When we have meetings at the AquaNew office, the wild deer and heritage turkey outside always capture everyone’s attention. Our friend, Matt Christian, recently shared this photo of Baby Snooks’ descendants when he was at our office several years ago.
Last Thanksgiving, we had a story about the heritage turkeys. This Thanksgiving, we share the heritage story of the wild deer having a home range between the Myakka River State Park and our backyard or “Myakka Valley”. This same home range was world famous for hunting. During the Great Depression, many people hunted in these wilds to put food on the table for their families. When the Myakka River State Park opened in 1941, the son of the first park supervisor, Allen Crowley, said in an interview, there were neither turkeys nor deer anywhere within Sarasota, FL.
Allen Crowley drove to the Everglades to rescue an abandoned fawn. Later to be known as Baby Snooks, the fawn was part of Allen’s own personal project, paid by his own funds, to restock the newly-established Myakka River State Park. Baby Snooks was bottled fed. She soon learned to become part of the parks’ attraction, being the only “deer in town”. She visited the various campsites for attention and goodies. As the story goes, she even rode the school bus with the local children and the bus driver would call the Park to have someone pick her up at the school in town.
The Yearling Movie
Since fawns were in short supply at the time, Baby Snooks did not have to audition for the classic “The Yearling” movie made in Florida. Allen received a call from the casting director and she became an instant star.
Baby Snooks Descendants
Years ago, Paula Bensoff who interviewed Allen’s son, told me that Baby Snooks had a white star on her forehead. When she served as a Park ranger, she was asked by some of the visitors what happened to Baby Snooks? Paula replied … “Oh, she’s still out there, all right. Just go out to Big Flats Marsh just after sunset. If you look very carefully, you can still find her in the descendants she left behind”. I think about this often as we watch our deer denizens, always looking for the white star.
For more about both the history and natural attributes of the Myakka River State Park, we recommend Paula Benshoff’s book, entitled “Myakka”. I also recently discovered this link on the history of Sarasota, FL.
Blessing of Abundance
Allen’s restocking program of deer and turkey is a success. There is an abundance of wildlife now sheltered from excessive hunting that roam the Myakka River State Park and the rest of the adjoining Myakka Island (over 120,000 preservation acres).
The Myakka wildlife is certainly one of our blessings. We hope you and your family have the opportunity to visit a park during the Thanksgiving Holidays.