Wednesday, October 28, 2020

MDC Telecheck Letter


All Missouri hunters should read this letter 

Friday, October 23, 2020

No Water, No Turkeys

This is the flathead catfish my grandpa caught the night I was born, in October

        It is amazing to me what a drought we have gone through for two months throughout the Ozarks, after the high water from heavy rains in the early summer. Seems like we are living in a day of feast or famine. Down on Norfork and Bull Shoals a couple of months back, I saw some very high water. But last week on Bull Shoals the lake was about 30 feet lower. It looked like they were draining it.

       Same thing up on Truman Lake. A few months ago, it was the highest it has ever been, but now it is as low as I ever saw it. BUT… low water on these reservoirs makes fish easier to find. I remember fishing Bull Shoals years back with a resort owner by the name of Jim Carr in October at night. We fished with big white spinners against bluffs, and let them drop down over ledges into deep water, where smallmouth bass and a few largemouth as well, seemed reluctant to let that spinner pass.

     Those were moonlit nights that were chilly but not cold. Right now as low as the lakes are, I would love to do that again. But it is harder now to start my day early in the morning and still be going strong at midnight. If anyone in Arkansas knows where Jim Carr is, tell him I said hello.

     And if you want to catch catfish now is the time to set trotlines. Truman Lake is a great body of water for that, and so is Norfork. I think Truman has as many catfish per acre, especially the big blues, as any lake in the Midwest. For a while, October’s flathead catfish will feed hungrily to fatten up for winter. On the night I was born in mid-October, many decades ago, my grandfather caught a 72-pound flathead catfish from the Gasconade River.

     Blue catfish and channel catfish can be caught on dead shad or blood bait or many other baits, but flathead are always taken on live sunfish or big chubs, good-sized live baits of any kind or occasionally nightcrawlers or crayfish that are put on a hook live. I have always wondered why that would be, but it is one of many things in nature that seems unexplainable. Of course there are always exceptions to that, but usually you will not catch flatheads on any bait that isn’t alive.


photographed in 2014 near my home, you could hear these old gobblers sound off in the spring until 2016. Now there are none.

     I have hunted wild turkeys in the fall since Rover was a pup. But no more! It is alarming to me that wild turkey flocks have declined so much over the past few years. If you are a hunter, the best thing you can do for wild turkeys is to pass up the fall turkey season. I urge you to do so.

      Right now we need all the turkeys we can get to survive through the winter. Any kind of fall harvest is too much. There aren’t many outdoorsmen who know how bad things are, and I think that our biologists in the Midwest may not have a clue. They keep saying it is due to a poor spring hatch, and that is only a small part of it. In Missouri, there has been no change whatsoever in the turkey seasons or bag limits through the many years of decline, and it is time for that. Consider this…. In 2014 there were 47 thousand gobblers killed in the spring, and 57 hundred killed in the fall. In the spring of 2019 there were only 38 thousand gobblers killed and only 19 hundred killed in the fall. I am afraid the MDC will watch them fade into oblivion before changing anything because they do not want to lose the revenue from turkey tag sales. BUT, with fewer turkeys there will be fewer tags sold.

     Back in 2010 I photographed seven mature toms feeding in my back lawn. In 2014 there were only three, and now there are none. There have been none since 2016. My game cameras last year on my back acreages caught the image of one gobbler last winter, and one hen. In places where wild turkey congregate along rivers in winter fields before spring, I remember seeing flocks of turkeys that would number from 40 to 80. Last winter I never found one flock in those numerous areas that would number more than 20. That folks is really a problem. If I could see any kind of rebound in those numbers the past 8 years it would be a little bit of encouragement, but all I have seen is a steady downtrend. Something needs to be done yesterday! Nothing is being done in Missouri, and I wonder why not. The MDC will never abolish the youth season, which accounts for more illegal kills than anything else. Missouri biologists, depending so much on their telecheck system, have no idea what the actual harvest is, because more and more each year, hunters who have never been violators are starting to just ignore reporting gobblers they take because the telecheck system is being used to target hunters. If you doubt that, read a letter from an enforcement agent on my computer site, Every deer and turkey hunter needs to read that letter. Myself, I will hunt gobblers in the spring with my camera, as I have been doing. But the photos I got so easily years ago are harder and harder to come by. If you have been a fall turkey hunter, I urge you to do something else this fall. Squirrel hunting is good and fall fishing can be fantastic.

      This week is the last week you can get a free copy of my Ozarks magazine in the mail. To do so you need to call or write and give me an address to send it to. Call my office at 417 777 5227 or email me at Or write to me at Box 22 Bolivar, Mo 65613. I have a website which you might want to see also…. Just

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Common Sense Climate Change


living off the land in the far north country of Canada... not another soul withing a hundred miles


Larry Dablemont column… 10-12-20


         My dad and I had lots of talks on river gravel bars; from the time I was a boy to the years after I had kids of my own.  I remember in particular, a time in the fall when I was home from college, talking about the education I was getting.  


         “An education ain’t worth much,” Dad told me, “if you don’t have common sense to go with it.  I’ve got to say that in what I have seen in my time, it is common sense that I’d value most.” 


         “But I would say too” he continued, “that a man who has both and uses them right is the man who’s ahead of all the rest.” 


         I have always hoped that men could see a little of both in what I write, and I have not written at all about this thing we call climate change.  I see it and I recognize it, but it is an ‘earth change’, and little more.  Maybe it is a progression that comes from greatly increasing numbers of humans and their livestock.  I suspect that is the case, and if so there is nothing we can do about it in congress or the Supreme Court, or even in church.


         A little common sense is needed, and very hard to find today.  But what is coming is coming!  Men might be able to stop a speeding meteor from hitting the earth with a speeding missile, but a slow, slow change that is eventually either catastrophic or of no consequence cannot be stopped.


          Humans WILL progress and repopulate.  There will in time be too many of us to say ‘let’s save our forests’, or ‘let’s save our rivers.’  Where men live in masses, there can’t be clean air or clean water.  Change won’t be in our hands, no matter how much that overused word is sought.


         There will never be less concrete and pavement in those places, unless a great catastrophe occurs, to bring human populations well down from what it is now. Men flock together in such huge cities, predominantly for material gain, greater knowledge, greater power.


         A few who live in remote spots where they are close to a natural world do so to have peace and freedom and a satisfaction from living with what they have, disdaining more money or more things. And they love not being part of the herd.  I grew up amongst some very poor people who lived that way. They believed that life was too short to waste on material things, which deteriorate. They believed heaven was a real place, and I saw a happiness and contentment then that most of the world today seems to have lost.  I think they and their time is far behind us, that philosophy of life forgotten.


         But… make no mistake… the earth IS changing. It is going too far to say that it is going to be unlivable if we don’t rid ourselves of fossil fuels.  Shooting one rat in the grain bin don’t do much good if you have 20 more beneath the barn you are oblivious to. 


         What if the sun is just edging a tiny bit closer to the earth? Or is it vice versa? How many people know the answer to that?  I grew up with old time Ozarkians who didn’t.  But they didn’t care one way or another, they just worried about why springs were drying up, or why the hoot owls were getting so thick or why the hens weren’t laying eggs… or when it was going to rain, or when the snow was  going to melt.  Life was simple, but life was good.  I know. I was there.


         As a naturalist, living with and studying the natural world for five decades, I see things that fascinate me that I cannot explain. I’ll write about that here too in future columns. I saw the time when the earth was a giant sponge, which soaked up and held the rain and melting snow, and now it has become a giant rock that holds no moisture. The rain falls and leaves in a hurry. Hasn’t anyone noticed the results of that… the floods that come?


         In recent years I have seen some Ozark rivers at the highest levels ever and then soon after at the lowest levels ever recorded. That cannot be reversed now.  But if we look for reasons that there is a gradual heating of the earth, we have to look at the millions of acres of concrete and pavement, which holds and increases the sun’s heat.  Is that possibly the reason that heat is melting the ice caps?  Who amongst the climate change experts, talks about that?


         What climate will become it will become, and we might as well live the life we have chosen and give it no more thought.  Tomorrow is not changeable now… maybe it never was.  But I don’t think it is wise to build back a house on sand where a hurricane raged.  Worse ones are to come. I don’t think it is wise to live where floods leveled the land, or in California where the fires will only get worse. But men will do that, they always have.


         That’s what I think, but what do I know? Maybe I have too much commons sense and too little education.  We cannot fight what great populations of men cause, but here in rural, Midwestern country, we can live without so many consequences.  Problem is, the people from New York and Chicago and California are going to flee what they have created, and they will come here, where they will want to create what they left.  More concrete and pavement is coming everywhere!  And when the sun is hot, you can’t live on concrete and pavement, even if there are no fossil fuels and the air is clean.


         As much as I love the Ozarks, if I were young right now I would go to the land of northern lights.  I have seen that land of northern Manitoba and Northwest Ontario, and Saskatchewan and Alberta.  It is land much like God made it. It is land where few men are found.  But people there are much like the Ozarkians I knew as a boy. It is a place where men will survive the catastrophe, which is coming. And it is someplace where a little global warming might be welcomed!!!



Monday, October 12, 2020

What To Do About Webworms



Larry Dablemont outdoor column 10-5-20

        A couple of years back, I talked about a surefire way to destroy fall webworms by using a long pole with a newspaper page or two taped to the end.  What I do is set fire to the paper, hold it up beneath the webs and burn the worms inside. 

         Shortly after my column came out, a Springfield-office media specialist for the Department of Conservation wrote that such a technique should never be used because it might ‘damage the tree’.  He recommended using chemicals. 

         Damage trees?!!!  What nonsense! The silliness of that amazes me. You couldn’t possible damage a tree with that flame beneath a web. Where there is a web, the leaves are mostly gone.  But actually fall webworms really never harm trees.  I have seen them so thick on persimmon trees you would think there would be irreparable harm but there never is. 


      I am only affected by those webworms which get into my hickory tree over my boat or pickup and leave millions of little round pellet droppings which result from the leaves they strip passing through their larval bodies.  Eventually the adult stage is a small white moth with little black dots on the wings.  That moth is commonly called a Mulberry moth, or Hyphantria.  It is the moth-larvae that is known as fall webworms. 

         They are not tent caterpillars; those are spring larvae from a different moth that build similar webs, but always at the end of branches… a different insect entirely.

        Anyway, if you have tent caterpillars you want to get rid of close to your home, just use a long pole and newspaper wrapped around the tip to burn them.  Despite what that office-bound suburbanite MDC media-specialist who gets his knowledge from the Internet wrote, it WILL NOT damage the tree.  Chemicals have been known however, to damage people.  MY ADVICE IS DON’T USE THEM!!


       The difference between outdoor writers of my time years back and the ‘outdoor communicators’ of today is that the old-time writers lived the life, did what they wrote about, and learned via study and observation from their own experiences rather than the internet or books.  I never knew a good outdoor writer (and I have known some great ones) who grew up in a suburb or city.  But then, the people who read what today’s ‘media specialists’ and ‘outdoor communicators’ write, too often believe everything they read. If only they knew.         

       There is much I see today written about nature and the outdoors that is very, very erroneous. Or as the old rivermen in the pool hall might have put it, in more colorful terms… it is a product involving the droppings of male cattle.  


      Ozark outdoorsman Don Lynch is a good friend of mine living down near Yellville, Arkansas who loves bird dogs and quail hunting. He is really upset about the burning of a tract of public land that is suppose to be an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s quail restoration area.  Last week they burned it off, completely eliminating the winter escape cover and any food the plants might offer. 


       “I don’t think they have any idea what they are doing.” He told me, “the hawks are going to have easy pickings this winter if any quail cross that burned over land.” 

         I think Don is right.  He says they have a big sign there saying, ‘Bring Back Bob’.  If you are interested in restoring a population of quail, you don’t burn land off in October, destroying the cover that will get them through the coming winter.

        Last year they burned it off in July,” he said,  “and I told them, for gosh sakes there are still nests coming off and young quail there… They were surprised to hear that.  They told me they wouldn’t do that anymore in the summer!” 

         I asked him if the burners were biologists and he said he had no idea what they called themselves.


Sometimes burning can be a tool for helping quail if done in March in order to bring back new spring growth for food and nesting which will begin in late April and May and continue into late summer.  But if you have some idea of helping quail, you sure as heck don’t burn off the plant life that will help them survive the winter.  By doing that, you only help predators, and high numbers of egg eaters and hawks are part of the reason quail have declined.  I hope to see the area Lynch has told me about, and take some pictures.  I’ll write more about quail in a future column.

      Retired Arkansas wildlife biologist Michael Widner, who grew up on an Ozark farm, wrote a book about quail that I wish those habitat burners working for them now, had read.  If you are a quail hunter or simply someone wanting to see their return in appreciable numbers, read his book.  To get a copy, call our office at 417 777 5227 or email me at  


 I also urge you to see my website,  And you can write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Hunting a Flying Biscuit




green winged teal right, blue winged teal left


         A teal is a duck… a little duck about half the size of a half-grown chicken. Most of them have a wingspan just shy of 24 inches and a weight just shy of a pound. There are blue-winged teal and there are green-winged teal and to the west of us there are cinnamon teal.  


         During most of the teal season, which runs through most of last half of September you most generally see only the blue-winged teal, but there are a few green-wings mixed in with them some years.  That is unusual; because green-winged teal migrate so late most years that there are people hauling used Christmas trees out in the lake when they make their big flight.  They come with the late mallards usually. That seems odd to me, because both species are very similar in nesting and feeding and all other things. But as a rule blue-winged teal head southward with the first little cool snap in the northern prairies, and the green-wings wait until there's a blizzard somewhere. Teal are fascinating little ducks, and to my way of thinking they are better eating than anything that flies and sits on the water.



        Most years there won't be many teal hunters take advantage of the season. Hunting them gets into some work.  You need steel shot and special gun barrels, and decoys and a boat and waders and maybe a good dog if you have one.  A mediocre dog will work too if that’s all you have. And you need a state migratory bird stamp and a federal duck stamp in addition to a hunting license. 


         Blue-wings like to fly early in the morning and late in the evening, and they like shallows and mud flats and smartweed if it is available.  When you hunt them, you will likely see a variety of early migrating shorebirds and it is a fascinating thing to see.  It is also likely that you will see some other species of ducks, especially wood ducks, a few pintails and shovelers and maybe a gadwall or a widgeon, so you'd best know your species. Hunting September teal is complicated by the fact that most ducks are drably colored in late summer plumage and not so easy to identify. 


         If you drop a duck that isn't a teal during the special teal season, you are a federal violator, and that's serious.  The Missouri conservation department people aren’t real sure what a September blue-wing looks like either.  On their website concerning teal season in past years they show a drake blue-winged teal in spring plumage.  They look that way in April!  In September they look like an entirely different duck, drab and grey and brown, and if you aren’t really familiar with how different ducks fly, you can confuse a teal and another drably colored species.


         Another flying creature you will likely see on a teal hunt is the mosquito. Sometimes mosquito flocks numbers into the thousands. They seldom have a poor hatch. You might also encounter a watersnake or two when you hunt teal. But when you have a squadron of blue-winged teal sweep across your decoys, you are very likely to think of the mourning dove as an easy target.  


         Teal seem to be very fast, even if they aren't.  You seldom lead one properly, but the good thing about teal hunting is, there are often several in a group and therefore you might get one that is flying behind the one you are shooting at.  Six teal makes a good meal for two.  That’s what the limit is… six daily and 18 in possession.  I like to cut the breasts up in small, finger-sized slices and fry them with Lawry's seasoned salt and onions.  They are also very good when grilled on a stick with onions and peppers, and little strips of bacon.


         Problem is, this is a great time for a day spent fishing.  I like fishing after the crowds are gone, and there won't be a soul out there but me.  But it is rough on me when I am fishing this time of year and watch a flock of teal winging past me.  Makes me want to hunt ducks.


         My dad and I use to hunt teal a lot when the season first became a reality back in the sixties.  We would float the river with a blind on the bow of our boat and find quite a few.  They were never as wary as woodducks and mallards and fairly easy to sneak up on. Trouble is, some of the best smallmouth fishing we ever had was during the floats we made on the river hunting teal.  So there were times it was harder to watch for them. In Missouri the teal season ends on the 27th and in Arkansas it ends on the 30th.  There is still time, and I am going one day this coming weekend… I don’t care how good the fishing is.


The fall copy of my magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal is printed and ready.  I would love to send you a copy. It is 96 color pages of the best outdoor stories you will find in any magazine. They are six dollars with the postage paid, which is about half the cost of the magazine.  Call me to inquire about that or one of my books, or you can see them on my website,  You can send a message to me via email… or write to me at Box 22 Bolivar, Mo 65613.



Friday, September 18, 2020

Catfish on Norfork



      Most all waters in the Midwest have catfish, but if you want to eat some, you should go after those in ponds, lakes or rivers that are not muddy or of substandard water quality. 


      Preparing for a fish-fry event coming up this
weekend in Houston, Mo involving a class reunion, I needed some good-to-eat channel catfish so I chose Norfork Lake in North-Central Arkansas as the place to go after them.  It is a clean, clear lake, and my old friend and fellow outdoor writer Jim Spencer lives there. Jim catches more catfish than any Arkansawyer I know. 


      I took Michelle James with me.  Michelle is the assistant publisher, and editor of my magazines, and advertising executive too. She, --are you ready for this-- had never been fishing in the Ozarks, and had never caught a catfish.  How can you rely on someone who has never caught a fish?


      Well last week she caught a bunch of them, catfish and some big bluegill as we fished an afternoon on Norfork Lake from Jim’s pontoon boat, over a hole he had baited with calf-food pellets. The first catfish she caught was between three and four pounds and Michelle was delighted.  Jim netted it for her and minutes later she landed a big pan-sized bluegill.


      As I said, I can’t have an employee of mine not having fished and hunted, but then again, Michelle is compiling and editing and writing for a magazine I publish called the Journal of the Ozarks. It doesn’t deal with hunting and fishing, but with the history and people of the Ozark country.  The next issue will be the 13th we have published, but I lost my editor last year and Michelle is working on the edition about to come out.  If you love the Ozarks and like to read about old time stuff in the region, call my office (417-777-5227) and we’ll mail you one.


      Photos from the catfish trip on Norfork will be out soon in a picture story inside my outdoor magazine, fall issue.  You can call the same number to get that magazine also.


      I paid for that fishing trip with a certain amount of continuing pain between the third and fourth finger on my right hand, where I got spined by a fiddler-sized channel catfish.  Channel cat have those barbels on their sides behind the gills and they are sharp, with jagged spikes on the trailing edge.  You would think, as many times as I have been skewered with those, that I would have been more careful.  All catfishermen know that pain those barbels will inflict, and it continues.  No hornet, not even a scorpion can equal it.  Now there is a hole and a slight infection between my fingers and it won’t go away for a week.  There must be something to what old-timers say about a poison around those spines.  But it is also said that if you immediately take the slime from the body of the catfish and rub it on the wound it will subside the pain and hinder any infection.


      Here is a good place to change the subject. I wrote a column several years ago predicting that western fires would become more terrible and tragic as years passed. And I also said that immigrants who hate our country would use those fires as terrorist attacks.  Some more leftist-type readers made fun of that column, going so far as to ask newspapers to drop me as a columnist. 


      This week after a huge fire that caused death and destruction and the evacuation of tens of thousands out west, authorities arrested an illegal immigrant woman whom they caught setting fires out there.  You would think it can’t get worse, but it will!  The land of milk and honey is out of both! The hurricanes, the floods, the tornadoes, etc, etc, will all get worse.


      Some readers have asked my opinion on ‘climate change’ and I will write a little bit on that next week or the week after.  The climate is only part of the change that hurts people. People change may destroy the cities.  The biggest disaster may be just that, the coming “people change”!


      Mankind may not survive in the great increasing herds we live in if we attempt to reverse what we have done. If you have climbed out on a great long limb, you just can’t saw it off. I have written about seeing what we have done to the rivers here in the Ozarks.  If we can’t reverse that, what can we reverse?


      Some of my views as a naturalist that has lived close to the earth far from the gret herds inside concrete and pavement for a lot of years will be upcoming.  But so will the hunting and fishing and nostalgia columns readers also like.

I will use your letters in my magazines, whether you agree with me or not.  Just send them to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.


      I don’t live in that town, but it is where I go to get my mail, ten or so miles away.  However, if you email me at, I can read your letters out here in the woods.  Ain’t technology great?  That’s what Grandpa told me he said when they invented the Model T! Until one of them ran into his horse!!


Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Larry Dablemont outdoor column  9-4-20

       Some years back I took a pair of northerners on an Ozark float trip and in mid-afternoon dark clouds began to form to the west, with the ominous roll of thunder in the distance. I knew of a big, deep cave nearby with a dry floor, so I secured the boat in a protected spot and we carried our gear up to the cave.

       One of the men wanted to keep floating, thinking the storm might miss us, and confident that if it didn’t, we could be a least a mile or so downstream before it got to us.

I told him that when on the river in a coming storm, I live by the rule, “It is better to sit in a cave and wait for the storm than to sit in the storm and look for a cave!”  We spent about an hour and a half in the cave that afternoon listening to a raging electrical storm with heavy winds, rain and even some hail. When we left, the skies were clearing and the afternoon calm again.

       A strong fear of lightning is known as keraunophobia, which makes me a keraunophobic. I can endure the rain, and you can prepare somewhat for a tornado no matter where you are, but lightning is unpredictable and awesome in its power. People who ignore the danger of lightning often become part of the statistics.

       For instance, statistics show that lightning kills more people than hurricanes tornadoes or floods. Death from lightning does not always come from a direct strike; it can happen as a result of the spread of voltage through the ground or water.  People in boats on lakes or rivers are perhaps in the greatest danger from lightning, especially if the boat is metal. But there is also great danger to anyone holding a fishing rod or firearm, or anyone taking shelter beneath high trees.  A lightning bolt can be two miles long, and travel at speeds of 400,000 miles per hour, with 100 million volts of electricity and temperatures of 30,000 degrees.  I read that somewhere… I didn’t come up with it through any scientific investigation on my own.

       A half dozen times in my life outdoors I have been within 100 yards of powerful lightning bolts, and when I was a teenager I was flattened by a lightning strike beneath a river bluff as I was heading for its protective shelter. Authorities say that too many people wait for the main burst of the storm before taking shelter from lightning. Casualties seem to be greater during the weaker storms and at the beginning or end of heavier storms, suggesting that less caution is taken when it appears the danger hasn’t yet arrived, or has passed.

       So don’t fool around when you see a storm approaching. Get to the best shelter you can find and don’t “make a run for it” across an open lake or down a river. Lightning does have a good side. It converts nitrogen in the air to an oxide that falls to the earth with the rain and fixes nitrogen in the soil, without which, there would be no green growth.

       I often tell the story of my admiration for mark twain, who was born under the passing of Haley’s Comet, and then died about 80 years later when Haley’s Comet passed a second time, he passed away.  I would like to think he and I had much in common, except for the fact that he never was as good a duck hunter and smallmouth fisherman as I.  But on the night I was born, in a little farmhouse way out in the sticks near Yukon Missouri by the light of a kerosene lantern, a raging thunderstorm was going on and lightning hit the farmhouse just when I came into the world, killing a couple of chickens in the other room!  So, with my figuring that my life parallels Mark Twain’s as it does, I fear that I will leave this world riding a bolt of lightning.  When I see a dark cloud, I marvel that one has not already nailed me, and wonder if that brewing storm may be the one with my name on it.  Mark Twain didn’t have to worry like that because back then; no one had the slightest idea when Haley’s comet was coming back!!

If you aren’t a subscriber to my magazine, the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, you are missing some great reading.  Call me at 417 777 5227 and I will sign you up.  To see it and all of my books, (ten in all) visit my website if you haven’t already…  Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at