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5 Things You May Not Know About Aldo Leopold

An image of Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold, a man revered as a pioneering conservationist, often appears larger than life — particularly to those of us who admire him most. Yet, there's much about him that is often overlooked, things that make him more relatable than the monumental figure history often paints. These lesser-known facets of Aldo reveal a man of diverse interests and a dry wit. Join us as we explore five aspects that showcase Aldo's intriguing personality, reminding us that behind every great legacy lies a very real, complex human being.

He was a dog lover

Aldo had an affinity for dogs that began in his youth. When Aldo was a child, his family owned a Cocker Spaniel named Spud. Childhood friends saw the two as inseparable and teased Aldo by calling the dog “Spudo”. Aldo was particularly interested in dogs as hunting companions. After Aldo and Estella started their own family, the Leopolds mainly owned German Shorthaired Pointers, known as enthusiastic gundogs — but the breed was not the only thing that stuck. Aldo continually recycled two names for his dogs, with all of them being called either “Gus” or “Flick”, with these names serving as mainstays in the Leopold family even after Aldo’s death. Interestingly, Aldo’s great grandson Jed has come to own a descendant of one of Aldo’s German Shorthair Pointers in recent years.

He designed a wildly popular bench (yes, like a park bench!)

The “Leopold Bench” has become a beloved piece of outdoor furniture around the world — even for those who have never heard of Aldo Leopold or his ideas! Although more popular here in the States, we’ve seen Leopold benches as far away as Russia. The bench gained its popularity due to its simple design, with minimal materials, time, and expertise required to successfully build one. Despite the popularity of the design today, Aldo never drew up building plans for the bench, instead opting for each one to be slightly unique — and allowing for plenty of present-day creativity and reinterpretation!

He never titled A Sand County Almanac

Despite the eventual overwhelming success of the book, Aldo never knew his collection of essays by its title. You may know that A Sand County Almanac was published posthumously by Aldo’s children. In fact, Aldo passed away one week after learning that it had been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press. Aldo had titled his masterpiece Great Possessions, but the publisher thought it was too similar to Dickens’ Great Expectations. Thus, a classic was born under a different name: A Sand County Almanac.

He thoroughly enjoyed the arts

Both in his private time with family and on public outings, Aldo frequently took time to engage with the arts. He was particularly fond of music, enjoying frequent performances at home by his wife and children, as well as attending concerts. He also had an appreciation for cinema, with his favorite movie star being Hollywood icon Ingrid Bergman.

He had a dry sense of humor

Despite his intensity and passion for nature and conservation expressed in his writings, Aldo wasn’t all business. He possessed a unique, dry sense of humor, which comes through in his writings. These journal entries were actually selections from small notepads that Aldo would carry on his person while at the Leopold Shack and Farm, used for jotting notes with a small pencil. He would then transfer these snippets into larger, neater journals at the end of a day of work. These entries give us a deeper look into Aldo’s thoughts and personality, helping greatly to humanize such an iconic figure. For example,  one such selection details how, during a particularly brutal mosquito season in 1935, he and his family packed up and left the Shack, opting instead to take refuge at a hotel in nearby Baraboo. Even Aldo had his limits!