By Gary Koehler, Sports Editor
His face carries the mark of having spent thousands of hours in the outdoors. His heart and mind carry the memories of those hours. Earl Money, Kosciusko County Conservation officer is not the ordinary game warden.
For the past 16 years, Money has traveled the hills, lakes, streams and valleys of the northern lakes region protecting the country's first inhabitants, its beasts, birds and fish.
"I was born and bred into my job," the graying stolid looking Money said recently during an interview at his home in Syracuse.
"My great-grandfather and grandfather were among the first settlers in Indiana. My great-grandfather lived with Indians way back then and I became interested in hunting and fishing when I was very young."
Money began his career in the field of conservation in 1942, when he, his friend Peck Wilson of the Tri-County Fish and Game Preserve, and 23 other young men were chosen from a group of more than 1,500 applicants for a state training program to prepare them for jobs in the conservation department.
"I got my first job after taking tests and being interviewed in Indianapolis. Only 20 of the 25 made it through the course."
Money was sent to Frankfort for his first assignment and was then transferred to Miami and Wabash counties where he remained until 1958 when he moved to Kosciusko County.
"It was quite a chore when I first started out. There weren't any radios in the cars and we had to do all our work by telephone. Sometimes we would arrive home after a job get a call and then have to go back to the same place.
During his tenure in Miami and Wabash counties, Money came to know members of the Miami Indian tribe located near Peru, and recollections of experiences with the Indians brought more than a slight glimmer to his eyes.
Friends Among Indians
"I had a lot of friends among the Indians in Miami County. I arrested some and had fun with them all.
"Chief Swimming Turtle was the head of the tribe and the farm on which he still lives is the only one on which a white man never settled."
Money said he has read extensively of the local Indian tribe and spoke of the government's treatment of the Indian in a less than appreciative tone.
"When the Indians first signed a treaty in the area they did so with the stipulation that they would be allowed to hunt and fish in the Wabash River Valley 'as long as the stars and moon shall shine'. A later treaty told them the first did not count but many of the Indians stuck by the first and did not move when the tribe was ordered to move west.
Hunting Out of Season
The Indians who remained in the area caused a few problems for Money when they hunted out of season and on land where they did not have permission.
"I would go out after getting a complaint from someone about an Indian hunting on his land and when I found the Indian he would look at me and say 'I can hunt here, I'm an Indian.'
"They found out in a hurry though that I could not let them go and they would be headed for jail every time I caught them."
Money was apparently extremely dedicated and effective at this job. The Indians named him "Man Who Never Sleeps."
Chief Swimming Turtle and Money grew to be friends and the Chief used to go to conservation camps with Money to talk to youngsters about the old days and share with them the tales of Indian lore.
You should have seen those kids look at him and listen when he spoke. They just loved it."
Money said the Chief has also visited the Wawasee area during celebrations.
Moves to Syracuse Area
"Due to increases in persons participating in water sports and the growth in the Lake Wawasee area, the state decided that a full-time officer was need here. I was chosen because at that time, I was the most qualified officer for the position. I carried an instructor card in practically every outdoor activity that there is.
"I have certificates for instruction in boating, sailing, water safety, firearm safety, soil conservation, scuba diving, archery and other areas."
Money has the most seniority of any conservation officer in the county and is perhaps one of the more experienced men in District II, which includes Elkhart, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben, Dekalb and Kosciusko counties.
Active in local sporting groups, Money has spent considerable time instructing young people in many areas of outdoor living and safety.
"For years Lake Wawasee had the biggest water safety program in the state. We had students from eight or nine schools come in here for instruction in swimming and boating. It was a madhouse.
Pools End Program
"When the high schools started getting swimming pools the necessity for the program was eliminated."
Money still runs a boat safety program each summer at the lake and classes are scheduled to begin next week. "Youngsters under 16 with a motor more than 10 horsepower have to take the course before operating the boat, according to the state."
A speaker at various local camps, Money perhaps had the biggest challenge as an instructor several years ago at Bunker Hill (Grissom) Air Force Base. "We had 4,500 men in a water safety course at the Air Base. We worked from eight in the morning till 10 at night for 30 days running them through it.
"Colonels, majors and everyone below had to take the course, and let me tell you it was the quietest classroom you ever saw. The guys never knew when the person sitting next to him outranked him or not." Money's role as instructor did not come easily. He has attended approximately 25 schools during his 32 years in the conservation department.
Among the classes and clinics attended by Money were law courses at Indiana University, sessions on narcotics, firearms schools and the National Aquatics School at Olive Lake in Lagrange County.
"The various programs keep men in conservation well trained and up-to-date on what is happening." Among those groups taught by Money were Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H members, city and county police and other conservation personnel.
He also started the first snowmobile class in the state and, as in his boating safety classes, taught the laws and nomenclature of the machines operated by the pupils. A glance out the window of his home seemed to bring a recollection of special trips he has taken.
"I have taken boy Scouts into Canada on canoe trips that had us going into the wilderness by train and canoeing back some 175 miles. We never had a canoe tip over and the boys really enjoyed it. Some of them are grown now but still stop in sometimes and ask to see movies that I took of the trips."
Besides his frequent attendance at camps for various groups, Money was kept busy by the hectic schedule that all men in the department keep. "Our job is to protect natural resources. We deal in forestry, dredging, nursing, pollution, fish and game laws and work with city and county police. We have all the police powers."
With the population as it is, one would think exercising the police powers in the field would take up most of conservation officers' time. Not necessarily, according to Money. "We used to have more violators in the old days. Times were harder. Now people go out and break the law to see if they can get away with it or just for the fun of it.
"We used to have to watch for trappers and fishermen with gill nets and seines. Things are different now. People realized now that they are just hurting themselves when they take game or fish over the lawful limit." With persons having more and more leisure time, many have turned to the lakes for recreation. Money sees the boaters as one of the main problem groups a conservation officer faces.
Boating Biggest Problem
"Boating is the biggest problem today in my opinion. Fifteen years ago there weren't any boats like they have now. A guy with a 10 horse motor was the fastest on the lake. Today they need 200 horsepower to compete with their friends." Money explained that the boaters do not cause problems by breaking laws so much as their seemingly careless behavior while riding around area lakes.
"We have to protect people. Some of those people endanger themselves and others by riding on the gunwales, riding on the back of boats, speeding, going too fast at night or by shunning people life preservers."
Game Populations Down
Finding a place to hunt is one of the most prevalent problems hunters face today and Money had some observations on the subject. "Everybody goes to a place where they know they can hunt. Right now it is the public hunting areas. We used to have several local game clubs but they can't afford to raise pheasants and other game any more because of the high prices. The game population is way down. I see more deer around here than rabbits or upland game birds."
"Rabbits are making a bit of a comeback and I think it is because of the return of larger numbers of groundhogs. Groundhogs are den builders and animals such as rabbits need the vacated dens to live-in. Chemicals used by farmers also hurt in the game populations, especially game birds."
The future of hunting and fishing in the U.S. is important to Money. The outdoors are a way of life for him and provide hours of recreation when he is not at work in the field. "I went to the same ranch in Wyoming each year for 20 years. I have fished the Canadian wilderness and it is just amazing." Three sets of deer racks and an impressive bear skin were spaced around the porch of Money's home testifying to his good fortune in the field."
"One time, years ago five of us went to Canada on a fishing trip to the wilderness. We kept track of our catch and had more than 200 pike in half a day's time, and we did not even used barbed hooks. He had 40-50 Walleyes of eight to ten pounds each. That is what it used to be like up there. Now one can follow the beer cans to the lakes we used to hike to."
The Old Days
Being a conservation officer for more than 30 years gave Money an opportunity to experience many things, one of which is dealing with the many types of people in our society. Some of those with which Money came in contact were far from ordinary. "My early days in the business were damn exciting. Some of the guys had to fight their way in and out of many situations. Some got shot and others got speared by fishermen.
"One of my first assignments was in Southern Indiana after a conservation officer had killed a guy. I went down to the town and there was a big sign. It read "Open Season on All Game Wardens."
"The people down there were going to lynch the officer who had killed the local man but finally let him go and that was why I was called in." After staying in the town for a few days, Money got to know some of the citizens. His fear upon first arriving changed one night after being invited to play cards with the group. "I thought for sure it was a trap to get me, but we played rook all night and had a good time."
Another interesting tale concerned his work on special assignments in another area of Southern Indiana where officials were having problems with persons poaching deer. Money was sent to the site to infiltrate the gang of poachers and get a line on who they were and their method of operation. "I got in with them all right and even went with some of them while they were poaching to get more information.
"Well, one afternoon I was sitting in a restaurant with a couple of the guys when a man from Wabash County came in and started calling to me by my real name. I had given the poachers a false name and kept on arguing with the guy that he was mistaken. He even said "Oh yes I know you, you're the game warden in Wabash County."
Money went to his superior the next day and told him of the episode in the restaurant. The lieutenant in charge told him to "get in your car and don't stop before you get to Indianapolis or they'll kill you." Money took the advice and left without even picking up his clothes from the place he was staying in the town.
He related to other game officials in the area that the poachers were selling the deer for $60 apiece and removing them unnoticed via an ambulance. With the information officers were able to make several arrests a short time later.
Money is a native of Portland, Indiana and participated in football, basketball and baseball at the local high school. "I had three brothers spaced four years apart and for 16 years there was a Money in athletics at the school." Money and his wife Fredetta are the parents of four children, two of whom are deceased. A son, Pat, lives in Goshen, while daughter Debbie, resides in Cleveland. They each have three children and Money said both his son and daughter began hunting and fishing at an early age.
"All my kids hunted and fished from the time they were eight or nine years old. My wife likes the outdoors too. She had to like it to put up with all those times I was gone and on the road."
Money is also a dog fancier and has owned fox hounds, coon dogs, beagles and bird dogs throughout the years. A nine-year-old black and white English Pointer by the name of Mortimer is the present pooch in residence.
The smell of venison floated in from the kitchen around 6 p.m. and a last look around the outside of the house revealed two sets of Elk horns and the peppy Mortimer. Money unleased the dog , told him he could take one lap around the house and looked longingly over Lake Wawasee. Mortimer returned promptly after completing his rounds and Money gave him a pat on the head before retiring him to his house.
Another glance at the lake and he was gone inside. Money lives for the outdoors. He works at it, plays at it, and a good bet is that he dreams of it. His physical appearance looks it, his mind thrives on it and his heart is certainly in it. It's a good way to be.
Warsaw Times Union, Spotlight June 15-22, 1974