Welcome to the Bruce B. Purdy Nature Preserve and the "Zeroes to Heroes" naturalist cache collection, a series of puzzle caches that highlights some of the most influential Naturalists either from Wisconsin or with many ties to the state. Our hope is that you will come to learn a thing or two about Wisconsin's rich progressive preservationist and protectionist history, spearheaded by these incredible individuals who began their humble journeys with one singular purpose: To pass on our rich natural heritage to our offspring of tomorrow by doing our best to preserve it today.
The series is also an attempt to bolster the confidence of cachers who may have never considered creating or placing a puzzle cache by pairing them with some of the valley's most prolific puzzle and traditional cache placers.
Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1887, the son of a middle-class manufacturer. As a boy he loved hunting and wild nature, interests which led him to attend the Yale School of Forestry, where he trained for work in the National Forest Service and graduated in 1909. His early specialty was game management, and by the 1930s he was a national authority on this subject.
In those days game was managed primarily for hunters, and the principal means of increasing the stock was to control predators and limit hunting seasons. Leopold and others began to realize that habitat was even more essential to building game populations. He had started to think as an ecologist. Consequently, in 1935, when he and his wife Estella bought a run-down farm along the Wisconsin River, in Sauk County, they began to use it not only as a weekend and vacation place for their five children but also as an experiment in land restoration. The farm had last been occupied by a bootlegger, who left it a barren sand flat with only a chicken coop on it. The Leopolds named the farm "the Shack" and began to plant trees, shrubs, grasses, and a garden. He also began to write, reflecting on what he had been taught and started to question the assumptions of his training as a ranger. He published these reflections, essays, polemic and anthropomorphic stories in what would come to be cites as one of the most influential nature books ever published.
No other single book of American nature writing – with the exception of Walden – has achieved such lasting stature as Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. In one famous episode, he writes of killing a female wolf early in his career as a forest ranger, coming upon his victim just as she was dying, "in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.... I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."
Much has been written about Aldo Leopold the forester, Leopold the wildlife ecologist, Leopold the conservationist, Leopold the environmental philosopher and educator and so on – but little about Leopold the writer. This is your opportunity to get to know Leopold the writer and philosopher.
Your final coordinates are N44° 2A.LDO WLE°OP.OLD
A “Red lanterns have lighted my way on many a pleasant hunt in many a region, but I think that blackberries must first have learned how to glow in the sand counties of central Wisconsin.”
L “When dandelions have set the mark of May on Wisconsin pastures, it is time to listen for the final proof of spring. Sit down on a tussock, cock you ears at the sky, dial out the bedlam of meadowlarks and redwings, and soon, you may hear it: the flight-song of the upland plover, just now back from the Argentine.”
D “The tamaracks change from green to yellow when the first frosts have brought woodcock, fox sparrows, and juncos out of the north. Troops of robins are stripping the last white berries from the dogwood thickets, leaving the empty stems as a pink haze against the hill.”
O “When school children vote on a state bird, flower or tree, they are not making a decision; they are merely ratifying history. Thus history made Bur Oak the characteristic tree of southern Wisconsin when the prairie grasses first gained possession of the region.”
L “At this stage the seedlings of plants too numerous to count and too young to recognize spring to life from the damp warm sand under the green ribbon.”
E “The deer walk up and down in it, apparently just for the pleasure of feeling it underfoot.”
O “In 1871, within a 50-mile triangle spreading northwestward from my oak, 136 million pigeons are estimated to have nested, and some may have nested in it, for it was then a sapling 20 feet tall.”
P “This same year of 1879 saw the first planting of carp in Wisconsin, and also the first arrival of quack-grass as a stowaway from Europe.”
O “It is an irony of history that the great powers should have discovered the unity of nations at Cairo in 1943. The geese of the world have had that notion for a longer time, and each March they stake their lives on its essential truth.”
L “Bur Oak is the only tree that can stand up to a prairie fire and live. Have you ever wondered why a thick crust of corky bark covers the whole tree, even to the smallest twigs? This cork is armor. But oaks were the shock troops sent by the invading forest to storm the prairie; fire is what they had to fight.”
D “Each year, after the midwinter blizzards, there comes a night of thaw when the tinkle of dripping water is heard in the land. It brings strange stirrings, not only to creatures abed for the night, but to some who have been asleep for the winter.”
To this day, we are still struggling to grasp and embrace what came out of these reflections and narratives, the Leopold Land Ethic, as we move into the second decade of the 21st century when more and more land continues to be taken by large scale agriculture operations, recognizing that it once again falls to the small scale family farmer, the recreationist and the private property owner to pick up the Almanac and look to our future.
Difficulty and terrain set for winter conditions at the time of cache placement. Both should be slightly less in summer months.
Geocaching Check-in Procedures:
All geocachers must sign-in at the Apple Creek YMCA (2851 E. Apple Creek Rd- just across the road from the preserve) before geocaching on the preserve. A guest sign-in book is located at the front desk. You do not need to speak with staff to sign in nor do you need to sign out after you are done caching. The sign in log will be checked against the on-line logs to verify that this procedure is being followed. If geocachers do not follow this procedure, all geocaches will be removed from the Purdy Preserve. The Apple Creek YMCA is open M-F 5:00 AM-9:00 PM, Sat 5:45 AM-4:00 PM, and closed on Sundays. Geocaching must take place during these same hours.
Preserve Rules as follows; Trails open dawn to dusk, Hike on marked trails only, Carry-in and Carry-out, Respect property boundaries, All users must possess a YMCA membership, guest pass, or reside in Apple Hill Farms. The following are prohibited; Pets, Bicycles, Motorized vehicles, Cross-country skiing, Smoking, Drugs/Alcohol, Camping and Removal or destruction of plant or animal life. Please enjoy the preserve responsibly while respecting wildlife and other preserve users. All questions regarding this preserve may be directed to the Apple Creek YMCA at 733-9622