Your guide to Missouri outdoors
Volume 2 Issue 1
Throughout history, sportsmen have used tools of transportation to make their time afield more enjoyable. From horses to canoes to trucks to trains, we have used many modes of transport to and from our hunting grounds. But nothing has ever been more sportsman friendly than an ATV.
Also in this issue of Driftwood Outdoors Gun Control Winter Crappie Kansas Pheasants
Getting Permission pg 6
Winter Walleye pg 8
A Season That Never Ends pg 20
A Hunter’s Perspective on Gun Control in America by Brandon Butler As a father of two little girls, one in second grade and one in kindergarten, I cannot fathom the pain and suffering of those in Newtown, Connecticut who lost a child. And I am sure those who lost an adult loved one grieve no less. Words do no justice, but as President Obama said, all the people of our nation are with the victims and their families. Hopefully there is some solace in the fact. Being a member of society who strongly supports the Second Amendment, I cannot help but participate in meaningful dialog about the onslaught of gun control initiatives. I am a hunter who shoots. My passion for firearms is rooted in time spent afield, and guns are part of that experience. Yet, there are millions of Americans who actively shoot but do not hunt. These folks simply enjoy shooting guns. They are not the threat to our society. You simply cannot argue that firearms are anything more than a tool; lifeless objects operated by the hands of man. Firearms are not to blame for this tragedy, and all others like it, people are. However, many argue that if these killers could not obtain firearms, then mass murderers would not be able to act out their horrific plans. Many also claim inner city violence and suicides would reduce. Yet, there is simply no evidence to support this. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people, including 19 children with a bomb made from materials anyone can acquire. In my opinion, the problem is our society. And at the center of it all is the media attention these maniacs receive. In most cases, the people who are acting out these atrocities are societal outcasts. They’re loners who, by definition, are lonely. I assume most want to be accepted. They want to be popular, to have friends and engage in meaningful life. Yet for some reason they don’t. Perhaps it’s because of mental illness, perhaps it is something else, but for whatever reason their desire for acceptance turns to anger, which is then fueled by a desire to show us all we have made a mistake by denying their need of attention. And as a society we have come to show them that they will have attention, lots of it, if they act out in such a manner. By tuning in and watching it, we are all as guilty as those who broadcast it.
Brandon Butler instructs Wendy Orthman who is target shooting with an AR-15.
So now we are left with a bunch of talking heads promoting political agendas. And they’re on both sides of the aisle. Watching legislators discuss gun control is a window into just how uninformed so many of our elected officials are. Many of these people have no idea what they are saying and are trying to govern on opinion as opposed to fact. A congresswoman on television said “It’s harder to buy a car than a gun.” That’s simply ridiculous. The truth is, every time you try to buy a gun, the retailer must perform a background check with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. This mandate, which was initiated as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 was launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998. According to the FBI web site, its purpose is to “determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives,
and protecting people from harm—by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands.” It often takes law abiding citizens, including millions who have never committed a crime in their life, days to be cleared for firearms purchase. Then serial numbers are recorded and you are linked to that gun, forever. Few criminals and killers are going to Bass Pro Shops or a local gun shop to buy a gun. They’re buying them on the street or stealing them from legal owners. It’s scary to think such uniformed people are elected and then are given the power to change our nation. Just think about how many other issues they are addressing that they also have no understanding of. I understand guns and gun laws, so their babble is obvious to me. Yet I know little about insurance regulations, unemployment rates or fiscal cliffs, but I
assume those who are educated on those subjects spend a lot of time shaking their head in disbelief at the idiocracies being spewed forth from Washington. So now the mainstream media is coming after assault weapons. Well, that should be an easy win, since true assault weapons, which are fully-automatic, are already so heavily regulated that the average citizen cannot own one. Semi-automatic weapons are not assault weapons. My duck hunting 12-gauge shotgun, my dove hunting 20-gauge shotgun and my 30-.06 deer rifle, which was manufactured in the 1960s and handed down to me by my grandfather, are all semi-automatic. The truth is any gun regulation that is passed is a crack in the dam. We all know once water starting pouring through the dam won’t be standing much longer. There are people who want all guns to go away and they will systematically attack our rights until their agenda becomes reality. Anymore, I can’t say with confidence that it’ll never happen. We don’t need 30-round clips for hunting. But if we allow a bunch of misinformed pundits to chip away at the dam of freedom built by honest Americans, then it won’t be long until we are all washed from the valley by a ragging rush of legislation mandated by fear of the crazy few. If we are going to fix our society it has to begin with family values. We stop allowing children to waste their lives away playing videos games where the object is killing as many people as possible. We need to stop camping in front of stores to buy iPhones, and return to camping around a fire. And above all else, we must stop giving mass murderers the media frenzy result they desire after committing a heinous act. See you down the trail…
Watch for the next issue of Driftwood Outdoors to be delivered
March 1, 2013
January/February 2013 In this issue of
Driftwood Outdoors Gear & Gadget Review
by Kennedy O’Riley (age 10)
Pacific Salmon on a Missouri Trout Budget
Winter Walleye Tips and Techniques
Johnson 360 Treetand
A Rabbit Just Doesn’t Have A Chance
Show Me Birds, Baxter Springs, Kansas
14 15 16
“Made in U.S.A.” Makes a Difference to Sportsman
Ten Tip for Getting Permission
Five Quick Steps To Locating Bass
ATV Article A Hard-Core Duck Hunter .....Maybe!
Wild Horses Still Roam Free Along Scenic River Ways
20 21 23
A Season That Never Ends
My dad and I travelled to Northern Missouri for opening day of youth season. We decided to hit the woods a little early that afternoon and so it seemed like we were waiting for a long time for the deer to show up. Finally my dad said, “Kennedy, look, there’s a buck!” I looked through the scope of my gun on my Field Pod and aimed at him and then, BOOOOOM! I didn’t even feel the kick. We waited a little bit after the shot and then we went into the woods to look for my deer. The first thing we saw was a deer jump up and take off like he was not even hurt, our hearts sank…but we found blood right away so we decided to wait before going any further. After waiting a while at the farm house, my cousin and his parents got home so we decided to hit the blood trail again, it was really dark so we had to use flashlights. My dad is color blind so my cousin and I kept looking and looking for blood like blood hounds and then… THERE HE WAS! I was so excited when we found him. We were all surprised to see he had half of another deer’s rack wrapped in barbwire on his horns! It was a great hunt, and the best deer I had ever shot.
Shooting Docks For Winter Crappie
Contributors Kennedy O’Riley, Josh Honeycutt, Lawrence Taylor, Ron Kruger, Glenn Wheeler, Nathan Shore, Bud Smith, Bill Cooper, Terry and Roxanne Wilson, Dave Sendre, Mike Dixon
Managing Editor Brandon Butler
Fishing Editor Kenny Kieser
Creative Layout Joe Pendergrass
Driftwood Outdoors is published monthly. The entire content of this newspaper is Copyrighted 2013 ©. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the Managing Editor.
The Pathfinder pack from ALPS OutdoorZ is one of the most versatile packs on the market. It has the ability to carry a bow, haul out meat, carry extra gear and even convert from a fanny pack to a day pack. The Pathfinder eliminates the need of different packs for different season. From turkey season to deer season, this amazing modular pack can serve all your hunting needs. The Pathfinder features an adjustable shoulder harness and a padded waist belt with zippered pockets. The suspension system will help securely and comfortably carry your heavy loads. In addition to functioning as a fanny pack or a day pack, it’s also compatible with a series of accessory pockets, that lets you chose a binocular pocket, a camera pocket, or a set of turkey call pockets. With all of these options, the Pathfinder really is several packs combined into one amazing unit. The Pathfinder is available in Realtree AP and Max-1. It has a total capacity of 44L and retails for $99.99. “We’re excited to expand our line of hunting packs and camo patterns, and by offering Realtree Max1, we are able to reach more hunter’s needs and wants. With all the exciting products we’ve added to our line this year, 2012 is sure to be a big year for us,” explained Zach Scheidegger, product manager. Alps OutdoorZ is a Missouri based company. Their home office is located in New Haven, MO. For more detailed information, specifications, and a video on ALPS OutdoorZ’s Pathfinder pack and other camo gear (sleeping bags, packs, duffels, and chairs) go to www.alpsoutdoorz.com.
A trail camera picture of the Barbwire Buck.
The Alps OutdoorZ Turkey Chair sits low to the ground to keep you hidden and relaxed while you’re waiting for the next turkey to sneak through the field. The sturdy powder coated steel frame is durable and supportive so the chair can make the trip with you time and time again. The Turkey Chair quickly folds flat for easy transporting when you need to move to a spot quickly. While the name of this chair is Turkey Chair, it also works great as a predator hunting chair. Above all else, the Turkey Chair is NWTF Approved. For only $39.99, you can from now on turkey hunt in comfort. For more information on ALPS OutdoorZ’s Turkey Chair and other camo gear (sleeping bags, packs, duffels, and chairs) go to www.alpsoutdoorz.com. Dimensions: 19” wide x 12” deep x 21” high Weight: 5 lbs. Fabric Choice: Realtree AP HD Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Capacity: 300 lbs. Back Height: 21” Seat Width: 16” Seat Depth: 12” Retail Price: $39.99
Hunt took place 11/03/2012, opening evening of deer season Equipment: Rossi Youth 243 with ATI tactical stock Caldwell Dead Shot Field Pod Kennedy O’Riley with her unique trophy.
Long Awaited Luck
Dad and Daughter: Best friends and hunting buddies.
Missouri Deer Classic
& Outdoor Expo with special guest
• BETTER Seminars • BIGGER Prize Drawings • AWESOME Big Buck Contest
Tim Wells from
• 2 Day 3D Archery Shoot • Product Vendors & Pro-Staff
March 2-3, 2013 in Columbia, MO • MissouriDeerClassic.com
Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting’s Old Masters By Jim Casada
In Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting’s Old Masters, a 317page hardbound book, Casada brings his training as an historian, his decades of studying the grand masters of the sport, his avid collecting of the literature and other mementoes of the sport, and his personal hunting experiences to bear in a detailed examination of the careers of 27 icons from turkey hunting’s past. Collectively they epitomize the essence of what old timers sometimes refer to as true “turkey men.” Coverage includes well-known individuals--Tom Turpin, Henry Edwards Davis, Neil Cost, Dave Harbour, Earl
Mickel, M. L. Lynch, Ben Rodgers Lee, and Dick Kirby—along with names which might not be quite as familiar to today’s hunters such as Parker Whedon, Doug Camp, Larry Hearn, Leon Johenning, C. L. Jordan, and Simon Everitt. Others profiled include E. A. McIlhenny, Frank Hanenkrat, Henry Bridges, Roger Latham, Gene Nunnery, Tom Gaskins, Charlie Elliott, Dwain Bland, Wayne Bailey, Jack Dudley, Frank Piper, and Kenny Morgan. Through these richly detailed and lovingly crafted profiles, accompanied by ample photographic support and extensive source notes, the reader can take a delightful trip down darkening avenues into a past which is at once fascinating and enlightening. Each vignette focuses on the person’s contributions to the world of turkey hunting in capacities such as callmaking, authors of articles and books, avid hunt-
ers, seminar speakers, television personalities, biologists, conservationists, and more. Two common threads typify every man profiled-their consuming love of the wild turkey and the fact that they were fascinating characters. The book, which features a striking dust jacket, gold stamping on the front cover and spine, Smythe sewing, and topquality paper, sells for $39.95 + $5 shipping and handling. Insurance, if desired, is $2 extra. Signed, inscribed copies can be ordered through www.jimcasadaoutdoors. com using PayPal, or by personal check or money order by contacting the author directly (1250 Yorkdale Drive, Rock Hill, SC 29730). There is also a sample chapter from the book which can be read on the website.
Ten Tips for Getting Permission
Pacific Salmon on a Missouri Trout Budget
By Josh Honeycutt It seems with every passing season it becomes harder to receive access to private land hunting. If you are not a landowner or blessed with family members and friends who are; then you are at a serious disadvantage on finding prime real estate. With the intense competition between hunters; it is ever increasingly becoming more difficult to persuade private landowners to grant strangers land access. However, do not call off the search just yet. The following tips have proven extremely helpful for me and countless others who have resorted to the “door knocking approach.” Remember, a first impression means everything. Here is how to make it a good one.
By Michael Dixon 4. Provide a Reference Think of this as applying for a job. When going for an interview, the employer always asks for references. “Applying” for a piece of hunting ground should not be any different. Even though they will likely not ask for one; it only betters your chances by offering it. A key way to electrify this already hot tip is to make sure these people know who your reference is. This provides your source with much more validity since the landowner knows them on a personal basis. Another key way to score quickly is to make your reference a previous landowner that you use to hunt on. However, only do so if you actually took care of the place. If you were not a good steward and canceled the previous deal on bad terms, throw this
1. Get a Head Start This is not the time to procrastinate. One way to really up your odds of success is by getting an early start. Most individuals will make the mistake of waiting until right before the season begins to start asking around. Do not be one of those people. The best way to ensure a piece of ground for next season is to ask right after the current one closes. Do not hesitate. Make sure you are the first to ask your local landowners. 2. Do Your Homework It is very important to know who you are asking, before you ask them. It is much more presentable and respectable if you call them by name upon arrival. It is also important that you get the inside scoop about their history and personality. It also does not hurt to know how long they have been there and the history behind the farm. Ultimately, learn who they are and what they do before you approach them. In other words, act like a good lawyer. Have a good idea as to what they will say before you ask any questions. 3. A Touch of Charm It never hurts to lay down a little charm to aid in your efforts. Guys, if the landowner just happens to be a lady, bring a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. Think I’m joking? Give it a try. It works wonders. Now girls, the same concept applies if the landowner happens to be a male. Just don’t bring him flowers or chocolates. Try something a little more masculine.
I personally like to give a portion of the meat to the landowners that grant me permission. The best time to do this is during turkey season. My experiences have shown this to be the most popular choice of all wild game.
idea out the window. 5. Make it Personal Closing the gap between yourself and the individual is half the battle. Most people will likely be reserved when they first open the door. This is the time to break through all walls and barriers. First introduce yourself and tell why you are there. Then find a common ground to make the conversation more personal between you and the individual. This helps to calm their nerves because it gets them talking along with you. Another way to make the encounter more personal is to bring a child along. If the person sees that you have family values, they will be more apt to consider your inquiry. If you show up and act like an 80’s
This whitetail was taken on a farm that I was granted permission to hunt on. Before obtaining the hunting rights, the lady who owned the land was a complete stranger.
punk rocker; your odds will likely head south in a hurry. 6. Give a Little It is very likely that someone else will already have hunting rights to the property you ask about. Even so, there is a few ways to slip in their alongside them. If you see the conversation is heading in this direction; swiftly but kindly counter with a different proposition. Make the gesture that you only want to hunt part of the farm, not all of it. This way everyone gets their piece of the pie. Another idea would be to hunt only during a certain season. Many hunters only hit the woods during gun season. Or they only prefer to chase a certain game animal. If this is the case, agree to only hunt during times (such as during bow season/ seasons pre-existing hunters will not be in the field) where your presence will not conflict with others. When it comes to asking farmers for permission; there is one response that plagues outdoorsmen more than any other. A response that is very likely to fall upon your ears is, “No, I do not want someone to shoot my livestock.” This is the perfect time to be a bow-hunter. At this time, you should come back with the claim that this would not be a problem since you would only be hitting the woods with stick and string. 7. Surrender Your Services Now is the time to roll the sleeves up and get your hands dirty. Do not be afraid to offer to help out if you or those who you are asking believe that everything comes with a price. In all actuality, it is the least you can do if you do not want to write a check for a lease. Take some time during the summer to help out on the farm or around the property. Allow this to help repay the debt.
8. Ration the Reward More and more people are being won over by the taste of wild game. The healthy, cholesterol free meat is truly second-tonone. Therefore, offer the landowner half of any animal that is harvested on their land. If they go for it, it is a win-win situation. You both get something out of the deal. 9. Cull the Coyotes Rest assured that no farmer likes coyotes. Check that, rest assured that no one at all likes coyotes. Grant it, I do enjoy hunting them. However, I do not take any enjoyment from seeing them walk past my trail cameras with a fawn, turkey, or newborn calf in their mouth. This being said, offering to eliminate the wild canines from the area could be a key factor in sealing the deal on a good piece of property. 10. Don’t Waive the Waiver The last and final tip is arguably the most important of all. Anymore, lawsuits are as common as any legal act. Therefore, most landowners shy away from those asking for permission because they want to avoid such bad encounters. Make it obvious that you are willing to sign a legal document that states you will not sue in the event should you obtain an injury while hunting on their turf. If the landowner is on the verge of saying yes, this will generally prove enough to solidify the deal. Josh Honeycutt was awarded the 2012 Lindsay Sale-Tinney Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded by the Outdoor Journalist Education Foundation of America, which is the educational arm of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.
There is an old saying: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Most of the time the old saying is correct. Recently, I was told there is great salmon fishing in Wisconsin. I was more than a little skeptical. Salmon? In the Midwest? That sounds too good to be true. When I’m not hunting or fishing, I like to spend my spare time riding my Harley. Being a member of the local Harley Owners Group chapter, I have contacts all over the country. So an email was sent to a fellow Harley rider in Racine, Wisconsin. Within 24 hours, I was speaking to one of the directors of the Racine chapter of Salmon Unlimited. That was all the convincing I needed. If Racine Wisconsin has a Salmon Unlimited chapter, they must have some good salmon fishing. It turns out Lake Michigan supports a variety of salmon and trout species. And just like the salmon that live their lives in the ocean, mature salmon in the lake return to their home rivers to spawn each year. One of those rivers is the Root. The Root River flows through the middle of Racine, which is located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. In the last issue of Driftwood Outdoors, I mentioned that I’m a fly fisherman. It’s my favorite way to fish. There are tons of charter boats that fish the deep water of Lake Michigan for salmon, but there are not a lot of opportunities to target salmon on the fly. The Root River provides anglers that opportunity every fall. I took a quick inventory of the fly boxes and leaders in my fishing vest, and realized I needed to order some new supplies. I was hoping to do battle with a 15 to 30 pound fish, and size 16 hooks with a three pound test leader just wouldn’t do the trick. To make the trip even more fun, and cut back on expenses, I recruited a friend to make the journey with me. It’s common knowledge that much of the Midwest has been experiencing a drought this year. Talking with my Racine contacts, I learned the drought has even affected the Great Lakes. The water level in Lake Michigan is the lowest it has been in recorded history, and that affects the water levels in the tributaries. Increased flow due to rain triggers the salmon to swim upstream and spawn. “Watch the weather,” I was told. “They’re in the harbor now, and after a couple of days of heavy rain the fishing in the river should be good.” Every day I watched the weather for Southeast Wisconsin, and every day was the same. There was no rain in the
forecast. It was worse than waiting for Christmas when I was a child. At least I knew when that day was going to arrive. My ready bag was packed, and all I could do was wait. Then finally, there was rain in Wisconsin. I called Jerry, my friend who was accompanying me, and two days later we were on our way. After checking in at the motel, it didn’t take long to find a parking area near the Root. A quick survey of the water revealed salmon. And there were lot of salmon; a lot of big salmon. We quickly assembled our rods, and put on our waders. A short hike along the road, then across a bridge, and we were in the water. The scene was just like the salmon runs I had watched on television, but without the bears. Salmon were swimming around in the pools, and fighting their way up-
stream through the shallows. Dorsal fins above the surface reminded me of scenes from “Jaws.” Armed with a red egg pattern fly on a size 1/0 hook and a 20 pound test fluorocarbon leader, I began casting to a fish in one of the deeper pools. It didn’t take long, and the battle was on. The large salmon thrashed around on the surface trying to throw the hook from its mouth. The noise it made in the water sounded like someone had fallen in. Failing to find freedom from all the thrashing, the King took off on a run downstream. My eight weight fly rod was bending as though it was an ultra-light as the fish stripped line off the reel. I quickly realized why the rod came equipped with a fighting butt. Suddenly, my line shot back
at me like a rubber band, and the big fish was gone. As I prepared to tie on another fly, I noticed half of my tippet was gone and the half still attached to the leader was frayed. The fish had maneuvered itself around a rock in the shallow water, weakened the leader, and gained its freedom. A short time later, Jerry had one on. He had witnessed what happened to me, and decided to end the fight as fast as possible. Putting his faith in the 20 pound test leader, he quickly hauled his salmon to the gravel bank. The big male weighed 18 pounds. By then, it was about dinner time and we needed to find the fish cleaning station. We packed our equipment and called it a day. That night, we were guests at the Salmon Unlimited meeting. Because the water level in Lake
Michigan was so low, the level in the Root dropped fast. The fishing the next day wasn’t as productive, but we did have an enjoyable time. After spending the early morning in the river, we found Wilson’s Coffee and Tea about a mile from where we were fishing. The folks didn’t mind that we wore our waders into their shop. After more fishing, we went to The Yardarm near the harbor for a grilled salmon lunch. The owner greeted us at our table, and provided a map and directions to another popular fishing location. Unfortunately, the water was too low for the salmon to get that far upstream. The fishing could have been better on this trip, but it could have been worse, too. The locals we met were as friendly as anywhere I have ever traveled. And from a cost perspective, where else can a fisherman from Missouri catch King Salmon a few hours’ drive from home? If there is such a thing as Salmon Fever, both Jerry and I caught it. And to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!”
Winter Walleye Tips and Techniques By Kenneth L. Kieser
Many will approach the 2012-2013 winter differently. Some are content to wait for what they call the spring bite because of the big snow drifts. Others go fishing and catch big walleye. Veteran walleye fisherman love to bundle up in warm clothing and go fishing while most are watching television. Few can deny the remarkable taste of fresh walleye fillets from cold water. The trick is knowing where to look. Winter walleye are structure-oriented and often hungry. Look for angled bottom structure that eventually meets a drop off. I especially like rocky shelves or huge boulders. Then I drift across these areas with minnows--or salted minnows where live bait is not permitted. Walleye suspend in these areas in search of baitfish. I constantly have to keep the motor running to stay on fish in windy conditions. Wind will push you past the fish. Winter fish are often staged on slanted areas and a few feet to the right or left can mean no strikes. The key is staying where the walleye want to be. I use 1/4 ounce jig heads in calm water and 3/8th or heavier in wind and waves. We change sizes until the best size is found. Winter walleye require an adequate presentation. Most winter walleye suspended on the bottom. A soft occasional lift off the bottom can draw many strikes. Sometimes hits come on the drop, making line control extremely important. Other times hits may be soft; no more than a light twitch or the line might suddenly start moving sideways.
VERTICAL FISHING—Start by moving to likely spots around rocks or weed beds and vertical fish. Minnows or nightcrawlers are dropped straight down and either suspended or brought up a reel turn every five minutes. The idea is to let that walleye study your bait or to hang it in front of its nose. Try using bright gold or blood red hook for added attraction. We like to add a tiny piece of Christmas tree tinsel for more shine. Some even glue glitter to their hook or bait. Keep in mind that walleye can detect strange odors, so use glue with the least odor. TROLLING—Trolling is an excellent winter technique if you go slow enough. I like to use the current for trolling or bumping baits, lures or jigs across the bottom. I simply turn my boat sideways and cast out two or three lines. Make sure your baits, jigs or lures are weighted well enough to stay on the bottom. Then watch each rod. Walleye often hook themselves because of this little motion. Try trolling floating Bombers and Smithwick Super Rogues in Fire Tiger and Chrome Black Back and Chrome Blue Back color patterns. Remember to use plenty weight about a foot from the lure to hold each presentation on the bottom. Pay close attention while making Sturns when trolling. Bites seem to come on the turn, no matter if it is on the inside or outside turn, when I let my rod sweep back to allow slack line. The Long “A,” Rogue or other floaters will float up and trigger bites due to this action. Most of these lures run 7 to 10 feet, so they’re pounding the bottom when House trolls. When he makes a turn, the lure rises
Winter is an excellent time to catch walleye. Try the slower winter method for a full stringer.
in the critical three to four feet strike zone. That little hesitation occurs where the fish are sitting on top of the reef. This is a good method for catching larger walleye. CASTING—Most cast for winter walleye. I like to use a much smaller jig or lure during the coldest weather. We have caught many fine walleye while fishing for winter crappie with 1/80 or 1/100-ounce jigs that were tipped with euro larve or a commericial brand or crappie additive. Again, use a slow retrieve while making sure you keep each offering on the bottom. Twitch your rod tip on occasion. Sometimes this added move will draw strikes. The key is placing your bait in front of the walleye’s face, a feat accomplished by patience and lots of time in uncomfortable weather conditions. The couch and a football game are warmer, but not nearly satisfying as catching a six pound walleye on four pound test line. LIVE BAIT—Minnows, leeches and nightcrawlers are extremely effective for walleye. Hook your leaches towards the end so they can wiggle and flop. Nightcrawlers are more effective with a shot of air with a hypodermic needle so they float off the bottom better. This is especially good in thick bottom, making it easier for the walleye to locate them. Minnows, especially salted versions, can be hooked through the mouth, extending the hook through their backs. LURES—Most walleye are scattered around the bottom, but occasionally these large predators will chase a school of minnows or small perch. Crankbaits can become extremely productive when
walleye are chasing forage. Many northern fishermen prefer Rapalas or Rebel Deep Divers. But other effective types are available including the Reel Image versions from Cabelas. The key is color and a tempting wiggle. Try to match what walleye are going after. For example, walleye chasing bluegill might like lures painted dark green, dark blue or black with an orange belly. Fish chasing minnows might like a silver or gold colored imitation. You might do well with orange or pumpkin colored lures where gold fish are present. I like darker colors in darker water and lighter colors in lighter water—especially for walleye. Another important key of walleye fishing is the use of a fish or structure locator. Again, walleye are structureoriented fish. A devise to read the bottom is important to avoid fishing unproductive waters. EQUIPMENT— A depth finder is more than a little helpful, but not necessary depending on where you are fishing. You will find submerged rocks or weed bed lines with a depth finder. Without you have to guess about prime locations or suspended fish unless you are familiar with the lake bottom. I use medium-light tackle for winter walleye. A flexible rod with four to six pound test line is enough unless you are fishing in heavy current. I prefer four because of personal experience. Silver Thread Fluorocarbon gets more bites, even more so than changing to a smaller diameter monofilament line. Fluorocarbon lines are known for their virtual invisibility when under water. Kenny Kieser is a the Fishing Editor of Driftwood Outdoors.
Many of you likely have walleye in your freezer. Let me offer one of my recipes that are excellent with fresh or frozen walleye.
Walleye Chowder • 3 to 4 pounds walleye fillets • 1 bottle Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade with Lemon Juice • 1 large onion, diced • 6 large potatoes, 1/2-inch cubes • 1 stick butter • 3 to 4 Tbsp. cooking oil • 1/4 cup flour • 2 16-oz. bottles clam juice • 2 gallons whole milk • 1 pint heavy cream • Lawry’s Garlic Powder to taste • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt to taste • Lawry’s Garlic Pepper to taste
Cut the fish fillets in quarter-sized pieces and combine fish and Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade with Lemon Juice in a resealable bag. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Sauté onion in oil. Add enough oil to also cook the fish, sprinkling with Lawry’s Garlic Powder and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Remove the fish and onions and set aside as soon as they are done. Don‘t over cook the fillets or they will fall apart in the chowder. Boil potatoes in water with a dash of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt until tender (about 20 minutes). Set aside. In a large soup pot, melt butter (be careful not to scorch). Add flour to form a roux. Once the mixture has bubbled for a minute, add clam juice. The mixture will thicken. Add two cups of milk. When the mixture comes to a boil, add cream and reduce heat. Add remainder of milk until desired consistency is reached. Be careful not to overheat, as the milk will curdle. Add Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Lawry’s Garlic Pepper to taste. Let simmer 15 minutes, then add drained potatoes. Just before serving, add the fish and onion mixture.
Ron Kruger’s Guide Services
Float Trips, Float-Fishing Trips and Wade-Fishing Trips Float-Fishing Trips: arefor $200 day one, $300 Tripsand are lower on theCurBlack and Float-Fishing Trips: Rates are $200Rates per day one,per $300 forfor two. Trips arefor ontwo. the Black lower Current Light spinning or ultra-light gear is best. Equipment bring your own. I rent rivers. Light rivers. or ultra-light gear isspinning best. Equipment provided, or bringprovided, your own.or I don’t provide don't provide so that extra, but I can recommend reputable I don't more than two lodging, so thatlodging, is extra, but I canisrecommend reputable businesses. I don’t businesses. take more than twotake at a time, at a time, because I give individual attention to every client. I rarely fish myself, but instead do everything I because I give individual attention to every client. I rarely fish myself, but instead do everything I can to insure can to insure clients not only catch fish themselves, but come away with knowledge and techniques that will clients nottheir only catch fish themselves, improve fishing from then on.but come away with knowledge and techniques that will improve their fishing from then on. Float Trips: Enjoy a safe and leisurely scenic float trip down the Black River, one of the clearest Float Trips: Enjoy arivers safe and leisurely scenic float trip down the Black River, one of the of clearest and most and most beautiful in the Ozarks. No paddling necessary. All the thrills, none the spills. I use a large and stable 17-foot Comfortable chairs with and handicapped beautiful rivers in theOsagian Ozarks.Workhorse No paddlingcanoe. necessary. All the thrills, none of backrests. the spills. I Elderly use a large and stable welcome. $200 Workhorse per day forcanoe. one orComfortable two people.chairs with backrests. Elderly and handicapped welcome. 17-foot Osagian Wade-Fishing $200 per day for one or two Trips: people. Special environments, special experiences. Catch-and-release only. Takes you to various creeks and shut-in areas of larger rivers that can’t be floated and are fished rarely. Some Wade-Fishing Special experiences. only. or Takes you to Charge hiking required,Trips: non-slip soles environments, recommended.special Selective clientele.Catch-and-release Ultra-light spinning fly fishing. various creeks and shut-in areas of larger rivers that can’t be floated and are fished rarely. Some hiking reis $200 per day for one or two people. quired, non-slip soles recommended. Selective clientele. Ultra-light spinning or fly fishing. Charge is $200 per Fly Fishermen: I’ve been fly fishing for over four decades; taught it, fly tying and rod building day for one or two people. four nights a week in St. Louis; guided fly fishermen on the North Fork of the White River for three years andFishermen: specialized inI’ve guiding fishermen for bass Kentucky Lake a decade. a patent on a fly/lure Fly been fly fly fishing for over four on decades; taught it, flyfor tying and rodI own building four nights a called the Desperate Diver. Normally, fly fishing is not as productive as spinning gear for river smallmouth, week in St. Louis; guided fly fishermen on the North Fork of the White River for three years and specialized in simply because you have to use heavy stuff to get down to them. Creeks are better for fly fishing, because guiding fly fishermen for bass on Kentucky Lake for a decade. I own a patent on a fly/lure called the Desperthey aren’t as deep and easier to wade. ate Diver. Normally, fly fishing is not as productive as spinning gear for river smallmouth, simply because you Bonus: I’ve been an outdoor writer/photographer for almost four decades. My pictures have to use heavy stuff to get down to them. Creeks are better for fly fishing, because they aren’t as deep and and words have appeared in most every magazine in the nation, including numerous covers, easier to wade. and I’ve served as the editor of three publications. Every trip listed above includes professional quality digital filesanofoutdoor the adventure and the catch at extra charge. CheckMy outpictures http://ronkruger. Bonus: I’ve been writer/photographer fornoalmost four decades. and words have apphotoshelter.com/ Become a and friend https://www. peared in most every<http://ronkruger.photoshelter.com/> magazine in the nation, including numerous covers, I’ve at served as the editor of three facebook.com/ron.kruger To check some of thethe catch at publications. Every trip listed<https://www.facebook.com/ron.kruger> above includes professional quality digital files of the out adventure and other natural attractions in the area, log onto http://www.arcadiavalley.biz/recreation_activities/ no extra charge. Check out http://ronkruger.photoshelter.com/ Become a friend at https://www.facebook.com/ index.html <http://www.arcadiavalley.biz/recreation_activities/index.html> ron.kruger To check out some of the other natural attractions in the area, log onto http://www.arcadiavalley. Deposit: $100 is required to reserve any date(s). This is not refundable unless you cancel at least one biz/recreation_activities/index.html month in advance, or I cancel due to weather or water conditions. Deposit: $100 is required to reserve any date(s). This is not refundable unless you cancel at least one month Ron Kruger POB 133or I cancel due to weather or water conditions. in advance, Arcadia, MO 63621 Ron Kruger, P.O. Box 133, Arcadia, MO 63621 - firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Johnson 360 Treestand Changing the Hunt One Crooked Tree at a Time! by Kevin Reese
Most of us have a favorite hunting spot whether on public or private ground; the one spot that speaks to our hearts, our instincts and our desire to commune with God’s great outdoors. For me, that spot is quietly nestled miles down a dirt road in Freestone County, Texas. While not necessarily a whitetail haven it is target rich as a result of our feral hog population. Occasional opportunities to take deer do arise but hog hunting is a year round activity in that little spot. It’s small by most accounts but hunts well, especially with a bow. We have several stand locations in predictable places but, like so many of you, I’ve had to settle for lesser positions because of the sheer amount of trees crooked trees on the property! Over the years I’ve found literally hundreds of perfect spots with perfectly imperfect trees! Some I hunt from blinds while others are routinely unhuntable from blinds because of flooding. Have you been there? How many times have you found the perfect spot of ground to setup on only to realize there isn’t a straight tree in sight? While a few treestand companies have offered solutions, only one seems to have dropped that problem in its tracks where comfort is an active ingredient.
Setup for success! Whether your tree is as straight as an arrow or crooked as a question mark, setup is simple. Follow manual instructions to assemble the mounting bracket, 3rd Link and seat. Hang the mounting bracket on your favorite tree and tighten the ratchet straps. Rotate the radius adjustment plate so the platform receiving hooks are level and make sure the spring loaded pin locks the plate into position; the adjustment holes on the mounting bracket are spaced at 1/8-inch intervals for near-minute adjustments. After leveling, tighten the four bolts down to ensure the radius plate does not move or shift. Hang the platform on the receiving hooks and clip the locking pins into place to secure the platform to the mounting bracket. Attach one end of the 3rd Link to the mounting bracket and the other to the platform near the seat hub. Use both holes on the3rd Link to make half-inch leveling adjustments to the platform. Make sure the bracket and platform are level before installing the seat. Using the locking-pin and five adjustment holes on the seat post, spaced at 1-inch intervals, adjust the seat height for comfort. Use appropriate safety and harness systems to ascend, descend, hang, remove and hunt from this or any treestand
What’s in the box? Opening the box I found a 19-pound, 34-inch circular platform, a heavy-duty bracket and radius adjustment plate, a two-piece adjustable 3rd Link, two 1-inch ratchet straps, a seat, seatback and seat post, bag of fasteners, a safety harness, bow holder and manuals for both the stand and the harness.
Hunt hard… comfortably! I found a number of attributes about this stand impressive. Beyond the obvious benefit of hanging a treestand on a crooked tree, comfort is at the top of my list and at the heart of Johnson Treestand’s product development. The 2-inch seat pad was incredibly comfortable and the added lumbar support allowed me to sit back and relax for a full day of hunting. The S-shaped seat post positioned me further back on the platform, creating much ap-
preciated, increased floor space directly in front of me.
by Lawrence Taylor
Answer these five questions and you’ll find the fish.
Johnson’s 360-degree difference! The included bow holder keeps your bow conveniently by your side for minimal movement when an unsuspecting deer or feral hog wanders into your kill zone! Speaking of kill zone, it’s just been expanded. Virtually all of us have accepted specific shooting lanes and areas off limits as a result of limited mobility. Not with the Johnson 360! The seat post sits in a nylon bushing at the center of the platform. The seat is virtually silent when moving and allows for 360-degree mobility! This seat system also allowed me to hold at full draw and rotate without obstruction or contact with the tree.
Let me level with you! From parts to fabrication this stand is 100-percent American made. Powdercoating, quality welding and durable seating material ensure the stand is ready for Mother Nature’s wrath and the 300-pound weight rating allows big guys like to me hunt all day worry free! The only cons I could see were the weight, lack of accessories, and perhaps a slight improvement idea for semi-permanent stand placement. At 36 pounds the stand is a bit on the heavier side; however, the stand is comprised of several smaller pieces allowing for improved distribution of weight for carrying into your favorite spot. My hope is that Johnson 360 offers a lighter stand with the same innovation for more frequent stand relocations. I would also like to see more accessories, perhaps a larger or wider seat option for bigger guys, arm rests, attachable pockets or gear bin and even some type of rest for rifle hunters and cameramen. Having said that, Jeremy Johnson, owner of Johnson Treestands, confirmed the company is currently working on some great accessories. Life at the top of treestand innovation might get lonely if other treestand makers don’t figure out a way to keep up with this type of forward thinking development. The Johnson 360 Treestand was specifi-
Five Quick Steps To Locating Bass
cally designed with excuse removal in mind. The ability to hang this lock-on treestand on virtually any mature tree standing at up to a 45-degree angle was simply mind-blowing. While weight is a minor factor, this treestand is rock solid, incredibly comfortable and chock-full of my favorite ingredient, innovation; in fact, the Johnson 360 Treestand is nothing less than a game changer for tree hugging hunters everywhere! Check out Johnson 360 Treestands, accessories and a list of dealers at www. JohnsonTreestands.com or www.treestandsonline.com. For more information call 800-229-3313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hunt hard, hunt often! Kevin Reese is an award winning outdoor journalist who specializes in bowhunting.
With Oklahoma’s Lake Wister severely flooded but falling quickly, Harry Padgett was confident that the fish would be up a certain creek and relating to flooded wood or the briar patches common around the shorelines. With the water falling, he figured the fish might be on the outside edge of the flooded timber and pastures instead of buried into the middle of the thick stuff. We caught a bundle of stout largemouths in short order, making things seem almost too easy. For me, it was easy, because Padgett did most of the thinking. All I had to do was throw my spinnerbait around the stuff he said they would be using. In many rivers and lakes, the task of locating fish in thousands of acres of water is daunting. It often seems like the fish could be anywhere. Too often, anglers allow the big-picture view to overwhelm them and they simply start fishing, picking a bank at random and casting to everything that looks like it could hold a fish. Occasionally that works; usually, it does not. Padgett, an Arkansas tournament angler, takes a much more systematic approach that begins with looking at things from the bass’ perspective. Always taking into account the type of water he is fishing and what he has learned about fish in his own part of the country, he considers the five factors that he has found to have the greatest impact on a bass’ locations and behavior: season, water, temperature, water color, water level and weather. SEASON Season provides answers to many big-picture questions that help you know where to begin searching for fish. Are stages of the spawn a factor? Should the fish be on mid-summer structure? Are they apt to be following baitfish up creeks? Not all fish in a lake do the same things at the same time, but thinking about the season helps you narrow thoughts about where most fish should be. Season, more so than other controlling factors, must be tied with geography. Fish finish spawning in Florida while Minnesota lakes remain frozen. Pay attention to when things happen on the bodies of water closest to you, and that will give you the first piece of the puzzle.
WATER TEMPERATURE Narrowing the focus a little more, the water temperature reveals more about how the fish will behave and about where they will be. Anglers too often ignore the temperature readings shown on their electronics. Exactly how the temperature comes into play depends upon the season. During the summer, you’re often looking for those areas that are a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the lake. During winter, the opposite is true. Through spring and fall, temperatures help you know how far along fish are likely to be either in spawning phases or in transitional moves. The water temperature, which can change as a day progresses, also affects the activity level of the fish. When the water is somewhat cool late in the fall, for example, the fish often will become more active and may move shallower as the day progresses and the water warms. WATER COLOR The water was heavily stained where Padgett and I fished. That’s the common condition at Wister, especially in the spring, and it influences the normal behavior of the fish. Generally speaking, dirtier water causes fish to stay shallow, hold tight to cover and rely heavily on their lateral lines for finding meals. In clear water, the fish are more apt to use offshore structure or cruise flats and to feed visually. Also take note of how water clarity varies within a body of water. If a lake was badly muddied by a big rain but the backs of its creeks have begun to clear, there’s a good chance that feeding fish will be concentrated in the clear water. Understanding the influence of water color helps you pick potentially productive areas and to choose the best lures to use. It also impacts color selections. Padgett’s picks range from darker colors that are easy for fish to see for dirty water to translucent colors for very clear water. WATER LEVEL Some waterways are subject to massive level fluctuations, while others only vary slightly. Most go up and down some, though, and the fish tend to move up and down with the water. High water generally pushes fish toward the banks, especially when new cover gets flooded. Low water draws fish out toward creek and river channels. In most rivers and many reservoirs, high water has
Crankbaits work for finding fish all year long.
the added effect of creating current, which helps position the fish because they either move into pockets that are fully protected from the flow or they hold in predictable positions behind trees, dock supports or other currentbreaking pieces of cover. As with other variables discussed, the trend is at least as important as the current conditions. In other words, as you look at the level and consider how the fish will react, also take into account whether the water is rising or falling (or neither) and how the trend will impact the fish’s positioning. WEATHER The weather is a “constant variable,” according to Padgett, and the bass gave evidence to that as we fished together. The morning began bright, and while the sun continued shining the fish bit well. When thick clouds settled in a few hours into the trip, the bite slowed dramatically and the fish repositioned themselves. Rising and falling pressure, rain, clouds, sunshine, steady wind… many weather conditions dictate where the fish are likely to be, so watch for clues. Pay especially close attention to any condition that changes during the day and note how that change affects the fish. BRINGING IT TOGETHER To cover all variables involved would require “a very large volume,” according to Padgett, and there’s no simple, specific formula that leads to the fish every time. That said, giving fair and intentional consideration to these factors and taking into account acquired knowledge about the waters you are fishing can be a major step toward putting fish in the boat. Of course, Padgett doesn’t assume anything, but lets the fish provide the final answers each day. “I’m still trying and learning,” he said, “because, after all, the fish make the rules and can change their rules when and where they choose.”
A Rabbit Just Doesn’t Have A Chance by Ron Kruger
As far as hunting and fishing are concerned, these are the “good old days,” and I know, because I’m old. I’ve been hunting and fishing since the 1950s, and I can assure you that fishing opportunities for every species, especially bass, has increased by amounts we wouldn’t even have dreamed of back then. Today, there is so much water and so many good fis–we never had it so good. The change in hunting for species such as deer and turkey are even more dramatic. Most biologists suspect that we have more of these species today than at any time in our history–more, in fact, than during colonial times. I don’t know about that, but I can tell you that when I was a kid, there simply weren’t any. Once when I was nine years old, I was squirrel hunting in a river bottoms and spotted a deer, and no one would believe me. We’ve come a long way, and we have professional fish and wildlife biologists to thank for that. Of course, these biologists and the departments for which they work, have hunters and fishermen to thank for the financial and political support that has made it all possible. Walt Disney and overly emotional animal lovers had absolutely nothing to do with it. It all started with Aldo Leopold during the early 1900s. Aldo is considered to be the father of wildlife management, and I wish he’d come back to straighten out our upland game problem. The good old days for these species was when I was a kid. Rabbits and quail were so plentiful back then, that even a little wipper-snapper like me, with no dogs and just a single-shot .410 could walk up a limit. Now I ask you: how could this be? How can we be so amazingly proficient at managing so many species of fish
and wildlife and fail so miserably with upland species? The pat answer is loss of habitat, and while that was true for the period between the Soil Bank Program of the 1950s and the introduction of the Crop Reserve Program of the 1980s, it’s not the whole answer. Today, between state and federal programs, we have well over 40 million acres devoted to wildlife habitat. That’s far more well-managed habitat than we ever had at any time. Still, it is very difficult to find a rabbit or a quail anywhere. In most places, it is extremely rare to even see one along the rural roads. What’s the real problem here? I think old Aldo would tell you if he was still alive. And I’m going to tell you because I’m old enough that I don’t care about being politically correct. The overriding difference between now and the upland utopia I enjoyed as a kid is the natural predator-prey relationship. It doesn’t matter how much habitat you set aside, how well you manage it, or even how many rabbits are produced if they are all gobbled up by coyotes and foxes before they are half grown. Aldo Leopold began his career with a strong belief in controlling predators. When I was a kid, the fur trade was in its heyday and predators were disdained. As a result, coyotes, bobcats and foxes were scarce. In fact, there was a bounty on foxes, and I never saw or heard a single coyote until well into adulthood. Then along came a generation who’s entire education about wildlife came from Walt Disney. They started protesting in front of clothing shops and throwing buckets of paint upon people who wore fur coats. Even fake fur became unfashionable. With no checks upon predators, the primary, though unintentional, effect of all these habitat programs has been to swell the ranks of predators to unprecedented
We’re not likely to see any serious resurgence of upland game species until some type of predator control is reinstated. Photo by Ron Kruger.
Show Me Birds, Baxter Springs, Kansas levels, especially coyotes. Coyotes, in fact, have become so plentiful, that during winter, when all the upland game our conservation dollars raise for them is gone, they venture into suburban areas all across the country, where they feast upon hapless cats and small dogs. During the first half of the 1900’s we may have overemphasized Leopold’s lead, but at the beginning of this century we are erring in the opposite direction, and as a result, a rabbit just doesn’t have a chance. It’s not just rabbits. This outrageous imbalance of predator species is culling a wide variety of game species, including deer and turkeys, plus non-game species, song birds and so forth. Coyotes aren’t the only problem, either. Foxes, raccoons and other fur-bearing animals are out of control as well, primarily because fur is unfashionable. We all like the idea of setting aside land for wildlife, but I believe the very best thing any of us can do for upland wildlife is buy a beautiful and luxurious fur coats made of coyotes, foxes and raccoons for the person, and the critters, we value most. Ron Kruger lives the life he writes about, spending countless days a year on the water in Missouri.
Despite millions of acres of land devoted to upland game, rabbits and quail remain scarce. What’s really going on here? Photo by Ron Kruger
by Glenn W. Wheeler Are you looking for a great pheasant hunting adventure close to home; a place that is family-friendly and doesn’t break the bank? Show Me Birds hunting resort in Baxter Springs, Kansas is just the place. Billed as the largest pheasant hunting operation in America, they produce and harvest over 65,000 pheasants each year. But don’t let the “produce” part turn you off. The birds they are producing are pure athletes and are as wild and evasive as any birds you will encounter elsewhere. When my brother, Kim Wheeler, and I visited recently, Show Me Birds’ owner Kim Shira told us “I breed, hatch and raise my own birds. I grow and buy 384 tons of grain to feed them and mill it on-site to meet strict 48% protein criteria; I don’t want corn-fat birds that can’t fly well. I even have an Animal Scientist from Kansas University on staff to ensure these birds are genetically and nutritionally raised to go from zero to out-of-gunrange in three seconds.” I think he has succeeded! Our shot to harvest ratio on the long-tailed trick pilots would probably suggest the birds have a quicker hole-shot than that. Located about twenty minutes from Joplin, Missouri, Show Me Birds has been in business for over twenty years and Shira takes great pride in the operation. From the five well-managed farms, of which you will hunt one, to the gun room, pro shop, skeet range, and swimming and fishing areas to the more than seventy employees, 200-plus bird dogs and great home-style meals, Shira, his wife Claudette and their staff don’t miss a detail. When we first began corresponding about my upcoming visit, Shira said “Come watch the dog show. That will be worth the trip.” Shira explained that some of the dogs that have been there for several years have worked in excess of 30,000 pheasants. “It’s great to watch them anticipate the bird’s moves. A lot of times, one of the dogs will get ahead and block the bird to keep it from running. It’s a real treat to get to watch these dogs work.” The four dogs our afternoon guide, Bryan Williams, brought along sure didn’t disappoint. My brother and I were treated to point after point, with all the other dogs honoring and leap-frogging the first to keep the birds in check. A couple pheasants managed to slip by and run through the impressive cover before flushing wild, but for the most part, the dogs were the clear cat and mouse victors. Their drive, training and expert handling were a joy to behold.
The service, habitat, pro-shop, gun-room, expert staff and all-around experience of Show Me Birds seem to lend themselves to an exclusive (read expensive) resort. But, in what may be the best part of the whole story, pretty much anyone can put back enough money to spend an afternoon here. 2012 package prices start at just $176.00 per person for a four pheasant, or five chukar, hunt! That doesn’t just include the hunt though; it’s the extras that will surprise you! For that $176.00 (plus $17.50 for your Kansas “CSA” license) you get a professional guide, two to three well-trained bird dogs (or bring your own), three hours of hunting some incredible habitat, a refreshment break mid-hunt, a wonderful lunch, a group photo and the staff cleans and processes your birds. And, unlike most operations, any “left-over” birds you happen to flush that previous hunters missed are free. My brother and I lucked out and came in a day after a big European hunt in which many pheasants escaped harm. We came home with over twice the birds the package came with. With the gun room and pro-shop, you don’t have to bring any hunting gear to Show Me Birds as they have all you need. From shotguns to upland pants, shirts, vests, jackets and hats. They also have a contract with Federal Ammunition which brings them close to three semi-loads of shotgun shells annually, allowing them to offer very reasonable prices on 12, 20, and 28 gauge ammo. Show Me Birds does not have overnight accommodations on the property, but have worked out great prices with the Holiday Inn of Joplin, Missouri. We stayed there and found the rooms to be very comfortable, the breakfast was top-notch and the staff bent over backward to make sure our stay was more than satisfactory. On the way out of town, we even stopped back in there for some first-class steaks. Whether you want to rekindle a love for pheasant hunting, want to work a young dog on some very wily birds or just want to spend a quality afternoon with friends or family, you don’t have to drive across three states. Just a few miles from the Kansas-Missouri Line, Show Me Birds is waiting. To find out more, visit www.ShowMeBirds.com or call (620) 674-8863. The 2012 season runs through mid-March. Glenn Wheeler is the author of the book “Swimming Holes of the Ozarks,” and is a past-president of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.
A round of clays before hitting the field is always a good idea.
Admiring the beauty of pheasant in hand never gets old.
Good dogs make any bird hunting trip better.
by Nathan Shore
by Brandon Butler
Safe-ice is coming soon to a lake near you. Here are some things to think about until then.
Long before I had a driver’s license, I had an ATV. My first was a Honda TRX 200. I learned how to drive on that machine. I also learned the value of freedom that comes from mechanisms of transportation. Every picked bean field was an expressway. Every trail through the woods was a new adventure. Over the years, I have owned a number of ATVs, both 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers. They have been different sizes, makes and models, but loyalty usually grows from what we know first. So today I remain a Honda guy. This past fall, I was fortunate to test a 2012 Honda Rancher 420 with power steering. Going into the test, I didn’t figure power steering would matter too much to me. It seemed like an unnecessary frill. I was wrong. The ability to make tight turns
Always Use a Two-Pole (or More) Combo Ice anglers don’t double their chances by using two poles. Using two poles with one dead-sticked and the other actively jigged increases your odds 10-fold when the fishing is slow. Use a spoon with lots of flash or a lure with an internal rattle to maximize attraction. A baitfish flash or auditory click from a rattle brings curious fish in to investigate. By having two distinctly different lures and actions close by, curious fish will have the option of taking your jigged offering or the dead-sticked live bait rig. On your jigging presentations, a bright glow finish is important in dirty water, during low-light conditions and when there’s a heavy snow-pack that cuts light penetration. This makes it less important during first safe-ice when the fish are shallow and there’s no snow-pack. Whichever type of jigging lure you use, tip it with a minnow head. Use the whole minnow on your deadstick jig. Thelen suggests the No. 6 Frostee Jig.
There is nothing like a winter fish fry of panfish pulled from under the ice.
Ice Panfish Pay special attention to the top portion of the jigs you select, especially if you’re fishing deeper water. A jig with a wide, flat head like the Lindy Bug is easier for your electronics to pick up. Jigs like the Lindy Toad are great for shallower water when anglers need to punch through
weeds. Both jigs feature a slightly offset hook for a better bite on the hookset. Use glow finishes and use a Tazer to recharge it every 15 minutes or so. Panfish rely more on sight for feeding than other senses, and the glow makes it easier for them to see and accurately strike the jig. “I don’t worry about hook color when
I’m getting smarter. Why drag a deer up and down hills and hollers to afield edge putting strain on my back when I can pull right up to it on my ATV, load it on and motor out to the truck without breaking a sweat. Midwestern whitetails pushing 200 pounds are a chore to drag. Because I had this Honda, I didn’t have to drag any this year, and you know what, I didn’t miss that part of the hunt a bit. My last ATV was sold when my oldest daughter was born, along with a bunch of other possession like a Harley and camper. Kids are expensive so the fringe benefits of life had to go in exchange for things like diapers and doctor bills. But now that my girls are seven and six, and have found a love for the outdoors, and because they aren’t quite as expensive as they were as babies, I figure it’s time to start replac-
their screams of excitement and to see the smiles on their faces. An ATV is more than a tool. It’s an opportunity to discover enjoyment. They are extremely useful in most sporting pursuits, but they are also just plain fun.
I’m after panfish,” Thelen said. “I gob on euro larva or wax worms to completely cover the tip of the hook, anyway. I prefer euro larva because it comes in a variety of colors, but will have wax worms with me just in case it’s one of those days when they prefer them over the euros.”
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Kids love ATVs. So if you’re thinking of buying one, just keep telling yourself it’s for the kids.
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Jason Heath loads his 2012 Missouri archery buck on his trusty old Honda.
and the overall comfort of not having to wrench on the handle bars makes the power steering option very valuable. The automatic transmission eliminates shifting. So really all you have to do is turn the machine and go. The power of the 420 was impressive. We are now seeing a lot of ATVs with 700, 800 and even larger motors. I don’t see anything wrong with purchasing a larger ATV, but I also don’t see a necessity. The 420 did everything I could have asked it to do, from pulling out deer to pulling my kids on a toboggan. Over the course of the 2012 deer season, I used the Rancher to haul four deer out of the woods. Perhaps I’m getting lazier as I age, but really I just think
ing my toys under the premise of making them our toys. The girls absolutely loved having the Rancher around the house. We rode it down to my hunting lease at least a couple of times per week. It was a great tool for me to use for motivation to get my kids out in the woods. The excitement of riding the 4-wheeler led to walking in the woods, pointing out deer sign and setting treestands together. We also used it for hauling food down to their pony and other chores around the yard. The most fun they had though as when I used the Rancher to pull them through a grass field on an old toboggan. When I was kid my friends and I used to pull each other old sleds with or without snow. What a joy to listen to
If you have been considering purchasing an ATV, then I recommend you go ahead and do it. It’ll provide fun for you and your whole family, and man, they sure make hauling venison out of the woods a lot easier.
A Hard-Core Duck Hunter………….Maybe!
we drive through the dark to our parking area we note the weather has progressed from a Missouri downpour to a Texas Hurricane! Sheets and sheets pelt down in the headlights. This is the kind of rain that sneaks under cuffs to run down forearms, and seeps through the shoulders of parkas to settle in your bones! Cold, penetrating rain! Weather that makes the average person glad to be inside a warm home! But not a hard core-duck hunter…….. maybe! As we unload the truck, rain sparkles in our headlamps and we discuss strategy for hunting our assigned pool. The shivering is now from anticipation, not the cold. It’s still pitch black and we have no idea what lays ahead but we are ready! We stand quietly, straining to hear contented quacks from snoozing Susies. Nothing, only the rain and wind. After loading the carts we stop to greet the other party assigned to the pool and soon realize they planned the exact strategy we had. Being good neighbors we decide to let them have first choice and we will use Plan B. Our new hot spot means slogging four hundred yards down a dark levee through knee high grass in a pouring rain pulling decoy carts. Oh joy, what fun! About 200 yards in the two of us begin to question the intelligence of this hunt. Should we have stayed in bed? Or maybe headed home when we pulled that ugly pill? Possibly packed up and left when we found out our pool companions already had the best location picked? And then it happened - off to our right in the dark….. the sound of ducks taking flight. Conversation ended as we walked and listened to more and more ducks rising. Even in the impenetrable darkness we knew what was happening in that corn! The further we
by Bud Smith The alarm jolts me out of deep sleep to the sound of pouring rain and gusty winds scrubbing the north side of the house. My first hazy thought is, “Why is the alarm going off at 2:00 AM”? Then it hits me - Ducks! No need to hit the snooze button now, but as warm feet hit the cold floor the urge to snuggle back under the covers is hard to resist. After all – it’s two days before Christmas. Children are nestled all snug in their beds with visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads. Why shouldn’t I be also! Who goes duck hunting two days before Christmas! Hard-core duck hunters, that’s who! And I’m a hard-core duck hunter……maybe! As the smell of brewing coffee fills the warm kitchen I peek out the frosty window for a look at the thermometer. Twenty-eight degrees! Twenty-eight degrees with a biting north wind equals -10 in the thigh-deep water of a flooded corn field. Brrrrrr!!! Those visions of dancing sugar plum nymphs are calling! But twenty-eight degrees with rain and sleet and blowing north winds spells ducks to a duck hunter! I silently slip back into the bedroom to kiss my sleeping wife goodbye and glance at the clock: 2:45. Need to get a move on but that warm bed is sure tempting. Fifteen minutes later ice is scraped from truck windows and I’m on the way to pick up my hunting buddy for the day. Finding hunting partners this close to Christmas was a daunting task. The repeated answer from usual partners still rings, “Two days before Christmas – are you nuts?” But the afternoon before, a friend of a friend called saying, “I hear you’re looking for a hunting partner. I’m up for one more hunt before the season ends”. So here I am backing out of the driveway into a howling nor’easter at 3:00 in the morning, to pick up a guy I hardly know, so we can drive 90 minutes for a duck hunt. Crazy? Not for a hard- core duck hunter…….maybe! I’m obsessive about doing the driving (yes, it’s a control issue), which has good and bad points. The bad point this morning is listening to my compadre snore soundly for an extra hour and a half while I drive. As we reach the conservation area sleet has now turned to a solid sheet of rain. But the good news is that very few vehicles in the parking lot means a high probability of drawing into a pool. For those of you unfamiliar with Missouri’s old daily draw on conservation areas, long drives with only the hope of a successful poor line draw opportunity all too frequently result in a quick trip back home without firing a shot. But not this time! Shortly after arrival staff make the announcement “everybody hunts today”. Welcome news to a hard-core duck hunter……..maybe! Although everyone gets to hunt, the process involves a lottery draw for pool locations. Pill one gets first choice, two second, and so on. Next to laying a decoy spread and mastering that duck call, draw line positioning is the third most important skill a public lands duck hunter can acquire. Positioning yourself in the perfect spot for the draw is as important as keeping dry waders. Too early in the line means too many pills in the box, too late and the good spots are gone! By striking up a few conversations with total strangers in the line, I cleverly manage to finagle myself into the perfect spot. Chances look good! I’m drawing for our party of two, so get to pull two pills from the box and the lowest claims our place in the order. The hand goes through the curtain and into the box – roll a couple
walked the louder the beat of duck wings became! Hundreds of birds rising from the corn! Our weary frowns were replaced with beaming smiles. We knew we had reached that mystical place duck hunters dream about – Duck Central! A silent high five was exchanged as we picked up the pace to spread decoys before the rising sun pushed the last vestiges of night from the sky. By the time we reached our chosen location we estimated several thousand ducks had taken flight around us. We broke ice for a decoy spread as our headlamps shined on tail feathers of ducks quickly paddling off through the open water in the corn rows. This had potential to be the hunt of a lifetime, even for a hard-core duck hunter……... maybe! As first light broke over the fields and tinted the sky pale crimson, we were in position and ready for the shooting to begin. Dark turned to gray and we could finally see what was going on around us. Ducks were everywhere…..literally everywhere. No matter what direction you looked, the soggy clouds appeared to be raining ducks. The racket of ducks on the water just out of sight behind the corn rows was deafening. There had to be ten thousand ducks within a 100-yard radius. The area we were in was where two levees met with protective trees on both sides. A perfect place for ducks to get out of the blasting winds to roost and feed. We were right in the middle of that duck gold mine conservation staff speculated about! The pouring rain and cold were now little more than a distant memory. With loaded guns in our laps and calls in hand, the focus was on our watches as we waited for legal shooting time to begin. The appointed time arrived
“Made in U.S.A.” Makes a Difference to Sportsmen, but Price Still a Big Factor
Illustration by: Jeff Nichols
pills between fingers……here it is! A smooth one which means it’s likely been held more than others! Out comes the perfect pill………#76. Ouch! On a normal day that won’t get us out the door, much less into a hunting pool. Deep breath, short prayer, hand goes in again….our last chance pill, # 32! Considering they are hunting 33 spots that means we chose next to last! As the choice locations disappear it looks like the only thing left will be one of
two parties in Pool 4. Conservation staff tell us Pool 4 has been poor recently but with today’s weather there was a chance some protected areas could be promising. Making the best of it we celebrate Pool 4 being a very short drive from the conservation area office. Hummmm, possibly why it was the last one available? Close to buildings – close to vehicle traffic – close to people? All reasons for shot weary late season ducks to pass it by. As
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — When HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com sought to determine how much weight the “Made in U.S.A.” tag carried with sportsmen when making purchases of outdoor equipment, they found most respondents agreed that U.S.-made products were of better quality and it was important to buy them. They also discovered there is only but so much most hunters and anglers are willing to pay for that label. When asked how important it is to buy fishing tackle or hunting equipment that is made in the U.S.A. nearly 89 percent of anglers said it was very or somewhat important, while 94 percent of hunters said it was very or somewhat important. At the same time, 47 percent of those anglers feel U.S.-made tackle is generally better in quality and 63 percent of hunters believe U.S.-made hunting gear is better than equipment made overseas. So how much more are sportsmen willing to pay to support American jobs? If the Made in U.S.A. product is
five percent or less in cost, 85 percent of anglers and 89 percent of hunters report will buy the American-made product. But after that, numbers begin to drop sharply, and once the U.S. product exceeds 20 to 30 percent in cost, only 34 percent of anglers and 36 percent of hunters say they are willing to pay the difference. “All things being equal, sportsmen appreciate American quality and are certainly eager to support American jobs; however, it doesn’t take much of a price difference before economic realities set in and hunters and anglers are forced to make important decisions about how much they will spend,’” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. “There is a reason why imported products take up so much retail space. Hunters and anglers, like all other consumers, want to get more for their limited dollars. As long as U.S. production costs remain high, whether related to taxes or
and trigger fingers itched as calls touched lips and sweet sounds of contented ducks calling “Hey! Come on over my way!” filled the air. And nothing happened! Not one duck changed a flight pattern to come visit these new comers. But that’s not what’s supposed to happen! We are excellent duck callers! Ducks are supposed to swarm right on over here, stick their head in our game straps, and be counted! What’s going on? Proof positive that even with the best calling, the most lifelike decoys, and the most attractive spread it’s tough to draw ducks away from REAL ducks! After about fifteen minutes of being rudely ignored it was apparent that pass shooting was the order of the day. Calls went in pockets as we waded away from the levees and further into the corn rows. This proved to be a winner. First shots were fired at 7:15 and the last duck thudded off the ice at 8:14. After fifty-nine minutes of some of the most intense duck hunting imaginable we were picking up decoys and heading to the truck, game straps heavy with a carefully selected limit of the fattest mallards and bonus ducks! Back at the truck we beamed as our hunting pool mates complimented our kill and lamented their lack of action. Seems like the ducks knew a secret the rest of us did not. But we were fortunate to be the lucky ones who stumbled into that little secret. As we walked away to our truck, a warm flood of contentment swept over us as we knew we heard exclaimed from the cloudy sky above “Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!” Merry Christmas indeed for a couple hard-core duck hunters…………..YOU BET !!!
other factors, imported products will continue to own a large share of the U.S. market.” To help continually improve, protect and advance the shooting sports and outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and/ or AnglerSurvey.com. Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice. About AnglerSurvey.com, HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com: Launched in 2006,AnglerSurvey. com, HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com help the outdoor equipment industry, government fisheries and wildlife officials and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. Survey results are scientifically analyzed to reflect the attitudes and habits of anglers and hunters across the United States. Follow them on Facebook at http://facebook.com/huntersurvey and http://facebook.com/anglersurvey or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/AnglerSurvey and https:// twitter.com/#!/HunterSurvey.
Make sure to stop by the Driftwood Outdoors booth at the Missouri Deer Classic & Outdoor Expo in Columbia, Missouri on March 2-3, 2013. Booth #73
Wild Horses Still Roam Free Along Scenic Riverways by Bill Cooper
Local legend says that the wild horse herds along the Current and Jacks Forks Rivers in Shannon County have been roaming free since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors. “Not likely,” says Jack Peters, a retired National Park Service Ranger and now owner of Running River Canoe Rental near Timber, Missouri. “The horses are most likely remnants of farm stock abandoned by the last of the people who hung on in the area after the timber companies left in the 1930’s.” Regardless of how long the horses have been around, they provide a gasp of inspiration to all who see them along the riverways. According to Peters, who has been watching the horses since he first came to the area as a Park Ranger in 1967, the herd is usually made up of three separate family groups, totaling about 35 horses. They roam freely over much of the territory between Round Spring and Two Rivers. Canoers sometimes see the horses along this stretch. Finding enough grass to graze can become difficult in the winter months. “The horses have adapted to eating watercress,” said Peters. “They hang out at the springs, especially Round Spring, over the winter months, where they can be seen knee deep in the spring branch feeding on watercress. I have actually seen horses with their heads under water like a moose feeding.” I personally saw a herd of wild horses while floating and camping on the Jacks Fork almost 35 years ago. Late one evening, a tremendous noise approached from a ridge top above our camp. A dozen running horses scurried down the slope, trampled across a wide gravel bar and plunged into the river. We were left spellbound by the raw beauty of what we had just witnessed. Early the next morning, I heard them coming back. The river lay enshrouded by fog. The eerie sound of splashing water and hooves clashing on rocks and gravel caused a chill to tingle my spine. We caught glimpses of their shapes and colors as the horses broke in and out of the fog. The experience rivaled a vivid dream, which I have never forgotten. I vowed to see the horses again and photograph them. Numerous trips down
Colts are generally born black. They become mottled as they age and eventually turn white.
The Round Spring herd heads across the Current River, deeper into the wild country of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
the rivers by canoe netted nary a glimpse at the wild horses. Once I heard about the horses hanging around Round Spring over winter, I began making day trips in hopes of spotting them. After several years of failing to connect, I planned a week- long trip to camp and fish in the area. I made a point of checking Round Spring a couple of times a day. On the third day of the trip , my efforts paid off. I spotted several horses feeding on the peninsula between Current River and the spring branch at Round Spring. I quickly drove to the upper parking lot and parked my truck. What I experienced over the course of the next hour rivals any outdoor adventure of my lifetime. I crept slowly through the woods, following a well-worn trail with obvious signs of horse usage. I planned my approach carefully, making sure I stayed down wind of the herd. Less than 50 yards down the trail, movement caught my eye. I readied my camera as a beautiful white horse ambled towards me. It paused to stare directly at me offering a great photo opportunity. The white horse disappeared like a ghost after a few seconds stare down with me. I eased further up the trail and soon spotted several horses of different colors
The wild horses of Shannon County are wild, free and capture the imagination with their beauty.
and sizes moving through the underbrush. The scene stunned my senses. The wild beauty of these magnificent creates inspired a deep awe and respect from within me. I have never been much of a horse fan, having been kicked, bitten, thrown off and generally mistreated by horses. But, these creatures were astoundingly different. Beautiful. Powerful. Free. And they carried themselves with a sense of confidence, if that is possible for wild animals. I moved at a snail’s pace through the timber, edging ever closer to more horses. Their tolerance of my presence came as a shock. However, my heart raced when two stallions raced towards me. I stood my ground. Both horses’ brilliant white coats bore crimson red blood stains from their battles to gain dominance. My heart rate slowed when the two stallions began nipping at one another again. They lost interest in me, wandering off kicking and biting one another. I managed to photograph for over an hour, moving slowly and approaching small groups of horses until they tired of my presence and moved on. I became intrigued with the color phases, black, grey and white. “Peters later explained to me that the horses go through the color phases as they age. “The colts are born mostly black,” he said. “As they age, the horses turn grey and then white as they mature. When I first started seeing the herds 40 years ago there were a lot of bays in the groups. A white stallion showed up in the early 70’s. I have watched the dominant color of the herds change several times over four decades.” The wild horses of Shannon County have survived both bureaucracy and mistreatment. In 1994 the National Park Service rejected a proposal from the Missouri Wild Horse League to take over
management of the wild horse herds. The NPS further stated that no other proposals would be accepted in the future to allow the horses to remain free inside NPS boundaries. The NPS greatly underestimated the tenacity of local citizens and members of the Missouri Wild Horse League. “Local citizens look upon the horses as a symbol of the hardiness and wonderfully independent spirit of the Ozarks and the people who live and work here,” Peters noted. “Too, the wild horses are very much a part of this region’s culture and history.” MWHL contracted the services of a lawyer. In October, 1994, the late Rep. Bill Emerson presented a bill to Congress to make the wild horses a permanent part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law two years later. The MWHL now keeps a close eye on the herd. They keep the herd to 50 horses. Excess studs are cut out of the herd, castrated, vaccinated, given a Coggins test and then adopted out. MWHL members also brush hog designated fields along the rivers to keep pasture lands open for grazing. Too, they scatter mineral blocks and salt for the horses. The story of the wild horses of Shannon County is one with a happy ending. I am a better person for having had the experience of getting close to them. I can’t wait to see them again – roaming free. Bill Cooper was named “Conservation Communicator of the Year” by the Conservation Federation of Missouri in 2008 and the “Conservation Educator of the Year” in 2000.
A Season That Never Ends By Terry and Roxanne Wilson
A gray mist hung over the river as intermittent snow and sleet hissed into the darkened waters of the White River section of Lake Taneycomo. It was strikingly beautiful but the first hour provided only casting practice as a chilly breeze urged a return to the parking lot for the goose down vest. Fish surely know when your concentration is waning and hands have morphed into ice cubes. The strike was subtle. The yellow crackleback simply stopped. Despite a slowed reaction, the lift of the rod immediately telegraphed the message, “Big fish on!” before the behemoth ripped line from the reel in a downstream flight for deeper water. A scramble for shallow-water footing and a race downstream enabled gathering the fly line, but the rod tip throbbed again as the unseen fish dug for the deep edge of a deadfall. Backing once again pointed toward the escaping fish. Finally, steady reeling produced a sighting, then another, and one final dash that revealed more heart than strength. After what seemed an eternity twenty-eight inches of rainbow trout lay gasping on the gravel. The memory of this late winter day is golden and begs returning there often. Despite being named “Lake” Taneycomo the first four miles downstream from Tablerock Dam behaves like a river and much of it is easily waded on low water. Flies presented along current seams (the divergence of two currents of differing speeds) can produce great action. Fishing downstream from the first island requires either shore-bound casting or watercraft even on low water. Taneycomo is big but it’s loaded with rocky obstructions capable of destroying boats and motors. Boating anglers are advised to schedule one or more guided trips before venturing out on their own. Fishing supplies, advice, and excellent guides are available at River Run Outfitters located just a few double hauls from the water on state Highway 165. Proprietors Stan and Carolyn Parker and their guides operate state-of-the-art drift boats as skilled boat handlers and experienced, knowledgeable fly fishers. To
schedule either a wading or boat-guided trip call them toll free at 877-699-3474. There’s always a “hot” pattern at Taneycomo but staples like cracklebacks, woolly-buggers, soft hackles, sowbug and scud patterns are effective. Floating line handles low water in the ‘White River’ section of Taneycomo but when a generator is running or when fishing the lower lake areas, sink-tip or even full-sinking lines can be helpful. Tablerock Dam to Fall Creek, a distance of four miles, is restricted to artificial lures only with a slot limit. These regulations are well posted at popular entrance points. As a tailwater trout fishery, arguably
Long Awaited Luck defined by the Missouri Wildlife Code as an artificial lure constructed on a single hook using any material excepting soft plastic, natural, or scented baits. In winter the intense crowds of opening day and summer weekends have largely dissipated. While solitude remains elusive, anglers often have sections of stream to themselves. Lodging and campgrounds remain open and many area eateries, motels, and fly shops are open for business. At Bennett Spring, for example, flies, equipment needs, and advice is available at Larry’s Sporting Goods just up the hill from the park boundary and at Reading’s Fly Shop located on highway 64 just a couple of miles away.
one of the very finest, water fluctuations can be dramatic and dangerous. Too many tempt fate by remaining in the river after the horn at the dam blares its warning. Seeking higher ground immediately is the only prudent choice. Missouri’s four trout parks are in the midst of their ‘catch and release’ season that opened on November 9 and continues until February 11. Anglers don’t need to purchase a daily tag. Those between the ages of 16 and 64 only need a Missouri fishing license. All participating anglers are required to have a trout permit. The three state trout parks (Montauk, Bennett Spring, and Roaring River) are open for this special season each Friday through Monday from 8 am until 4 pm. Meramec Spring Park, operated by the James Foundation, is open every day during the same hours. Flies are the only lures permitted during catch and release season. A fly is
Sub-aquatic mayflies, caddis larva and pupae make up the bulk of the trout’s diet. Pheasant tail nymphs and soft hackle patterns in sizes 14 through 20 can be the ticket to success. Dry fly aficionados can imitate the reliable midge hatches with sizes 20 through 24 flies in cream and dun (gray). Adult caddis also take fish in sizes 16 and 18 with dun- colored bodies that match most of the naturals. Soft-action 3- or 4-weight rods and double taper lines can enhance the delicate presentations.. Finer diameter tippets and extended leaders of 10 to 12 feet might also help induce rises. If canoe or kayak floating through a winter landscape is more your style the Niangua River downstream from Bennett Spring State Park offers a gentle float and hefty trout. Launch below highway 64 bridge and continue downstream approximately 6 miles to Barkley Access. Dun-
colored soft hackles in size 14 and zebra midges in size 16 are good producers. In deep pools try dropping a large zonker pattern to bottom then employ a slow lift, drop, strip retrieve. This is accomplished by lifting the rod tip 4-6 inches then lowering it to the original position and stripping to remove the slack line. The retrieve replicates a wounded minnow trying to right itself. The vulnerable morsel is irresistible to big trout. Big brown trout, some in excess of 20 inches, are a daily possibility. Sinking lines and 4X tippet can be good choices for this lunker hunt. An interesting hike-in area offers solitude and miles of productive water both up and downstream in the mid-section of the Meramec River. From the town of St. James travel south and east on Highway 8 for a short distance before turning east on County Road 3620. Turn right on Besmer Road then right at the first opportunity. A small parking area with posted regulations is located on the right side of the road and a path leads down a steep hillside to the river. The location is known as “Cardiac Hill”, but the hike can be well worth the effort. Watch for a midge hatch and match it with sizes 20 through 24 flies presented on extended leaders (12 feet or more) and fine tippet (6X-7X). Barring a hatch, dead-drift your favorite nymph patterns through pocket water, current seams and near obstructions. Upper Little Piney Creek offers a picturesque setting and technical wade fishing for a naturally reproducing trout population. Access this gorgeous water by traveling Highway 63 south from Rolla to well-marked US Forrest Service Road #1892. Follow the road to a series of designated parking areas each with voluntary pay stations that require just a couple of dollars per vehicle. Paths lead through dense woods to the stream. Soft hackles in small sizes, zebra midges, and a stealthy approach are recommended. The infancy of 2013 beckons you to piece together your favorite rod and enjoy the mid-winter pursuit of southern Missouri’s trout. The fish are abundant and the opportunities diverse. Terry and Roxanne Wilson are the authors of 4 books and more than 200 magazine articles about warmwater fly fishing. They reside near Bolivar, Missouri. Visit them at www.thebluegillpond.com.
by Dave Sendre I shouldn’t have even been deer hunting. If I could have found a store with federal duck stamps I would have been goose hunting with my brothers. Instead, I “snooped and pooped” (as Dad would say) my way to my stand since I had the wind in my favor. After jumping a buck within 20 yards of my stand, I figured I would once again be denied a harvest in this small strip of woods. Sunset came and went and I didn’t even get the opportunity to tell my brothers the geese were on their way. Nothing was flying. Then, seven minutes after sunset, I see a brown body and a glowing white rack off to the east. Immediately, I knew it was a shooter and had to begin telling myself to calm down. I stand up, grab my bow and watch him walking away from me on a path that offered no shot. I grabbed my grunt call and gave him two long, drawn out grunts. He stops, looks around and begins tearing into a tree branch with his antlers. I give him another grunt. My knees are shaking so bad that I have to lean against the tree to be stable. He must have been curious because now he’s working downwind of me after hearing the grunts. With just little bit of light left, I range the opening and realize I’ll have a
shot at 40 yards. It’s so dark that I have to lift the range finder to the sky to even see the display. I turn on the backlight for my sights as he continues to make his way into my shooting lane. Three steps before he gets into the opening, he stops. I can feel the wind on my back as I watch him directly downwind of me. I can see his head and backside, but his vitals are hidden by a tree. He’s looking right at me. I tell myself to stop shaking and stop breathing out of my mouth in a ridiculous effort to minimize any scent. He lifts his head up and begins sniffing the air and swirling his head around. Then he stares right back at me. He sniffs the air 4 more times as my confidence continues to diminish. The stare down continues for what seems like an eternity. Finally, the buck looks away and I draw as he steps out into the opening. He takes three steps and then stops perfectly broadside. I think to myself, “There’s no way you’ll be able to see your arrow in flight with how dark it is. Don’t try to look at it. Hold your form and make a good shot”. I had practiced more with my bow this year than any other and was very comfortable taking what appeared to me
was now about a 45 yard shot. Knowing my arrow dropped 4-5 inches at 45-50 yards, I held my 40 yard pin on the top of his back. “If you’re going to take this shot, make it count” is what I heard in my head. I checked my form one last time and then let the arrow fly. THHHHWACK! Man, I love that sound. I hear the arrow hit him and then see him jump in the air and do a mule kick. He bolts out into a picked corn field and starts screaming down the field edge past me. I’m looking for any sign of a wound but couldn’t make one out with so little light left. After he runs about 40 yards past me, suddenly his head drops down, he stumbles five feet back into the woods and I see white belly hair as he flops to the ground. Never in the 23 years I’ve been hunting have I ever been so excited. Now my adrenaline is rushing. I’m shaking uncontrollably in my tree stand in a state of complete shock. Did that just happen? Did he really go down? I saw it, but I didn’t believe it. About 45 minutes later my brothers and two hunting buddies pull their trucks up to the woods. I’m still sitting in the stand because I didn’t believe it was safe to climb down in my condition. I instruct the guys to walk to where I shot him to find blood and, hopefully, my arrow. They
Dave Sendre with his good luck buck.
found blood and then found the arrow covered in good, thick, dark red blood. Knowing I got him, I then walked straight to where I think he went down and there he was. The buck was the second biggest I’ve ever shot, but by far the most exciting. This was a hunt I will never forget. Dave Sendre is an avid sportsman. This is his first published article.
Shooting Docks for Winter Crappie By Brandon Butler Crappie fishing isn’t the first outdoor activity that comes to mind for most sportsmen in December. Yet last weekend I was out fishing with professional crappie angler, Travis Bunting, on Lake of the Ozarks. It was cold but worth it. We caught fish and I was able to learn a few lessons from one of the best crappie anglers in the country. Travis and his father, Charlie, are one of the top crappie fishing teams competitively fishing tournaments today. They live in Jefferson City, Missouri and travel all over the country chasing crappie. They won the coveted 2012 Crappie Masters Classic on the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway in northern Mississippi, and back in 2005 they won the Crappie USA Classic on Patoka Lake in southern Indiana. Travis and Charlie are fortunate that their hard work has paid off and sponsors have taken notice. “If it wasn’t for our sponsors we wouldn’t be able to do what we would. And we’re real lucky to have some of the best sponsors in the industry,” Bunting said. “It’s so nice that we don’t have to compromise our equipment. I know a lot of professional anglers who wish they could be using something else when they have to use one of their sponsors’ products instead. We don’t have that problem.” So when you’re in the boat with the Buntings you’re going to use equipment made by their sponsors. On this docking shooting trip we used B’n’M Sharpshooter rods, Vicious 6-pound test yellow line and southern pro jigs in multiple colors. I asked him about our equipment for the day. “We use a shorter rod when shooting docks for better control in tight quarters. The yellow line helps you see bites, and I don’t think there is any negative reaction from the fish because of the yellow color,” Bunting said. As for jigs, we were using 1/16th ounce heads with weed guards on them, and we tried a bunch of different colors. It was tough fishing because we were in the second day of a cold front, so it never really seemed like one color was out fishing the others. Shooting docks is a tactic that can and should be used on any water with docks on it. But not all docks are created equal. “You want to focus on docks with large swim platforms because they offer the most shade. And solid platforms, like ones made out of concrete are better than those made out of wood because the wood ones let light shine down through the cracks into the water. So look for solid platforms,” Bunting said. What you are trying to do by “shooting” is to get your jig as far back under the
Crappie Masters champion, Travis Bunting, shooting a dock on Lake of the Ozarks.
dock as possible. You can’t cast your jig under the dock because most of the openings are only a foot high and couple feet wide. The actual shooting is pretty easy to pick up after a couple of tries. First, let out enough line so that your jig is hanging about three quarters of the way down your rod. Then use the index finger of your rod hand to hold the line against your rod and then open the bail. Pinch the bend of the jig hook and pull it back until you have arched the rod like a bow. Make sure to have your thumb and finger tips behind the hook point before letting go, then aim and fire. It helps to be on your knees for the real tight shots. Once your jig is in the water, start your retrieve. “When I’m shooting docks, I fish the water in stages. Crappie will often hold right under the floats, so on the first shot as soon as the jig is in the water I’ll start reeling it back in keeping it a foot or so under the surface. If I don’t pull out a fish, I’ll let the second shot sink for a second before retrieving it, and if I still don’t have a fish, I’ll let the third shot sink even deeper,” Bunting said. If you like fish frys half as much as I do, then you probably know how good cold water crappies taste after taking a bath in peanut oil. Don’t let cabin fever set in this winter. As long as there is open water you can catch crappie. And shooting docks is one of the best ways to do so. See you down the trail… Bunting says side imaging sonar is essential to tournament wins.
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16” Stainless Steel Barrel
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10” ModO Handguard Magpul MOE Stock Magpul MOE Grip 38-AB1-36
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