. Yeah.
David Todd [01:13:13] Well, you know, it is interesting to me because I’ve read and I, of course, I don’t know any of this first-hand, but that there was hybridizing, there was interbreeding between red wolves and coyotes. And yet I’ve heard that gray wolves would never interbreed with a coyote. Is that true? Is that a different set of behavior?
Glynn Riley [01:13:38] Well it doesn’t happen very often, but I don’t, you can’t ever say that anything is impossible. And I’ve learned that because every time there was something that I said I absolutely would not do, I wound up having to do it. Yeah.
Glynn Riley [01:14:03] And so, you know, wild canines, if you think about this, well, you have wolves and you had coyotes and there’s all kind of wild stories about the wolves lived in the west or in the forest, and the coyotes lived on the prairies and all that B.S.
Glynn Riley [01:14:22] And you had Indians here and they had dogs. And if you read about Indian dogs, they’ll say they were very wolfy-looking dogs. So, there’s no doubt they were part wolf probably. Some old Indian found a bunch of pups and raised them. And then maybe they got a domestic dog, Canis familiaris domesticus, and somewhere, from somewhere, that followed them from Asia, or wherever the heck they came from.
Glynn Riley [01:14:52] So all that stuff’s been here for a long, long, long time. And so if you catch a big animal and he looks like a wolf and he smells like a wolf and he acts like a wolf, he’s probably a wolf.
Glynn Riley [01:15:09] And if you catch a coyote, etc., etc., etc. same thing.
Glynn Riley [01:15:15] And then, but there are, there’s hybridization between coyotes and dogs, and wolves and dogs, on both sides.
Glynn Riley [01:15:27] Well, supposedly, you know, most people don’t realize that coyotes and wolves breed one time a year. And so, for most of the year, for all but maybe two weeks, a female coyote or female wolf is sterile. Most of the time. Then, the male wolf or coyote, they’re not like dogs. This time of year, you take or may a male wolf or a male coyote and his testicles are reduced in size, to where they’re very small, and they’re not interested in girls, kind of like old men.
Glynn Riley [01:16:28] And then, as the days grow shorter in the fall, testosterone levels start to rise in wolves and coyotes. And by December, you will notice that testes, testicles, have begun to swell and they’re getting bigger. Well, most coyotes and wolves breed throughout the middle of January until maybe the middle of March, 15th of March or little more, or somewhere in there. But most of it occurs in February. So probably, I’m going to say, probably 80% of the coyotes are conceived in a two-week period in February. And wolves are the same thing.
Glynn Riley [01:17:23] It takes 62 days for a coyote or a wolf to have pups. So, if you’ve got their birth dates, you can figure backwards and figure when they were conceived. You know, it’s all about the same. But then, about March, the days start getting longer and their testes, testicles, start getting smaller and they continue to get smaller because their testosterone levels go down.
Glynn Riley [01:17:56] Most people don’t realize that at all. If coyotes and wolves were like dogs, they’d be on top of the house. There’d be lots of them. But the good Lord figured that that wasn’t the way it needed to be. I don’t know. It’s all bigger than I am.
David Todd [01:18:20] Complicated!
Glynn Riley [01:18:20] But it’s quite interesting.
David Todd [01:18:22] Yeah. Yeah.
Glynn Riley [01:18:23] Quite interesting. But coyotes, (we’ll switch wolves to coyotes here for a second), coyotes are excellent parents. They are much better parents than a whole lot of people are. And they can have anywhere from one to, I’ve caught them they had 14. But usually there will be about five or six. And if it’s a young, young animal that just had two or three, they will kill just as much stuff to feed that two or three as they do nine. They’re going to take care of them. And they do. They really do.
Glynn Riley [01:19:11] And wolves, I would assume are the same way. However, now, will wolves eat wolves or will coyotes eat coyotes? Yes, they will. Do wolves kill wolves and eat them, and do coyotes kill coyotes, and eat them? Wolves, definitely, yes. I’ve seen that. Coyotes will eat coyotes. Do they kill other coyotes and eat them? I’m not sure. But they certainly eat, they’ll eat dead coyotes. Wolves will kill coyotes.
Glynn Riley [01:19:57] This collar – I looked at a gray wolf and there was his head and his neck bones with the collar still around the bones. And we knew, from our flights and everything, when all that happened. And so we knew that this collar, this wolf, was not moving any more. So. We go over there – beep, beep, beep, beep, beep – we’d go out there and find the collar around the wolf’s neck, with his head still on this end. And the wolves had eaten that wolf. And I think they killed it. Yeah.
Glynn Riley [01:20:40] So now, the, that picture that you seen, of that big wolf I was holding up, that was an alpha male. This is getting away from red wolves, but it’s still wolves. That was an alpha male in northern Minnesota. He was the alpha male of that Manawakee (?) pack. And do not ask me how to spell Manawakee. Well, that wolf, I caught that wolf and put a radio collar on him. And the day, the morning, I caught that wolf, he had not been caught long. His foot didn’t look injured at all. And we put the collar on him and released him.
Glynn Riley [01:21:31] I used to know how long, what the period of time was. But now I may have it written down somewhere. There was the Manawakee pack and there was another group of wolves over here and they came together. And I think this pack “unknown”, I’ll call it, got over into Manawakee pack’s country and the two alpha males – I had a friend who was in an airplane circling and watching this happen – they killed that wolf I had a picture of, the Manawakee pack alpha male. They killed him.
Glynn Riley [01:22:14] And Steve stopped, and we landed. Got him, picked him up, took him. Don’t know what they did with him.
Glynn Riley [01:22:20] But so that sort of thing happens with wolves. And I wouldn’t be surprised. Coyotes are more, very sociable animals. But, in the summer, in the spring, when coyotes have pups, they are very protective of them and they’re going to feed them. And if you go around them with a dog, they will attack your dog. And if you talk to people there, you’re going to find somebody pretty soon who’ll say, “Those dang coyotes got thrown my dog down there. I don’t what they did.”
Glynn Riley [01:23:04] Well, if they’re around where those pups are, those coyotes will go to them, and they’ll, they will kill them, if they’re not too big, you know, or they get him disadvantaged if he doesn’t go on.
David Todd [01:23:17] Well, so this occurs to me: talking about attacking and killing between coyotes and wolves.
Glynn Riley [01:23:25] Yeah.
David Todd [01:23:25] Did you ever see some good evidence that the red wolves in southeast Texas attacked livestock? Or what were they feeding on in southeast Texas? What did they eat?
Glynn Riley [01:23:40] In southeast Texas, the food base there is so huge – you know, nutria and stuff. But yeah, they’ll kill calves. They sure will. And that was the problem with the ranchers there. And it was much more prevalent than it is with coyotes and calves, because they’re a lot bigger. Well, you know, they are three times as big as a coyote, big one is. And so, yeah, you had problems with that. And I’ve seen where those cattle down there – you come along, and here’s a pair of big tracks, wolves, the bigger animals, whatever they are, red wolves or whatever is there. And so, here’s where the cattle of all grouped up. And so, here’s the wolf tracks all around them, you know, and so maybe there’s a calf. But the cattle were up around him. Maybe the cattle tromped the calf to death. Or maybe the wolf got him. Who knows?
Glynn Riley [01:24:57] Now, I had people tell me not one, but several, about those red wolves, or what those animals are, attacking calves and about them jumping up and biting them across right back here, in the back, and paralyze them, and get them down. They’re not, there’s not one person told me that, but several – same story, you know. So there had to be something to it.
Glynn Riley [01:25:30] Well…
David Todd [01:25:30] There was something else you were talking about – these red wolves and how they, they treated their young.
Glynn Riley [01:25:37] Yeah.
David Todd [01:25:37] How would you find their dens?
Glynn Riley [01:25:40] Just like you do any other wild canine. You got to, you have to think like them.
Glynn Riley [01:25:49] And now, I’ve found a lot of coyote dens. Once, I worked in the Panhandle. That was part of the deal. About first April, there, everybody quit trapping, and went den hunting. And there’s an art to it. And so, and I had done a lot of that.
Glynn Riley [01:26:09] So, when I went down there in that coastal prairie, there was, were these pimple mounds. So, I don’t know what they are: they just pop up, little mounds about maybe half as big as this room. And they’ll be elevated. And now those wolves, red wolves or whatever they were, a lot of times they were sandy kind of, and they’d dig in those mounds. For instance, I could crawl down in one. I did. And coyote dens ain’t that big. But wolf dens are bigger. And, but they, they, that’s where I’ve found them. Not a lot. But I did find some that were maybe after they had gone. I found some. Did I find any that had pups in them? I probably did.
Glynn Riley [01:27:12] But okay. Now, talking about how they get along with people. If you don’t kill them, they can live with you. All you got to do is let them eat your dogs, cats, calves or whatever they’re going to eat. But they got to eat. That’s what the good Lord created them for. And you can’t blame them. I mean, everybody does. But, I mean, what do you expect? Look at us!
Glynn Riley [01:27:47] And coyotes, coyotes, especially coyotes, are so much like people. There’d be a lot of people really jump on me about that. But they, they, they think just like people. They, coyotes, are like this: you can come up here and, big ranch or whatever area, large area, that you could kill every coyote out. It’d be none for 30 years. And if that piece of country has not changed, if you hadn’t built a gas station in the middle of it, or paved it, or done something, the next bunch that comes will go right back the same way the last one did.
Glynn Riley [01:28:34] You can think ahead of them. I can go in a, in an area, and I do it still, every day. And somebody will call me and they’re having trouble, and I’ll go look at the country. And I can tell you where those coyotes are going to be, because I think like them now.
David Todd [01:28:57] What kind of landscape or habitat are you looking for to find a coyote or a wolf?
Glynn Riley [01:29:02] I’d have to look at it to tell you. It’s, it’s, it’s … like when we aerial hunted, you know, for coyotes we would go here to a place and the helicopter would gas up and stuff. And you could look at the country and I’d say, “Well, that coyote would be right over yonder on that hill.” And sure enough, that’s where he’ll be. Go over him and kill him, you know. He’d be killing sheep or something.
Glynn Riley [01:29:30] And so you can think like them. But it’s all just common sense. And with coyotes, or I mean as the year changes, the way they think and the way they operate changes. This time of year, average fella would say, well, there’s no coyotes here. And you can walk, and you can look, and hunt, and when you find them, you’re standing in the middle of them.
Glynn Riley [01:30:06] But they don’t put their straw hat on, and they don’t get their water can, and go to work like we do. They go with the flow. They know where they’re going to stay. And it doesn’t have to be very big.
Glynn Riley [01:30:24] You can take, I used to work Denton county, and years ago. Oh! Oh! Oh! Pictures. Pictures, for example, there at Lewisville. You know where Lewisville is? I caught a lot of critters around Lewisville, and there was a Mr. Hedrick who ran the bank there, and he had some property and James Dugan and them had a feed store. That was the Dugan feed store. That was my place where I went to contact people. And so, I cannot remember the gentleman’s name, had goats there. And these canines were killing his goats, real regular.
Glynn Riley [01:31:16] And so I went down there early. It was in the summer and I go early in the summer. And here was three animals coming out of that pasture. One was pure-dee coyote, and two were kind of black. I’ve got some pictures of one of them. And I went over in Mr. Hedrick’s pasture. So, I goes back to Dugan’s Feed Store and I tell James and everyone, you know, “Do you think Mr. Hedrick would let me go over there?” And they called him down there at the bank or wherever, and he said, “Yeah, go ahead.”
Glynn Riley [01:31:52] So, I goes off down there with my little .22 rifle. That’s all I had. And it was hot and there was an old field. And then there was a little creek down there, a beautiful little creek. It had a waterfall, with people’s names in the rock, back in the 1800s. And anyway, so I was going across there and the airport – that Love Fields not far down there. The plane comes over. WOOOOO. He went to howling off down there.
Glynn Riley [01:32:26] You know, so I sets right down at a post oak tree and I get my little call out and I go, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK. And here comes that coyote out. But there was one of those black-backed ones behind him. So, I Iet the coyote go right on by me. You know. I wanted to kill that other one. So, I shot the thing. And he ran off and I never found him.
Glynn Riley [01:32:50] Then I set some traps. Well, I had one caught, the other one caught the next morning. And then I caught another one, pulled a toe off of him. And I was proud of that strange-looking critter. And I took him over to the fella that was losing the goats house. And I put a collar chain on him and tied him to tree and put a pan of water out there. It was August. It was hot. And sure enough, he was dead, when I went back to get him. He’d fought that chain, until he just got too hot and died.
Glynn Riley [01:33:25] But that was a good example of those things that are part dog. There’s no doubt about it. And I’ve got a picture if I can find it.
David Todd [01:33:40] Well, you know, I’d love to see the picture. And so give me a rain check on that.
David Todd [01:33:45] But I’m curious. And before I forget, I wanted to ask you about the calls of red wolves versus coyotes. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?
Glynn Riley [01:33:54] Yes. Yes. Well, I had a friend, Howard McCarley. He was a professor over at Austin College, and he came down and we recorded wolf howls, red wolf howls. And I knew where to go. And I carried him down there and we blew our siren. I had a little hand-cranked siren and I think Jimmy Shaw got off with it. I’m not sure. Somebody did.
Glynn Riley [01:34:28] But so Howard, being Howard, he sent me copies of all these sonograms and stuff, which they meant absolutely nothing to me. Bless his heart. And he was trying to explain to me the difference in tones and all this stuff, and that’s way over my head. But what I can tell you, it’s a lot louder and coarser. And, and wolves are very coarse. ARROOOOO. Sound like a bull beller. Gray wolves.
David Todd [01:35:05] Could you could imitate a red wolf?
Glynn Riley [01:35:12] Well, they’re coarser coaster than a coyote, and they tend to have long howls, you know. You know, but coyotes have a long howl too, but a red wolf, or whatever those animals are, tend to not yap as much, you know.
Glynn Riley [01:35:31] ARROOOOOOO.
Glynn Riley [01:35:38] Something like that, but probably coarser than that.
Glynn Riley [01:35:45] When they do, you have two. You know how coyotes do? You’ve heard coyotes, I’m sure. Sure you’ve had.
Glynn Riley [01:35:53] But a wolf. Sure enough, wolf, it’s, OHROOOOOOO.
Glynn Riley [01:36:01] It’s, coarse, low.
Glynn Riley [01:36:03] You know, I had a, when I was in Minnesota one time, that’s a really interesting story. Oh, I had a trap gone and I could make a wolf howl, but I can’t make coyotes howl. And I had a cousin, a female cousin that lived in West Texas out, north of Odessa, on a lease up there. And she could howl, she could make those coyotes howl when we were kids. She was shrill, just like Barbara Dee.
Glynn Riley [01:36:50] Anyway, anyway, back to that. I had a trap gone, and I was hunting it. I caught four wolves that day. And I’ll have to tell you that story. It’s just too good, even though it didn’t deal with Texas except me, I was the Texas part.
Glynn Riley [01:37:09] So I had a trap gone and I was hunting for it, and I heard a wolf howl and I said, “That dang wolf howling.” And so, I said, ARROOOOO.
Glynn Riley [01:37:29] He answered me back. I said, “Hot dang. That’s him.” Well, I took off. And I couldn’t find my trap and so I stopped and I howled again. AROOOOOOO.
Glynn Riley [01:37:41] He howled, but he was way in hell going further. He wasn’t in no trap. But I found the one that was in the trap.
Glynn Riley [01:37:56] And you wanted me to, this didn’t have to do with red wolves, but it’s just too good to pass up.
Glynn Riley [01:38:07] They called me one day. I’d go to Minnesota, I went up there about six, seven times. And they called me, I’d go first of September and I’d stay till November. But they called me in August – the office in Minneapolis did, and said, “Glynn, we got a problem up here.” Said, “Would you, can you come up here?” I said, “Yeah, what do you want?” Said, “Well, we just got a little deal.” So, I got on the airplane. And they had me a brand new pickup and a bunch of traps. I don’t know.
Glynn Riley [01:38:41] I said, “What…” I, I probably shouldn’t even tell this. I said, “Well, what’s the deal?” “Well, you know, we got a…”, (the wolves were protected at that time), said, “Well, we got a problem up here. Fellas, Superior National Forest, he and his dad’s got about 2000 acre out in the middle of it, and they’ve got cattle and the wolves are bothering their cattle.”.
Glynn Riley [01:39:10] And I said, “Well, what do you want me to do?” And they said, “Well, well, we went up there and we looked at the deal and told him, ‘Well, you know, we’re not sure.'” And he said, “Well, wolf come up, hanging on the fence down there.” And said, “They said a car hit him.” Then they said, “Well, did the car hit him?” “Well, that’s what they said happened to him.” And I said, “What do you want me to do?” Said, “Well, you know, we got all these regulations, you’ve can’t set a trap, but so far from the deal, and all that stuff.” And I said, “Well, you know, what do you want me to do?” And they said, “Well, you know, he got a hold of Congressman Oberstar.” And I said, “Oh, he did?” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “You want the man happy is what you want. Isn’t it?” And they said, “Well, do what you can.”.
Glynn Riley [01:40:12] So I loads up, and I goes up there. “Julian Broznosky,” I said. “You seem to have a problem here?” I said… Oh, and they sent somebody up there and they caught one wolf, and they hauled him off and he came back. And so they had a collar or something on that one, I don’t remember. But anyway, so I said, “Well, would you get in the pickup and show me around the country here?”
Glynn Riley [01:40:46] And that was the year I was 40. I turned 40 the 1st of September there. Old Broznosky bought me a new pair of shoes, because mine were worn out.
Glynn Riley [01:40:58] Anyway. So, we rode around and we looked and everything and he said, “You get around pretty good in the woods.” I said, “Well, we got woods in Texas.” So, I said, “Okay.” Then I said, “I’ll do what I can.”
Glynn Riley [01:41:18] So, I took … Oh, there was a game warden there and his folks some of his folks live here. Ray Thorpe, he came to see me down here. And Ray had some traps. He loaned me some extra traps, you know. So, I started trapping. I stayed there 20 days, and I stayed there ten days, and caught 20 wolves.
Glynn Riley [01:41:45] And so old Ray Thorpe, well, he was going to go with me one day. He was a good guy. We went down there and this is really, really good. We, there was a pair of wolves. And it was, I thought, “Wonderful.” It was hot. It got to probably maybe 90 degrees that day and everybody was sweating and carrying on. And I thought it was great. I’d been in Houston. So, we struck this pair of wolf tracks in the road, two-rut road. They were pretty good roads. We followed them and I said, “That’s those wolves.” And we were a long ways from where my traps were.
Glynn Riley [01:42:33] And we’ve come to a fork in the road and I’d say, “Hot dang, they’re going to turn off, go the wrong way.” No, they went just like I needed them to go. Five miles! We followed them and went down there and both traps were gone. I had the male and one, and the female in the other one.
Glynn Riley [01:42:53] And that male, I’ve got a picture of him somewhere here. He was the most aggressive darn thing, and he was hung up out there, not very far. And the female was over here. And they had some traps that had sorry little drags on them, and that wolf took off, the female. And that dang game warden, I didn’t know he could run that fast. He bailed off after that thing, chased him down through the woods.
Glynn Riley [01:43:21] Well, while I was getting… we sedated those wolves, I had some hypodermics that I could put a little pole in, and so I loaded up my hypodermic, and I jabbed the male. Got him down and then put him in a cage. And I heard old Ray Thorpe, hollering way down yonder in the woods. Well, I got the needle and went down there and got the female. Brought her back.
Glynn Riley [01:43:53] And that male tore up cages and he was the most aggressive thing. And so, in the interim, as Milton Caroline would say, I caught some more. I had six. And I hauled them back. 90 miles over there, to release them. And I had to put ear tags in their ears and get a tooth out of them. And so, I had them all laid out there.
Glynn Riley [01:44:25] And then as I was leaving that male, that alpha male, was beginning to get up and he was angry. It was very plain that he was angry. And I shook like anybody else.
Glynn Riley [01:44:43] [Got her going?]
David Todd [01:44:43] [Yes.]
Glynn Riley [01:44:49] So, when I went back over there, there was wolf hair all over everywhere. That thing had attacked those others, sedated. But I didn’t find anybody dead or anything.
Glynn Riley [01:45:06] But anyway, Mr. Broznosky, he was happy.
Glynn Riley [01:45:11] And I caught a black wolf there one day. I caught two that I lost. One was a black one. Then I had another one pull out. But the black one, I went by there that morning and checked that trap and it was there. Well, after lunch, I went back over there and the trap was gone. And I was sitting there looking out the car window when I could hear something going, “Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.”
Glynn Riley [01:45:38] So I got out of the pickup and looked at saw something black. Oh, caught a bear. And I got my needle out and loaded it up. And then I walked off out there and it was a black wolf. He was laying there chewing on that trap. And I got about as far as the door, which is about 15 feet or so. And he looked up at me, like that. And he jumped up, and just took off. He wasn’t tangled up. And I could hear him crashing through the brush dragging that trap. And all of a sudden, it got silent, then he’d hung that hook on a tree and he’d popped out of the trap and kept going.
Glynn Riley [01:46:20] Well, I wanted him. It was the only black one I ever caught. But that was an interesting deal.
David Todd [01:46:29] Well …
Glynn Riley [01:46:30] Old Ray. There was a lot of bears. I caught a lot of bears. And old Ray, I mean, Julien, he told me, “You catch a bear,” and he said, “If you catch a cub, you be careful.” Said, “Those old sows might be there. And they’re, they’re protective of those cubs.”
Glynn Riley [01:46:51] I went down there and started setting traps. But the trap was not gone out of the way. And then I heard some brush popping down there and I had a bear. And it was about this tall [three feet]. So, I thought about what he’d told me, so I figured momma’s probably around here somewhere. And I took my pickup, and there was a little old two-rut damn road and I got just as close as I could to where the bear was, you know, the door on his side and left it open. And I got my needle in. I went out there and I just juiced him and turned him loose and I got back in my truck.
Glynn Riley [01:47:31] And I didn’t see the mama bear, but old Julien told me, “If you catch a bear. ” Said, “You be careful.” Said, “They can be aggressive, you know?” And that was kind of interesting.
Glynn Riley [01:47:45] Well, do you remember any stories like this about trapping red wolves in, in southeast Texas? How you went about that?
Glynn Riley [01:47:55] Oh, yeah, probably do. Let me I’ll have to think a little bit of an interesting story. Well, the one about two-toed wolf was very interesting because I’d been trailing him for several months. I’d go down and see what he was like.
Glynn Riley [01:48:12] Yeah, the first one I called was on L.P. Whittington’s place. We called L.P., “Long Play”, ’cause he would talk to you.
Glynn Riley [01:48:25] And so our trap was gone. And, and I looked. I hunted that thing all day long and finally I found where there was a pipeline right-of-way, or a high line, or some kind of right-of-way through those woods and I could see where that trap drug late that evening, and I found that wolf, been there tangled up. And what did he do? As quick as I showed up, he came to me. He was an aggressive kind of a thing, but interesting things, interesting things.
David Todd [01:49:13] Oh. So, what did you do when he’s coming at you?
Glynn Riley [01:49:21] Back up?
David Todd [01:49:27] That’s step one. And what’s step two?
Glynn Riley [01:49:29] Well, then you get him, you know, you, you. I got a picture of a gray wolf that was coming after me with his tail up.
David Todd [01:49:37] Well, did you have, like, something to sedate him, or what?
Glynn Riley [01:49:41] Yeah, well, I had, I had my [sedative].
David Todd [01:49:44] Well, so how long, how close did you have to be to.
Glynn Riley [01:49:48] Well, it depends on the situation. I’ve done that with bears, too. And if the bear is not hung up when he comes your direction, you know, you go the opposite direction, and maybe he’ll turn around and go the other way. And that’s the same way with the wolf.
Glynn Riley [01:50:04] And dang me. I’ve got a bunch more pictures somewhere. There’s a picture of Jim – had that, he had that grid-board thing. He had it gridded off and that’s the animal that this collar was on.
David Todd [01:50:22] I see: to size, to t measure it. Okay.
Glynn Riley [01:50:25] Yeah. You know, supposedly I’m an old man. But I still don’t believe it, though I’m going to be 87 in just a few days – 45 days. And I feel just like I always did. And I’m so lucky. So … the Lord has been so good to me. Lordy. I made a living doing what I like to do best. You know how many people get to do that?
David Todd [01:51:08] It’s rare.
David Todd [01:51:10] Not very many. And I had the sweetest wife in the world.
Glynn Riley [01:51:20] That’s that same animal.
David Todd [01:51:26] You know, it might be good to back up a little bit and make sure I understand why you were down in Liberty County.
Glynn Riley [01:51:33] Because they told me to go.
David Todd [01:51:36] And, and so this was part of this effort to capture the last …
Glynn Riley [01:51:40] Yeah.
David Todd [01:51:42] Red wolves or hybrids, whatever they.
Glynn Riley [01:51:44] Yeah. Yeah. That was to find out if they were there, and where they were, and the better ones, the ones that looked like they might be pure, to try to save them. And if they were clearly, you know, if they were clearly, you know, not big enough or whatever, we just did away with them. And it went. Well, there’s a lot more to that story but I probably shouldn’t talk about it. It got into, so, you know how people are. And I had a friend in Minnesota that had a saying about that and I can’t say it on this, but he just said they were the worst “mm-hmm”. And, yeah, there’s a whole lot to them as to red wolf story, but I just can’t tell it. Yeah.
David Todd [01:52:48] Well, so what do you think was the good background for why these red wolves had become so rare?
Glynn Riley [01:52:57] They weren’t all that rare. They were there, if we just left them alone. I think there’s probably still some there. Now we, so here, you know, I’ve talked to Roy McBride the other day about that and so here’s the way it was. You had big animals. We’re going to say, 45 pounds up, and, you know, 50 pounds, over 50 pounds, over 60 pounds, over 70 pounds. And generally, when you found where those really big ones were, there would be other animals there too. But usually if you caught the big one, then you’d catch the mate or the female, it’d be big too. So, they seemed to stay together.
Glynn Riley [01:54:13] And so I always questioned whether or not there was as much interbreeding as we thought or some people thought. And of course, my thoughts weren’t always agreeable to everybody else. And it cost me a lot of money in the long run. But anyway, so I don’t know. I know what was there. I know they were different. I know there were big animals there. I know there were animals that were bigger than coyotes, but not big as the biggest ones.
Glynn Riley [01:54:54] But I don’t know how many gray wolves I’ve weighed, and they weighed from 45 pounds to 90 pounds. And so then, of course, you’ve got to consider the age of the animal and everything. But, I caught gray wolves down there, animals down there, that, okay, so they were born in February and this time of year they weighed 35, 40 pounds. And they were just great big pups, you know, and they were all ready and they weren’t through growing. So, what would they have wound up being? I don’t know.
Glynn Riley [01:55:50] It’s all a conundrum. And it’s been perpetuated. It was always that way, and it still is. And I think it always will be, because you’ve got experts. You’ve got people who want to be experts. You got bystanders that got their own ideas. And it’s just going to be that way forever. And then if you get to be an expert, there’s somebody who wants to prove that you’re really not an expert. And it just, when you put people into the mix, it just complicates the heck out of everything.
David Todd [01:56:41] That sounds true. But can you give me an example of of experts versus experts and versus want-to-be experts in the red wolf field?
Glynn Riley [01:56:52] I probably could, but I won’t.
David Todd [01:56:56] You’re stubborn! Oh my God!
Glynn Riley [01:56:58] Yeah.
David Todd [01:56:58] Well, let’s back up a little bit. So you’re saying that that the red wolves probably would have persisted if they were just let alone. Do you think that that the decline was mostly because of conflicts with the livestock industry, or it was habitat change, or it was predator control? What was going on?
Glynn Riley [01:57:25] No. I think if we would have just left them alone, everybody had just left them alone, that everything would have worked out however it was going to work out. You know, I don’t know.
David Todd [01:57:40] Would you think it was a mistake to capture them and take them out of the wild?
Glynn Riley [01:57:45] Oh. Probably would think there was. Yeah.
Glynn Riley [01:57:50] However, you know. I had a lot of bad experiences with that. And I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just a dumb old country kid that happened to be there. And that’s the way it was. I’m moving west. Oh, me.
Glynn Riley [01:58:29] [Let me. Oh, no, I can’t go. I’m hooked up. Oh, I was going to look for something, but we don’t need it. I’ll look for it later.]
David Todd [01:58:39] Well, so, I’ve heard that some of the animals that you caught were in bad shape. They had mange and parasites. And I’m wondering if that was part of the issue.
Glynn Riley [01:58:56] Yeah, the heartworm deal definitely was. I had an animal there in those cages. At one time, I had nearly 30. And I’d go down there to feed them and you had to wash those kennels. You had a little fire hose and wash all the poop out of those cages and stuff. And I had a particular animal that they brought to me – somebody, I can’t remember now who it was. I’ve got it written down somewhere. And they had jumped that animal and chased him in the pickup and he just collapsed. So, they got out and brought him to me and I put him in the cage and was feeding him and all. And, and that particular animal used to, I can tell you all about it, but I can’t anymore without. You could go in there to clean his cage or something, and he’d collapse, just faint, you know?
Glynn Riley [01:59:58] And so one day I went up there and he had died. And I got him out of the cage. And cut his, I had a picture somewhere of a shoe box top, and I got heartworms. That shoe box was covered in them and I didn’t get them all. They were all down in the arteries. They had his heart just completely stopped up with heartworms. And so, I think every one of them down there probably had heartworms. And so, I can see how those mosquitoes, you know, transferred it. And I think every last one of them, either had them, or was going to wind up with them sooner or later.
Glynn Riley [02:00:50] And let’s see, there was a picture of some pups that were eating up with mange one time. They were kind of pitiful and…
David Todd [02:01:11] Well, so this was rough country with the mosquitoes and so on.
Glynn Riley [02:01:15] Oh, yeah.
David Todd [02:01:16] Do you think that they had sort of retreated from habitat that was easier for them to survive in? Did they, I mean,…
Glynn Riley [02:01:25] You know, I talked to them. I’ve went around and interviewed a lot of people, old people, old trappers and stuff, kinda like what you’re doing. And those animals used to occur up in the Piney Woods. And there was an old guy named John Knight. And somewhere I’ve got a picture of his pet red wolf. And he, we talked about those wolves a lot, and he caught a lot of them. He was working for the government too, I think. It was back in … I said, “Why don’t you take some pictures of them?” He said, “Nobody had a camera.”.
Glynn Riley [02:02:14] And, but at that time, people, they weren’t interested. They were just wolves, you know? And that was something you got rid of, kind of like hogs today, except hogs are very prolific. Yeah.
David Todd [02:02:34] It’s interesting. You bring up hogs, because somebody told me that, you know, some of the effort to control red wolves was from the hog industry because cows were too big for wolves to take easily, but hogs were easy.
Glynn Riley [02:02:49] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who was it? Who was it? Who was it? Was it John Knight? Said he went to a place and that’s what the deal was and said, “They was talking to the landowner or whoever, said he heard a pig squeal and one of those wolves had caught a pig.” And I heard that happened with coyotes over in Callahan County one morning, right before, about daylight, heard a pig squeal and then some coyotes down there, boy, they went to yapping and carrying on, and they’d caught a pig.
Glynn Riley [02:03:35] But anyway, no, it was Carl Baker. He’d been down there many, many, many years ago and he went to a place and Carl said, “While he was talking, the guy heard a pig squeal and a wolf had come up and caught a pig. Yeah, that’s right. Well, those old timers, they weren’t going to put up with that.
Glynn Riley [02:04:00] This guy, like I was talking to a fellow about wolves in Mexico. And there’s, they released, you know, wolves back down there and they’re killing cattle and stuff. And so this fellow said, “Those Mexicans won’t put up with that and they’ll kill them.”
Glynn Riley [02:04:20] But now the cartel has got that country sewed up, and it’s very dangerous to go down there to try to do anything. I had a chance to go down there years ago, right after I went to work for the government. My daddy had a friend named Elgin McClellan and he ranched in Old Mexico. And I hadn’t been trapping very long and he’s over there at the house. And he said, “Junior, you want to go to Mexico and catch some wolves and some bears there?” And I said, “Elgin, boy, I’d love to, but I just got this government job and I’m not going to quit it.” Now, I wish I had a gone down there. I could have come back here an got my government job. I made a mistake. I said, “Where are these?” He said, “About 150 miles southwest of El Paso.”
Glynn Riley [02:05:16] And I’ve got it from Roy McBride – he went down there a little bit after that, and worked a long time. He’s got some really good stories. If he’ll tell you.
Glynn Riley [02:05:31] Oh, there’s so much. See, there’s… You know how long it’s been since all this we’re talking about occurred back there? I went down there last, the third day of November, 1969, is when I reported down there. And this John Steele that had been working down there? Those people did not like him at all, for whatever reason. And, well, he was kind of a foreigner to begin with, you know. And I was just a country kid, didn’t know any better about a lot of things.
Glynn Riley [02:06:25] I thought, I had, at one point in my life, I thought I was a pretty darn good judge of people. And I found out that I really was not that good a judge of people.
David Todd [02:06:49] Oh.
Glynn Riley [02:06:50] Well, how are we doing?
David Todd [02:06:51] We’re doing fine. I’m just, I’m learning a lot and trying to sort of think about it before I ask something stupid.
Glynn Riley [02:06:58] Oh, no, you won’t ask anything stupid. If it is, I’ll tell you.
David Todd [02:07:01] All right. Well, don’t be shy about that.
David Todd [02:07:03] So, you know, I know there are a lot of people who live in Beaumont, Houston or Orange. Do you think that there was ever the case where hunters, waterfowl hunters, deer hunters, might have gone out and shot any of these wolves by mistake or on purpose? Was that a bit of the problem?
Glynn Riley [02:07:26] There were some, there were some killed. Yeah. And some was on purpose.
Glynn Riley [02:07:34] As a matter of fact, I’ve got a skull here, one that somebody killed, and it’s, it’s, he’s got a, there’s a little bump, and you shake it and there’s a shot in there, and it’ll rattle. He was, he was about a 60-some pound animal. But I knew that wolf was there, and I didn’t want anybody to kill him. But they did. And I’m sure I’ve got a picture of that wolf somewhere. Of course, I’ve got his skull, and I weighed him. And he had a big head. He was not a coyote. It’s out there somewhere.
David Todd [02:08:18] But, you know, it’s funny because you didn’t want anybody to kill that wolf.
Glynn Riley [02:08:28] No.
David Todd [02:08:28] Why was that?
Glynn Riley [02:08:30] I liked him. I don’t, I don’t like killing things. You know, I kill things to make my living all my life.
Glynn Riley [02:08:42] And deer hunters, I don’t understand that at all. I’ve killed, well, you count them all on these two hands, probably less. I’m not a deer hunter. Then I’ll, if I see a big old nice buck, I don’t kill him. I like to see him. And I had a place right over here, the next little town that I was working on. And there was a pretty darned nice buck in there. And I’d see him every day, every time I went over there. And they’d never leased that. Well, they leased the damn thing. Excuse me.
Glynn Riley [02:09:18] And so I goes over there one day and I see these coyote tracks, had a bee line, going somewhere. I could see some buzzards off down yonder. And I followed the coyote tracks and they went to that deer. And this fellow that had a [scope] about that long, I could tell you where he’d been hunting his deer he’d shot. And he never found him. Well, I found him. And I brought his head home. But I didn’t want to kill that deer. It aggravated the fire out of me. I don’t, I like big old nice things. I don’t want to kill them. I like to see them.
Glynn Riley [02:09:59] I don’t work on these game places for where it’s all paid-up stuff. And I’ve work there and I like the people I work with, but I just don’t understand it. I just really don’t understand it.
David Todd [02:10:19] So I mean, for you it was more, it was a job. You know, pay you for the bounty or pay you by the month.
Glynn Riley [02:10:26] Yeah. Sure. And they’d have trouble. Oh, that’s the interesting thing about the high-fence thing. like. Oh, there’s always, I get tickled, amused, aggravated or whatever you would call it, at biologists. And supposedly nobody would, nobody would consider me a biologist, although my GS rating is a 486, wildlife biologist, supervisory wildlife biologist. But, there’s, there’s so many, well, you know, there’s so much money in hunting. You know, money. And I’ve got some little old places over here at home and I don’t, you know, I’m don’t want to kill nothing, but I’m sure they do. I’m not there, but I don’t want them shooting them, except I say, “Kill every hog you see.”.
Glynn Riley [02:11:44] But anyway, I, you know, and all get? They’d get rid of…? I wouldn’t kill the last coyote in the world. It’s kind of like, someone I’d talked to many years ago, and they said, The Mexicans down in Mexico, there could be the large pregnant lobo wolf in the country, or deer”, he said, “they could be the last pregnant deer in the country. And if they had a .22, they’d kill him, and make tamales out of him.” And the same way about the wolf, except they wouldn’t eat the wolf.
Glynn Riley [02:12:23] But no, I don’t want to. I’ve got piles of deer horns here and they’re just sheds. You can’t believe how many deer that I find that they’ve shot. They didn’t find. And I find their skulls out there. A bunch of that. A bunch of it.
Glynn Riley [02:12:48] And so now I don’t pay to hunt.
Glynn Riley [02:12:54] One time, at one time I’ll tell you the story. When I was over at Tarleton, that year, there was a kid that had a .30-30 rifle and I traded him a shirt and $25 for that .30-30 rifle, Winchester .30- 30. Well, I’ve never been deer hunting. Well, I had been deer hunting, like a lot of people, been deer hunting when I want to eat. But anyway, I killed them with a .22.
Glynn Riley [02:13:30] But anyway, so I bought that rifle. Tommy Joe Bates and they had a place down here. Mr. Hinke, down here between Fredericksburg and Kerrville. They had a place where they deer hunted. It was $50 for the first two weeks, and there was four of them in the deal – Pete Frost, Tommy Joe Joe Bates and Little Ed Robinson – and somebody dropped out. So they told me to come go with them. And I didn’t have to pay. I carried my .30-30 with me. This was … I got a picture. This was where I was. ’54 maybe?
Glynn Riley [02:14:24] And so I goes down there with them and we stay two weeks and we didn’t kill a single deer. I never saw as many spike bucks and does in my life. But no forked horns, nothing you could shoot. A spike wasn’t legal then, and does weren’t legal.
Glynn Riley [02:14:45] So the next year they were going back. Now, wait a minute. No. Pete Frost bought a bull from Mr. Hinke, and we went back Christmas to get the bull, and so they let us hunt a day, and Tommy Joe killed a 8-point buck.
Glynn Riley [02:15:07] Well, next year, they wanted to go again, but they wanted the $50. Well, I didn’t have $50, so I sold my rifle damn it, to give them the $50. Then I borrowed one just like it and went down there and I killed it a deer. It looked about like this.
Glynn Riley [02:15:28] And I got home and I looked at that deer and I said, “Son, you may be stupid, but you’re not completely. Don’t ever do that again.” And I haven’t. Nor will I ever.
Glynn Riley [02:15:45] So, uh. Uh, Tommy Joe Bates – oh, what a guy. Oh, we had a second time. We took a colored fellow with us and he had one arm cut off, and we called him, “Wingy”. And so, me and Tommy Joe and Pete Frost went. They had a little tin building they’d built, you know, to sleep in and stuff. So, we went there and opened the door and find there was a skunk in there. And so we were going to go down there the day before deer season. We were going to look, and we told old Wingy, said, “Whatever you do, just leave that door and don’t bother that skunk.”
Glynn Riley [02:16:28] Well okay. And Baylor and SMU were having a ball game, and everybody wanted to know about the score. So before we left, Tommy Joe said, “Wingy,” he said, “you listen to that radio and you write down the score to that ball game.” Said, “we want to know how it comes out.” “Okay, Yes, sir, sure will.”
Glynn Riley [02:16:55] We went off down the pasture open and we came back out of that pasture and I got out to open the gate to go in the pasture where the little camp house was. And I could smell skunk. Really smell skunk! So, we goes up there and there was Wingy out there and he was doing whatever Wingy was doing.
Glynn Riley [02:17:18] And so we said, “Wingy, where’s that skunk?” “Yeah, there he lay.” And said, “You didn’t kill that skunk?” “Yes, I was moving some stuff and there he was under, so I just took a piece of stove wood and beat him to death.”
Glynn Riley [02:17:37] Hot dang. We had to sleep in that. So then we said, “What about the ball game?” Yes sir, I wrote it down. So now let me get a piece of paper.” There it was, it said, “Baylor so much, and S-M-Y-O-U.”.
Glynn Riley [02:17:58] Oh, oh, Lordy, it was fun.
Glynn Riley [02:18:05] So that was the year I killed a three-point deer, and I went home.
Glynn Riley [02:18:09] I was I was kind of courting my wife at that time. And I’ve got a picture. Oh, well, I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful life.
David Todd [02:18:20] Oh, well, it sounds like it. Oh, so do you think your attitude about animals has stayed the same, or has changed over time?
Glynn Riley [02:18:30] It’s the same.
David Todd [02:18:31] It’s the same.
Glynn Riley [02:18:32] Yeah. I grew up hunting and trapping for furs and trapping mink and ‘coons.
Glynn Riley [02:18:38] Oh, and there’s something I wanted to tell you.
Glynn Riley [02:18:40] And I never disliked any of them. And I’ve never hated a coyote in my life. You know, you hear about people, they just want to set them on fire. That’s B.S. That’s not the way it is. If there’s somebody like that, they need to go someplace else. You got to, I respect everything in the woods, more so than a lot of people that claim they know. There’s a lot of people, especially this day and time. And I worry about who’s gonna take what I’ve said to say, I’m a terrible person someday, because I’m not. But you got…
Glynn Riley [02:19:26] Well, when I was working with the red wolf thing, we had meetings over in Houston and there were people came there all kind of wildlife lovers. And, you know, they really don’t know “come here from sic ’em”, but they mean well, you know.
Glynn Riley [02:19:56] So, we had a lady invited me and the wife over for supper at their house. And she was an ardent lover of wildlife. So ardent, I found out that it was really bad. So we goes over to her house. We meet her husband. He goes upstairs, doesn’t say much. She got some kids there and we had spaghetti. And the lights were kind of low. And those kids were playing with the cockroaches. They had pet cockroaches.
Glynn Riley [02:20:38] And we left there and my wife said, “My gosh, we ate, we ate, we ate in there!” The stairs, there was those cockroaches were on the stairs. And those kids were fooling with them. Oh, that’s loving wildlife. Now I’m here to tell you.
Glynn Riley [02:21:04] And oh, we had a meeting over there. And you know who? Oh, no. He was on TV all the time. Gosh, I’m getting old. Anyway, his wife and daughter were there. Marlin Perkins.
David Todd [02:21:23] Oh, yeah. Wild Kingdom. Yeah, yeah.
Glynn Riley [02:21:27] Mrs. Wild Kingdom and her daughter was there. And so, we talked about the red wolves and they wanted to buy up Chambers County as a refuge. I told them, I said, “Ma’am, those people don’t want to sell you Chambers County as a wolf preserve.”.
Glynn Riley [02:21:51] It was a wonderful idea, but it was just not practical. And I had her phone number and everything. I’ve got it somewhere here. Mrs. Marlin Perkins. Yeah. Oh, I’ve met a lot of people.
Glynn Riley [02:22:10] I went to, when I got that deal from, that little award from American Motors deal. We went to St. Louis, Missouri, to get that darn plaque. And, of course, I had to get up and accept the thing and say something. And so I carried some slides. I think I had a little slide show. I got up there and did what I thought was the best I could do, but I was ready to get off that stage and when they turned the lights out, I went down and sat down with Momma. I had all the notoriety I wanted. Oh. Oh, Lordy.
David Todd [02:23:00] Well, so what was the prize for? What were they recognizing?
Glynn Riley [02:23:05] Oh, that I was trying to save the red wolf, you know? I had some newspaper articles. I went to how many talks? Gosh. Minnesota. Oh. Oh, some place in Houston. I can’t remember the name of that little college. Bunch of them. Mississippi.
Glynn Riley [02:23:45] We went one time. It was an interesting thing. I went over to Mississippi and there was Jefferson Davis Island, down the Mississippi, and went over and we got in the boat and went down the Mississippi River. That’s a big creek, here to tell you, and there’s quite a current in it. And we got down to Jefferson Davis Island. And I looked for wolves, you know. I didn’t find any wolves. There were a lot of deer on it. And some of the biggest cottonwood trees I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’ve got a picture of that some place. Slides. I got slides back down yonder. I’ve got to take those slides and make pictures of them.
Glynn Riley [02:24:34] But there’s a cottonwood tree, big ones. The timber company hadn’t cut them because they were hollow. And I got a picture of a cottonwood tree with a guy that’s taller than I am standing in that, and you could have drove a Volkswagen back in it.
David Todd [02:24:51] Wow.
Glynn Riley [02:24:52] Huge cottonwood trees. Huge. Huge. And we were, another day we were there, a game warden, state director, and he’s dead now, too, in Mississippi. Anyway, we got kind of hungry and so this guy said, “Well, there’s a fish camp right over there.” Black bayou ran into the Mississippi River. He said, “I’ll go where and see if that lady at that fish camp will cook us dinner.” So he come back, said, “Yeah, she said she’d cook some, $2 a plate.” We said, “Hot dog, let’s go.”.
Glynn Riley [02:25:33] We went over there and she had, oh, spoonbill catfish and she had buffalo fish. And she had some big plates of fish all fried up, you know, and the buffalo fish were good. Then I said, “Man, this fish is good. What’d you put on it?” And she said, “Cayenne pepper.” I’ve been putting cayenne pepper on fish ever since, if it’s fried.
Glynn Riley [02:26:04] But those dadgum cottonwood trees were … I couldn’t believe it. And they’d cut all of them. Let them fall.
David Todd [02:26:16] Well, did you see any red wolves when you were outside of that little corner of southeast Texas – Chambers County, Liberty County? Any in Louisiana or up in the Piney Woods?
Glynn Riley [02:26:27] No. I went to Louisiana, Cameron Parish, to see a fellow named Billy Nolan. And he had a black one’s head mounted that he’d killed there. Had two heads. And I’d have to go back and read my notes.
Glynn Riley [02:26:47] And there was a little old town, Johnson’s Bayou, or something. And it’s gone. Hurricane got it. And down there where Billy Nolan lived … what did they call that? It was a kind of a high spot. And he ranched down there, but he killed some wolves there, or whatever they are.
Glynn Riley [02:27:14] And I’m sure that there were some left in Jefferson County. Of course, we didn’t, we didn’t, I know after I got disassociated with the deal, John Dorsey went over there, and they were all went with it, and there was a really big trapper over there, he caught that wolf, and he broke the trap chain. I hated that.
Glynn Riley [02:27:39] And I’m sure Orange County … I never did look in Orange County. And I don’t see any reason why there wouldn’t have been some there.
Glynn Riley [02:27:51] And Jefferson County. I didn’t get into Jefferson County very much at all. And I’m sure that what we did didn’t affect those.
Glynn Riley [02:28:05] On the east side of Trinity River, Galveston Bay east, those animals were different. On the west side of the Trinity River, on down to Brazoria County and even those little old towns between Galveston and Houston, those things were all in it, all over there.
Glynn Riley [02:28:29] There’s a guy called me where NASA is, and his daddy had worked for an oil company there for many years. And they had a piece of property that was pretty good size and they had some cattle. They let him keep cattle on there. And a guy called and said that wolves were killing my calves. And I said, I went over there. I mean, here’s NASA, right there. And I said, “Are you sure?” He said, “You want to see one?” And I said, “Well, yeah.” And he said, “Well, let me get in the pickup.”
Glynn Riley [02:29:10] We went over. We saw one, in the middle of the day. He said, “Yeah.” And so, I don’t remember, I caught six or eight, something there. About February he called. He said, “They’re back.” And those things were all over that country, all over.
Glynn Riley [02:29:35] And there was a little old town down there by, not far from the San Jacinto monument. I can’t remember the name of the little old town. There was a guy called me about that and he said, “Wolves are killing my calves.” And there were 600 acres there, at 225, I think, was number. There was a road up there, and Shell refineries or whatever. A guy set on a corner up there peddling sweet potatoes and apples and stuff, said, “Yeah. I see them wolves going across the highway here all the time, back and forth.”.
Glynn Riley [02:30:23] And I went over there and I told that guy, “Are you sure?” “Yeah.”
Glynn Riley [02:30:29] I caught 50 off that 600 acres, and some of them weighed 50 pounds.
Glynn Riley [02:30:39] But, what were they?
David Todd [02:30:46] What do you think they were?
Glynn Riley [02:30:48] Whatever those things are down there. I don’t know. They’re bigger than coyotes. You know, I haven’t been there in a long time. I had a chance to go back down there, and I’m not going to go through with that. Yeah, they were, some showed up on Galveston Island here a while back. Somebody got excited about and they called me about. I told them to call Roy McBride. He’d go down and catch them for them. And he did, I think.
Glynn Riley [02:31:19] But I’m done with it. Too many people down there for me. And, so I don’t I don’t know what’s there. I know what was there when I left. And there were animals there that you don’t find any place else in Texas, that I know of, and I’m sure that there’re are some still there.
Glynn Riley [02:31:47] And so then you get into politics.
David Todd [02:31:54] I’m happy to listen to politics, but I feel like I should feed you.
Glynn Riley [02:32:00] No. Are you hungry?
David Todd [02:32:01] I’m always hungry.
Glynn Riley [02:32:02] Well, what do you want to eat?
David Todd [02:32:04] Well, let me let me just wrap this up. Let me ask you, is there anything you would like to add while we’re still recording – anything about the red wolf in particular that occurs to you?
Glynn Riley [02:32:23] I hope there’s some left. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were. Or whatever they are.
David Todd [02:32:47] Yeah.
Glynn Riley [02:32:48] Yeah. There’s so many places, so many places that we didn’t look. You know, I didn’t … I been to all those different counties, and I’ve talked to everybody, and I used to go do what you’re doing now. And I’d talk to the guys in Louisiana that had been trappers and boy, they had some neat pictures and a lot of good information.
Glynn Riley [02:33:20] And later on, there’s a lady called me from up north, somewhere, Delaware, whatever, and she had some of those pictures that that man had had. And she said, “Somebody told me to call you, you’d know where these pictures came from.” And I said, “Yes, I know where you got them.” And how in the heck she got them, I don’t know. If I had known the guy was going to turn the pictures loose, I’d have got them. But he had some pictures in Louisiana of wolves that he’d caught. And I’ve got it written down somewhere. I got lots of notes and stuff. But I’ve thought about going back and rereading through that stuff. It’d be a lot of trouble.
Glynn Riley [02:34:14] Yeah, I’ve got a friend, not a friend. I’ve got an acquaintance. You don’t really have many friends. You’ve got a lot of acquaintances. But he’s a biologist. He was raised in New Jersey or somewhere up there, Dan Van Slyke. You might have heard of him. He’s writing some kind of book or doing, he’s been following me around, taking pictures, talking to me for years. And he says, said, he’s writing a book. He said, “I won’t put anything in there to hurt you.”.
Glynn Riley [02:34:44] But you got to be careful this, especially this day and time. You got crazy people now. You know, people who decide they go to kill you. You know it? Yeah. Unfortunate.
Glynn Riley [02:35:01] Well, we got to feed you.
David Todd [02:35:04] Oh.
Glynn Riley [02:35:07] And I’m just enjoying the heck out of it.
David Todd [02:35:09] Well, this is so interesting for me.
Glynn Riley [02:35:11] Yeah.
David Todd [02:35:14] So I got one last question that occurred to me, if you can just indulge me a little bit more.
Glynn Riley [02:35:18] Okay.
David Todd [02:35:19] So there are some early trappers and biologists that might have known about red wolves. And I was wondering if you ever talked to them. I’ve got some names here.
Glynn Riley [02:35:32] Name them.
David Todd [02:35:33] John Knight.
Glynn Riley [02:35:34] Yes.
David Todd [02:35:39] Nils Esquivel.
Glynn Riley [02:35:43] Nilo Esquivel.
David Todd [02:35:44] Nilo, Nilo.
Glynn Riley [02:35:44] Yeah.
David Todd [02:35:45] Andy Ray.
Glynn Riley [02:35:45] Andy Ray. Ray and Ray.
David Todd [02:35:47] I don’t. I don’t know. I don’t know anything about these guys.
Glynn Riley [02:35:50] Okay. He was kind of a hound man.
Glynn Riley [02:35:53] Andy Ray? John Knight – I spent a, I’ve got notes, and notes. He had a pet red wolf. I’ve got a picture of it. He’d let me have it. And I had a picture made. Yeah, I could probably go get it.
David Todd [02:36:10] Oh, no, that’s okay. I just was wondering if they told you anything about red wolves that you might pass on?
Glynn Riley [02:36:17] Well, John Knight, stuff that he knew, well, I told you some of that a while ago. But he said they were always in the prairie areas, like Tarkington Prairie or Batson Prairie. And he said that’s where they always were – that more open country.
Glynn Riley [02:36:38] And, yeah, I talked to John Knight.
Glynn Riley [02:36:44] Nilo Esquivel, I knew him very well.
Glynn Riley [02:36:48] But the other two, Andy Ray?
David Todd [02:36:51] Yes sir.
Glynn Riley [02:36:51] The name kind of is familiar.
Glynn Riley [02:36:55] Where’s he from?
David Todd [02:36:57] I know very little. I just understood that he was a kind of field guy from years ago, and was familiar with red wolves. And I don’t really know how.
Glynn Riley [02:37:09] I don’t know either. Andy Ray. But the name sounds familiar.
David Todd [02:37:13] Well, maybe it’ll come. What about Nilo Esquivel? What do you remember about him?
Glynn Riley [02:37:18] Oh, he had a restaurant there, he had a restaurant there in Alvin. And he was kind of a hound man. And then there was an old ex game warden down there. That worked for, when he retired, he worked for a big Chocolate Bayou company and he kind of patrolled for it. But he, they killed a lot of coyotes, wolves or whatever they were down there on that place with coyote getters.
Glynn Riley [02:38:00] But Frank Mebane, MEBANE. Mebane. He was, talk about a character. Mebane was a tough old fellow. That we managed to pull forward. He’d been a heck of a game warden at one time. He’s dead. He had two boys. He had a bunch of traps. And I knew him very well.
Glynn Riley [02:38:29] But Andy Ray? That name is familiar… And he’s worked for? Andy Ray? Did he work for the Fish and Wildlife or somebody?
David Todd [02:38:47] I think somewhere, you know, either he was a bounty hunter or he worked for the government, but, or he was, he may have been a field biologist. I shouldn’t have even brought him up because I don’t know about him.
Glynn Riley [02:39:00] No I’m glad you did because they’re something, something there. But I can’t drag it out. Andy Ray?
David Todd [02:39:14] Well…
Glynn Riley [02:39:14] Well, I’ll have to think on that. I’ve talked to so many people back then about red wolves. I did just what you’re doing and I went, I talked. Golly and I wrote a lot of it down.
Glynn Riley [02:39:29] Well, you probably knew the things to ask. I’m coming from outside of this, but thank you so much for passing on what you can. And I’d love to learn more about it, you know, whenever you’re interested.
Glynn Riley [02:39:45] Yeah. You’re a nice guy. I like you.
David Todd [02:39:48] The feeling’s mutual.
Glynn Riley [02:39:51] You’re not at all what I was expecting.
David Todd [02:39:53] Oh, no. Oh, no.
David Todd [02:39:55] You were waiting for the interrogation!
Glynn Riley [02:39:57] Oh, yeah. Listen here. Wait. There was a lady came down here working here for the National Geographic, a photographer. I got a picture she made of me in there. Patricia Caulfield. Oh, my goodness. She’d call from New York City at night. Always late, late, late. And she was coming down here and she was going to take pictures of red wolves. And my wife was … I mean, this went on for a good while. And finally she said she was coming. And my wife, everybody was kidding me about her and Pat … Oh, crap … Boyd, he said, “Well, Glynn,” he said, “she’ll either be a clinging vine or she’ll look like Teddy Roosevelt.”
Glynn Riley [02:41:12] And so, old Pat Boyd, was he had, he had all the National Geographics. I mean, all of them. The wall was covered with them. Anyway, he was a really neat guy. Yeah.
Glynn Riley [02:41:32] And anyway so finally she said she was coming and she was flying in to Houston, but she didn’t get there till late. And I told her, I think it was the Del Rey Motel, we made her, we made her appointment there. And so, I was supposed to meet her in a coffee shop at 8:00 the next morning. So, I goes down there and I sit down in the coffee shop, drinking my coffee, waiting on Pat Caulfield.
Glynn Riley [02:42:06] And finally I heard the pitter patter of little feet. And I turn around and here this lady was. And she had one of these kind of shirts on. She was kind of bosomy and I think this button was buttoned and her britches were unzipped. And she kind of might have been a hint that she might have been imbibing something. And, and I looked around in there and I thought, “Oh, my God, there’s people in here that know me.” And the first thing I did was I loaded her up and took her home to introduce her to my wife.
Glynn Riley [02:43:01] And she had tons of cameras. We put all that crap in my pickup and she stayed down there for six weeks, maybe. And that’s another story. But bless her heart, she was one of these ladies that was in competition with men and she was doing the best she could with what she got. But one day I went down there to the Refuge and, and Russell Clapper was the Refuge manager and he said, “My goodness, Pat, you look like Appalachia warmed over.”
Glynn Riley [02:44:08] And the next day she showed up she was all dressed up and had on stockings. Oh, lord of mercy. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Pat Caulfield.
Glynn Riley [02:44:24] So one day I had a lot of animals in the cages, so I was shooting nutria to feed them, you know? And there was one on her side of the pickup and I had an automatic .22, so I leaned over. And here she was. Pow, I shot the nutria and that hot cartridge went right down here. Oh ho, ho, ho, ho, ho! Oh, man.
Glynn Riley [02:45:01] And then, they wanted to take a picture of a red wolf, so they got this guy that came from New York City down there, and he had taken pictures of some cathedral in Italy or somewhere and done everything there was to do. And he brought one of these deals, like, you know, when you walk in, and step on it, the door opens at the grocery store? We took that thing down there in that Refuge, and I buried it. And I put a cow turd on it and I put grass on it, fixed it up.
Glynn Riley [02:45:36] And he, he put cameras behind this thing. Of course, I thought, you know, this is terrible country to put a very expensive camera out of here.
Glynn Riley [02:45:50] And so we, I put some wolf droppings on there and some wolf urine and stuff, try to get the wolves to step on the plate. And so, we wasn’t having much luck. But, every now and then, one of them would be triggered to go off. And they’d get it. Well, it was a little otter.
Glynn Riley [02:46:10] So one day we went down there and the whole roll of film was used. Then what in the world? And they really got excited. Man, they got all that film and they rushed to get it all developed.
Glynn Riley [02:46:23] And old Russell Clapper had let a group of kids go in there on a field trip and they found that thing and this little black kid got on that thing, and he was jumping up and down, and those lights were flashing. And we had lots of pictures. Oh, oh. It was funny. Oh. Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.
David Todd [02:46:53] I love that. That’s great.
Glynn Riley [02:46:55] Yeah.
David Todd [02:46:56] Well, let’s stop while we’re ahead.
Glynn Riley [02:46:59] What time is it?
David Todd [02:47:00] Oh, it’s, it’s getting on. But thank you.