Saturday, December 28, 2013

Opinions on CWD and Missouri Game Farms

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

The Commission approved the following seasons:
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.

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, 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 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 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

The application is available online at or by writing to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri State Parks, Grants Management Section, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102.