Lake of the Woods

Where the wild things are

At Lake of the Woods in Southern Oregon, Master Naturalist Dave Bone shares his love of wildlife with young campers. (Photo: Lynn Ketchum)

MEDFORD – One evening when he was 8, Dave Bone’s mom bundled him up against the cold, set him on a wooden sled and told him to hang on tight. Then, leaning into the night, she pulled the sled through the snowy streets of Greene, Iowa. At City Hall on 2nd Street, she brought the sled to a stop and took her son by the hand.

Unbeknownst to him, little Dave was about to become a member of Cub Scout Pack 26, which was meeting on the second floor of the old brick building. “This looks like fun,” he remembers thinking when he walked in and saw the cluster of boys in their blue-and-yellow uniforms.

Beverly Bone couldn’t have imagined that 55 years later and 2,000 miles away, her son still would be scouting. That fateful sled ride launched him on a lifetime of outdoor exploration, service and education. This Eagle Scout’s recent segue into Oregon Master Naturalists was just a logical extension of what he’s been doing for a half-century.

Animal Planet

One mist-gray morning in Southern Oregon, Bone is striding along the shore at Lake of the Woods when a flash of white catches his eye. “Bald eagle!” he calls out, pointing toward a reedy promontory. He quickly sets up his spotting scope as the bird unfolds its massive wings and lifts off, disappearing into the dense forest that hems the lake. “Hot dog!” he exclaims. Then, again, quietly to himself, “Hot dog.”

His excited reaction might suggest that this was his first eagle sighting. But Bone — a retired schoolteacher who taught science in the logging community of Butte Falls — has seen hundreds of eagles, “clouds” of snow geese and countless other raptors and waterfowl while tramping the mountains, valleys and wetlands near his Medford home.

While he loves birds, he’s an equal-opportunity wildlife enthusiast. Beavers, yellow-bellied marmots, flying squirrels — even the tiniest chipmunk and lowliest skunk — stir his sense of wonder even after many years as a Boy Scout camp administrator and, more recently, a volunteer at Camp McLoughlin on Lake of the Woods. Not content to stay inland, Bone also serves as a site captain and interpreter for Whale Watching Spoken Here (a program of the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation) and as education chair for Shoreline Education for Awareness (a “friends group” of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

“Scenery is fantastic, but it’s the wildlife that makes it come alive,” he says. To emphasize his point, he reaches into the pocket of his rain pants and pulls out a clump of folded bills bound by a silver money clip, a gift from his wife, Bea. He reads aloud the inscription, a quote from the 1972 ecology movie Home. “If all the animals were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of spirit.”

The Wow Factor

Sharing nature has been his calling ever since earning his master’s in outdoor education at Southern Oregon University after he moved west with his bride, a native Oregonian. “The three key words in the mission of Oregon Master Naturalists are explore, connect, contribute,” he says. “Those are the same concepts I work with in the Boy Scouts. Taking people outdoors, guiding discovery, encouraging conservation — that’s what both programs are all about.”

For him, it all comes together in the astonished gasp of a wide-eyed child.  “I call it the ‘wow factor,’” he says. “It warms the cockles of my heart.”

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One Response to “Lake of the Woods”

  1. Mark says:

    Dave was my Science Teacher in High School thirty years ago at Butte Falls High. He has always had a passion for the outdoors and nature. Great story. I didn’t know Bea was a native Oregonian. God Bless Them

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