Saturday, December 28, 2013

Opinions on CWD and Missouri Game Farms

CWD
CWD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is one of those issues I am trying very hard not to make an impulsive decision about.  I feel like there must be some perspectives I do not understand.  I thought about interviewing some captive breeding/fenced hunting operations in Missouri on the issue, but after reading their comments in the news it seems their position is pretty clear.

For those unaware of the issue, it kind of goes as follows.  A captive breeding operation had deer test positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) several years ago.  Now, it seems that it has spread to some other operations as well as the wild deer population - at least in the Macon County area (Northcentral Missouri).

Now, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has proposed some regulations that are designed to greatly reduce the chances of captive deer escaping into the wild population.  One of these regulations proposed by MDC is to double fence captive deer areas, and have the outer fence be quite a bit higher than is now required.

Breeders have decided they don't like the rules and are asking the legislature to intervene by transferring their oversight to the Department of Agriculture.

There are always two sides to an issue, and I will disclose my thoughts here.  I have a natural dislike for game farms and breeding operations because part of my whole attraction to hunting is the natural and authentic aspect to the endeavor of hunting.  Further, I am generally opposed to politicians getting involved in management of our game and fish populations.

I would love to hear some perspectives from hunters and others concerned about the CWD issue in Missouri.  If there are breeders who read this and wish to lay out their position in a logical fashion, I would most certainly welcome that. See comment section below.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We went "Hunting" and Wilson is a "Hunting Dog"

We were “hunting” this morning and Wilson was a “hunting dog.” Sure!
Wilson the Huntn' Dog


My two sons and I spent our morning tromping through a beautiful ice covered conservation area that is near our home in Warren County.  That ought to narrow it down quite a bit as to where we were if you were so inclined to care.  

Wilson is one of the most loving dogs I have ever come across.  He was rescued in southwest Missouri - apparently starved and uncared for.  But, if he was ever overtly abused he is THE most forgiving creature God ever created because the sum total of his perceived purpose for existence is to be around people.  

He has one really annoying habit, and that is being impossible to train to come when called.  I can train dogs.  I am good at it if I do say so myself.  Parenthetically, I am expressly not asking for suggestions on how to accomplish this.  

As a consequence, Wilson rarely is turned loose.  As one of the most suspect wedding presents ever, when my oldest son got married in June, we gave them Wilson.  Miraculously, our son is a long distance runner, and at the end of eleven mile runs Wilson sort of stops pulling on his leash.  That is how much energy he has.

In the woods, if you turn him loose he will return when he is ready - anywhere from five minutes to a half an hour later.  So when we headed out this morning, the question was, do we keep him leashed or let him run.  The decision was - run.

By law, hunting dogs are okay where we were.  Therefore Wilson was a hunting dog today.  One minute we’d hear him a half mile away apparently having treed a squirrel and carrying on like he was going to explode.  Thirty seconds later he’d be back to check on us.  He was the happiest looking dog you’ve ever seen.

His cavorting had the effect of making it most unlikely we would actually encounter a squirrel or rabbit.  We in fact did not.

It was mighty chilly, the truck thermometer read 8 degrees when we started.  My two sons and I had an outstanding experience together, visiting and enjoying the outdoors.  We came home to a warm house and a great Christmas Eve Day, and are now a few minutes from heading off to church.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas!



Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting Back to what this Blog is About

I would be lying if I wrote that this blog was for sure gonna be the start of a daily routine of writing.  I
have endeavored to do that so many times that it would be ridiculous to make that crazy assertion.  But this might be that start that I hope it is - a return to what this blog was supposed to be about.

I don’t mind just reposting all the stuff that comes across my desktop from MDC, the State Parks, and the Forest Service that pertains to Missouri.  In fact, when I look at my blog stats, my biggest days are when I post stuff about deer hunting from MDC or the weekly fishing report during the fishing season.

But, very often I don’t even read the whole article I am reposting, and it sure doesn’t connect me to the things I love to do - hunting, fishing, and camping in this beautiful state.  My best writing comes from the experiences I have had, and conversely, my writing sometimes reminds me I need to get out or gives me an idea of an area I’d like to visit.

Heck, I completely missed deer season this year.  I had to have surgery and as a school teacher it works out pretty nice to schedule these things around our relatively long breaks - unless that break coincides with deer season!

My two sons are in town and we have a couple of things planned.  My older son likes to hunt - more small and upland game, as the whole dynamic of sitting in a tree stand in sub-freezing temperatures is not at the top of his most fun things to do.  My younger son is kind of the same way, but it’s not so much the cold that bothers him, but the whole killing a deer thing is not something that he gets thrilled about.  He has killed deer, and I imagine he will in the future - it’s just not a passion for him.  He is passionate about fly fishing.

So we will get a little of both those activities in while they are here.  For the fishing, we likely will visit the Current River and Montauk State Park. During the Winter, we like to spend some of our time in the Park and some of our time down around Tan Vat, Baptist Camp, and on down to Parker Hollow. During the regular trout season, we pretty well spend all our time outside the Park, unless we have a guest with us who wants some really easy fishing and to fill a cooler.

The small game hunting is a simpler proposition.  We live in an area where we are surrounded by good options for that and it does not require a whole lot of planning.  Basically, it is just a matter of grabbing a pocketful of shells for the shotguns we will bring, throwing on some warm clothes, and heading out for some really cool time together.

It’s kind of funny that when we hunt, even though both my boys have acquired essentially all the knowledge that I have (that word “essentially” is thrown in because I cannot quite leave out some qualifier), I still cannot quite manage to get either of them to take the leadership role.  I really do want them to, as I think it’s good for learning to navigate the woods and for general self-confidence.  Maybe this year they will.  I am not sure whether or not there is some deeper psychological dynamic going on there or not.

I have noticed that both boys have used the outdoors as an outlet for decompressing from their somewhat fast-paced lives when they are away from home.  My oldest son got married this year, and is in his first year as a civil engineer while also completing a Master’s Degree.  Every month or perhaps more often he tells me about a place that he has gotten out to with some combination of himself, his wife, and/or his goofy dog.  Sometimes these excursions are just hikes.  Sometimes he packs up stuff for a cookout.  Sometimes he does a little bit of hunting.

My youngest is a Junior at Mizzou in their Forestry program (he switched this year from Journalism and could not be happier).  He has discovered all of the trails, streams, ponds and lakes, and conservation areas within walking or biking distance of campus.  For him, the outdoors is and always has been a major stress-reliever.

My wife and I incorporate the outdoors and exercise into our daily existence.  Even when the days get short and we have to get out in the dark, we are blessed to reside in an area where if we walk on the roads, there is little traffic.  Since we are surrounded by woods, we often trek out into the surrounding forest, where after 15 minutes or less, we can be in an area where there is little sign of civilization.  I
have noticed that for the first 10 or 15 minutes of our jaunts, her mind is abuzz with the events of the day.  Afterwards, she typically becomes absorbed in her surroundings and she gradually transitions into a state of relaxation over the final 30 to 45 minutes of our time out.

I do not know how it can be that people completely avoid the outdoors.  I know there are people who go to work every day, come home, and go through each and every day including the weekends without getting outdoors.  Of course we have an advantage in being teachers, that we get to school early and are both typically home by 5 PM.  I have to believe that even were it not for that, we would find a way where most days, but certainly on weekends we would still find our times of solitude outdoors.

For me, it’s not so much about the exercise.  That is a nice benefit of enjoying the outdoors.  It is in fact difficult to do much in the outdoors without some level of exercise.  But for me, it is more about the different perspective that the outdoors provides me. In a way, it is a complex thought experiment.  On those days where for some reason we can’t or just don’t get out, I feel tangibly different about a lot of things.

On those unfortunate days, I find myself getting more riled about politics, job-related matters, relationship issues, and even financial matters.  It might be as simple as walking through a forest where many trees are over 100 years old and have survived storms, drought, and even by perhaps luck been missed by tornadoes.  Those old trees have been presiding over a world full of fools worrying about things that are mostly inconsequential.

Those trees can talk to us if we are there and we listen.  I am not crazy.  I have never heard the spoken word from an oak or cedar tree. Somehow, there is a form of two way communication that occurs in nature that lifts us up and evens us out.  I am certain that is true for everyone. Writing about those experiences is what this blog was supposed to be, and what I hope to make it once again.  No promises.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Conservation Action December 2013

The Conservation Commission met Dec. 12 and 13 in St. Charles. Commissioners present were:

Don C. Bedell, Sikeston, Chair
James T. Blair, IV, St. Louis, Vice Chair/Secretary
Tim E. Dollar, Blue Springs, Member
Marilynn J. Bradford, Jefferson City, Member


REGULATIONS
The Commission approved the following seasons:
Turkey
Youth – April 12-13, 2014
Spring – April 21-May 11, 2014
Fall – Oct. 1-31, 2014
Season structure, bag limits, and shooting hours remain unchanged from 2013.
Firearms Deer
Urban Portion – Oct. 10-13, 2014
Early Youth Portion – Nov. 1-2, 2014
November Portion – Nov. 15-25, 2014
Antlerless Portion – Nov. 26-Dec. 7, 2014
Alternative Methods Portion – Dec. 20-30, 2014
Late Youth Portion – Jan. 3-4, 2015

The Commission voted to move ahead with changes it approved earlier this year for fishing regulations at Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake. The changes will go into effect March 1, 2014. Those changes include instituting a slot length limit that protects blue catfish between 26 and 34 inches and increasing the daily limit from five catfish to 10 catfish, with not more than two fish 34 inches or longer.

The Commission also voted to allow the importation and sale of one crayfish species, Orconectes virilis (also known as the northern or virile crayfish), for use as live fish bait, effective March 1, 2014.

ADMINISTRATION
The Commission:
  • Received presentations from:
Ø  St. Louis Wildlife Regional Supervisor John Vogel regarding habitat, wildlife and public-use management at August A. Busch Memorial and Weldon Spring conservation areas (CAs).
Ø  Policy Coordinator Alan Leary regarding the Ozark National Scenic Riverways General Management Plan.
Ø  Wildlife Management Biologist Kevin Brunke and Resource Scientist Andy Raedeke regarding Missouri Wetlands: Linking Science and Management.
  • Approved the purchase of 3.7 acres in Adair County as an addition to the Northeast Regional Office.
  • Approved the Conservation Department’s 2012-13 Annual Report.
  • Appointed Larry Yamnitz to a 5-year term and Mark Nelson to a 3-year term on the Conservation Employees Benefit Plan Trust Fund Board of Trustees.
  • Approved entering into a contract with Zoellner Construction Co., Inc., Perryville, for the construction of the Duck Creek CA Greenbrier Tract and Pool 1 Fishing Access Project in Bollinger and Stoddard counties, at a total estimated cost of 522,289.80. Partial funding for the project is provided by a North American Wetland Conservation Act grant.
  • Approved accepting the donation of approximately 223 acres in Hickory County from the estate of Lawrence Matthew Schumacher as an addition to Mule Shoe CA.
  • Approved the advertisement and sale of an estimated 1,282,888 board feet of timber on 717 acres of Compartment 6 of Pea Ridge CA in Washington County.
  • Suspended privileges of 237 persons under the provisions of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
  • Suspended hunting, fishing, and/or trapping privileges of eight Missouri residents and three nonresidents for Wildlife Code violations. Those whose privileges were suspended are:
Billy F. Hicks, Avalon, all sport privileges, until Sept. 16, 2018
Lester L. Hines, Avalon, all sport privileges, 1 year
Jason J. Hormann, Gardner, Kan., all sport privileges, 1 year
Daniel R. Hughes, Center, Fishing, 1 year
Troy S. Hunter, Emma, hunting, 8 years
Justin Neihart, Jefferson City, all sport privileges, 1 year
Leonid Pakhnyuk, Lyons, Ill., fishing, 7 years
Jeremy P. Redmon, Kirksville, hunting, 7 years
William A. Rodgers, Clinton, all sport privileges, 1 year
Jeffery M. Rush, Sheridan, hunting, 3 years
Christopher J. Spidle, Quincy, Ill, all sport privileges, 1 year
  • Approved the suspension or revocation of all hunting and fishing privileges of 405 people who are not in compliance with applicable child-support laws. Privileges suspended for noncompliance are reinstated once the Division of Child Support Enforcement notifies MDC that suspendees have come into compliance with the required laws.
·        Approved the nomination of Ed Stegner and Elizabeth “Libby” Schwartz for induction into the Conservation Hall of Fame.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Conservation Commission approves 2014 firearms deer, turkey season dates

Spring turkey season opens April 21. November portion of firearms deer season opens Nov. 16.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – At its regular meeting today in St. Charles, the Missouri Conservation
Commission set dates for the 2014 firearms turkey and deer hunting seasons.

Firearms turkey season dates are:
·         Youth season – April 12-13, 2014
·         Regular spring season – April 21-May 11, 2014
·         Fall firearms season – Oct. 1-31, 2014

Firearms deer season dates are:
·         Urban zones portion – Oct. 10-13, 2014
·         Early youth portion – Nov. 1-2, 2014
·         November portion – Nov. 15-25, 2014
·         Antlerless portion – Nov. 26-Dec. 7, 2014
·         Alternative methods portion – Dec. 20-30, 2014
·         Late youth portion – Jan. 3-4, 2015

Full details of 2014 deer and turkey hunting regulations will be published on the Conservation Department website atmdc.mo.gov, and in hunting regulation guides available from hunting permit vendors and MDC offices and nature centers statewide before the seasons.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Informational meeting at Lake Wappapello State Park Dec. 12

The public is invited to bring their ideas to an informational meeting at Lake Wappapello State Park on
Thursday, Dec. 12. The meeting will be held at the park office from 3-5 p.m.

Park representatives will provide information about the facility and answer questions. Visitors are invited to share feedback and suggestions about park services and operations. These informational meetings are part of an ongoing effort by Missouri State Parks to ensure citizens have input regarding the facilities and services offered in state parks and historic sites.

A visit to Lake Wappapello State Park is also a great opportunity to log miles as a part of the Governor’s 100 Missouri Miles challenge. To celebrate Missouri’s distinction as the “Best Trails State” by American Trails and to encourage Missourians to enjoy the outdoors, Gov. Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon are inviting Missourians to join them in completing 100 Missouri Miles of outdoor physical activity by the end of the year.

For more information and to take the Challenge, visit 100MissouriMiles.com. Participants can also share adventures, post photos and learn about upcoming events by connecting with 100 Missouri Miles on Facebook and Twitter.

Lake Wappapello State Park is located on Highway 172 in Williamsville, Mo.  Individuals requiring special services or accommodations to attend the meeting can make arrangements by calling the facility directly at 573-297-3232. For information about state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grant applications will be accepted for the federal Recreational Trails Program

Missouri state parks and historical districts ...

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is accepting grant applications from private organizations and municipal, county or state agencies for the Fiscal Year 2014 grant round of the federal Recreational Trails Program.

The Recreational Trails Program is funded through the Federal Highway Administration as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

Eligible project categories include development of new trails, construction, maintenance, and restoration. All grants are awarded on a reimbursement basis, and a minimum 20 percent match is required for projects. Applications must be postmarked by March 31, 2014.

To assist potential project sponsors with the application process, a grant application workshop will be held in Jefferson City and two conference calls will take place in January. The complete schedule is available online at http://www.mostateparks.com/page/55065/outdoor-recreation-grants.

The application is available online at www.mostateparks.com/page/55065/outdoor-recreation-grants or by writing to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri State Parks, Grants Management Section, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Missouri State Parks encourages families to enjoy ‘Black Friday’ hikes

English: A map of Missouri showing the route a...

Missouri State Parks is encouraging Missourians to get outdoors on Nov. 29 to enjoy an adventure on a trail in Missouri State Parks. Missouri State Parks includes 87 state parks and historic sites with nearly 1,000 miles of trails to explore.      
“The day after Thanksgiving is a great time to start a family tradition of exploring the outdoors with a hike on a trail,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “Missouri State Parks is also a proud partner of the Governor’s 100 Missouri Mile Challenge, and ‘Black Friday’ is a great opportunity to get outdoors and log miles on our award-winning trails.”
To celebrate Missouri’s distinction as the “Best Trails State” by American Trails and to encourage Missourians to enjoy the outdoors, Gov. Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon are inviting Missourians to join them in completing 100 Missouri Miles of outdoor physical activity by the end of the year.
For more information and to take the Challenge, visit 100MissouriMiles.com. Participants can also share adventures, post photos and learn about upcoming events by connecting with 100 Missouri Miles on Facebook and Twitter.
More than 12,000 participants have logged more than 1 million miles since 100 Missouri Miles kicked off in June. Participants can run, walk, bike, ride, swim or roll on trails or other outdoor venues to achieve the challenge of 100 Missouri Miles.
From a short walk on a paved trail to a hike through the wilderness, Missouri State Parks’ trail system has a lot to offer. Both experienced trails enthusiasts and beginners can get more information on these trails in “Trails of Missouri State Parks,” a 422-page, full-color book that lists trails in 58 state parks and historic sites. Each trail is summarized with a written description and a map that includes contour lines, GPS coordinates for trailheads and outstanding features like overlooks. The spiral-bound book makes a great holiday gift and is available for purchase atmostateparks.com/shop.
For information about trails in state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Diverse factors reduce November deer harvest

English: Map of the administrative regions of ...

Of all the factors in play, weather probably was least important.
JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters shot 157,273 deer during the November Portion of Missouri’s Firearms Deer Season. Biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation say this is a significant decrease from last year and from the long-term average and say contributing factors vary by region.
Top harvest counties were Texas with 3,309 deer checked, Howell with 3,292, and Oregon with 3,227.
This year’s November harvest is 23 percent fewer than in 2012, when hunters checked the third-largest number of deer in the November season’s history. This year’s figure also is 24 percent below the past 10-year average.
Because it influences both deer and hunter behavior, weather always plays a role in determining deer harvest. But Resource Scientist Emily Flinn says weather’s role was perhaps the least important factor in holding down this year’s November harvest.
“The weather could have been much better for hunting on both weekends of the season,” says Flinn. “But with an 11-day season, there was plenty of opportunity for hunters to make up for lost time. Other factors clearly were at work.”
Those other factors, says Flinn, differ from region to region. For example, the harvest in southern Missouri often is strongly affected by acorn abundance. When acorns are scarce, as they were in 2012, deer must move around more and leave the shelter of forest to find food. That makes them more vulnerable to hunters, a fact that led to a particularly strong deer harvest in southern Missouri last year. The resulting reduction in deer numbers, combined with more abundant acorns this year, held down this year’s deer harvest in parts of southern Missouri.
Deer numbers are down throughout Missouri because of last year’s unusually severe outbreak of hemorrhagic diseases. These diseases occur every year, but they are most prevalent in drought years, when deer are forced to gather around stagnant water that breeds biting flies that spread the diseases. Flinn says last year’s losses to hemorrhagic diseases were intensified in some parts of the state by the strong 2012 deer harvest.
“Losses to disease are extremely difficult to measure,” says Flinn. “Last year’s outbreak seemed to be worse in northeastern and central Missouri, and it certainly played an important role in limiting this year’s harvest.”
Meanwhile a decade-long downward trend in deer numbers continues in northwestern and north-central Missouri. It began with increased availability of antlerless deer permits and other regulation changes aimed at reducing the deer herd in that area.
The Conservation Department recorded five firearms-related incidents during the November Portion. None was fatal. Four were self-inflicted. Two involved loaded firearms in or around motor vehicles, one involved a hunter climbing into a tree stand with a loaded rifle, and one involved a hunter who fell asleep with his finger on the trigger. The only shooter/victim incident involved one hunter mistaking the movement of another hunter for a deer during a drive. The only reported fatality during the November Portion was a hunter who fell from a tree stand.
The Antlerless Portion of Firearms Deer season opened today and will continue through Dec. 8. The Alternative Methods Portion opens Dec. 21 and runs through Dec. 31. Last is the Late Youth Portion Jan. 4 and 5.
-Jim Low-

Monday, November 25, 2013

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Award $750,000 to Missouri Prairie Foundation


Prairie chicken. Photo by USFWS.
Prairie chicken. Photo by USFWS.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have awarded the Missouri Prairie Foundation $750,000 to purchase and protect tallgrass prairie in southwestern Missouri.
The funds are the result of a Natural Resources Damage Assessment settlement with ASARCO, a lead mining and smelting company that polluted the environment while it operated in Jasper and Newton counties over the last century.  By-products of lead and zinc mining on the landscape have degraded the environment for many years and have contaminated streams with runoff from waste. Funds recovered from Natural Resource Damage Assessment settlements are dedicated to restoring natural resources in contaminated areas as well as other affected areas nearby.
Missouri Prairie Foundation will use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds to purchase remnant prairies from willing sellers and reconnect existing prairies, or establish wildlife habitat easements. The foundation submitted the best proposal in a competitive process, and will use the awarded funds for work in Jasper and Newton counties.
“The Missouri Prairie Foundation is extremely grateful for this funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” said Jon Wingo, President of the foundation’s board of directors. “The funding will allow us to purchase and protect perhaps several hundred acres of the fewer than 90,000 scattered acres of original tallgrass prairie remaining in the state. Our mission is to protect prairie gems that remain, which are part of Missouri’s rich natural heritage, and to reconstruct land to connect remnants, thereby building larger prairie landscapes. We invite individuals to learn more about our work and how they can contribute to the conservation of our 2,600 acres, and help us protect even more.”  
Prior to European settlement in Missouri, there were 15 million acres of prairie in the state.
The areas in which Missouri Prairie Foundation will be working to protect and restore prairie with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife award is  a focal area for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is part of the “Our Missouri Waters Initiative” for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. By protecting and restoring upland areas, downstream resources such as the Spring River will benefit.
Missouri Prairie Foundation is an established non-profit land trust that has operated in Missouri for nearly 50 years. This organization not only preserves 2,600 acres of tallgrass prairie for the benefit of wildlife and the public, but also reconstructs former prairie areas that have been converted to agriculture or other development and engages in prairie outreach and education statewide.  For more information, call Missouri Prairie Foundation at 888-843-6739, or visit their website at www.moprairie.org.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Opening-weekend deer harvest blown away

Numbers are down, but hunters have plenty of time to make up the difference.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Hunters checked 61,446 deer during the opening weekend of the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season, in spite of awful weather conditions. The Missouri Department of Conservation says the slow start doesn’t diminish prospects for a normal deer harvest.

The opening-weekend harvest was down 12 percent compared to 2012. Conservation Department biologists predicted that this year’s deer harvest would be smaller than last year’s, due to a smaller statewide deer population and acorn abundance.

Last year’s opening-weekend harvest of 69,614 was the smallest opening-weekend harvest in more than 20 years. Yet, in spite of that slow start, hunters shot enough deer during the remainder of the firearms deer season to post the third-largest total deer harvest in Missouri history.

“The distribution of our deer harvest over the course of the season has changed dramatically in the past 20 years,” says Conservation Department Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “Back then, people only had nine days to hunt with modern firearms, so a significant reduction in the opening-weekend harvest was almost certain to result in a reduced deer harvest for the year. Today, Firearms Deer Season spans 42 days, so there is no rush to shoot a deer the first two days of the November Portion.”


That is not to say that hunters don’t want to shoot deer on opening weekend. But this year’s weather was challenging, even for highly motivated hunters.

“I didn’t think it could get any worse than last year,” says Sumners, “but it did.”

“Worse” included temperatures in the 70s, rain on Saturday and winds so gusty that the eastern third of Missouri was under a tornado watch on Sunday morning.

“Those conditions are guaranteed to reduce deer harvest,” says Sumners. “Deer are less active when the weather is warm or extremely windy, and rain keeps some hunters indoors. By noon on Sunday, I think a lot of hunters just gave up fighting the weather.”

All the same, Sumners is optimistic about prospects for the rest of the season. He said he expects hunters to persevere throughout the remainder of the November, Alternative Methods, Antlerless, and Late Youth portions of firearms deer season – 36 days in all.

Top harvest counties for the opening weekend were Howell with 1,278 deer checked, Texas with 1,275, and Oregon with 1,109. The fact that three adjoining counties in the heart of the Ozarks had the highest harvest totals probably is no coincidence. The Ozarks’ rugged terrain creates sheltered refuges from wind, making deer easier for hunters to find. Also, the Ozarks had the lowest acorn production of any region in the state, further concentrating deer around available food.

The Conservation Department recorded two nonfatal, firearms-related hunting incidents during the opening weekend.

-Jim Low-

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marilynn Bradford joins Conservation Commission

Missouri’s new conservation Commissioner has a strong background in government and private business.

Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon has appointed a central Missouri native with a lifelong interest in the outdoors and a proven commitment to public service to a six-year term on the Conservation
Commission.
Marilynn J. Bradford, (I), Jefferson City, has a diverse background in government, private business and citizen conservation. Her term on the Conservation Commission will run through June 30, 2019.
Bradford’s diverse career includes more than 20 years of public service in state government with the departments of Agriculture and Social Services, working primarily in community and media relations. 
While employed by the state, Bradford worked with national media, including the New York Times, USA Today, theWall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Public Broadcasting Service. She worked extensively with state and national foundations developing grant funding for Missouri initiatives
A life member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Bradford served on the planning committee for the federation’s 2009 Summit on the Future of Missouri Outdoors.
Conservation Department Director Robert L. Ziehmer says the agency is certain to benefit from Bradford’s diverse experience.
“Her long-time commitment to Missouri, interest in the outdoors and her work with various organizations gives her a firm foundation of knowledge about conservation issues. We could not be more pleased with her selection to serve on the Conservation Commission.”
Bradford and her husband are co-owners of Pyramid Home Health Services, which serves more than 3,000 elderly and disabled Missourians. They also co-own a 1,000-acre timber and hunting property in Wayne and Madison counties and a rice farm in Pemiscot County.
Bradford says her interest in conservation began as a child growing up in the “Mayberry-like” setting in Jefferson City.
“To my mother’s dismay, I was a tomboy from the get-go,” says Bradford. “My dad ran a Western Auto store and my main interests were the cap-guns and BB rifles they sold. I always wanted a Daisy BB gun.”
“We had a creek across the street and all the kids in the neighborhood took advantage of catching tadpoles, frogs, turtles, fish, and even a few small snakes. There were woods nearby where we could invent games and let our imaginations run wild.
“That’s where I remember the early evening call of the whippoorwills and owls later at night. My family enjoyed fishing and boating and we took many outings on the Osage River and to the Lake of the Ozarks and Bennett Springs.”
Her early exposure to Missouri’s trout parks was reinforced when her husband introduced her to fly-fishing, one of her favorite pastimes today.
“We have taken fishing trips across the country,” says Bradford, “but there is no better fishing than right here in Missouri.”
Bradford counts her Great Aunt Fredricka Simonsen among her formative influences.
“She was my role model,” says Bradford. “She was a true trailblazing woman. She was Missouri’s first woman pharmacist in 1899. Her spirit shaped my beliefs today and my desire to serve the public.”
Summing up her commitment, she says, “I am a fourth generation Missourian and deeply love this state – its beauty and diversity are unmatched. There truly is no better place to live. It is a great honor to be asked to serve as a Conservation Commissioner, and I am proud to join the ranks of so many volunteer conservation leaders who have worked together to preserve our state’s natural beauty and environment for future generations.”
“Being a grandmother of 4-year old twins reminds me daily of the important task that is ahead and the significance of this position,” says Bradford. “I look forward to contributing my energies and efforts for the Missouri Department of Conservation and our children’s future.”
Bradford replaces Don Johnson, Festus, who served from 2007 through 2013.
The Missouri Conservation Commission controls, manages, restores, conserves and regulates the bird, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state, including hatcheries, sanctuaries, refuges, reservations and all other property owned, acquired or used for such purposes, as well as the acquisition and establishment of those properties.
-Jim Low-