The Voice for Missouri Outdoors SEPTEMBER 2022 - VOL 83 | NO. 5
A Fish from Freddie
his recent Father's Day weekend, I spent some time on the Missouri River putting out some bank poles with my great friend, Tyler Wallace, hoping to catch some catfish. It's a heartwarming fish story that I am excited to share. Even though the fish was enormous, its story and sentiment far exceeded its size. For me, moments like this are why the outdoors are so important and why we should never take them for granted. It's first worth mentioning since we are both named Tyler; when we are among our friends, to distinguish us apart, he is called T1, and I am called T2. I also must tell you about T1's Dad, Frederick James 'Rick' Wallace, who unfortunately passed away last October. Everyone knew him as Rick, but around hunting camp or in the boat, we boys lovingly and jokingly always called him 'Freddie'. He frequently accompanied T1 on his fishing trips, and you will soon read why Freddie was undoubtedly with us in spirit on this one as well. He was always eager to lend us boys sound hunting and fishing advice, as most more experienced outdoorsman earnestly want to do. Freddie indeed was a skilled hunter, fisherman and trapper all his life. But more importantly, he unconditionally loved his kids, grandkids and everyone around him, and we all knew it too. He worked hard, laughed harder, and loved the hardest. Every time I saw him, he would grin ear-to-ear, saying, "How ya been Mr. Schwartze? Sit down here young man and tell me a story." We never ran out of things to discuss, and he was an absolute joy to be around. Anyway, on our first morning checking our bank poles, we pulled the boat behind a wing dam and one quickly bent entirely under the water, signifying a good fish. T1's sonin-law Nash was with us in the boat, and he handed me the net. On my first attempt, with the fish somewhat in the net, it folded backward like a pretzel, nearly breaking. It's incredible how fast your mind tries to problem solve in a moment of high tension like that. For the second attempt, I flipped the bent net over, hoping to re-bend it back the other way and land the monster in one motion—the wrong idea. It snapped in half, the handle gone into the water, leaving us with only the hoop portion of the net. Now for those of you that have attempted to land big fish, you understand you typically only get one shot to land it before they break the line, straighten the hook, or somehow escape. Well, on this day, our guardian angel Freddie was watching over us. On the third attempt, it took all three of us holding the hoop portion of the net to get it in the boat. Once it was landed, we gave some adrenaline-pumping hugs and high fives, quickly realizing we had landed a giant blue catfish. 60.4 pounds to be exact, as we would later find out.
We went up the River and checked the rest of our lines catching a few smaller fish. We then arrived back at the ramp to load the boat. After letting Nash out to get the truck and trailer, I pushed the boat off the bank as T1 and I sat floating Nash and both Tyler’s pose with their 60-pound and waiting. It's blue catfish they caught on the Missouri River. worth noting that (Photo: Michelle Schwartze) this was a couple of hours and several miles back down the River because the next part of this story is where it removes any doubt in our minds that Freddie was certainly with us in spirit. Well, remember that handle from the net that broke off and floated away? Then, as the boat spun around into the current, the handle came casually drifting downriver and floated right into the side of the boat! I shockingly uttered to T1 the first and only thought that came to mind: "Well, Freddie was indeed here with us in spirit!" He reached down in the water, retrieving the handle and said, "He sure was, and dad would have said, I told you dip$#!+$ you were going break that net! But he would also have been quick to say how proud he was for us landing that giant fish"! We both laughed hard, and memories of Freddie flooded my mind. I thankfully looked upward in the bluebird sky, trying to comprehend the surreal moment that had taken place on the River that beautiful morning. I know many of you have people in your lives that have impacted you in the outdoors, as Freddie has for us. Memories created in the outdoors with the ones you love will last forever. I urge you to make time to share those outdoor passions with whoever and whenever you can. They will never forget it.
Yours in Conservation, Tyler Schwartze CFM Executive Director
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Conservation Federation September 2022 - V83 No. 5
OFFICERS Zach Morris - President Bill Kirgan - President Elect Ginny Wallace -Vice President Lisa Allen - Secretary Bill Lockwood - Treasurer
STAFF Tyler Schwartze - Executive Director, Editor Micaela Haymaker - Director of Operations Michelle Gabelsberger - Membership Manager Nick Darling - Education and Communications Coordinator
Duck Hunting Gear for the New Hunter
A Workout Program for your Hunting Dog
Fly Fishing as a Spiritual Exercise
A Fisherman's Love Story
Resource Conservation Starts in the Watershed
Swamp Rabbit Hunting
Departments 3 8 11 14 36
Director's Message President's Message New Members Affiliate Spotlight Agency News
Emma Kessinger - Creative Director
ABOUT THE MAGAZINE CFM Mission: To ensure conservation of Missouri’s wildlife and natural resources, and preservation of our state’s rich outdoor heritage through advocacy, education and partnerships. Conservation Federation is the publication of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (ISSN 1082-8591). Conservation Federation (USPS 012868) is published bi-monthly in January, March, May, July, September and November for subscribers and members. Of each member’s dues, $10 shall be for a year’s subscription to Conservation Federation. Periodical postage paid in Jefferson City, MO and additional mailing offices.
Highlights 6 13 18 19 20 22
Joan VanderFeltz - Administrative Assistant
What is CFM Events Schedule CFM Raffle Share the Harvest Photo Contest Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons
Send address changes to: Postmaster Conservation Federation of Missouri 728 West Main Jefferson City, MO 65101
FRONT COVER Photo captured by Dan Bernskoetter at Binder Lake in Cole County using a Canon 5D Mark III camera and 24-105 lens at 105mm, 1/160 sec,f/5.6 and ISO100.
Thank you to all of our Business Partners. Platinum
Gold Bushnell Doolittle Trailer Enbridge, Inc.
G3 Boats MidwayUSA Pure Air Natives
Redneck Blinds Rusty Drewing Chevrolet Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC
Missouri Wildflowers Nursery Mitico Quaker
Simmons Starline, Inc. St. James Winery
Gray Manufacturing Company, Inc. HMI Fireplace Shop Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc. Missouri Wine & Grape Board NE Electric Power Cooperative, Inc.
NW Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. Ozark Bait and Tackle Woods Smoked Meats
Dickerson Park Zoo Farmer’s Co-op Elevator Association Gascosage Electric Cooperative GREDELL Engineering Resources, Inc. Heartland Seed of Missouri LLC Hulett Heating & Air Conditioning Kansas City Parks and Recreation Lewis County Rural Electric Coop.
Missouri Native Seed Association REMAX Boone Realty Scobee Powerline Construction Sprague Excavating Tabor Plastics Company Truman’s Bar & Grill United Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Silver Custom Metal Products Forrest Keeling Nursery Learfield Communication, Inc. Lilley’s Landing Resort & Marina
Bronze Association of Missouri Electric Coop. Black Widow Custom Bows, Inc. Burgers’ Smokehouse Central Electric Power Cooperative Drury Hotels
Iron Bass Pro Shops (Independence) Bee Rock Outdoor Adventures Blue Springs Park and Recreation Brockmeier Financial Services Brown Printing Cap America Central Bank Community State Bank of Bowling Green
Your business can benefit by supporting conservation. For all sponsorship opportunities, call (573) 634-2322.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
"The Voice for Missouri Outdoors" Mission: To ensure conservation of Missouri’s wildlife and natural resources, and preservation of our state’s rich outdoor heritage through advocacy, education and partnerships. In 1935, conservationists from all over Missouri came together to form the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) with the purpose to take politics out of conservation. The efforts of our founders resulted in the creation of Missouri's non-partisan Conservation Commission and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Since then, CFM has been the leading advocate for the outdoors in Missouri.
Over 100 affiliated organizations Share the Harvest Corporate & Business Partnerships State & Federal Agency Partnerships National Wildlife Federation Affiliate Operation Game Thief Operation Forest Arson David A. Risberg Memorial Grants Missouri Stream Team
Conservation Leadership Corps Missouri Collegiate Conservation Alliance Confluence of Young Conservation Leaders Affiliate Summit Scholarships for youth and students Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt National Archery in the Schools Grants Conservation Federation Magazine
Legislative Action Center Resolutions to lead change Natural Resource Advisory Committees Conservation Day at the Capitol Staff and members testify in hearings for conservation and natural resources
Conservation Federation of Missouri began
State Wildlife and Forestry Code published
Wildlife and Forestry Act passed
First deer season since 1937
Amendment 4 created Missouri's non-political Conservation Commission
First turkey season in 23 years
First hunter safety program formed
Missouri Department of Natural Resources formed
Urban fishing program formed in St. Louis; first in the nation
Operation Game Thief formed
Design for Conservation Sales Tax passed
Stream Teams formed
Parks and Soils Sales Tax passed
Missouri voters Outdoor renewed Action Parks and Soils Sales Committee formed Tax by 70.8%
Share the Harvest formed
Operation Forest Arson formed
Conservation Leadership Corps formed
Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program formed
CFM Celebrates 85 years
Parks and Soils Sales Tax renewed by voters by the highest percentage to date (80%)
Ways You Can Support CFM Membership
Scholarships and Grant Support
Event Sponsorship and Product Donation
Support our efforts to promote and protect conservation and natural resources in our state. Members will receive our magazine six times a year, event information, our bi-weekly enewsletter, and the opportunity to grow our voice. CFM provides the platform for a diverse group of organizations to have their conservation voices be heard. Affiliates have the opportunity to apply for grants, receive educational training and promote the mission of their organization. CFM provides scholarships to graduates and undergraduates. We also provide grant funds to youth education programs and to affiliate projects. Contributing will help future generations initiate boots on the ground projects.
Become a life member for $1,000. Life memberships are placed in an endowment fund that allows us to continue our work in perpetuity.
Business partners will enjoy recognition in each magazine issue along with opportunities to reach and engage with our active membership. Ask us about our different Business Partnership levels. All of our events have raffles with both silent and live auctions. The contributions of in-kind products and services not only assists in raising funds for conservation, but also promote the businesses that support CFM.
Conservation Federation of Missouri 728 West Main St, Jefferson City, MO 65101 Phone: (573) 634-2322 ~ Email: email@example.com www.confedmo.org
Become a Member today! ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
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Price $35.00 $60.00 $100.00 $20.00 $1,000.00
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
hat’s your favorite time to go outdoors in Missouri? As summer wraps up, I’ve been spending many days in the sun, fishing, gardening, and otherwise enjoying my time outdoors. I’ve made some great memories outdoors in the summer over the years, but fall is always something special when it rolls around. As I write this, we are still in the middle of summer’s heat, but by the time it reaches you, the first crisp, cool fall morning will be on its way. When that first cold morning hits, I can almost hear the whistling wings overhead as I begin thinking about the early morning chill of duck season. And it isn’t far away. September first marks the beginning of fall hunting season as dove season opens across the state. Soon to follow is teal season, which gives many waterfowl hunters like me the first taste of a favorite fall activity. There are countless reasons to love fall in Missouri. For starters, it’s a great time to do some bird watching. By now, the first leg of the fall migration has begun, and you can catch numerous beautiful birds on Missouri’s conservation areas. On Missouri’s wetlands, it might be easy to spot big white birds like egrets and American White Pelicans, but there are many hidden beauties if you look closely. It’s also a great time to go fishing. Whether you go for Smallmouth Bass in an Ozark stream or big Brown Trout on lake Taneycomo, there is an adventure to be had. There’s also a no better time to enjoy Missouri’s State Parks and their local communities. Take a nice hike, enjoy the fall colors, and then stop at the local fall festival. I’m getting excited just thinking about it! Fall is my favorite time of year, and being in Missouri with so many ways to enjoy the outdoors makes it that much more special.
Sunrise through the cattails at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, one of my favorite places to spend September mornings. (Photo: Zach Morris)
I’m looking forward to all of the above. Brilliant sunsets and fall colors, apple cider and locally grown goods, but most of all, mornings on the marsh. For me, nature’s beauty is never on better display than at sunrise, surrounded by water, as wings whistle overhead and soft calls of birds and frogs echo around me. Whatever your reason for getting outdoors, I hope you find the time to appreciate it. Fall is a busy time for many of us, but nature can be a way to relax and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. I hope you find some time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall in Missouri. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Yours in Conservation, Zach Morris President, CFM
Shelter Insurance® is a proud sponsor of Share the Harvest & the Conservation Federation. Contact your local Shelter agent to insure your auto, home, life, and all your hunting & fishing gear. Find an agent near you at ShelterInsurance.com.
Why I Became a Life Member of CFM: Susan Hazelwood
y love of the outdoors began with scouting. With time I became a tent camper, a birder and a solo canoe paddler. My love of the outdoors grew. I’ve held leadership positions with the Columbia MO Audubon chapter, the Missouri Birding Society (formerly Audubon Society of Missouri) and the Steering Committee of the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative. I was a Safe Drinking Water Commissioner for MO DNR for 29 years. I attended two National Audubon Society government leadership training camps in Washington DC in the 80-90’s with one focused on passage of the Farm Bill and the second spent educating legislators about the Wetland Reserve Program. I have tried to make a difference. I work hard to protect our waters and wildlife. With my background I don’t know how I managed to remain basically unaware of the excellent work done by CFM. I first learned about the Conservation Leadership Corp program and observed how its graduates made a difference. Then I took advantage of the Legislative Action Alert to send messages to my elected officials. Then I realized that environmental leaders, people that I highly respected, were all members of CFM. And most were investing not only their money but also their time. I wanted to be a permanent, life-member, of this group, too.
Become a CFM Life Member When you purchase a Life Membership with CFM, your money is added to an endowment supporting the administration of the organization in perpetuity. Each year, we draw earnings from the endowment, so your contribution will truly be supporting the CFM for the rest of your life and beyond. This is an important funding source for our Federation. We hope you will consider joining the over 300 dedicated conservationists who have already made a life commitment to the Conservation Federation of Missouri by becoming a Life Member today at www.confedmo.org/join.
Contact CFM at (573) 634-2322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WELCOME NEW CFM MEMBERS
Carla Bascom, Birch Tree Tony Justin, Lee’s Summit Kathy Salter, Saint Charles Brent Bauer, Independence Dennis Kallash, Troy Gerald Schlomer, Sedalia Thad Bounds, Lebanon Andrew Leicht, Union Robert Stanke, Independence Kent Campbell, Columbia Phil LePage, Jefferson City Elizabeth Steele, Elk Creek David Chervek, Saint Louis Kenneth Levin, Saint Louis Geraldine Vernick, Elkland Quinten Denney, Parkville Sarah Martin, Cook Station Adam Voight, Columbia Norm Foster, Arnold Levi McQueary, Ballwin Barry Wisdom, Springfield John Fraser, Fenton George Mehlick, Chesterfield Bill Wright, Bellflower Jack Galbraith, Saint Louis Marty Meier, Defiance Bryan Ziercher, Saint Louis David Hazelrigg, Ash Grove Michael Nelson, University City Larry Heggemann, Barbara Gibbs Ostmann, Gerald Cape Girardeau Elizabeth Rawley, Arnold Wayne Hesser, Arlington, TX Rick Rush, Grain Valley Steve Huey, Saint Louis
CFM thanks the 173 members that renewed since our last publication.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
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2022 Events Schedule 86th Annual Convention- March 6 - 13
Let your voice be heard at the Annual Convention. meetings, awards, auctions, and so much more. Held at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Pull for Conservation: Northwest- April 2
Join CFM for the 7th annual Northwest clay shoot at Boot Hill Shooting Ground in Hamilton.
Conservation Day at the Capitol- April 6
Join conservationists from across Missouri on the radio for a day of celebrating and supporting conservation and natural resources. From 6 am to 10 am on 96.7 FM or KCMQ.com
Conservation Federation Banquet: Springfield- May 12
Meet fellow conservationists and support CFM at the White River Conference Center next to Bass Pro Shops and Wonders of Wildlife.
CFM Life Member Event- June 25 Special CFM life member event.
Conservation Federation Virtual Event- July 21
Join us for this virtual fundraiser and hear updates about all things conservation.
Pull for Conservation: Central- August 13
Take your best shot at the 16th annual Central clay shoot at Prairie Grove Shotgun Sports.
Affiliate Summit- September 8 & 9
CFM affiliate organizations are invited to network and learn with fellow professionals.
Conservation Federation Online Auction- October 4 - 18 Enjoy a fun and interactive online auction with many great trips and prizes.
Holiday Online Auction- December 5 - 16
Bid on many exciting items just in the time for the holidays. Event dates are subject to change. Please visit www.confedmo.org or follow us on social media for the most up to date schedule.
Ozark Fly Fishers
t is a crisp morning, the fog is still lifting from the stream, and you just felt a tug! Ozark Fly Fishers (OFF) is now a fifty-year-old St. Louis based fly fishing and conservation organization affiliated with Fly Fishers International. Our primary objectives are to improve fisheries and promote the sport of fly fishing. We promote fly fishing as the most sportsmanlike and enjoyable way of fishing and the method most consistent with the preservation and wise use of our game fish. We practice conservation of natural resources and support efforts for environmental quality and pollution control. We provide advice, education and assistance to promote the art of fly fishing, demonstrating applied techniques in fly fishing, tying, casting and related subjects. OFF is an ideal organization to introduce fishermen to the art of fly fishing. Both beginning and seasoned anglers enjoy the social and technical resources of our club. We offer monthly speaker meetings, frequent outings to fish regional streams and lakes, fly-tying and casting from certified instructors, visits to schools and scouting groups to promote the sport and stream outings to monitor the health of our waters. We also demonstrate casting and fly tying at several local fairs and conservation gatherings in Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. We offer help in a fly rod, reel, tapered leader and tippet setup – then all the knots needed to tie them together. Fly presentations and different casting approaches can keep our member chats lively (and hopefully peaceful). There is always the latest ‘hot fly’ someone has found. Some members are quite technical and others just looking for a little peace and solitude on the water. The club holds an annual banquet, bringing in a national speaker, and has an annual outing to Montauk for Water Quality Management and fish Bennet Springs on the opening weekend of the catch and release season.
Paul Jackson holds a nice Rainbow Trout on the Eleven Point River. (Photo: Dave Haas)
We work closely with the Missouri Department of Conservation, St Louis County Parks, Conservation Federation of Missouri, Project Healing Waters, and Casting for Recovery. Our group invites interested anglers to look us up at www.ozarkflyfishers.org - and yes, it has a member application online. Everything you need to get started. Say hi when you see us on the stream - we might even fill you in on that ‘hot fly.’ First, though, reel in that tug you felt this morning and bring it to your net.
Affiliate Organizations Anglers of Missouri
Missouri Caves & Karst Conservancy
Association of Missouri
Missouri Chapter of the
American Fisheries Society
Missouri Soil & Water Conservation Society-Show-Me Chapter Missouri Sport Shooting Association
Bass Slammer Tackle
Missouri Chapter of the Wildlife Society
Missouri State Campers Association
Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Missouri State Parks Foundation
Missouri Conservation Agents Association
Missouri Taxidermist Association
Capital City Fly Fishers
Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation
Missouri Trappers Association
Chesterfield Citizens Committee
Missouri Conservation Pioneers
Missouri Trout Fishermen's Association
Missouri Consulting Foresters Association
MU Wildlife & Fisheries
Society of Greater Kansas City
for the Environment Columbia Audubon Society
Missouri Disabled Sportsmen
Conservation Foundation of
Missouri Ducks Unlimited- State Council
Open Space Council of the St. Louis Region
Missouri Forest Products Association
Ozark Chinquapin Foundation
Deer Creek Sportsman Club
Missouri Grouse Chapter of QUWF
Ozark Fly Fishers, Inc.
Duckhorn Outdoors Adventures
Missouri Hunter Education
Ozark Land Trust
Missouri Charitable Trust
Festus-Crystal City Conservation Club Forest and Woodland Association of Missouri Forest Releaf of Missouri Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park Gateway Chapter Trout Unlimited Greater Ozarks Audubon Society Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri Greenway Network, Inc. James River Basin Partnership L-A-D Foundation Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance Land Learning Foundation Legends of Conservation
Science Graduate Student Organization
Ozark Riverways Foundation
Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation
Ozark Trail Association
Missouri Master Naturalist -
Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club
Boone's Lick Chapter Missouri Master Naturalist Great Rivers Chapter Missouri Master Naturalist Hi Lonesome Chapter Missouri Master Naturalist Miramiguoa Chapter Missouri Master Naturalist Osage Trails Chapter Missouri Master Naturalist Springfield Plateau Chapter
Perry County Sportsman Club Pomme De Terre Chapter Muskies Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation, Inc. Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever River Bluffs Audubon Society Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation South Side Division CFM Southwest Missouri Fly Fishers St. Louis Audubon Society Stream Teams United Student Air Rifle Program
Little Blue River Watershed Coalition
Missouri National Wild Turkey Federation
Tipton Farmers & Sportsman's Club
Missouri Native Seed Association
Tri-Lakes Fly Fishers
Mid-Missouri Outdoor Dream
Missouri Outdoor Communicators
Troutbusters of Missouri
Mid-Missouri Trout Unlimited
Missouri Park & Recreation Association
United Bow Hunters of Missouri
Midwest Diving Council
Missouri Parks Association
Watershed Conservation Corps
Mississippi Valley Duck
Missouri Prairie Foundation
Wild Bird Rehabilitation
Missouri River Bird Observatory
Wild Souls Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation
Missouri Association of Meat Processors
Missouri River Relief
Wonders of Wildlife
Missouri Atlatl Association
Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc.
World Bird Sanctuary
Missouri B.A.S.S. Nation
Missouri Rural Water Association
Young Outdoorsmen United
Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative
Missouri Smallmouth Alliance
Missouri Birding Society
Missouri Society of American Foresters
Missouri Bow Hunters Association
SEPTEMBER - 2022
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Committed to Community & Conservation Owned by the members they serve, Missouri’s electric cooperatives do more than provide reliable and affordable electricity. They are active in their communities, concerned for the wellbeing of their neighbors and devoted to the rural way of life that makes the Show-Me State a special place to live, work and play. Missouri’s electric cooperatives are dedicated to protecting the land, air and water resources important to you and your quality of life. Learn more at www.amec.coop.
CFM hosts Life Member Event
n June 25, 2022, the Conservation Federation of Missouri celebrated life members. The life member celebration was held at Waserlauf Valley in Russellville. Even though it was a hot day, we had 80 people in attendance for the inaugural event. A few CFM affiliates and business partners assisted with the celebration. The following affiliates set up activities to help showcase their organization and shared their mission. The Missouri Hunter Education Instructor’s Association had a flintknapping and a Wildlife ID station, the Missouri Atlatl Association had an atlatl throwing station, the Ozark Fly Fisher Association had a fly tying and casting station, the Missouri Master Naturalist Hi Lonesome Chapter shared and educated on wild edibles and last but not least our partner, Missouri Department of Conservation had a tomahawk throwing station. We sampled beer from Public House and wine from St. James Winery. Blacksmith Distillery was also on hand to hand out complimentary samples.
Zach Morris, CFM president stated "Our first life member event was a big success! It was great to get together with our affiliates and some of our biggest supporters just to spend time in the outdoors and celebrate conservation. This event and our life member program are only going to grow, and I'm already looking forward to next year."
Enter for your chance to win!
Mega Raffle Raffle ends: Friday, December 2nd, 2022. Winners announced: Saturday, December 3rd 1st Prize
$1,000 Bass Pro Gift Card
$500 Bass Pro Gift Card
1 ticket-$5 2 tickets-$10 5 tickets-$20
$250 Bass Pro Gift Card
10 tickets-$40 20 tickets-$75 30 tickets-$100
3 ways to purchase tickets: Scan QR Visit online confedmo.org/store
Send check & payable to: CFM, 728 W. Main St. Jefferson City, MO 65101
You do not need to be present to win. Questions call: 573-634-2322
Share the Harvest
ell, another year has passed and it’s time for your annual reacquaintance with the Share the Harvest program and a reminder of how important your contribution is to it. Missouri’s deer herd is doing well overall, and I know that thinning of the doe population in my neck of the woods wouldn’t hurt. Not only are they my preference to eat but also my preference to donate to the program. I have a pocket full of tags for them, I know that does just taste better, and everyone ought to have a chance to taste that meaty goodness sometime! While the immediate horror of the pandemic is behind us, the financial aftermath certainly is not. Everyone’s monetary resources have been squeezed to the limit and folks who have never experienced food scarcity are suddenly faced with hard choices. Missourians are a proud bunch, so you may not be aware that your neighbor’s kids have to skip some meals in order to keep a roof over their heads. While I know that you are probably feeling the pinch, please find it in your heart to donate a deer or six if you can. You’ll get to spend more time afield in your pursuit of extra venison and you might make a significant difference in someone else’s life. We reached a milestone last season with it being the 30th year since Share the Harvest was started and it is estimated that nearly five million pounds of meat have been handed out since 1992. Hunters donated a little over 5,000 whole deer last year which equated into almost a quarter of a million pounds of free-range protein. However, what the processors donated to the program is incalculable and invaluable because, without their work and support, it would all be for naught. It was also the second year for our Snack Stick program which is a boon to the food pantries around the state because it supplies them with shelf-stable meat that can be more easily stored and distributed. The deer used for this program come out of the quotas set for the after-season MDC culling program in CWD zones. Generous landowners donated the deer and Stonies Sausage Shop turned them into 2300 pounds of human chew treats. As a result, we increased the packaged goods output by 11% from the year before and hope to keep this trend going.
I am a longrange planner by nature, so I am already writing in my mental calendar all the things I need to do before our archery/ donation season opens on September 15th. Fletching colors for this year’s arrows have been decided upon and I will probably start whittling on some wood shafts this weekend. I’ve also mapped out where the closest STH approved processor is from where I will be hunting at various times. While you may not go to that degree of preparation for your upcoming season, please make donating to Share the Harvest as one of your goals. Once again, CFM will cover $75 of the processing cost, and many local organizations will cover anything remaining. Participating meat processors are listed in the 2022-2023 MDC Deer Hunting pamphlet, can be found online at https://mdc.mo.gov/ hunting-trapping/species/deer/share-harvest, or you can call either MDC or CFM to find a processor in your area. Hunger doesn’t take a holiday and your donations help more than you can possibly know. Also try to recruit a few of your buddies to donate. There’s nothing like a bit of competition among friends to make the season that much better! Well, I guess I’ve jawed on this all I should. Jake, my bloodhound, is giving me the stink eye that his scalp massage is overdue and I don’t want to keep my best buddy waiting any longer. Be safe and be generous! Darren Haverstick
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Conservation Federation of Missouri
Submission and Voting: July through September 2022 Since its inception in 1935, the Conservation Federation of Missouri has been proud to showcase our state’s rich outdoor heritage and its diverse wildlife, plants, and habitats. This year for the first time, we are hosting a photo contest to share our member’s artistic observations. We will have several categories for photographs and instructions and guidelines for submissions. Honors will be given for first place in each category and first, second, and third place overall. Many submissions will appear in our web and print media. Photos will be judged on creativity, impact, content, and visual quality. We hope you will join with us and enjoy photography of our great Missouri outdoors.
Photo Submission Categories
You MUST PROVIDE the date and location of the photo when you submit. 1. Get Outdoors – As you go, take a photo! This category could include people exploring the outdoors! Explore by fishing, camping, biking or hiking. Sit and watch the birds in the backyard. Visit an educational program. Share your adventure! 2. Missouri’s Natural Areas – Here we will spotlight Missouri’s public lands, this includes, but is not limited to our beautiful state parks, conservation areas, national parks and historical sites. 3. Tracks and Traces – Perfect for your best plant and wildlife photography. Share your pictures of the abundant wildlife and native plants Missouri offers. 4. All Aquatics – We couldn’t leave out fish and floaters! If you are an angler, into aquatic invertebrates, love paddling, or visiting our caves and springs, enter your photos here. We love to see everyone enjoying our rivers, streams and lakes.
Submission Guidelines 1. Photographs must have been taken in the state of Missouri within the last year. Only photographs from October 2021 to September 2022 will be accepted. Photos submitted in last years contest will not be accepted. 2. Any activities in photos must be legal and conform to all state, state parks, and Wildlife Code rules and regulations. 3. This contest is for amateur photography only. If you receive payment of more than $1,000 annually for your photos, please refrain from entering into this contest. 4. You may submit any number of photographs in any category. You will notice, a photo such as one of a child fishing could fit into any of the 5 categories, feel free to submit in whichever category suits it best, but do NOT submit the same photo in multiple categories. 5. All photos must be submitted online at: https://www.gogophotocontest.com/confedmo. 6. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond basic editing and toning will not be accepted. 7. People who submit photos into the contest will receive no more than one, first place prize (accepting the award for best photo overall). Winners will be decided by the number of votes they receive through donations on the photo contest website ($1 = 1 vote). 8. By entering this contest, you give permission for the Conservation Federation of Missouri to publish any photos in our media. This includes, but is not limited to the Conservation Federation magazine, social media, and webpages. Credit will be given to the photographer. 9. CFM staff and their immediate families will be ineligible to win. 10. There are no age limits for persons wishing to submit their photographs. 11. Photo submissions and voting will run concurrently opening July 1st at 8:00 A.M. and will close on September 30th, 2022 at 10:00 P.M. The earlier photos are submitted, the more likely they are to gain more votes.
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Photo: Preston Keres, USDA
Mississippi River Watershed Restoration & Resilience: Missouri
The Mississippi River is an incredible resource for people and wildlife alike. It provides drinking water for over 18 million people, sustains 780 different species of wildlife, and is a critical habitat flyway for 325 species of migratory birds. The River is also at the heart of a $400 billion-a-year natural resource and recreation-based economy, providing jobs, transportation, fisheries, and more. Despite its critical value to the nation, the Mississippi River is in a severe state of decline that has resulted in more flooding, less wildlife, fewer jobs, reduced recreational opportunities, and higher costs for keeping communities safe and ensuring that they have clean drinking water. Loss of vital floodplain and river habitats and increasingly frequent and severe flooding are causing tens of billions of dollars in damages, including $6.2 billion in 2019 alone. Excess nutrients contaminate the river and create a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that costs the seafood and tourism industries over $82 million a year. Invasive species cost billions in economic and environmental damages each year. We can help address these threats to the River and surrounding communities through federal investments in projects that improve water quality, restore floodplains to reduce flood risks and improve community resilience, protect and restore wildlife habitat, and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The examples below show how investing federal dollars in Missouri can help reverse the ecological decline of the Mississippi River watershed to protect communities and wildlife alike.
Example Mississippi River Watershed Projects Soil and Water Conservation Cost-Share Practices In 1982, Missouri was losing 10.9 tons of soil per acre of cultivated cropland each year. In 1984, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources started a cost-share program to support landowners to implement soil and water conservation practices. It is estimated that more than 177 million tons of soil have been saved since the program began.1 One of the dozens of eligible cost-share practices is creating and enhancing riparian forest buffers, which naturally stabilize streambanks, reducing sediment and nutrient runoff. The state cost-share, which differs by practice, is up to 75% of the average cost in the county for riparian forest buffers.2 Cattle farmers in the Ozark foothills reflected in 2016 that improvements made through the program not only reduced soil loss and improved creek water quality, but also improved farm efficiency.3
Photo: Dave Kosling/USDA
Fox Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project
On the western bank of the Mississippi River in the Great River National Wildlife Refuge’s Fox Island Division, sedimentation had left wetlands dry and past agricultural use had left forests fragmented.4 In 2015, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the Fox Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project to reduce habitat fragmentation, increase species diversity, and enhance wetland quality. The project planted 241 acres with mast trees and naturally reforested 580 acres of former cropland and open land. The project also restored water flows and connectivity to 78 acres of wetlands, expanding and improving habitat for fish and wildlife like turtles, frogs, and migratory birds.5
The Meramec River Conservation Action Plan
The Meramec River, a key Mississippi River tributary, provides drinking water to 70,000 St. Louis area households and economic and recreational opportunities for people all along the river. The Meramec River also provides habitat for hundreds of species, including 31 species of global significance and several found nowhere else. However, erosion, habitat loss, mining, and development threaten the river. In 2014, The Nature Conservancy and partners including the Conservation Federation of Missouri released the Meramec River Conservation Action Plan to prioritize strategic actions to keep the river healthy. Meramec River. Photo: Maisah Khan These actions include assessing streambank stability and developing partnerships to replant key areas to reduce erosion and flooding. Prioritized community engagement actions include communicating the economic benefits of intact forests and providing farmers with resources to reduce livestock impacts on streams and rivers.6
MSD Project Clear Initiative: Rainscaping
Photo: Preston Keres/USDA 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
As of 2017, after major rainstorms, 13 billion gallons of sewage-polluted stormwater overflowed from the St. Louis sewer system into the Mississippi River and its tributaries—about 50 times a year. As part of a larger effort to reduce combined sewer overflows, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) initiated a rainscaping program. Rainscaping features—such as rain gardens, woodland restoration, green roofs, and permeable pavers—naturally reclaim stormwater where it falls, filtering and reducing runoff to sewers and rivers. They also cost less than hard infrastructure and MSD provides grants for landowners to implement them.7 One of several rainscaping pilot projects, the Old North Rain Garden can divert about 31,000 gallons of rainwater from the sewer system in a 1-inch rain event, managing almost all of the stormwater runoff from the block.8
“SWCD History,” Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “Cost Share Handbook,” Missouri Department of Natural Resources (Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Districts, November 16, 2021), V-114 - V-116. Chris Fennewald, “More than 30 Years of Soil and Water Conservation,” Missouri Farm Bureau, April 14, 2016. “Fox Island: Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project,” US Army Corp of Engineers | Rock Island District. “Fox Island Division Operation and Maintenance Manual” (US Army Corps of Engineers | Rock Island District, March 2016). “Places We Protect: The Meramec River,” The Nature Conservancy. Erick Trickey, “How a Sewer Will Save St. Louis,” Politico Magazine, April 20, 2017. “Rainscaping,” MSD Project Clear (Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District).
National Wildlife Federation email@example.com 202-797-6886
National Wildlife Federation firstname.lastname@example.org 202-797-6644
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Duck Hunting Gear for the
aying $10,000 a year for a duck club or acquiring $5,000 worth of gear is something infeasible for most folks to shoot ducks every fall. The good news is you do not have to. Waterfowl hunting has long been coined a rich man’s sport, but if you utilize available hunting grounds around you while developing necessary skills, you can go after the birds with a modest investment.
The outdoor industry is always happy to indulge the gluttony of the American hunter. Social media “influencers” and sponsored folks continually promote the highest-end gear on the market. In my experience, only a few of these companies have gear worth the extra penny. Without direction, you can easily trip into the pitfalls of big-money waterfowl hunting.
Waders—you can spend $1,000 on waders nowadays, but you do not need to. A pair of $150 waders from Rogers, Frogg Toggs, or the like will be fine for your first year. Make sure you get breathable, though. Neoprene waders are constrictive and can be a hindrance for your first year. And if you layer correctly, breathable are just as warm
Shells—Non-toxic bismuth, TSS, tungsten, etc. are all very expensive, averaging $2-3 a shell. If you are just getting into it, steel shot (necessary for waterfowl hunting in the U.S.) will do just fine. Federal Speed Shok, Rio, or Browning Wicked Wing work well. I know because I have shot those, and they take ducks down.
Decoys—talk about a potential money pit! If you go solo your first year, you can buy a dozen rigged decoys for $75. You do not need Dakotas, Avian-X, or any top brand. Twelve Flambeaus work just fine. Ideally, going with experienced folks is in your game plan for the season. Let them bring their decoys. Also, some folks will say you need 12-dozen decoys for a hunt. You do not. Hunting alone, I have shot more ducks over a dozen or less decoys than any big spread.
As a new waterfowl hunter, gear selection can be overwhelming. When buying, be mindful and deliberate and don’t fall into the most expensive is the best category. As far as gear, this is all you need to shoot waterfowl this fall.
Calls—start with a double reed like a Buck Gardner Double Nasty or Haydel DR-8. They are easier to blow, and a single reed will run you much more money. Calling is something that will take years to master. No need to go full bore and purchase an RNT Mondo for your first call. As you hunt, go with experienced callers, test their calls, and learn what fits your style.
My experience has grown greatly and yours will, too. As a mostly public land hunter, I find myself continuously downsizing the amount of gear I lug into the marsh.
Miscellaneous gear—two things you will need are a marsh stool and a gear bag. Those will run you about $100 together. The Avery marsh stools are suitable for the price. For your gear bag, there are tons of options. I’d encourage something waterproof or water-resistant. Or try a vest from Harrel and Sons.
Delta Waterfowl has a great program for new hunters. Get in contact with your local Delta chapter and they will help you immensely. You will learn ethics, tactics, and skills a lot quicker than doing it alone.
If you want to get solely into waterfowl hunting, expect to spend around $500 upfront if you have a shotgun and likely around $1,000 if you do not have a gun. Buy a cheaper duck gun and see if you like it before splurging on a Benelli Super Black Eagle. Spoiler alert: you do not need a “waterfowl gun” to shoot ducks and geese. I took down a lot of waterfowl with an old Mossberg Ultimag 835 during my first few years. Here is a breakdown of what you should acquire.
Jerk rig—if there is anything other than a jerk rig that has brought more ducks to their death, I don’t know it. A jerk rig, running $10-20, is essential on windless days. It creates movement in the decoys necessary to fool ducks. Buy or make a jerk rig and you will shoot more ducks.
Being a new waterfowl hunter is a fun but anxious experience. I encourage you to learn about the history of the sport and find an experienced mentor.
Ryan Miloshewski and David Holzknecht (Left) David Holzknecht, a Delta Waterfowl mentor, with two new hunters during teal season. (Photo: Ryan Miloshewski) (Right) New hunter Eddie Mattingly with his first duck, a juvenile male pintail. (Photo: Ryan Miloshewski)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
SEPTEMBER - 2022
A Workout Program for Your Hunting Dog 28
ogs are special people. They dedicate their lives to owners that love and protect them. A hunting dog will do whatever it takes to please its master, even running back and forth in fields or making water retrieves to exhaustion. I have watched the best Labrador retrievers bring in 30 ducks, then sleep on the drive and all night at home. Hunting season is upon us, is your dog ready? Sadly, hunters who lack the time to properly train their pointers setters or retrievers are often disappointed when the season opens. Their dogs are simply not in the condition required to hunt all day. Out-of-condition dogs often wear out in the first hour or two. Therefore, an adequate conditioning program is essential. Smart hunters implement a 12-month program aimed at keeping their dogs in shape. Year-round conditioning and feeding can make a big difference on opening day. A healthy dog can run several hours while finding quail, pheasants or grouse. Poorly conditioned dogs are injured easily and lose their concentration when sniffing bird scents. Start your dog’s conditioning program with a trip to the veterinarian. Tell him of your plans and begin with a thorough physical, including stool and blood analysis. Once assured of your dog’s overall condition, make sure your dog dines on the best food. There are many fine brands on the market. Remember to never feed your dog before a workout. Begin workouts slowly to get the dog back in shape. Starting early in the year allows the luxury of not pushing your dog’s workouts. Most experts start 15-to20-minute activities and eventually work up to an hour. Make sure you keep an eye on the dog for fatigue or injury. Fatigue may be signaled by the tail being carried lower than usual. Gums turning dark red are another sign to let the dog cool down. A fresh drink of water will help refresh your dog and the lack of water can make your dog ill. The fast metabolism and thick fur coat quickly help overheat a dog--especially when no water is available. Most dogs swim and love the water. Repeated water retrieves build the dog’s strength and endurance while maintaining a comfortable body temperature.
Bird dogs require fieldwork to harden their pads. I have seen many working dogs return to their master with bloody paws. A total conditioning program must include all muscle groups, including the cardiovascular system. Dogs must endure a general toughening program. Hunters tend to take for granted the incredible amount of work a bird dog endures. Stamina is developed by running around fields and other areas. Some hunters jog with their dogs. However, this can cause problems. Jogging is a good way for hunters to get in shape. But this may push an out-of-condition dog too far physically. Constantly watch the dog to make sure he is remaining alert. Loss of concentration is a sure sign of exhaustion. Occasionally check his pads. Running several miles on concrete or asphalt may cause painful wear on pads. Instead, let your dog run in the grass while you endure hard surfaces when possible. Accomplished joggers should be aware of their dog’s behavior. An unconditioned dog cannot log the same miles of a conditioned human. Start slowly while your dog’s health progresses. You should start noticing a difference in your dog’s condition by the first month. Patience is important. Never put a tremendous amount of pressure on a dog. Workouts should be fun and in fact, an adventure. Puppies especially require a little tender loving care. Start by playing with your pup while constantly calling it by name. Allow the pup to visit open fields where it can point butterflies and grasshoppers. Later you can plant pen-raised quail or pigeons where the puppy can only smell the bird. Your dog should be 12 months old before its first hunt. Even then, training before the season opener is essential. A young dog has to be in shape before chasing birds through fields and timber. Hunters tend to take a dog’s effort for granted. But a well-conditioned dog is a splendid athlete.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Feature Story When to take your dog hunting depends on its conditioning. Point and retrieving instincts are bred in better dogs. But you can aid your dog’s conditioning by playing retrieving games. Younger dogs especially tend to chase after rolling objects. Try tossing a rolled-up sock or tennis ball and make a game of it. Your dog will use up a lot of energy while perfecting its retrieving trade. Injuries are always a possibility during your dog’s conditioning program. I can sadly say that I once witnessed my best retriever run out of the field we were working into the path of a car. Suddenly my dog was lying in a ditch in horrible pain. Injuries and severe trauma often result from this type of accident. Broken bones and open wounds are serious, but not compared to internal bleeding. I made a point of not picking up Sam by his waist or chest. Broken bones would have likely pushed through a lung or even his heart. I placed the whining dog on a blanket and drug him to the pickup. Then I lifted him up in the blanket. Once secured on my pickup seat, I slipped the blanket over Sam to keep him warm. I was being cautious of shock setting in.
The vet mentioned that my fear of Sam going into shock was well founded. Shock may be defined as a lack of blood flow to meet the body’s needs. The body tries to correct this by speeding up the heart, constricting blood vessels and conserving fluid in circulation to central parts of the body. If allowed to continue, vital organs shut down for lack of oxygen. Then shock sets in, often causing death.
I made sure he was breathing properly before driving to a vet‘s office. His breathing was labored, so I glanced in to ensure Sam’s tongue was out to the side. He was acting calm, so I did not fashion a muzzle out of rope to avoid being bitten. Even the best pet will panic and bite when in pain. Sam seemed to handle his painful experience very well.
Hunters working their dogs in hot weather should be aware of another form of shock. This type is caused by dehydration or heat stress. Some symptoms are a drop in body temperature, cold extremities, pale gums and rapid, weak pulse. Should this occur, calm the dog and help him assume a comfortable position. Again, cover him with a blanket while being transported for help.
I quickly drove to the vet, faster than the law allows, while Sam lay on the seat, occasionally breathing deeper and faster than usual. The vet soon declared that he had a broken rib and, remarkably, no internal bleeding. He congratulated me on how I had handled the situation.
Dogs are loving animals that would do anything to please their master. Contribute the same love by making sure the dog is safe and happy. The best hunting dogs are the result of a good training plan. Kenneth L. Kieser (Front) This dog ran miles before pointing quail, the results of a good conditioning program. (Photo: Kenneth L. Kieser) (Top) Rocketman is making one of many training retrieves. This is his favorite activity. (Photo: Kenneth L. Kieser)
Bob and Barb Kipfer Honored with National Conservation Special Achievement Award
he National Wildlife Federation honored Bob and Barb Kipfer with its National Conservation Special Achievement Award. The award recognizes the multitude of ways the Kipfers have offered their time and resources for education, community engagement, land restoration and wildlife conservation. The Kipfers own 400 acres of land in Christian County, Missouri which they have used for hosting forestry conferences, providing charity firewood, helping with bird counting and planting seedlings in riparian corridors. The Missouri Department of Conservation has tracked black bears and trapped wild hogs on their land while Missouri State University studies stream ecology and woodland management. They write a conservation blog and teach weekly conservation sessions at the Springfield Public Schools 5th grade Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility. “The success of the conservation movement depends on responsible land ownership and the Kipfers are a shining example of how to embrace the ideals of conservation,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Their commitment to best practices and openness to community groups, conservation organizations and research institutions has turned their land into an invaluable resource for people and wildlife, alike.” “We are honored to receive this award and want to thank the Missouri Department of Conservation and all the other organizations whose resources and support of us have made it possible,” said Bob Kipfer. “To become passionate about the natural world you first need to learn enough to love it, and you are never too old to learn.”
The Kipfers have previously been recognized as State Tree Farmers of the Year and as the Missouri Conservation Federation’s Conservationists of the Year. Going forward, the Kipfers have a 50year protected agreement with Missouri State University where their land will continue to sustain the natural ecology and be used for continued education after they are no longer able to manage it. The National Conservation Special Achievement Award recognizes individuals for exceptional contributions to the cause of conservation through their time, talents, and service to support the efforts of the Federation. The Kipfers were honored during the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting, which was held for the third time as a virtual event this year. The National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Awards began in 1966. Since then, the National Wildlife Federation has celebrated individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting wildlife through education, advocacy, communication and on-the-ground conservation. Previous honorees have included former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson and Michelle Obama, and other national leaders, including U.S. Senator John McCain and filmmaker Robert Redford.
Sullivan Barth (Top photo courtesy of NWF) (Left photo courtesy of Bob Kipfer)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
couple years ago I hired a tree service to cut down a large, gnarly white oak growing along my driveway. For years the tree would drop hundreds of acorns and squirrels and deer would feast until the nuts were gone. The tree, at least 150 years old was dying. It sprouted around 1871 or thereabouts, and except for a few large pieces I could not easily split on my own, it produced over a cord of wood and did its part to keep us warm during the following winter. Loss of the tree brought to mind Aldo Leopold's, the Good Oak from A Sand County Almanac, something I first read over 40 years ago.
In the essay, Leopold reminds us of certain spiritual dangers, and re-affirms that it's okay to take what nature provides to fulfill certain needs and wants. But as he recounts history from the action of his saw blade, I also found myself wondering. When is it not okay to take? The length of my hand across the growth rings of the freshly cut stump easily covered a few decades. Fragments of the past, energy released, now lay on the ground – reduced to sawdust. And without any visible evidence, the saw also cut into the future, changing it forever.
Feature Story In September of last year, a brother and sister in Ohio hired a company to cut down an exceptional black walnut tree. The tree was estimated to be 250 years old. It's first birthday, around 1771, means this tree witnessed the birth of our nation. Its trunk was unusually wide, measuring over five feet. The siblings sold the tree for $2,000. Also worth noting, the tree didn't belong to them and was, in fact, part of a nature reserve. The couple eventually pleaded guilty to felony theft and agreed to repay the park $20,000. Closer to home, a massive burr oak can be found near McBaine in Boone County, Missouri. The state champion tree, now a Boone County Historical Site, is estimated to be 350-400 years old. The tree has witnessed the passing of indigenous peoples, passenger pigeons, countless Missouri River floods, and explorers Lewis and Clark. A couple of years ago, a lightning strike threatened its future, and the tree has been repeatedly vandalized many times. It's expected to live another 100 years or so. Assuming some knucklehead doesn't come along and find a way to destroy it. Recently, the Save the Redwoods League purchased and subsequently donated 523 acres to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a group of 10 Northern California tribal nations focused on environmental and cultural preservation. The donation includes 200 acres of old-growth coastal redwoods, second-growth redwoods, Douglas-firs, and habitats that support other species like the spotted owl, steelhead trout, coho salmon, marbled murrelet and the yellow-legged frog. The land renamed Tc'ih-Léh-Dûñ, which means "fish run place" has been put into a conservation easement and will be managed through tribal stewardship. Down the road from my house is a nearby development – inevitable encroachment, soon to be an outdoor entertainment venue. The first action by the developer was to log the property of any sellable timber. He then scraped the site clean of every living thing, impounded a small drainage creek, and covered a substantial portion of the site with concrete. Most of the trees taken were well over 150 years old. They fell and were silently trailered away – wooden corpses. Those not removed were bulldozed and burned.
I doubt the developer paused to reflect on what he was doing, or even cared. He has bills to pay. The governing authority welcomed the developer with open arms – they like the sound of coins more than birds. With deference to Mr. Leopold, there are other spiritual dangers beyond not knowing from where food and heat are derived. Other spiritual dangers include not seeing and not reflecting. The moral danger is not caring. When I laid a hand upon the stump of my oak, I regretted the loss but appreciated the gain. The tree had a job to do and a role to play. It provided shade on hot summer days. The tree also provided food for countless creatures feasting on its acorns. Its branches gave innumerable birds a place to build nests and raise their young. It created air to breathe and held the soil from washing down the hill. And it caused me to pause and consider time and place, and the ephemeral nature of human life. My tree had no voice in my action and had my oak not gotten sick, I never would've cut it down. I wonder if the tree would've agreed with my decision. It's job certainly was not complete. I imagine it would've hung on for another year or two, and then its role would have continued in other ways for a few more decades. Serving countless critters in countless ways, eventually crashing to the ground more or less on its own terms. Returning to the soil everything it had taken, and then some. Cutting down a tree is an easy decision. Not cutting down trees seems more difficult. What considerations should we make before we decide to reduce a 200 or 300-year-old living thing to smoke, veneer, pallets, or sawdust? I pass no judgements or offer any answers to the question. Each story above is a different consideration of time. A witness account. A reflection beyond the memories of the living. Consideration of what is lost in the eyes of those standing. Contemplation of the future if allowed to play out on its own. And with gratitude to Aldo, these things I ponder as the woodstove burns. Dan Zekor (Photo courtesy of Dan Zekor)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Fly Fishing as a Spiritual Exercise
step into the cool, free-flowing waters of my home river at dawn. Immediately above me, on a high Ozark ridge, lies ancient camps of those who came before me. The ridge provides lofty views of the river valley below, which both me and my ancestors enjoyed countless times. At dawn especially, it feels like God shines a holy beacon of light in this place. It has a subtle strength and gentleness that brings me to a deep place as I begin my day of adventures and immersion into the spiritual realms of flowing water. There is much to be said about being familiar with a place. Familiarity creates a comfort zone within us. In the zone, our inner spiritual lives meld with the river to create peace, harmony, and tranquility far superior to the state of life in the real world. The river provides an escape from the everyday stresses of life.
It is pleasantly reassuring to experience the same rocks, riffles, and deep pools that have become so familiar to me in the last 50 years. I know these features of the river as well as I know my own strengths and weaknesses. I know where fish are likely to hold in relation to these familiar rocks, riffles, and runs. I know what time of day they are apt to show themselves in familiar lairs and lies. I understand how light and shade affect their feeding habits and the places where they hold. I know how the water fluctuates, and how the ebb and flow affect the fish and the aquatic life they depend on for daily sustenance, an intimacy between the river and the creatures of its waters.
Feature Story When the magic of hooking a trout on a favorite nymph pattern on these familiar waters occurs, I succumb to known spiritual inclinations and allow the seams between soul and water to become one. I often share these familiar waters with a friend who has known them as long as me. He is keenly in tune with the flows of the river, and likes nothing more than to entertain a client in his drift boat while casually introducing them to the wonders within her waters. His knowledge of the river is inspiring. He knows the aquatic insects that live there, their life cycles, and what stage of their short lives that they are most important to the river’s trout as a food source. He knows more about the river than anyone I know. He knows her moods and how the fishing will be at every stage she can display, regardless of whether the water is running high or is at its lowest flows. His most astounding quality is his keen generosity of spirit, his ability to share his love of the river’s familiar waters with others in a pure, unadulterated manner. He freely bequeaths his gifts to fortunate anglers. Knowing him well is one more example of the grace filed moments that imbue my life as a fly fisherman. Together, we have drifted untold miles down these familiar waters, each trip bequeathing to us new revelations about her watery secrets, which casual passersby fail to observe. Observation is a key element of what fly fishermen must be, if they intend to deeply understand the intimate workings of the natural world around them. Seeking knowledge is a continuum, an insatiable curiosity that accompanies the fly angler during every moment of every excursion on these familiar waters. Time is relevant to observation and whiles away relentlessly as the fly fisher spends long, contemplative moments staring at what would be rather boring waters to nonangling types. Powers of observation are strengthened by long periods of time spent gazing across familiar waters in hopes of observing insect activity, and in turn trout activity as they slurp unsuspecting insects from the thin film on the surface. Keen observations are the tickets that grant the observant fly fisherman entrance into the watery world of trout. Often trout subtly sipping insects from the surface, leaving only slight dimples on the water. Perhaps the slight dimple phenomenon is nature’s way of protecting the vulnerability of surface feeders from overhead predators such as eagles and ospreys.
Observations turn into practical applications for fly fishermen. What they see in familiar waters can then be turned into duplicative efforts of attempting to match the hatch. It is an eternal struggle for fly fishers to duplicate what Mother Nature has provided with an artificial resemblance. Frustration often sets in as an angler pours over fly box after fly box to find the perfect imitator of what he has observed trout feeding on in the river. Matches are seldom perfect, but close resemblances will often turn the trick. It is then that the ultimate satisfaction sweeps over the fan of the long rod. To have fooled a trout with a bit of fur and feather on a hook completes the spiritual connection between mankind, familiar waters and the trout that call them home.
Bill Cooper (Top) It is an eternal struggle for fly fishermen to duplicate what Mother Nature has provided with an artificial resemblance. (Photo: Bill Cooper) (Left) When the magic of hooking a trout on a favorite nymph pattern on these familiar waters occurs, I succumb to known spiritual inclinations and allow the seams between soul and water to become one. (Photo: Bill Cooper)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION MDC inducts Joel Vance into Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame
he Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) posthumously honored Joel M. Vance, formerly of Russellville, by inducting him into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame on June 17 during a ceremony at the MDC Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City. Vance died on Dec. 9, 2020, at age 86. Vance was nominated for the Conservation Hall of Fame by family members, who accepted the award in his honor. They included his wife, Marty; his sons, Eddie Vance and family, J.B. Vance, and Andy Vance; and his daughters Carrie DeValk and family, and Amy Binkley and family. Vance is the 45th inductee into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. The award honors deceased citizen conservationists and former employees of MDC, other conservation-related government agencies, universities, or organizations who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the state’s fisheries, forestry, or wildlife resources. To be eligible, an individual must have performed an outstanding act or demonstrated dedicated service resulting in major progress in conservation in Missouri. Nominations are carefully screened by a diverse committee and their recommendations are presented to the Conservation Commission for consideration and final approval. Learn more at https://mdc.mo.gov/about-us/ awards-honors/hall-fame. “Over the decades of his employment with MDC from 1969 to 1991, Mr. Vance contributed to by being the highly respected and widely heard clarion voice of conservation in the state, giving talks on behalf of the Department, conducting seminars and workshops, and helping establish a Public Affairs section for MDC in 1986,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley during the award event.
“Most notably, he wrote the Design for Conservation which established a dedicated sales tax for conservation in 1976,” Pauley added. “The entire issue of the August 1975 Missouri Conservationist was written by Mr. Vance, detailing the program that would propel MDC to the top of all conservation agencies nationwide.” Pauley noted that writing the Design for Conservation created a framework for conservation funding in Missouri and emphasis of the sales tax, but the bulk of Vance’s career with MDC included writing about, photographing for, and participating in conservation efforts for the monthly Missouri Conservationist magazine. “These mentioned efforts only hint at his significance to the North American conservation movement,” Pauley said. “In addition to thousands of news stories and magazine articles written for the Department, Mr. Vance produced an abundance of freelance articles and monthly columns over his 60-year career for every major hunting, fishing, and conservation magazine in America. His work earned him numerous, well-deserved awards and accolades.” Vance also authored many books about conservation topics all of kinds, which showcased his wit, humor, and love of conservation efforts. Vance was also deeply involved in the conservation movement, serving as president and chairman of the board of directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Missouri Outdoor Communicators, as well as an active member of the Association for Conservation Information, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. “With Mr. Vance’s passing, Missouri lost a dedicated conservationist,” Pauley said. “However, his legacy lives on for future generations of Missourians. We are pleased Mr. Vance’s family could be with us today to accept this honor on his behalf. I want to personally thank them for supporting him in his efforts to make Missouri and the nation a better place for future generations.”
MDC Program Can Help Landowners Manage Deer Populations
he Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering Missouri landowners another way to help manage deer numbers on their properties.
MDC’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) can help landowners manage deer on their properties by allowing them and hunters they designate to buy additional firearms permits to take antlerless deer on the properties above and beyond regular-season harvest limits. Each permit authorizes the take of one antlerless deer and costs the same as a Firearms Antlerless Permit. Permits may be used during any portion of the firearms deer season with methods allowed during that portion. Permits may only be used on the enrolled DMAP property for which they were issued. According to MDC, the number of deer in a local area varies widely throughout Missouri due to various types and quality of habitat, land-use practices, hunting regulations and harvest levels, and other factors. “For some landowners, deer cause crop damage and other problems, even with deer removals through regular hunting seasons and damage authorizations,” said MDC Deer Biologist Kevyn Wiskirchen, who coordinates DMAP. “And some landowners need additional tools for achieving their deer-management goals for their properties. The program’s main goal is to maintain healthy deer populations while balancing landowner needs.” Wiskirchen added that any private property of at least 500 acres located outside of municipal boundaries, regardless of the owner’s legal residence, is eligible for the program. For properties inside the boundaries of a city or town, at least 40 acres are required. Individual parcels of land, regardless of ownership, may be combined to satisfy the acreage requirements as long as no parcel of land is more than a half-mile (by air) from the boundary of another parcel being combined to form an enrolled DMAP property.
"The acreage requirement is designed to encourage deer management at a scale that will have a meaningful effect on local populations,” said Wiskirchen. DMAP also provides landowners with science-based methods and information to address a spectrum of other local deer-management goals, including Quality Deer Management (QDM) objectives. MDC piloted the program in 2019 on a limited county and regional level. MDC expanded DMAP to additional counties and regions in 2020 and 2021, and now offers it statewide. According to MDC, more than 86,000 acres were enrolled in 2021 and included 89 landowners or landowner cooperatives. Annual DMAP enrollment is available from May 15 through Oct. 1. To learn more about DMAP, including enrollment, visit MDC online at mdc.mo.gov/dmap, or contact your local MDC private land conservationist or conservation agent. Find local MDC contacts online at mdc.mo.gov/contactengage/local-mdc-contacts. Learn more about DMAP online at mdc.mo.gov/ magazines/missouri-conservationist/2022-06/managingherd.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
MISSOURI STATE PARKS Bryant Creek State Park Hopes to Open Late Summer
issouri State Parks plans to open one of Missouri’s newest parks, Bryant Creek State Park.
“Our team has been working diligently to get the park open to the public,” said Missouri State Parks Director David Kelly. “We’re anticipating an opening later this summer. When the park is ready for guests, we’ll hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony.” Located in southern Douglas County, Bryant Creek State Park is home to impressively large oaks and shortleaf pines spanning rugged, steeply dissected river hills that front the stream for which the park is named. With 2,917 acres, Bryant Creek State Park features many natural attributes, such as almost 2 miles of Bryant Creek frontage. Considered one of the best small river habitats in the White River Basin, Bryant Creek is floatable for more than 40 miles. Four tributary hollows go through uncut forest and sandstone outcrops, providing lots of character and scenic views. The park is separated into two sections by Highway N. The northern section has approximately 1,478 acres of mature forest and riparian corridor, while the southern section of 1,439 acres contains regenerating forest and a glade that is to be restored. “We’re proud to say Bryant Creek State Park is home to more than 940 plants and wildflowers. The hills and bluffs also contain extensive groves of shortleaf pines, Missouri’s only native pine tree,” said Kelly. “So far, we have found more than 60 types of mosses, liverworts and hornworts. We know bears, bats, eastern woodrats, bobcats and so many other types of wildlife who call the park home. Nearly 70 different birds – forest, woodland and shrub land – are known to nest here with several other migratory birds stopping by.”
When completed, the park will have two day-use areas. Park guests will be able to hike, camp, picnic and study nature. The day-use areas will have parking, picnic tables, vault toilets, potable water and informational and interpretative kiosks. The camping area, established for primitive camping, will be equipped with fire rings, picnic tables and platform tent sites. Eventually, the south day-use area will include equestrian parking, hitching posts and waste bins. Once fully developed, visitors will be able to hike, bike or ride their horses on specially-marked trails throughout the park. In the years prior to automobiles, Bryant Creek was the main north-south travel route through the watershed. This larger creek was where all the smaller tributary creeks fed, similar to a highway that all the little roads feed into. Until well into the 1900s, the most direct route to get somewhere in the watershed was by walking, riding your horse or driving your wagon and team of horses up or down Bryant Creek. “Actually, these pioneers would have to cross the creek numerous times back and forth because the bluffs made it hard to travel on the same river bank all the time,” Kelly said. Those places where travelers made their ways across the river were known as “fords.” Usually, they were named after the owner of the nearby land, and many locals still refer to the different parts of the creek by the names of the different fords. Bryant Creek itself is named for a hunter and trapper by the name of Bryant, who settled in the area around 1830.
Bryant Creek State Park is currently in Phase 1 of the development plan. Funding for Phase 2 has been approved by the legislature, so work on the park will continue as planned. The development phases include:
Phase • • • •
3 Camping area developed North day use area parking expansion Paved ADA leisure trail Trailheads
Phase • • • • •
1 North day use area initial development Parking Vault toilet ADA leisure trail footprint Hiking only trail development
For more information concerning Bryant Creek, please visit Bryant Creek State Park at https:// mostateparks.com/park/bryant-creek-state-park.
Phase • • •
2 South day use area development Multi-use trails Hiking only trail network expansion
For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
NATURE is Healthy
Get healthy in nature this year.
Road trip. We didn’t choose the perfect playlist. Or program the GPS. But we did fuel the car that made you realize there are no wrong turns, only new adventures. When the energy you invest in life meets the energy we fuel it with, amazing journeys happen.
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8/4/17 4:28 PM
SEPTEMBER - 2022
A Fisherman’s Love Story He lands the girl and the fish.
t was a cool day on May 13, 2021. The sky was overcast and just enough drizzle fell to notice but not enough to rain out what was to take place. As my girlfriend Wendy and I arrived at Guy B. Park Conservation Area near Platte City, Missouri, excitement filled the cab of my truck. I knew what was about to happen and she had a pretty good idea as well. Wendy and I had fished the lake at this conservation area quite a few times and it was a special place already.
On that particular day, it would become even more memorable. We walked out onto the dock that sits on the lake, and I spoke from the heart about how important she was to me and how much I wanted to be with her forever. I eventually arrived at the request for her to marry me. Luckily for me, she said yes.
Feature Story Fast forward to October 16, 2021. We got married at a small barn outside Kearney, Missouri, where we grew up and went to high school together. It was a small, outdoor ceremony where attendees sat on hay bales and our German Shorthair Pointer, Waylon, was part of the wedding party. It was the perfect combination of fun and heartfelt displays. After our vows but before our first dance, she surprised me with a wedding gift. For years I had spoken about my desire to own a certain fly rod. To my utter surprise, she gave me the exact rod that I had pined over for years. She also informed me that I would be putting the rod to use on Lake Taneycomo the following weekend as she had booked a “minimoon” for us. To say I was shocked would be a gross understatement, but that’s just who Wendy is. She routinely puts the desires of others before her own and this instance was no different. She knew I would want to put the rod to use, she knew I loved Taneycomo, and she wanted us to be able to share some time together after the wedding. Anyone who fishes Lake Taneycomo regularly knows that October can be an excellent month to fish there. The brown trout move up toward Table Rock Dam to try and spawn. While they are more concerned about spawning than eating, it is still possible to get one to bite. The water near the dam was low enough to wade and fish and that’s where we focused all our efforts. After a bit of time on the water though, we realized that we had our work cut out for us. Big fish were swimming by our feet and leaping out of the water, which was almost maddening because we couldn’t get them to bite.
Seeing so many big brown trout that seemed enthusiastic but not eating our flies was frustrating. We caught some nice rainbow trout between 14 and 18 inches, but they paled in comparison. After a bit of a slow morning, we took a short break and hoped the evening would be more productive. As we came down the wooden staircase by outlet number 2, we noticed that Table Rock Dam was releasing more water than it had earlier in the day. We knew we would have to stay close to the bank, roll cast, and fish scuds under weights. I ran across a blue scud with some sparkle to it and decided to at least give it a try. I bought that fly from the fly shop at Lilley’s Landing more than 15 years ago and had never used it. I didn’t know why I kept it or why the voice in my head said to tie it on my line. I made a second roll cast and my strike indicator went down. This was not some sort of surprise though since scuds routinely get hung up on rocks, grass, and debris. I set the hook anyway and quickly realized that I was not snagged on anything but instead had a fish on.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Feature Story It didn’t feel like anything special at first. It made some runs and gave some violent head shakes but it also got into the current which can make fish feel bigger than what they are. It made a few long runs downstream and I decided to go with it simply out of curiosity. My pulse had not quickened much at this point. What did make my heart race was when a nearby fisherman said “Hey, that’s a big fish you have on.” I hadn’t sighted the fish at all, but his words got my attention. Eventually, I saw the fish’s head come out of the water and I’m glad I wasn’t hooked up to any medical equipment at the time because a doctor probably would have wanted to keep me for overnight observation. In my experience, this is just about the time things go south for me. A snapped line, a spat hook, or I get wrapped around something is usually a standard operating procedure. I could tell that the fish was tiring out, which meant this fight was about to end one way or another. As I pulled him toward my net, time seemed to slow down. I might have even asked the good Lord for a helping hand, which I believe I received. The leviathan didn’t come close to fitting in my net, but his head was in it which was going to make swimming forward rather difficult for him. Wendy was nearby thankfully and was gracious enough to take a picture before we successfully released the fish. As we watched it swim off, a few things started to creep into my clearing head. First, I had just caught this fish on a rod my new wife gave me at our wedding reception. Second, I was only at this lake because she planned the trip for us so we could fish together. This memory that we got to share is one of many that we have shared on the water. From Guy B. Park to Branson, Missouri, and everywhere in between, I’m glad to share moments like this with my fishing partner for life. Tyler Dykes (Cover photo courtesy of Cali Reed) (Brown photo courtesy of Wendy Dykes) (Top photos courtesy of Tyler Dykes)
hile listening to a recent episode of Clay Newcomb's Bear Grease podcast, I heard his guest, author and whitetail hunter, Mark Kenyan, mention the phenomenon called "Anticipatory Joy." Clay and Mark's discussion was centered around deer hunting when the phrase came up. However, outdoor users of all stripes should recognize the concept.
For those who see the signs, the shorter days, the first yellow cottonwood leaf on a gravel road, the cut hickory nuts in the driveway, a picked corn field, a flock of teal buzzing the marsh or maybe the first New England Aster blooming, there is the sense of the approach of fall. Frosty mornings and a return to the woods with my bow are almost at hand. Almost.
My old copy of the American Heritage Dictionary describes the usage of "anticipation" as "to feel or realize beforehand, to look forward to." Looking forward to something beforehand that brings you delight or happiness is "anticipatory joy." I've seen this when my wife has, for whatever reason, been denied her normal cup of coffee and a little quiet time. When she finally gets the decks cleared and is about to enjoy one, just as she watches the last drop fill her cup, she will say while holding the cup with both hands, "I'm going to have a cup of coffee." She says this with great anticipatory joy.
The nearness of mornings in the treestand, the first fire in the fireplace and hearing the sound of geese overhead are all pleasing to think about and bring us anticipatory joy. Seeing a clothesline full of my camouflage clothes that are about to be packed into a scent-free bag does the same. Also, laying out my gear and repacking my backpack, trimming a shooting lane or marking a weekend on my calendar to take a grandchild deer hunting can create some pretty good thoughts. Finally, seeing the first cold front a few days out on a weather app can elicit anticipation.
As summer transitions into early fall, there are signs all around for those of us who hunt whitetail fills the senses with anticipation.
The point is, the process of getting ready for a new season or preparing for a hunt can be almost as much fun as the season or the hunt itself. My friend Bill Lenhart used to say, "There are only two seasons: hunting season and getting ready for hunting season." There is some truth to that. So don't miss out on the pleasure of anticipation this fall.
(Left) One of the last wildflowers to bloom. New England Asters provide nectar for late migrating butterflies and herald the coming of fall. (Photo: Kyle Carroll) (Right) Getting your hunting gear in order and practicing with it can bring almost as much enjoyment as an actual day afield. (Photo: Kyle Carroll)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
t's early morning on the river in the trout park. The sun is beginning to peek through the forested hills. Annie is at the river's edge, waiting with rod in hand. She is visiting with the men on both sides of her. It's a cool morning. Annie is the only woman to brave the chill. The fishermen and one fisherwoman talk about the early spring weather and how they are glad winter is over. The rising sun reveals a beautiful fog rising from the water. The siren sounds tell them they can now start fishing. Annie's lure is the first one to hit the water. In a matter of minutes, she smiles and brings a trout to her dip net. She puts it on a stringer and makes another cast. A few turns of the reel handle and another trout takes her lure. This one is bigger and pulling line from her reel. It leaps from the water and Annie shrieks with joy. After a few more jumps she scoops it up with her net. She admires its beauty, puts it on the stringer, and makes another cast. An hour later she has her daily limit. Several of the other fishermen who hadn't been quite as successful came over to congratulate her. One of them asked what kind of lure she was using. She looked at him, smiled, and said, "Honey, it's not the lure catching the fish. It's this 75-year-old woman using it." She laughed, wished them luck, and headed for her car. After she put her fish in the cooler she looked up to the sky and thanked God for this special time in the outdoors that He created. She also thanked Him for watching over her all these years. Looking back at the river she saw an eagle perched in a tree across from where she had been fishing. She remembered her favorite bible verse - "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." She looked back at the eagle, smiled again, and said to herself, "God sent an eagle to watch over me today!"
(Left) Annie with her dad, grandpa, and sister after a fishing trip (Photo: Courtesy of Annie Tunnell)
When she got home she couldn't get the eagle out of her mind so she sat down to read about eagles. One of the things it said was that Native American Indians believe an eagle delivers their prayers to the Great Spirit. They hold an eagle feather aloft as a custom while saying a prayer. To them, the eagle meant strength, wisdom, and courage. Annie has needed all those things throughout her life. A tear flowed down her cheek. Annie was raised in the church and grew up loving the great outdoors. She was born in San Mateo, California, where her dad worked for United Airlines. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman. Her mom liked to fish too and taught Annie that if you catch them, you clean them.
(Right) Annie loves catching big trout. (Photo: Courtesy of Annie Tunnell)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Feature Story She loved it when they would travel north to see her grandparents in Ahwahnee, California. Her granddad was a friend of the famous photographer Ansel Adams who rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, using his iconic black-and-white images to promote the conservation of wilderness areas. Her granddad won awards for his photography too. She remembers him having a dark room in their house where he developed the pictures he took while out enjoying nature. Yosemite National Park was just 5 miles from Ahwahnee. The waterfalls, towering granite monoliths, deep valleys, and ancient giant sequoias were a big part of her young life. Annie gives credit to her parents and grandparents for her love of the outdoors. Annie was nine years old when her dad was transferred by United Airlines to Kansas City, Missouri. Later they bought a home at Lake Waukomis, a town with a great fishing lake. That continued to fuel her love for fishing. So one night she set some baited lines off a dock for catfish. She got up early the next morning and found she had caught three nice catfish. She knew how to scale and clean other fish but had no idea how to clean a slimy ole' catfish. So she took them into the bedroom where her dad was still asleep to ask him to help. "He sure wasn't very happy about it," said Annie.
Not long after that Annie got married, she and her husband Bob lived in the state of Washington and she traveled with him to Australia and other places. Unfortunately, he passed away, but Annie won't talk about that. After all those years, it still hurts too much. Annie says, "I was blessed with a strong father and a strong husband who said I could do anything and through God, I can." Annie eventually re-married to another man named Bob who loved to fish as she did. They lived in Warsaw, Missouri, in a lakefront home on Lake of the Ozarks for 28 years. He had his bass boat and got Annie an aluminum fishing boat with a bright yellow life jacket just for her. The yellow life jacket was so if he or neighbors came out looking for her when she stayed out fishing too long, they could find her a lot easier. She still remembers the elk hunt he took her on in the beautiful Colorado mountains.
In summers they would travel down to Lebanon, Missouri to visit her Grandma Effie on her mom's side. Like most of her family, Grandma Effie was an outdoorsy person too. She took care of a 4-acre garden and still fished. Back during the depression, she did it to survive, but now she did it for fun and food. Her Uncle Dale lived next to her grandma. He loved fly fishing and would take Annie along with him. After he caught a fish, he would then hand Annie the rod and let her reel it in. "I never got into fly fishing like Uncle Dale," says Annie. "I just thought why would I want to cast 5 times to a fish when I could cast one time and catch it with a regular fishing rod and reel?" When Annie graduated high school her dad took her along on a Canadian fishing trip with six other men. For seven days, they caught and ate walleye. A few years later, her dad was transferred back to California with United Airlines. Her mom got sick and her dad couldn't take off work, so it was up to 18-year-old Annie to find them a place to live in San Mateo. She did.
Annie enjoyed fishing with Jimmy Houston and still keeps in touch with him. (Photo: Courtesy of Annie Tunnell)
Feature Story One day she went out fishing with a friend in his boat and caught a 13-pound hybrid bass. When she got it in the boat she started crying. He asked her why she was crying. Through sniffles and tears, she said, "I always had this idea in my head that if I ever caught a bass bigger than 5 or 6 pounds, God was going to take me home to heaven, so I am sitting here waiting to go." Her friend smiled and said, "I guess God's not done with you yet because you're still here." After her second husband passed away, she never re-married. She moved to Blytheville, Arkansas, and worked at a co-generation plant. When her dad passed away, she moved back to Springfield, Missouri to take care of her mom. "With God, we can do anything," says Annie. "He put us here to help one another."
Annie with one of her favorite NASCAR legends, Richard Petty. (Photo: Courtesy of Annie Tunnell)
On May 11, 2011, nearby Joplin, Missouri was hit by an F5 tornado that devastated the town. Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris started a fundraiser to benefit the victims of the disaster. They held an auction and one of the items was a bass fishing trip with fishing legend Jimmy Houston on a private lake at his ranch in Oklahoma.
A portion of the Cherokee Trail of Tears runs through her cousin's property near Lebanon, Missouri. She has walked in the footsteps of the Cherokee on portions of the trail. Like me, she believes this was their land and we stole it from them. They were not the savages, the white man was. They were trying to protect their land and families.
Her bid won the trip for two, so she invited the husband of a friend who was always helping her to go along with her. He was as excited as Annie. They caught well over 100 fish. "Jimmy and his wife Chris are wonderful people and could not have been more hospitable," says Annie. "It was a very hot day and I got a little overheated. Chris went in and got her mamma's fishing hat and put it on my head to shade me and cool me down. Jimmy and I still text back and forth all the time."
Annie loves her fishing and says she will go anytime, anywhere. But, NASCAR racing comes in a close second. She got the racing bug watching dirt track races near her lake home in Missouri. She was at the race track when Dale Earnhardt died in a crash. She was always a fan of Rusty Wallace because he is a Missouri boy. She has met Tony Stewart several times and also met Richard Petty. I am not sure I have ever seen her not wearing the Martin Truex Jr. jacket that he autographed for her.
Like Chris Houston, Annie has a special feeling for our Native Americans. Her Grandma Effie always said they had Cherokee blood in them but they have never been able to find proof of that. That belief has been a big part of family stories for many years.
She also has agape or unconditional love for her two dogs that rule her life. Sammy is a Shitzu Poodle that adopted Annie in a Walmart parking lot. Callie is a 6-year-old Bichon breed that was someone's throwaway dog. Her compassion though is not just for her dogs. She also once took a lady into her home that was a throwaway too and needed Annie. We will never know how many other people Annie has helped. SEPTEMBER - 2022
Feature Story Annie stood there crying, she told him she would. She also told him she would bring him back a sea shell from that beach. One of her friends texted her to check on her several times. She told her she had gotten there safely and was enjoying herself but was not finding any sea shells. She was eating lunch at a seafood restaurant with only a half-day left before heading home. A woman came up to her and they started talking. In their conversation, Annie told her she couldn't find any sea shells and the story of why she wanted to find one to take back home for her friend. The woman smiled and told her to go to a certain place on the beach and she would find what she was looking for.
Annie wearing her favorite jacket. (Photo: Courtesy of Annie Tunnell)
Not one to sit around unless it is by a peaceful river, Annie is not accepting growing old. In a little less than a year, she has walked over 3,006,000 steps enjoying nature as she did so. Like she tells people, "You have to stay active mind and body. If not, you rot. You got to enjoy what God gives you. The fresh air in the outdoors has helped keep me well." At one time, she said she had completed her bucket list with all the places she has been and things she had done. She changed her mind though and decided she still wanted to go fishing in Alaska and travel to Florida to walk on a beach looking for sea shells. One Sunday morning Annie told a few friends sitting at a table at her church she was leaving the next day to go to Florida for a few days by herself. She told them she would check another thing off her bucket list and walk a certain beach on her birthday looking for sea shells. One of the men at the table stood up and walked over to Annie. He told her that was the same beach his wife loved to go to. He also told her that was where he, their kids, and grandkids had gone to leave some of her ashes. He told Annie to say hi to her while she was there. As
Annie finished her lunch and headed to where the lady had told her about. She walked and walked. There was a little ocean kelp weed washed up on the beach but that was it. She still couldn't find any sea shells. She was about to give up and get ready to head back home when something caught her eye in the kelp. It was a kelp seed pod shaped like a heart. Annie picked it up and stood there crying looking up to heaven. She talked to the man's wife. She told her he is a good man and that he and her family miss her. Then she said to her that she was taking this special heart-shaped seed pod back to him from her. Annie had found what she was looking for where the woman in the restaurant told her she would. As Annie started to walk away she looked down and saw something else in the kelp. She thought it was some kid's ball they had lost but it was another seed pod. To Annie, it was a sign that God wanted her to keep on rollin' and that she had a lot more living to do. So she got into her car and headed home. The Sunday after getting back she got to church and went directly to her table of friends. The man stood to welcome her. Annie tried to tell him her amazing story without crying but couldn't. Tears flowed down her cheeks and tears came to the man's eyes when she told him what happened. Then she put the heart-shaped seed pod in his hand and he hugged her. Those that are blessed to know Annie and call her a friend will tell you that Annie has a heart as big as the outdoors she loves. As the Cherokee people would say, "ageyn gvdodi equa adanvdo" which means, Annie is "a woman with a big heart." Larry Whiteley
2022 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons
he Missouri Conservation Commission has approved recommendations from MDC for the 2022 migratorygame-bird-hunting seasons and 2022-2023 waterfowlhunting seasons. Mourning Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves, and White-Winged Doves • Season: Sept. 1 - Nov. 29 • Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession combined total for all three species • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset Sora and Virginia Rails • Season: Sept. 1 - Nov. 9 • Limits: 25 daily and 75 in possession combined for both species • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset Wilson's (Common) Snipe • Season: Sept. 1 - Dec. 16 • Limits: 8 daily and 24 in possession • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset American Woodcock • Season: Oct. 15 - Nov. 28 • Limits: 3 daily and 9 in possession • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset 2022 - 2023 Waterfowl Hunting Teal • Season: Sept. 10-25 • Limits: 6 daily and 18 in possession • Hours: Sunrise to sunset Ducks • Season: • North Zone: Oct. 29 - Dec. 27 • Middle Zone: Nov. 5 - 13 and Nov. 19 - Jan. 8, 2023 • South Zone: Nov. 24 - 27 and Dec. 7 - Jan. 31, 2023 • Bag Limit: 6 ducks daily with species restrictions: • 4 mallards (no more than 2 females) • 2 scaup for first 45 days, 1 scaup for last 15 days • 3 wood ducks • 2 redheads • 2 hooded mergansers • 1 pintail • 2 canvasbacks • 2 black ducks • 1 mottled duck • Possession Limit: Three times the daily bag or 18 total, varies by species • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset Coots • Season: Same as duck season dates in the respective zones • Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Snow Geese (White and Blue Phases) and Ross's Geese • Season: Nov. 11 - Feb. 6, 2023 • Limits: 20 blue, snow, or Ross's geese daily with no possession limit • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset White-Fronted Geese • Season: Nov. 11 - Feb. 6, 2023 • Limits: 2 daily and 6 in possession • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset Canada Geese and Brant • Season: Oct. 1-9 and Nov. 11 – Feb. 6, 2023 • Limits: 3 Canada geese and Brant in aggregate daily, 9 in possession • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset Light Goose Conservation Order • Season: Feb. 7, 2023, - April 30, 2023 • Limits: No daily or possession limits • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset • Methods: For the taking of blue, snow and Ross's geese, hunters may use shotguns capable of holding more than three shells and recorded or electronically amplified bird calls or sounds or imitations of bird calls or sounds. Youth Hunting Days • North Zone: Oct. 22 and 23 • Middle Zone: Oct. 22 and 23 • South Zone: Nov. 19 and 20 • Limits: Same as during regular waterfowl season • Hours: Same as during regular waterfowl season • Requirements: Any person 15 years of age or younger may participate in youth waterfowl hunting days without permit provided they are in the immediate presence of an adult 18 years of age or older. If the youth hunter is not certified in hunter education, the adult must have the required permits and have in his or her possession proof of hunter education unless exempt. The adult may not hunt ducks but may participate in other seasons that are open on youth hunting days.
Nontoxic Shot Requirements Shells possessed or used while hunting waterfowl and coots statewide, and for other species as designated by posting on public areas, must be loaded with material approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Get more information on nontoxic-shot requirements, allowed types, and conservation areas requiring use at mdc.mo.gov/huntingtrapping/regulations/nontoxic-shot-regulations.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Resource Conservation Starts in the Watershed
ildlife habitat, clean drinking water, flood mitigation, and great outdoor recreation all have one thing in common: healthy watersheds.
CFM conservation partners Land Learning Foundation (LLF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Midwest Waters Initiative, Riverlaw.org, and Stream Teams United have formed the Shoal Creek Consortium to advance a multiyear initiative that will help to restore and conserve stream and wetland resources in Southwest Missouri’s Shoal Creek Watershed. The Consortium is also connecting with local Missouri Stream Teams, city and county officials, teachers, and the Harry S Truman Coordinating Council, among others. Incorporating local voices and knowledge will help to ensure project success and promote long-term sustainability.
The cornerstone of our work is 35 acres at the confluence of Hickory and Shoal Creeks north of Neosho, Missouri. It was acquired by LLF in 2020 with support from Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as Natural Resource Damage Restoration Trustees for Missouri. LLF will restore and preserve over a mile of streambank and riparian corridor along Hickory and Shoal Creeks, as well as 5 acres of wetland. This provides us with the space and real-life examples to teach youth, adults, and landowners about water quality and conservation practices. Shoal Creek Consortium partners are working with stream morphology engineers from the Saint Louis University (SLU) WATER Institute to develop an aquatic habitat restoration plan for the Site. (Cover) Cara Arrigo (middle) training volunteers in the Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring program at the Confluence Site. (Photo: Eric Dannenmaier)
Feature Story The project has been in the works since 2020, and restoration activities started with an October 2021 Stream Team volunteer cleanup led by retired Joplin police officer Tom Guernsey. Several volunteers have already engaged with the Confluence Site in tree planting, water quality monitoring, and trash clean-ups with more to come. Katie managed spring plantings of over 200 native trees, and participated in a June visit by SLU’s WATER Institute engineers who gathered baseline data for restoration design alternatives. Rachel Rimmerman, the Institute’s Director of Business and Outreach, noted that “Saint Louis University is excited to be part of this initiative.” Additional core partners are Neosho High School (NHS) science teachers and the Air Force Junior ROTC program which acts as a steam team. By partnering with teachers from NHS and faculty from Missouri State University, Crowder College, the University of Missouri’s Prairie Fork Conservation Area, and SLU’s WATER Institute, the Consortium will make the Confluence Site a living laboratory to demonstrate habitat conservation and sustainable farming practices for the next generation. The Consortium’s goal is to use the Site as a demonstration for all ages to learn about the value of water quality, native plants, and being outdoors. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is supporting Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) training for local volunteers who will monitor progress and project impact over the next three years. The statewide VWQM initiative lets citizens take an active role in protecting water resources and helps them understand biological, chemical, and physical influences on water and habitat quality. Staff from the Neosho National Fish Hatchery are also working on aquatic resource restoration in the watershed, and the Confluence Site will be one location where they will reintroduce and augment mussels in the Shoal Creek system including, potentially, the endangered Neosho Mucket (Lampsilis rafinesqueana). Hatchery staff will also assist in educational events and native plant establishment. LLF Deputy Director and Biologist Katie Wiesehan, and Conservation Counsel and Riverlaw.org Director Dr. Eric Dannenmaier, are coordinating the Consortium effort.
Eric pointed to “the impressive level of local enthusiasm and support,” which will be “essential to shaping and sustaining watershed conservation efforts in the longterm.” MDC’s Cara Arrigo, who trained VWQM volunteers at the Confluence Site in June, will return on October 1st to continue training with local science teachers and high school students. The Neosho Hatchery will also support public engagement, and hosted a preliminary workshop in March to introduce the Shoal Creek Consortium and to outline its own plans for mussel reintroduction. CFM’s President, Biologist Zach Morris, will also have an active role – helping to design streambank and wetland plans and to reintroduce native plants at the Confluence Site and other project locations. Zach pointed out that “The breadth of experience and talent represented by Consortium partners make this a unique opportunity for Southwest Missouri.” Drew Holt, TNC’s Western Ozark Waters Coordinator, who has worked in the region for many years, agreed; adding, “This is a great opportunity to build on prior conservation efforts of many dedicated private landowners and public partners in this unique watershed.” Core funding is provided by MDNR and USFWS, with additional support from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 Nonpoint Source Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). For more information or to get involved, visit the project website at https://shoalcreekwatershed.org/.
Katie Wiesehan (Top) Map of the Shoal Creek Watershed in southwest Missouri. The Confluence Site is shown in red. (Photo courtesy of I-Map Data Systems, LLC http://www.i-maps.com)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Persimmon Season W
hen I was a kid, my family had a seasonal tradition. At least once every fall, when persimmons were soft, ripe, and falling from the trees, we piled into the car and headed to a nearby state park where persimmon trees dotted the picnic area. Like an Easter egg hunt my sister Kathy and I collected persimmons until Mom told us that we had enough. Then we picnicked around a campfire before returning home. As kids, our job was finished with the picking. But for Mom, gathering fruit was the easy part. She still had to separate the seeds and skin from the thick, orange pulp and then combine that pulp with other ingredients to create her fall treat. The spicy fragrance of persimmon pudding would soon fill the kitchen. Mom served the warm, dark, brownielike dessert topped with whipped cream. Since Kathy and I had helped to gather the fruit, we took disproportionate credit for the end result. We devoured our pudding with pride. As I grew older, my appreciation for this native tree increased. I came to realize that persimmons weren’t put on the planet just to make special desserts for kids. Indeed, persimmons greatly contribute to Missouri’s ecology.
Feature Story They feed a wide assortment of animals: from daddy long legs to deer, from slugs to cedar waxwings. Because it is a native plant, many species of insects are adapted to eat its leaves. These insects can then fuel migrating songbirds and feed resident bird nestlings. Persimmon flowers attract bees, important pollinators for many plants. Two fruitful persimmons grow in my yard. When the fruits are dropping, an astounding array of wildlife visits those trees. Deer check them out throughout the day and night. Possums sometimes climb into the branches, getting their pick of the fruit along with the birds and squirrels. Raccoons, coyotes, skunks, foxes, bears, mice, and turkeys are just a few of the other animals that relish this fruit. Most animals scatter when I join the scene, but box turtles keep chomping fruit, like fellow pickers in a strawberry patch. Persimmons can make attractive yard trees, although some authorities don’t recommend them because they are “messy”. To me that litter is an edible bounty-- just my kind of mess. Persimmons have an attractive shape when grown in the open, making a nice specimen tree in a landscape. I like their pebblytextured bark, egg-shaped leaves, and yellow fall foliage. And the peach-colored fruit decorates their autumn branches. Persimmons do proliferate due to the many seeds that accumulate under the tree. Animals disperse the seed across the landscape in their droppings. And persimmons occasionally root sucker. This process and the seeds can produce groves around an older tree. Persimmons can be invasive and hard to control in prairies, making it unwise to plant them near a prairie or prairie reconstruction. Like holly and red cedar, persimmons bear male and female flowers on separate plants. Only female trees produce fruit. If you have young trees on your property, you won’t know what you have until they flower. Some nurseries sell grafted female trees that have been selected for superior fruit quality. At least one variety is said to be self-pollinating, an advantage if you don’t have many trees in your neighborhood.
Persimmon fruits are delicious, healthy, and versatile. They taste somewhat like a date mixed with an apricot with hints of honey. But only somewhat. You’ll have to try one to experience their unique flavor. The squishy fruit does not ship well. Since it would turn into a gooey glob by the time it reached a grocery store, you won’t find Missouri persimmons at the market. However, stores sometimes carry an Asian species that is grown commercially. Persimmons have a range of fruit quality and time of ripening, depending on the tree. Some trees produce plump, juicy, fruit that ripens and falls in September and October. Try to find these trees to supply your persimmons. Other trees produce fruit that is drier, more wrinkled, slower to ripen, and more persistent on the branches. The fruit, although sweet, is too dry and hard to contain much pulp. Some fruits from these trees cling to the branches deep into winter, providing sustained wildlife food when it is most needed. Persimmon’s puckery reputation may deter people from enjoying this delicious fruit. If in doubt about ripeness, just test it with a small nip through the skin. You’ll quickly learn the characteristics of the ripe ones. Persimmons that have fallen from the tree, and those easily separated from the branches, are almost always ripe. They make great snacks just as they are. I enjoy a few whenever I chance upon them on fall walks. For baking you will need enough fruit for a cup or two of pulp. As you gather persimmons clean off any little sticks and leaf fragments, and remove the brown cap that attached them to the branch. Although you can gently wash the fruit when you get home, this is difficult because they are so soft. I prefer to inspect and clean the fruit as I collect it, leaving questionable fruit on the ground. To separate the pulp, I put the fruit in a colander with fairly large holes and use a porcelain coffee mug as a pestle. I mash the pulp through the colander into a bowl, leaving mostly skin and seeds behind. The thick orange pulp is then ready to use. It makes a good topping for toast or pancakes, or can be added to yogurt, ice cream, or smoothies. Baked persimmon has a different flavor than fresh, but both taste great.
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Rick’s Healthy Whole-Grain Persimmon Mini-Muffins
Persimmon pulp can be baked into puddings, pies, cookies, breads and muffins. There are dozens of recipes in cookbooks and on the internet. You could probably substitute persimmon pulp in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or bananas. I mostly bake mini-muffins. Everyone seems to like them, they are portable, and easy to store. Indulging in a minimuffin does not count as a departure from any diet— they’re little, after all. If you find a good source of fruit and want to extend your persimmon season, simply process more pulp and freeze it. You’ll want to collect fruit about every day during the peak of ripening. This will ensure fresh fruit as well as beat some wildlife. Last fall, I froze almost three gallons of pulp in two-cup quantities. I poured it into quart plastic bags that stack flat in the freezer. Recently I gave a few bags of pulp to my sister. She tried a recipe for persimmon pudding that looked similar to Mom’s. After getting Kathy’s enthusiastic report, I had to try that recipe myself. I was pleased that it looked and smelled like the original. But how would it taste? I cut out a generous portion and added an ample dollop of whipped cream. I took a tentative bite--and smiled. My thoughts drifted to earlier times as I devoured my pudding with pride. Rick Thom
Dry Ingredients: • Date Sugar or Brown sugar: 1 cup • Whole wheat flour: 1.5 cups (I sometimes substitute buckwheat, almond, or coconut flour for .5 cup of wheat flour to add some variety. Gluten free flour also works) • Slow-cook oatmeal: 1.75 cups • Baking soda: 1 tsp. • Salt: 0.5 tsp • Ground cloves: 0.5 tsp • Ground allspice: 1 tsp. • Ground cinnamon: 1 tsp. (or more to taste) • (2.5 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice can substitute for the listed spices) • Optional: chopped pecans, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, shredded coconut, chopped dates, etc. (a few optional ingredients make your muffins exceptional) Moist Ingredients: • Canola oil: 0.75 cup • Eggs: 2 • One individual serving of applesauce (the little snack cups) • Persimmon pulp: 2 cups (or combination of persimmon and banana pulp if short on persimmon. This recipe turns out well with just bananas, but then you get banana muffins) • Real vanilla: 2 tsps. Instructions: Mix dry ingredients and blend thoroughly, making sure that sugar is completely mixed and not lumpy. Blend all moist ingredients until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Then fold the moist ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until completely mixed. If batter is too thick, add another single-serving container of unsweetened apple sauce. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin pans and bake at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until done. To make cookies instead of muffins, place batter onto cookie sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes, checking toward the end to keep from burning the bottom of the cookies. Muffins or cookies can be frozen in air-tight bags until used. It yields about 45 muffins and requires two mini-muffin pans.
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SEPTEMBER - 2022
Swamp Rabbit Hunting
unting rabbits was a regular activity during the winter for our sons and myself for years. We got started rabbit hunting when our oldest son found a beagle mix puppy, and the family made me keep it. It turned out to be an excellent rabbit chaser and we eventually expanded our force of rabbit dogs to six beagles and a basset hound. Most of our rabbit hunting was on our 40 acres in Moniteau County plus the Department of Conservation prairie areas in west-central Missouri along with prairies owned by the Missouri Prairie Foundation. I hadn’t hunted swamp rabbits in southeast Missouri because it was a long drive and I would pass thousands of very huntable rabbits on the way. But I eventually arranged to meet several people for a January swamp rabbit hunt.
Usually, I hauled the dogs including the Labrador in an old trailer made from a ¾ ton pickup bed. But because of the distance, I packed all the dogs in their boxes in the back of our Suburban with the back seats down. I drove to Sikeston and checked into a motel for the evening. It was a cold night, and the next morning I realized keeping the dogs in the truck was a huge mistake. The inside of the truck was covered with a thick frost of frozen dog breath. The smell of wet, stinky dog was atrocious and overwhelming. I knew immediately that I would not get the odor out of the truck and Mrs. Urich would have harsh words for me when I returned. But I put this impending marital unpleasantness out of my mind because there were swamp rabbits to hunt. I had several days to think of some brilliant excuse to absolve myself of blame.
Feature Story I let the dogs out that morning in the dark to run around on several acres of mowed grass next to the motel. Unfortunately, there was a rabbit hunkered down in the middle of the mowed field that the dogs found immediately. The rabbit rain toward I-55 and slipped under a tall chain-link fence. All the dogs except for the Lab managed to also get under the fence. The fence was tall enough to block me. The beagles and basset hound were running north adjacent to the freeway baying and chasing the rabbit. I can usually call the dogs off a rabbit but I have to be pretty close. They weren’t listening to me on the other side of the fence. My concern was the rabbit would dart across the interstate highway. Beagles are notoriously bad about checking for cars both ways and proceeding carefully across a roadway. The chain-link fence eventually changed to barbed wire and the rabbit ran into a small patch of woods. I was able to round up and put the dogs in their boxes. I had to get towels from my motel room because the frozen dog breath in the truck was thawing and it was raining inside the vehicle. Unfortunately, everyone I had arranged to go swamp rabbit hunting with canceled. I went to the 5,945-acre Donaldson Point Conservation Area in New Madrid County by myself driving around until I found a likely spot and let the dogs out. I didn’t know what to expect, but in less than 10 minutes of walking through the forest, the dogs opened on the rabbit scent and took off. I followed with the Lab, but after about 10 minutes the beagles were silent and came back. This behavior went on for most of the day until I finally figured out what was happening. The swamp rabbits were crossing small sloughs and other patches of water which stumped the dogs. Several times I made my way around a slough and the dogs picked up the trail again. I didn’t get any rabbits that day. The dogs spent another night in the truck. I left the windows down on the truck but it didn’t help. There was another heavy coat of ice on everything inside the truck and it stunk just as bad. I returned to the Donaldson Point Conservation Area again by myself. The dogs had learned that swamp rabbits run along fallen logs and it was neat to see the beagles hop up on a log and trail the rabbit while baying. The basset hound had to run alongside the bigger logs.
We came up to another slough and I figured the rabbit would cross the water losing the dogs. But after two cold nights there was a thin layer of ice on the water. The rabbit had run out on the ice and broken through. It was trying to claw its way back up on the ice. The Lab knew exactly what to do which was dive into the water, crunching ice out to the rabbit. This noise and disturbance alerted the beagles who saw the rabbit.
(Cover) The beagles trailed a swamp rabbit into a hollow tree on the Coon Island Conservation Area, Butler County. (Photo: David Urich) (Top) Janeen Laatsch, Natural History Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, holding her first swamp rabbit on the Donaldson Point Conservation Area, New Madrid County. (Photo: David Urich)
SEPTEMBER - 2022
Feature Story Into the water they all went following the Lab. The rabbit clawed its way up onto the ice and took off but the Lab, acting as an ice breaker, made a path for the beagles. The chase was on. This was all my beagles needed to learn that the swamp rabbits were crossing water barriers. They would follow the trail up to a water hazard, sniff a little to the left and right before heading into the water baying while they swam. As a result, my hunting success improved dramatically. Later in the afternoon, a swamp rabbit came to the bank of a small slough and stopped. I was on the other side of the water with the Lab. The beagles were hot on the trail and closing the distance. I raised my gun and shot the rabbit which was a big mistake. The Lab immediately launched into the water and retrieved the rabbit. But when the beagles got up to the water, they knew the rabbit had not crossed. There was no way I could call or cajole them into swimming across the slough. I had to make my way around the slough going over the top of both my boots in order to round up the dogs. This was another hunting lesson learned the hard way. Always blast the rabbit on the same side of the water as I’m standing. The following year, I returned for another January swamp rabbit hunt. Unfortunately, it rained over 6 inches the day before, flooding most of the bottomland forests. But the dogs found rabbits and gave chase sniffing the surface of the water and baying as they trailed rabbits. Most of the time the swamp rabbits headed immediately for hollow logs or hollow trees breaking off the chase. I made many more swamp rabbit hunting trips to the Bootheel, hunting mostly on public lands, including Duck Creek, Ten Mile Pond, Hornersville Swamp and Coon Island conservation areas. I took many people swamp rabbit hunting, including some of the staff from Big Oak Tree State Park. I mentioned that letting the beagles run on the state park to check for swamp rabbits would be interesting. The staff responded that would be fine as long as I stayed on the trails and kept the dogs on leashes. My last swamp rabbit hunting trip was in 2010. The next year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway levee to relieve flood pressure from the Mississippi River on Cairo, Illinois during a substantial flood event on the river.
Hunters taking a break with the beagles on the Duck Creek Conservation Area, Bollinger County. (Photo: David Urich)
This action along with the copious rain was hard on wildlife that lived and nested on the ground throughout the Bootheel. The lessons learned from my beagles in southeast Missouri improved my rabbit hunting success in other parts of the state. I didn’t realize how many rabbits the dogs lost because the rabbits crossed water. I finally understood that cottontail rabbits crossed creeks and small streams all the time, especially if they were shallow, although they swam across deeper water many times. My dogs would pause briefly at a creek edge sniffing and head into the water. Older dogs taught the new additions to the pack how to determine if a rabbit crossed the water. I spent nearly $100 to have the inside of the truck cleaned and deodorized after that first swamp rabbit hunting trip. It didn’t help much, especially if the vehicle was in the sun with the windows up. Mrs. Urich added never carry the dogs on the inside of the vehicle to her don’t ever do that again list. I was a robust and frequent contributor to this list early in our union. When our sons became teenagers, they also made substantial and at times shocking contributions to Mrs. Urich’s list with items that never occurred to me when I was their age. But I’ve tapered off in recent years not because I’m better at thinking through the consequences of my actions. The list is so comprehensive after nearly 50 years of marriage that it is hard for me to come up with more dumb things to do that aren’t already on the list. David Urich
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