Jeff Crow knows when to serve
IF YOU want to see what makes a good school, go meet the principal. If an Army company is running smoothly, it has a high-speed, low-drag lieutenant and a first sergeant to keep him in line. If a restaurant is doing outstanding work, credit the chef and the owner. When looking to give credit or place blame, “the top” is always a good place to start.
That’s why the Jeff Crow era at the state’s Game and Fish Commission will likely be remembered as a success. Just as the Mike Knoedl administration is remembered today. The two men led the state’s outdoors outfit through some major successes, and at least one major scare.
Remember the days when deer were rare in Arkansas, and a dozen head of men would hunt one track in the ground? Remember when turkeys and bear were scarce? There’s even a largescale effort to bring back the bobwhite quail now, and all the best to anybody involved. Now the state is facing the chronic wasting disease in the deer and elk herds. The brass at the Game and Fish Commission has done so much good for so many years for hunters and fishermen, that many of us assume they’ll get us through CWD, too. With the help of providence and science.
ALL HIS years in the Marine Corps must have taught Jeff Crow not only when and how to serve but also when not to, and when to step aside for new blood. Both in his coming in as director of the state’s Game and Fish Commission in July of last year and his going out as of February of next year, he’s been true to the Corps’ motto: Semper Fi, or Always Faithful.
Jeff Crow says he doesn’t see any point in hanging around any more, so he isn’t. It’s as simple and dutiful as that.
“I think it’s just the stress of what that position holds, the everyday ins and outs,” opines Steve Cook, chairman of the state’s Game and Fish Commission. Or as Jeff Crow himself put it: “It’s just time.”
Chairman Cook agreed. “I get enough phone calls and emails,” he says, “but I’m sure [Jeff Crow’s] pile of return phone calls, emails, voice mails and text messages is probably twice as much as I can fathom.” Enough was enough, Jeff Crow wisely decided. It was time for him to go. So he went.
Oh, the troubles Jeff Crow has seen during his now self-abbreviated tenure. There was that breakdown in communication when Game and Fish inaugurated a new system for issuing hunting and fishing licenses. And did Jeff Crow ever hear about it—from hunters and fishermen in every corner of a state that abounds in them. This fall, hunters are fumbling around with 8-by-11 sheets of paper stuffed into wallets. It really isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but hunters have it good in this state. Any little inconvenience is an excuse to complain. (Can’t complain about the deer herd, can’t complain about the number of turkeys, can’t complain about duck season dates, can’t complain about rules and regs . . . . So we’ll complain about sheets of paper.)
Jeff Crow isn’t above admitting his role in that minor snafu. Indeed, he may be his own toughest critic.
BUT IF he had his missteps, as he readily acknowledges, Jeff Crow also had his successes. For example, there was the calm, deliberate way in which Game & Fish dealt with the threat posed by CWD. The G&FC’s staff was worried about the disease’s becoming even more pervasive than it seemed at the time.
“Chronic wasting disease,” Jeff Crow recalls now, “was probably one of the biggest crises that our agency has ever experienced. To come through that on the other side with all the terrible news that kept rolling in, it would have been very easy for our agency, our staff and our commission to panic. Our measured response and going the extra mile to make sure that we were doing sound practices, I was pleased with the way that turned out.” And he should have been.
Well done, gyrene. Right or wrong, up or down in the public’s and especially in sportsmen’s eyes, you’ve done your duty and more, giving full credit to others while shouldering much of the blame yourself. Allow us to thank you for your service and wish you well. You’ve earned the simplest and highest praise that can be given any government worker: You’ve been a public servant.