Fishing for smallmouth bass in a favorite
spot on the river, I caught a little smallmouth with big sores on its body. Any
broken spot in the scales on a fish can be a spot targeted by a fungus, and it
usually will kill the fish in time. The sores I saw might have been the result
of a gig back in the winter, or perhaps of a larger predator like an otter.
Sometimes a great blue heron will stab at
a fish and leave such wounds. Whatever does it, I always catch several in the
spring with those open sores, and every smallmouth I see any more is filled
with a parasite, a small worm known as a yellow grub. They do not affect humans
of course, but those grubs are a good reason to return the smallmouth bass you
catch to the stream.
This smallmouth bass species is hard
pressed, and bigger ones, the fish above 17 or 18 inches in length, become
fewer each year. I caught a real oddball fish that day, a 10 or 12-inch brownie
with an S-curve in its lower body. Who knows what caused it? At any rate, he
swam away just fine, but he sure did look strange.
Walking through the woods a few days ago,
doing some deep thinking, I was surprised to see a beautiful butterfly flutter
along beside me and then drop down into the brown leaves before me, situated
there as if to boost my spirits and add beauty and color to the brown landscape
of late winter. I don’t know if I ever saw one before. One of its common names
is the Grand Surprise butterfly, and for me it certainly was a surprise.
You don’t expect to see a brightly
colored butterfly in mid-March. It is more commonly known as Mourning Cloak,
and it is about 3 inches across, with velvety purple or burgundy wings, with
yellow borders and blue spots just inside the border. I am trying to get a
photo of one on my blogspot, so you can perhaps see it there, along with the
two fish I was talking about. That is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Probably this is a good place to point
out that we are trying to create a new website, where you can go to order my
new book or any one of my books or the Journal of the Ozarks magazine we
publish. I shouldn’t say ‘we’ as I have nothing to do with it. I know nothing
about computers, and what I know is all I want to know. But it is wonderful
that there is so much information about nature and wild creatures so readily
I see nothing wrong with knowing all you
can know from books, but I firmly believe you do not become an authority in the
outdoors without being out there to see the things books cannot tell you. The
idea of people calling themselves ‘master naturalists’ from a week of classes
and reading books or referring to Internet material is pure silliness.
If you want to be a naturalist, live with
nature, go out and spend years in the woods and on the waters and watch and
listen and learn. You will be surprised how many times the books are giving you
information which do not precisely go along with what you learn through your
It is a problem I see with outdoor
writers today. Too many live in suburbs and try to write about a world that
they only occasionally visit. It is easy to write about the outdoors from what
you have read in books, but if you can’t walk the walk and live the life, what
you write gets stale, and just repeats the same thing others have written.
That is so evident when you see the
turkey hunting experts in the pages of outdoor magazines, and read much of the
pure baloney they write about turkey hunting. Few of them are out in the woods
in February and March chasing wild turkeys. But now is one of the best times to
take a camera and a turkey call and get some great photos. In doing so, you see
and learn about everything living there awaiting spring. There are birds being
hatched, baby animals being born, already.
And you may be walking along and happen
across a Mourning Cloak butterfly, which isn’t even suppose to be here,
according to those who write about them. They are supposed to be common in
Europe, Canada and in the U.S. north of Iowa, but not in the Ozarks.
If you want to learn while in the woods,
don’t forget we are taking another trip via pontoon boat to a very isolated and
natural area on Truman Lake on April 4 and again a week or so later, where we
will take a good long hike before dinner and after, and maybe we will see
something you and I have never seen before. If you want to join us, just call
my office for details. My executive secretary, MS. Wiggins, will help you if
you call 417 777 5227
I hope to see many of you readers at our
swap meet this coming Saturday. We still have 45 tables filled now, and I am
really looking forward to it. Out here all alone on Lightnin’ Ridge, I don’t
get to talk to anyone but my Labrador very often. I could talk to Ms. Wiggins
on occasion if I didn’t try to avoid her while she does her nails. And all she
wants to talk about is her Mexican boyfriend and how close he came to getting
I will sell the very first copies of my
new book that morning at the swap meet, just off the press, and inscribe them
for you. But I think people are going to be amazed to see several hundred old
1930 and 1940 Life magazines there, selling for about half what you can find
them on the internet for. They are amazing looks at history.
If you have an old gun or an item or two
you want to sell, we will place it for you and maybe you can sell it. But
remember that if you think you have antiques lures or fishing gear, we will
have an extremely knowledgeable person available at his own table to tell you
what it is and what it is worth.
I was watching the news the other evening
when a young lady reported that someone had caught a 140-pound paddlefish, said
to be the biggest fish ever caught in Missouri. Then she said that she was
surprised to hear it had been caught on a hook with no bait whatsoever. And she
wasn’t even blonde!!!All over the
Ozarks that night there were fishermen laughing as heartily as I was.
I am sure those T.V. people would think I
am the dumbest person in the world when it comes to their computers, technology
and life in the city. At such things, I’ll bet that young lady and her
associates are marvelous, but they know nothing of the outdoors, and it so
often shows when they try to report on conservation and the natural world.
Why would you reckon a paddlefish that
large might be caught on a hook with no bait? If you know, then you have a
familiarity with the outdoors they need at that station.
Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613
or email me at email@example.com. Miss Wiggins can email you the details
of our swap meet and a map on how to get there.
Someone sent me
editorials from both of the two largest Ozark newspapers castigating
legislators who are trying to pass legislation restricting the heretofore
unstoppable spending by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Both
editorials say the department is “doing an excellent job”.
Keep in mind
that such editorials are written by people who sit in offices and never venture
into the outdoors, never see a wildlife conservation area the MDC manages.
So I just want
to invite them, any or all of them, to go with me to take a look at the real
“excellent job” that is being done.Put some boots on fellows, and take a little trip with me and let me
show you where there use to be coveys of quail and rabbits which now are gone
because of the MDC’s excellent job.If you are a reader who wants to learn, you can come too.
Come and go
with me and let me show you where the forests that belong to all of us have
been stripped of trees by private logging companies contracting with the
Let me show you
what a den tree is, let me show you what pileated woodpeckers are, what flying
squirrels are, what a screech owl looks like.I will assure you, those editors praising the MDC’s
excellent job have never seen any of those creatures.They have never seen one of those public areas.
The editors who
boast of the MDC’s excellent work, how many of them actually came from
Missouri?I am betting none of
them grew up outside some major city suburb in another state.A few years ago when I was simply
trying to get a letter published in the Springfield News Leader about the MDC
concerning an attempt by that agency to take land from three landowners in
Wright County, I was refused by an editor who said he came from a city in the
Pennsylvania. They would not use the letter.And this column cannot be published in any form in the
larger newspapers of this state.It is taboo to criticize the great MDC.
Now I do not
mind them becoming a spokesman for the Conservation Department, but I only ask
that they do what newspapers were once known for…show two sides of the story.
I wrote for
many years as an outdoor columnist for the Springfield News Leader when it was
a local newspaper. In 1999 it was purchased by the very liberal Gannett company
from back east, and shortly afterward I received from the new editor who told
me her name was Kate Marymount.
She told me
that the newspaper and the Missouri Department of Conservation had met that
week in the News-Leader offices and made a deal in which the MDC would supply
material consisting of photos, columns and features completely free.She said five words I will never
forget… ‘We have made a deal’.
It was followed
by the statement that the newspaper would publish no criticism of the MDC from
that point on, unless it was Okayed by the ‘editorial board’.That policy continues. Think of one thing you may have seen in
that newspaper since that time which spoke of something the MDC might not have
approved of.It became clear that
dissenting views could not even be placed in the ‘letters’ section.
So I ask one
simple thing.You editors who
think you must publish praise of the MDC, come go with me and look at what they
have done, what they are doing.Let see if there is a big pay raise the director has given himself, and
what the salaries are for those who sit in Jefferson City.Lets look at the commissioners, what
they do for a living, and how they got appointed.
Let’s look at
some of those million acres the MDC manages for all of us who own those acres
and are suppose to be able to use them to enjoy.Lets take a look at the quarter million dollars the MDC gave
to a judge for his personal use.Take a look at the tax payments they make annually and ‘in perpetuity’
for a few of their friends.Maybe
they will agree to pay your property taxes too.
Lets go look at
the Bass Pro Shop land which is privately owned by one of the countries richest
billionaires and ask the MDC why they would do days of work on those lands
completely free of charge, work that all of us citizens paid for.
Lets go out and
talk to people who have been victims of conservation agents who trampled on
their constitutional rights.Lets
go talk to the ex-agents who have much to say about what they saw.Let’s find out why one agent sued the
MDC for a million dollars and won, just because he was fired for reporting
illegal activities by other agents, one of whom is today an MDC
supervisor.Why did a story like
that never make one single newspaper?
Let's just go do
what newspapers are supposed to do… show another side.Lets talk to some of those legislators,
and hear what they have to say.
Recently I got
a call from a lady who works for the MDC and she was so frustrated because in
March, her department goes out and buys equipment like four-wheelers which are
not needed or used, just to use up the budget money.“If we do not use all of our budget,” she said, “then we may
not get all the money we ask for next year.So we waste it, we just give it away.”
The only way
the Missouri Department of Conservation can fool, and keep the support of,
millions of Missourians who live inside major cities is through the complicity
of major newspapers like the Gannett-owned News-Leader in Springfield which
help them suppress the truth.While I am volunteering my time to take their editors or reporters out
to really see and report on another side, I know good and well they will not do
I want you to
reread this column.What
have I said here that you might find unfair or untrue? I grew up in the Ozarks,
and have written outdoor columns for fifty years. I have published hundreds of
articles about conservation and the outdoors in national outdoor magazines and
dozens of major newspapers, with a degree in wildlife management from he
University of Missouri.I have
been awarded ‘conservation communicator’ awards in two states.I am a conservationist, the same kind
of ranting raving lunatic that John Muir and Aldo Leopold were.
All I want is
to see the truth known.I want to
see all conservation departments stand for wise use… for preservation, for the
management of our areas for all creatures besides just the deer and turkey
which in this day and time require no management at all.Non-game mammals and birds, many of
which are in decline because of the destruction of their habitat, are worth
I want the
rampant corruption I have seen in the Conservation Department controlled and
corrected, because no matter who you are, where you live in this state, even if
you do not partake of any outdoor activity, you pay the Missouri Department of
Conservation one-eighth of a cent in tax on your ordinary daily purchases.It is our money and it shouldn’t be
department receives somewhere around 175 million dollars a year.Why shouldn’t our legislators try to
stop the waste and the wild spending going on there? Why shouldn’t questions be
asked?Why shouldn’t the
other side of the story be given a space in our newspapers?
editors and reporters think there is no ‘other side’.If so, come go with me and lets take a look, far from your
carpeted plush offices that you never leave.Come with me to interview the director… come talk to the
chief of the enforcement division with me, and just listen.
Put on the
boots and lets go outdoors to see just what they are doing.If you won’t do that, just put a
sentence inside the next editorial that reads… “There may be another side to
this MDC story but we refuse to print it.Years ago‘we made a deal’.”
It snowed eight inches up here on Lightnin’ Ridge
last weekend. This is supposedly the highest point in the county, and it seems
like we always get an inch or two more here on this timbered ridge than the
weather people predict.
It was only about 20 degrees that morning after the
snow ended, so I put on some boots and my duck-huntin’ coat and went out to
survey the beauty of it. But I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of a lift to
hear cardinals singing their song of ‘good cheer’ just like it was April.
They should sing, because on my back porch I have
bird feeders I keep full. Yesterday there were seven or eight species out there
making the most of it, one of them a Carolina wren.
The corn feeder down behind my office, above the
pond, is a great attraction for doves and squirrels and deer and turkey, but I
was amused yesterday to see a cottontail rabbit sitting there. Many people do
not realize that a winter blast coming in February or March is much, much worse
than the same situation in December.
That’s because wild creatures go into the winter
fattening up in preparation for it. In the early half of winter, there is far
more food than there is in late winter. Right now is the real bottleneck, the
most difficult time to survive for wild creatures. Food is at its lowest level,
and wild birds and mammals at their weakest, with less ability to resist cold
ice or deep snow. So it is indeed the time you want to feed birds and keep corn
It might be that the month of February just past, is
the only month of February I can remember in which I didn’t catch a single
fish. Because of that, I figure there will be more fish out there in rivers and
lakes in March than ever before, so I intend to take advantage of it. While the
late snow wreaks havoc on water temperatures, I think it makes it more likely
that we will have a bumper crop of mushrooms in late April.
I don’t know why, but it seems that snow puts more
nitrogen in the soil, and I think that must be the thing that mushroom seeds
need the most. When I hear those cardinals singing like they have been, it
really makes me think of mushrooms and poke greens and freshly fried fish.
Don’t anyone write me this year trying to buy mushroom seeds! I sold all of
them last year and had all kinds of problems with folks who couldn’t get them
to grow wanting their money back. What happens so often is that mushroom seeds,
which are so tiny you can’t see them with the naked eye, are often spilled before
the buyers get them to the woods where they want them to grow. And when you
spill a pack of mushroom seeds, you don’t have a chance in the world of finding
them and picking them up!
When you see wild turkey in late February and early
March, they are usually in huge flocks, because in numbers there seems to be a
greater ability to survive. But the largest flock of turkeys I have ever seen
in the Ozarks numbered about 75 or 80 one winter in a field along the river
above Truman Lake.
I never thought there would ever be any flock like
that one. But Gloria Jean, who does that facebook thing, called me in to look
at a film on the computer showing what I believe was a wild turkey flock
numbering 200 to 250 birds. They were an ever-moving mass of turkeys, going
across a Nebraska field, coming out of a tree line like a stream flowing from a
I can’t tell you how to find that, but if you are a
computer person you know how. Those Nebraska turkeys are not the eastern
gobblers we hunt here in the Ozarks. Most of them are Merriams gobblers, and
perhaps they are crossed in some parts of that state with Rio Grande gobblers
which are prevalent to the south in Kansas, but they are a different bird up
there, not nearly as wild, and much much easier to call in. They have white or
beige tail bands usually. I have called them up in the fall of the year,
gobbling and strutting just like it is spring.
Several times in Kansas I called up eight or ten Rio
Grande gobblers in the spring. And when they come to a call, they don’t fiddle
around much. That’s why I have so long joked about those turkey hunters who
boast of ‘Grand Slams’ in hunting wild gobblers. All anyone needs to get their
‘Grand Slam’, which includes the four best-known species of wild turkeys, is to
have the time and the money to travel to where they are. If you can’t call in
and kill a Rio Grande or Merriams gobbler in the spring, you aren’t where one
can hear you.
I never thought I would see the day though, when
there would be greater flocks of turkeys in a state like Nebraska or Kansas
than flocks of pheasants or coveys of quail. Truthfully, I would much rather
see the numbers of quail like they once were.
A word of caution to those turkey hunters about to
buy shotgun shells for spring hunting… I got a hold of some bad shells last
fall made by Federal Ammunition, with the ‘turkey thug’ logo on the box. They
weren’t properly sealed and were leaking shot out into the box. I looked at
about 20 boxes on the shelves of a local sporting goods store and found four or
five with defective shells inside.
The store manager said they could not take back any
returned ammo, but she let me have a new box of shells. From this point, after
seeing what I have seen, I will buy Remington or Winchester ammunition, and I
recommend you do the same thing. How are you going to be a good turkey thug
with shells that have leaked their lead shot into your pocket?
Well we are less than a month away from our
outdoorsman’s swap meet. You can still get a free table on that last Saturday
of March if you want to contact us. You just need to be selling outdoor gear or
related stuff that outdoorsmen would use, whether new, used or antique. We
anticipate having some good buys on boats and motors and canoes and that kind
of thing, so bring them if you have them for sale. We have a place set up in
the parking lot for those to be displayed. If you can put up a few flyers in
your area letting people know about this completely free event, I will send you
I have also had a great deal of interest in the
daylong wilderness trip and fish fry in March, and even more interest in the
mushroom hunting trip in April. If you want to find out the cost and details
and get your name on our list to call, write or call us at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo.
65613 or call 417 777 5227 where my executive secretary Ms. Wiggins will be
glad to help you.
Not a doggone thing! But remember this, every cold
night that passes makes us one day closer to spring peepers and redbuds.
Folks in the cities have
really suffered with the weather problems over the past few years, but ‘they
ain’t seen nothin’ yet’. If people could see into the future there would be a
panic in places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and New Orleans, and big
traffic jams as folks tried to get away. But no one can see what’s coming, and
I can’t either.
While those people who talk
about global warming may not have the slightest idea what they are talking
about, the earth is like a lifeboat. It will only hold so much. Anyone who
doesn’t think mankind is altering the conditions of our climate and the earth
itself has their head in the sand.
I think it is pretty much a
foregone conclusion that our country in 100 years will have no clean waters and
maybe a loss of hundreds of species of birds, fish and mammals, and the only
forests and wild places will be found in crowded parks and preserves. Big trees
won’t exist anywhere else. But I also think that in 100 years, folks won’t care
at all about what is lost.
There will be enough
entertainment in the world that no one will miss what so many of us today
cannot live without. I see it today in my own grandkids. They live their life
with little boxes in their hands, pushing buttons, and the outdoors has little
attraction. Still, they are very happy. I live in one world and they live in
another. Well, actually, today almost everyone lives in a different world than
I do. I was born much later than I should have been.
But I do love meeting good
people, and because of that, a friend and I have decided to do some guiding
again this year for beginning turkey hunters. I figure I have killed enough
gobblers in my life and would like to enjoy again seeing a beginner learn how
to do it, to help them get a turkey and learn about the outdoors, in a day or so
I guided turkey hunters in
the seventies and eighties because I needed the money. Living in Arkansas I was
a free-lance writer at the time, raising a family. Guiding float fishermen with
my uncle, and turkey hunters in the National Forestland in Arkansas gave me a
chance to flee the typewriter and spend more time outdoors. There weren’t
nearly as many turkey gobblers then as there are in Missouri today. Bagging a
gobbler now is fairly easy if you have any idea of what you are doing.
I had nothing in common
with the men I guided. They were rich and money meant little. I took
Neurosurgeons and Ophthalmic Surgeons, Lawyers… those kinds of people. In the
early eighties, I took one of them from Oklahoma on a hunt and called up a
gobbler that he killed about two hours after we left camp. It was his first one
and he was elated.
When he got back he packed
up his stuff and headed home, handing me 500 dollars and telling me it was the
greatest morning he ever had. I told him he didn’t owe me that much, we had
only camped one night and hunted two hours. He laughed and told me he made more
than that in one hour.
I intend to start guiding
again because today I don’t need so much money and I like to teach ordinary
people about the outdoors. When I was young, I worked with people for many
years in the state parks of Arkansas and on the Buffalo National River as an
interpretive naturalist, and I loved it, maybe more than the park visitors who
came from all points of the country. It was something I felt I was born to do.
My Uncle Norten was the
best guide I have ever seen on the rivers, much because he loved those streams
so much, and liked people. He once told me, when we were guiding four fishermen
on the Kings River on a three day trip, “You know, I am having more fun with
these fellows than they are,” he said, “But if you were to know them in the
city, where they live and work, we likely wouldn’t get along at all!”
Uncle Norten, who guided
fishermen all over the Ozarks, took his first float trip in 1933 and his last
one in 2010. The only two years he didn’t guide fishermen was the two years he
spent fighting in World War II with the 101st Airborne in Europe. I
got a kick out of him when we guided fishermen together in 2008 and I took care
of all the charges. He couldn’t believe that he was going to get 200 dollars
for taking two men on a daylong fishing trip on the Niangua.
He told me that was just
too much. “Just get me 75 dollars in the future,” he said, “I feel like I am
cheatin’ folks if I get this kind of money.”
Our guided hike coming up
in March, in a semi-wilderness area, is something my uncle used to join us
with. I can still hear him and see him, telling folks about the woods and the
creatures in it, telling jokes and entertaining everyone, then frying the fish
at noon. He was one of the best naturalists I ever knew and he didn’t know it.
This coming trip we will
take this year will be a memorial to him. It will be some Saturday in March
when we know we have a good day to go. The mushroom hunting trip in April will
be something we have never done before, but it should be lots of fun. We are
going to split up all the mushrooms we find. If you want to be on the list to
go on either trip, let us know soon. We can’t take a lot of people, and we need
to figure out how many fish to catch for the fish fry at midday.
As much as I like writing
about the outdoors, I spend a lot of time by myself, and I really enjoy taking
good people out into the woods for a day, or speaking to groups about the
outdoors at churches or wild game dinners or schools, etc.
I found a really amusing
description of me on something called Wikipedia on the Internet not long ago. I
couldn’t help but laugh. It read…
(born Larry Fitzgerald DablemontSeptember 22, 1961 in Bolivar, Missouri, U.S.) is a famous author, journalist, cobbler, Civil War reenactor, referee, fisherman, and hunter, He is married
to Tonya Harding. Among his many claims to fame as a journalist, Dablemont
interviewed OJ Simpson and has
bragged in several columns about beating Ted Nugent in a
footrace during a hunting expedition in Jackson Hole, WY.
Dablemont was the last referee to ever throw Bobby Knight out of a
basketball game, leading Knight to throw a chair. Later Knight commented,
"Dabs is one tough ****, but God if I don’t respect him." Dablemont
is a notoriously peculiar figure who, among other eccentricities is known to
wear an unnecessary eye patch, rarely wears
socks, and claims to
have wore the same pair of jeans for 19 months
The writer claims to be
University of Arkansas professor William Thomas, and though he meant it to be
some kind of insult, you can’t help but laugh at it. There isn’t any truth in
it, but I may have worn the same pair of jeans for 19 months when I was eight
or nine years old. I only had one pair! My middle name is Arthur and I will bet
a dollar I can outrun Ted Nugent, whoever he is.
Like most large
birds of prey, eagles are likely overpopulated today in relation to the prey
they seek. Carrion is what gets them through a harsh winter in areas of
the midwest where they nest in good numbers.
I think I am going to build myself a 12-
or 14-foot wooden johnboat to use on some of the local rivers, like my dad and
grandfather once built to use on the Big Piney. I have several boats for rivers
of all sizes, a 19-foot square-stern canoe and a 16-foot Lowe paddle-john
amongst them. Last year I acquired a 12-foot kayak just to see what I could do
with it. It can be used for quietly drifting down a river sneaking up on ducks
or deer or kingfishers or whatever you’d like to sneak up on, especially if you
conceal it with some sort of bow blind. And it isn’t a bad little craft for
fishing, as long as you want to go fishing by yourself with a minimum of
The double bladed long paddles the
kayakers use are a major problem. Sure you can manipulate the kayaks with one,
but they are clumsy, made for novices. You won’t sneak up on anything with
those long-shafted kayak paddles. It is like saying to anything downstream, “here
I am and here I come”.
I find that if you sit in the very center
of the kayak, you can’t effectively handle it any other way, certainly not with
a single bladed short paddle like I prefer to use. But I take along my
sassafras paddle and if I sit toward the back of the kayak, or just about
anywhere past the center point, I can ease it along without a sound, paddling
all the time from one side, without taking the paddle out of the water. To do
that, I have to put some weight in the very bow of the little boat. Then when I
get out, the front sags into the water. But it is the only way to go down the
river as I like to do it, without looking like a windmill.
When I got that little kayak, I bought
some green and brown and black paint, and I camouflaged it. If you float down
the stream in a red or yellow kayak, you show up like a cardinal on a corn
feeder. But I will say this… if you are going to go wind milling around some
large body of water in a little kayak where motor boats are whizzing around, it
is indeed a good idea to be brightly colored, so you can be seen. I always
wonder why anyone would take a kayak out in the middle of a lake like Bull
Shoals or Stockton, but if you do that, paint your paddle blades too. Be sure
you are seen.
If I use my Kayak much it will be in the
winter to hunt ducks or deer or take wildlife photos while alone. I doubt if I
fish out of it much because I have my little aluminum johnboat for that, and I
usually fish with someone in the bow. I like to sit up a little higher when I
fish than I do when I am sneaking down the river not wanting anything to know I
Sometime this summer I will build that
wooden johnboat at a special event or location where those who have an interest
in such things can come and watch it go together. We had a pretty good crowd
down at Bull Shoals State Park a few years ago when we built a 20-foot wooden
White River johnboat, and then took folks for a ride in it.
I am trying to encourage folks who have
boats, canoes, and kayaks to sell to bring them to our Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’s
Swap Meet on March 28. There will be some outboard motors there too. In a later
column I will list some of the amazing items that will be there for sale by a
host of folks who are now calling me to reserve a free table inside. We have
printed some little fliers to send out, so if you want all the information,
just call us and we will send you one of them.
This coming April, retired Corps ranger
Rich Abdoler and I will take some folks out who would like to find mushrooms
and teach them how to find them. We will take them to some backwoods areas on
Truman Lake via pontoon boat, have a big fish fry and find mushrooms,
guaranteed. This is something we won’t be able to schedule, we will just have
to see when the mushrooms erupt, and then contact folks who are on the list
wanting to go. Rich and I can sell you a mushroom hunting license!!!
And at least once during the month of
March, when we have a nice calm, sunny Saturday, we will take a dozen people to
our wilderness area on Truman Lake, have an interpretive nature hike and a fish
fry and visit a pair of nesting eagles. On that walk through the woods there
are some of the biggest trees of several species that I have ever seen, and the
remains of an 1800’s cabin. If you want to learn about the outdoors, this is
the way to do it. There is an oak tree on that trip that is the biggest white
oak I have ever seen anywhere, way back in the woods. I figure it is so old
that it was a sprout somewhere about the time George Washington was president. To
find out more about those trips, just contact my executive secretary, Ms.
Wiggins and have her send you the information.
You know, if I wrote in this column that
bluebirds build nests in sumac bushes, lots of people would believe it. Recently
one of my old classmates sent me something that had come from an ornithologist
saying that eagles avoid the rain by climbing above the clouds. It also claimed
that an eagle can see a rabbit a mile away and survey three whole acres at once
with it’s fantastic vision.
When you read stuff like that, remember
that today, most biologists and naturalists have grown up in the city somewhere
and use their positions with a conservation organization to come up with some
real baloney. There are plenty of birds, which can and do fly above rainclouds,
but I have seen eagles sitting and flying in the rain, where they don’t get wet
at all because of feathers that shed water like waxed paper.
And who the heck knows absolutely for
sure what an eagle sees? That stuff about seeing a rabbit a mile away is the
biggest bunch of hogwash I have ever heard. Eagles do not feed regularly on rabbits;
they are too small for them. If you tied a squirming live rabbit at the top of
a dead tree, a mile from a perched eagle, you’d find out what nonsense that is.
He would never see it!
While they are majestic, beautiful birds
of prey, they like nothing better than to gorge themselves on a dead deer like
a group of buzzards or pick up a floating dead fish or zero in on a crippled
duck or goose on open water. We don’t have to make them supernatural to enjoy
seeing them. An eagle is an eagle, nothing less, nothing more.
Truthfully, I believe that eagles feed as
much on carrion as prey they kill. I floated a river a few years ago in
December and there were nine eagles ripping away at the carcass of a deer. If I
too had grown up in some suburb somewhere I might write that I saw nine eagles
feeding on a deer they had killed, and some readers would believe it. Most
ranchers think that eagles feeding on dead calves have killed the calf. In a
future column, I will tell you some amusing stuff I heard from professors while
I was working to get a degree in wildlife management at the University of
Missouri. Remember you can never become a real naturalist if you spend more
time in books than in the outdoors.
You can call our office at 417 777 5227
or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find photos and information on my website, www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com
As much as we love the idea of warm
weather in February, it worries me a little. It could backfire on us if Mother
Nature starts thinking spring has come early. Then all of a sudden there are
early blooms and buds and all of a sudden an awful cold spell comes along. Uh-oh!
The fishing goes to heck!
The white oak acorn crop can be
devastated by such a situation and nothing is more important to wildlife in the
fall and winter of next year than those acorns. But even if it happens, red
oaks won’t be much affected by such cold this year. Their production will be
clobbered the next fall.
It is a difficult thing to explain, but I
believe it is nature’s way of ensuring there will be at least some acorns most
every fall. When you look at smaller wild creatures that have less biological
potential, or survivability (life span), than the larger ones, I think nature
ensures their survival in the same way. If a huge rain or spring cold spell
limits the spring production of creatures like quail, rabbit, dove or even wild
turkey, the late hatches which occur in June, July and August insures the
survival of the species. It almost makes you think some great mind was involved
in the planning of it all!
I received a letter from someone last
week talking about how the cutting of timber by logging contractors working on
our public wildlife management areas and conservation areas through the
Missouri Department of Conservation was a good thing. He wrote that my
criticism of the moneymaking butchering of our state owned lands failed to take
into account the fact that removing the timber could be a good thing for deer because
it created more browse.
It left me shaking my head, wondering if
there might ever be a time when our citizens can think on their own instead of
buying some of the hogwash the MDC feeds them to justify whatever they do. Are
there thousands of people out there so ignorant to the ways of the wild, and
the situation in natural areas that they think deer in Missouri need more ‘browse’?
It is likely the letter-writer can’t even adequately understand what the word
means. He is someone who wants to be assured that the MDC is more interested in
wildlife than money. They are not! It was that way once, but not now.
We need more browse for deer like we need
more cow manure for turkeys. Deer in Missouri need nothing. They are not hard
pressed in the worst of the Ozarks winters because browse is plentiful…
everywhere. In those forests, being rapidly destroyed on lands we all own, deer
and turkeys depend more on the acorns than anything else.
What else needs the browse we create by
destroying a hardwood forest…flying squirrels, screech owls, pileated woodpeckers,
woodcock, foxes??? What else? Those species make no money for the MDC and those
who feel assured that the destruction of our woodlands is a good thing likely
know nothing of those dozens of species of birds and mammals that live there,
and decline as the trees are cut.
Destroying a forest won’t endanger the
deer. If it did, the MDC would be worried, because deer make them tens of
thousands of dollars. Acorns, squirrels and woodpeckers make them nothing. They
will allow outside logging companies to cut every valuable tree in the areas
they supposedly ‘manage’, if they can receive a good percentage of the profit,
which they do.
For those who doubt me, go around the
state and look at their real interest, which is board feet of lumber over
wildlife. More and more, the conservation areas we all own are showing the devastation,
as one area is stripped and another areas looms in their sights.
For those who have never seen it and do
not want to see it, here is a letter from a fellow Missourian, Chuck Banks who
describes what has happened in his area…
My family bought our farm near Coldwater
back in 1985. We love to hunt, fish, hike, and do just about everything you do
in the outdoors. We were excited that our farm adjoined the Coldwater State
Forest. The forest offered opportunities for family and friends to interact
with Missouri hardwood forest whether they hunted or not. We adjoin about 3/4
miles of the forest. My Boy Scout troop spent many weekends hiking and
identifying trees and birds, non-hunters could photo the mature forest and its
inhabitants; it was just plain beautiful.
Then the Missouri Department of
Conservation changed the forest to a conservation area and began selling the
timber. Until then, I had always admired and trusted the MDC. Block by block,
some clear cut, some select cut, the forest has been destroyed. None of the
original forest remains. The last block was cut last summer, and a new method
This sale allowed for the timber men to
cut all unmarked trees. This meant that the Department’s people marked
remaining trees by painting a red stripe around the tree about breast high.
Some of the perimeter trees have a smiley flower painted on them as well. Now
that the cutting is done, EVERY remaining tree has a red painted ring around
it. The rest of the block is the usual mess of tops and ruts.
The trails that once meandered through
the forest have been destroyed. I now call this it the graffiti forest, because
it will take decades for the red spray paint to wear off the bark. The once
beautiful forest is now a strange, almost industrial looking disgrace. The
trails are gone; the beautiful stands of oak and pine are now defaced. I
thought that diversity would include at least some untouched forest, but they
left nothing. NO one would want to go there. The Department should be ashamed.
Don’t be so disheartened Chuck… think of
all the deer browse you will have in a few years! Mark Twain said that lies can
travel around the world in less time than it takes for the truth to get its
boots on. If you believe everything the Conservation Department tells you, you
are being duped. This state department is nothing like the one we had thirty
years ago when we passed that one-eighth cent sales tax that turned them in to
an agency filled with corruption. I only want the truth about what they are
doing to be heard. Don’t take my word for it. Just go out and look for
I hope some of you will find our
February-March issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Magazine and read the
Common Sense Conservation section. If you don’t choose to keep your eyes
clamped tightly shut, you may begin to learn what is happening in the Ozarks.
My address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.
The email address is email@example.com
and my website, where you may enjoy seeing my outdoor pictures, is