Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Open House and sale on Lightnin’ Ridge


         This coming Saturday, October 21, we will have a good time up here on Lightnin’Ridge with our open-house event wherein I will be selling off lots of the memorabilia I grew up with… old guns and rods and reels and fishing lures I used as far back as 1959.  The place has boats and canoes for sale, beautiful artwork and antiques galore.  The list of items for sale is too much to print.  You can visit my museum and see what a mature oak-hickory forest looks like by walking our trails. 
       We will have enough cake and coffee and iced tea for everyone.   We’ll open the gate at 9 a.m.  Here’s how to find us…   Take Highway 32 from the Bolivar, Mo. square, east one mile, and turn north (left) on Highway D  (Pomme de Terre Avenue).  Drive five miles north, cross the Pomme de Terre River bridge and immediately on the other side turn east (right) on 390th Road.  Our place is two miles east on a high ridge, and there is a big sign there which says, Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing    Address.. 1581 East 390th Road.   I hope you can come, I will be here all day to welcome you.

The Little Niagara’s Trout




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         Many, many years ago I bought a 12-year collection of old Forest & Stream outdoor magazines, from 1910 through 1922. Occasionally I read through some of them, always finding something new. In the June 27th issue of 1914 (magazines were published weekly until 1915), I came across a fishing article written by an Edward Cochran about southern Missouri’s best trout stream, the Little Niagara River. The following is part of that article, there’s not room for all of it. Where do you suppose the Little Niagara is? If the Irish Wilderness were not mentioned, I would figure it was the Niangua, rather than Niagara.  Does it have another name today or is it buried beneath an Ozark reservoir? Regardless, you may enjoy reading this account of a fishing trip to the Ozarks that took place over 100 years ago.
        
         Excerpt…   Hidden among the gigantic elm, poplar and oak trees of the “Irish Wilderness,” a remote and sparsely settled region of the low and ragged Ozark Mountains in south Missouri, flows the “Little Niagara River”. It was this stream, far from anyone except a scattering few of the poor, ignorant natives of that section, and filled with fish of all sorts and a goodly number of rainbow trout, that our party sought at the outset of the open season for trout in the “show me” state.
 
         The bad mountain roads, which are more like trails, made by the natives, no bridges, and poor method of travel, make it possibly the most difficult stream to reach in all the great southwest. It is a region of poverty, the natives being the most shiftless and unprogressive of any in the southern states, which accounts for the bad roads and other things of the sort that must be fought on such a journey. This also accounts for the abundance of good fishing.

         Upon arrival by train, we found a lumber wagon, of the rough mountain type, loaded with our provisions, tackle, a camp stove, tent, etc., A drive of thirty-two miles over rough mountain roads and trails put us at our destination. From sunrise to sunset we traveled up and down these low, rocky hills, where is laid the scene of the famous novel, “The Shepard (sic) of the Hills,” and then we pitched camp for the night.

         We retired early, and at daybreak we were aroused again for the remainder of the journey, which was seven miles of the roughest going on the entire trip. Before noon we reached the bank of the beautiful stream and found a level spot of green grass, resembling an oasis in the desert. Here we pitched our camp and gave orders to the driver to return for us in two weeks.

         The “Little Niagara” wends its crooked way through these scraggly mountains and roars over solid rock most of its course. The water is perfectly clear and cold, being fed by springs from the mountains, and the stream averages about twenty feet in width. There are many deep pools where the rainbow trout abound, and black bass and other finny inhabitants are not scarce.

         It always has been more or less of a mystery to those who have caught large rainbows out of the “Little Niagara,” how this variety came to be there. The natives claim that a New York banker and a few friends once sought to establish a camp in the wildest part of the Ozark Mountains, where they could spend one or two months every year far away from civilization. They wanted to fish where there was plenty, and hunt where big game could be found in abundance. This was an ideal spot for both some years ago. They found a large spring flowing out of the rocks about half a mile from the “Little Niagara.” They built a dam near the river and made an artificial lake. Into this they put thousands of rainbow trout and hired a watchman to take care of the grounds and see that no one caught the trout.

         The trout multiplied rapidly in the cold spring water, but the Easteners soon gave up the camp and the dam was allowed to wash away and the trout went into the “Little Niagara,” where for many years they have multiplied, with no one cutting down the supply. As the result the stream is well stocked. To substantiate their claim the natives took our party to the lake and there we found what remained of the dam, and the ruins of the log club-house.

         The natives are not skilled fishermen. They use nets a great deal, and a croppie (sic) or a perch is as good to them as a trout. The first day in camp we landed a good catch of trout. One in the party is a lover of bass fishing, and he came in with some of the black boys that are right next to trout when it comes to eating. We waded the cool waters day after day for the two weeks we were in camp, often going far as ten miles upstream and our invasion against these prize beauties was successful each day. (Dablemont note—This writer is full of baloney about wading upstream ten miles and back in any Ozark river, now or then.)

         It will be a century before the gamey trout is extinct in this region, because of the difficulty anglers encounter and the time required to reach this river. It is not likely that the time will come in the next half century when travel in the “Irish Wilderness” of the Ozarks will be made easier, because railroad experts have stated that the cost of reducing the hardships of travel in that section is so great that it will not pay, the fertility of the soil being of a very low grade; and there is no other source of wealth in that country.

         Readers should remember that on Saturday, Oct 21 we are having a big outdoor gear and antique sale here on Lightnin’ Ridge. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Odds and Ends and Big Fish

Striper
Hybrid, Kentucky or Spotted Bass

Hybrids (Kentucky or Spotted Bass) can be easily identified... On a striper, the lines on the belly are continuous and dark. On a hybrid, lines are uneven and broken.



         I will be speaking to a group of retired teachers on Monday, October 9 at the First Baptist Church in Houston Missouri at noon.  I was told the public was welcome so I am passing it on to my readers who would like to attend.  I will have the new fall magazine and my books which I will sign after I finish speaking.  I’ll assure you of a humorous account of my boyhood on the Big Piney, near Houston, where I went to school and helped to retire a few teachers earlier than planned.  I’ll also be reminiscing about my boyhood in the pool hall on Houston’s main street.  Other than that I am not sure what I will be talking about.  I guess that goes along with what the MDC insists about me.
 
         After I wrote the last article about Chronic Wasting Disease in deer in which I pointed out that humans can get the disease, and many have died from it, a Conservation Department Employee wrote newspapers a letter saying that is not true… or at least it has not been proven, because they insist the deadly ‘prions’ (which I misspelled last week) can be found in cattle, buffalo, elk, goats and sheep.  

         Therefore if you die from the disease, no one can prove what animal killed you, so you can’t say it was an infected deer.  So don’t quit buying deer tags, because if you do, the MDC might have to operate on only a hundred and fifty million a year. 

         They need that permit money.  They may have to give Bass Pro Shops another few million, like they did a few years back.  Or they may have to pay off a million dollar lawsuit, as they did a few years back when some of their agents got caught illegally searching a home without a search warrant while the owners were gone. 
 
         Then again, they made need to help some poor lawyers build private duck-hunting marshes, or give a judge a quarter million to fix up his private hunting club, as they did the late Judge Kelso a few years ago.  You can see why they worry about how many deer permits they might lose over the CWD disease in deer.


         The big sale we are going to hold here on Lightnin’ Ridge is not a swap meet.  Our annual outdoorsman’s swap meet is in March.  I am just selling off guns and fishing tackle and lures and stuff I have accumulated over the years.  I will put directions and a list of what we will be selling on my website in a week or so.  That is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com
  
 

     The book I talked about a few weeks ago, authored by my old friend Mike Widner, is finished.  Widner, a biologist and outdoorsman from North Arkansas wrote about hunting bobwhite quail and a few other game birds and the problems quail face today.  He also talks about what you can do to increase quail numbers on your land.  The first 100 off the press have been signed by Mike, and numbered.  You can receive this 288-page book by sending 10 dollars, plus 2 dollars for postage.  The address is Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing, Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.

        Mike Widner and I go back about forty-five years, when we both started out as Naturalist working for the National Park Service at Buffalo Point on the newly formed Buffalo National River.  He and his wife spent a few days up in my part of the country waiting for the book to be finalized, and one day we motored up the Sac River when they were running quite a bit of water out of Stockton Lake.  There were some spots where I have caught hybrids in the fall, and we got into them.  That high water was perfect and those fish, which are a product of a cross between white bass and stripers, were tearing things up.  I mean that literally.  We likely hooked two dozen from five to fifteen pounds.  But we only boated three big ones!  In that swift water, they had us outclassed.  We lost five lures, I think, expensive ones that it costs about 10 bucks or better to replace.  And when we thought we really had some about whipped, they made a big lunge and pulled hooks loose.         

    Adding some fat white bass and hefty Kentucky bass as the water dropped, we came back with a good bucket full of fillets.  It is a little more work to skim the red meat off of a white or hybrid, but you have to do it if you want that solid, tasty white meat.  When the red center stripe is removed and that thin layer of red meat under the skin is removed, those fillets from stripers, hybrids and whites are great eating.

         Catching them on the Sac depends on knowing where the fish congregate when the water is high, but not too high.  Finding the flow of the released water to be just right, you soon find that ten or twelve pound line on casting reels with medium action rods just isn’t enough in very swift water. That day, while we hooked a dozen or so of the hybrids, we saw at least 25 or 30 total.  The ones we didn’t hook made mighty splashes and swirls at topwater lures, and some looked to be 30 inches long.  The ones we landed were between 22 and 26 inches long.  We didn’t weight them, but they fought like 20 pounders, all of them.


         I hate for all the world to have to report this, but the dream I had of making a retreat for underprivileged children, and an outdoor education center for anyone to enjoy, is a dream that I finally have to give up.  The opposition I have from a neighbor that the old man who sold me the land called, ‘the most evil hearted man he ever knew’ is a barrier to hard to overcome. I will tell the whole story about him and the courts and law officers of St. Clair County and how they together made this venture impossible in my Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine, and I hope you will read it.  Everyone needs to understand why we have to go this route.

         Laws that deal with removing boundary lines and closing long-used existing roads cannot be enforced there, apparently.  When I was younger I might have overcame his attempt to destroy it all, but without expensive lawyers it is more than I can handle. And no matter how hard I tried, the news media in Springfield just refuse to publicize it. The youth retreat we hoped would attract dozens of groups sits empty too many days.

         Many people have donated to that dream and so many have helped in other ways.  If you are one who has given money to pay taxes and insurance and electricity, I will be returning your donations as soon as the land can be sold.  The effort, taking up three years of work and hope, is not all in vain.  Many, many children have come there, and had a great experience enjoying God’s creation.

  

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Horrible Disease - Kruetzfeldt-Jakob

 



         I had a sad conversation only a few days ago with a lady from Camdenton who told me that several years ago her husband died from Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Her name was Carol Schroeder. Her husband’s death was due to the same horrible disease that biologists call ‘Chronic Wasting Disease’ in deer and elk. It has also been called mad deer disease, or mad cow disease when it occurs in cattle.

         You have not heard the Missouri Department of Conservation talk about whether or not the disease can spread from deer to humans, but it is known that it does, whether it comes from deer or cattle.  For some reason, the news media has helped the MDC keep people very uninformed about this disease.  But there is much that you need to know if you hunt deer and eat deer.

         First of all, NEVER eat Venison that someone else has killed and butchered, and though it was an accepted thing to do for years past, DO NOT EAT DEER MEAT THAT COMES FROM THE SHARE YOUR HARVEST PROGRAM which the MDC has carried forth for years and years. You cannot be sure there are no prions in that meat you receive.  

         It is believed that prions, which are the diseases infective agents in deer, elk, goats, and cattle is not found in blood or meat, but rather in the brain and spinal fluid of the animal.  It might possibly be found in bone marrow, but that is something they aren’t sure about.  It might well be that you could eat the meat from a CWD animal without getting the disease, but if that animal has been shot in the spine or brain, prions may be found throughout the body of the animal.
  
         If the spinal column is cut as part of the butchering who knows where prions may be in the meat.  The MDC knows that.  This year all deer killed in a selected twenty-five county area in the state MUST BE checked at a designated check station for CWD… the animal term for the Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs malady in man.  I believe if deer hunting is to continue in states with a good percentage of CWD deer, that testing has to be part of it. I don’t think I ever want to eat another deer if it hasn’t been tested.  Maybe if I hadn’t talked to so many people in this state who have lost loved ones to that disease, I wouldn’t be so nervous about killing a deer and butchering it, putting the meat in my freezer that will be eaten by several others than just me.
  
         But in a dozen or so cases I have been contacted about, all were men and all were deer hunters.  Relatives talked of the horrible consequences they witnessed in the death of their loved ones. In each case, the Center for Disease Control out of Atlanta has required the victims to be immediately cremated, no embalming or funeral allowed.
   
        The lady I talked with told me that her husband had died in a St.Louis hospital in a quarantined room and that his body was taken to the crematory by police escort to be sure that if any accident occurred on the way his body would not be handled by unknowing first responders.
  
         “I never believed in assisted suicide,” she told me, but I would have given anything if it could have happened for my poor husband.  It took him two months to die and what he went through, what I saw as his brain deteriorated, I cannot even talk about it to this day.”  So because of what I have learned I would recommend that no one in the future take deer meat they know nothing about, and that would end the economic viability of deer processing plants and those who make deer sausage and jerky often for gifts or sale.
  
         I don’t like that, because the great percentage of those people are fine folks and have nothing to do with what created this disease.  Of course those who handle deer meat on that kind of scale use rubber gloves, but no one can be absolutely sure that they won’t be in contact with prions when you are dealing with dozens of deer. That’s because no one seems to know exactly what those ‘prions’ are . They are some kind of strange protein, not a virus or bacteria.  I have asked my daughter, a doctor, to tell me more about it, but even though she saw a patient with disease in medical school, she hesitates to say much about the disease, or the prions, because doctors really aren’t sure what to say about, and how to adequately inform the public about it.

         If you research it, you will learn that it is pretty much known that Kruetzfeldt -Jakobs disease was first diagnosed in England, sometime in the seventies and eighties of the last century.  The cattle industry in that country was giving cattle all kinds of medicines and hormones to put more weight on steers and produce more milk in dairy cattle.  The beef producers got the great idea that man could go against the way God had created things to make more money.  He had created herbivores and carnivores and omnivores on this earth, if you really do believe in a Creator.  Herbivores are plant eaters, carnivores are meat eaters and omnivores are those creatures which eat both plants and meat.

         Omnivores include man but not deer or cattle. But the industry started feeding cattle meat by-products and bone meal mixed into the feed in feedlots.  That is how the mad-cow disease began, as a result of greedy men wanting to make beef cattle heavier and dairy cattle bigger to produce more milk.  In deer it started with that same kind of greed.  Mix in meat and bone meal to feed elk and deer and it would make them bigger, with bigger antlers.  In North Missouri, an Amish man who wanted to raise and sell big bucks in pens, bought several CWD infected deer from a deer breeder in Ohio and it has been reported, but not verified, that as hundreds of people started to raise deer in pens, they were worried that a unhealthy looking deer might infect others, so they released them into the wild.

         The first cases of wild deer dying from the disease took place just a little ways from a penned-deer operation in North Missouri.  Those operations are now found all over Missouri, and I am not sure if all of them, or even the greater percentage of them, have had their stock tested.  It is a big time moneymaker for those who raise deer, because the bucks they raise are put in enclosures where they can be hunted by very wealthy trophy seekers. 
 
         I was told by a man who worked at such a place that he helped inject bucks with two chemicals so they could be moved from pens where they were raised, to a pen where they could be shot.  He said the chemical given to the buck had warnings on the boxes to not inject the chemical into any animal that would be eaten. He said that those deer were all processed and given to the MDC to go into the “Share Your Harvest” program.  He said it is likely that many poor families ate meat that was chemically tainted by those dangerous injections and never knew it.  Another reason that this state should immediately stop that practice of giving deer meat away to poorer families.  People are dying from eating CWD deer meat.  The MDC no doubt knows there is a risk but if you look at their announcements and their concerns over the disease, they never ever acknowledge that it might be a risk for hunters and their families who eat venison.

         In fact, I doubt if there are any records to be found about the number of people in this state or any others who have died from Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Why not?  Don’t you think there are accurate numbers on deaths from other diseases?  CWD is a threat to Conservation Departments because they will lose great amounts of money if deer hunters stop buying deer tags.  If non-resident hunters quit coming here, it will harm the state’s economy. 
 
         If you want to realize how deep all this might go, you should realize that this article cannot be used in a large number of Missouri Newspapers… not even as a letter to the editor.  As far as this problem may extend into today’s deer numbers in this state or how much of a problem it may become, you are never going to know what the whole truth is.  But the people of this state needs to hear from Mrs. Schroeder and others who have witnessed the disease, people like Bill Zippro from Joplin who lost his brother to the disease the year after his brother killed a big buck that didn’t seem to be wild.

         But none of that is going to happen.  So I pass on the one thing that seems to be a way for hunters to be a little safer.  Don’t even touch a sick or dying deer, and do not clean a deer shot in the spinal column or brain.  Don’t cut through any bone, cut the meat off the carcass without causing any cuts or damage to the spinal column.  In that way, even if the prions are there, you are not likely to contact them or release them into the meat.  The day has to come, and soon, that all deer killed in this state are immediately tested, so the meat can be utilized by a hunter and his family, safely.

         And I would recommend that everyone who hunts read the article in one of my past magazines written by a Texas doctor about deer and CWD.  To get a copy of it call my office…417-777-5227.



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Spiders Snakes and Mushrooms






           One of the bad things about this time of year is all the spider webs that are across woodland trails.  I don’t get bothered much with mosquitoes or ticks or  poison ivy, but I hate spiders with a passion.  Still have two scars on my arm resulting from spider bites back when I was a kid… likely a brown recluse.  But what I hate most is how a doggone spider web feels across my face when I walk into them.   Makes me itch all over.

            Also this time of year I warn readers that copperheads, and cottonmouths and rattlesnakes are more dangerous at the close of summer than they are in the spring, because this is the time they are molting and moving.  At night as it cools, they come out onto surfaces that hold the days warmth, like sand, concrete, gravel and asphalt.  Beware when you are out at night.  Do you know why there are no poisonous snakes in the Ozarks?  It’s because they are ‘venomous’—not poisonous.  Living creatures which kill with a bite or sting inject venom into their prey, not poison.  Things that are poisonous are certain plants and certain mushrooms, and man-made chemical compounds. But truthfully, poison ivy is not poisonous!


           I notice that some conservation departments put out little pamphlets which list ‘non-poisonous’ snakes.  Well, it does convey the message, but it is a little inaccurate.  In some of those publications the harmless hog-nosed snake, also known as a spreading adder, is inaccurately portrayed as non-poisonous.  Hog-nose snakes have a venom in their bite which is deadly if you are a toad.  Their small fangs are in the rear of their mouth and they do indeed have that venom back there.  But they do not bite anything in defense, and cannot get those fangs into a person unless you put your finger back there and jerk it into the fangs.  Believe it or not, a herpetologist did that once and his finger swelled up and he got fairly ill.  A herpetologist is a snake biologist… someone who studies reptiles.


            As you may have heard they found a two headed timber rattlesnake down in Arkansas recently and it is now alive and well in a Game and Fish Commission nature center at Crowley’s Ridge, near Jonesboro.  It is not a small one, obviously has lived through a few winters.  I got to thinking that if one rattlesnake head could be really dangerous in the amount of venom it could inject, think how awful it would be to be bitten by two different rattlesnake heads… four fangs and twice the venom.


            And then I got to thinking, what if one head ate one rat and the other head swallowed another rat at the same time.  Two rats in one snake belly might present a problem. I say that because no snake I ever heard of eats more than one rat or one rabbit or one gopher at a time.  True, they will often eat several eggs at one visit, but an egg ain’t a rat.  Rats have legs that stick out and claws and teeth and hair.  So if they each ate a rat at the same time, which head would suffer if the body developed a case of indigestion. 

            Because of my scientific background I am forced to think of things like that and answers are not easy to come by.  But if I came across a rattlesnake like that I wonder if I cut off one head if it would kill the whole snake.  Or would the other head crawl off with the body and live out it’s life thanking me for getting rid of the other head, or would it get mad and try to get revenge.  I guess it depends on the personality of each head.  I have seen a pair of brothers, or a brother and sister, get along very well their whole lives, but then there are those who have been at each other’s throats since they were big enough to walk.

            Whoever found that snake, or those snakes, whichever the case may be, sure passed up a golden opportunity by giving it away.  He could have taken it to fairs and carnivals around the Ozarks in the summer, set up a tent and charged a quarter to anyone who wanted to go in and see it.  Then he could just put it out in the shed in the winter under a pile of rocks and not have to worry about spending anything on it in the way of snake food until next April.

            My daughter Christy is a science and biology teacher who followed in her ol’ dad’s footsteps, working several summers as a park naturalist in a Missouri State Park.  She roams the woods up here on Lightnin’ Ridge looking for mushrooms, and this is a good late summer-early fall for mushrooms.  There are many that are edible, and many which are very,very poisonous.  I think if we’d get a good rain that we’d soon have lots of coral mushrooms, which I really like to cook with venison or other wild meat.  Christy has found an assortment of mushrooms so variously and vividly colored that they make a good rainbow.  Every color you can imagine is out there.  If you would like to see a couple of her photos of them, go to the end of this column and you can see them.  You will be amazed!

            The fall issue of The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal is coming up soon.  I would love to get you a subscription fixed up before it does, but you need to arrange that before the first of the October because if your magazine doesn’t get mailed out with the whole big bunch of them mailed then, the post office charges four times as much to mail one individually.  Isn’t that a heck of a note? The Post Office makes more money out of my magazines than I do!  So does the printing company!  If you want to subscribe, or order one of my books, just call me at 417 777 5227.  But if you are wanting to talk about fishing, I have to limit the calls to one hour.  You can also email me at lightninridge@windstream.net or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613









Bright-colored mushrooms, all found by my daughter, Christy, on Lightnin' Ridge




























Fly Agaric - Amanita muscaria







This poisonous mushroom is called Fly Agaric  (photo by Christy, found on Lightnin' Ridge)


































This is an edible mushroom... the Coral mushroom.  (photo by Christy, found on Lightnin' Ridge)
                                                                                                   
Amanita arkansana buttons. The Yellow Caesar.













These two photo are of  The Yellow Cesar. The second, is one that hasn't fully opened. (Photos by Christy, found on Lightnin' Ridge)
      

 

This beautiful white mushroom is called White Brain.  

White Brain - Tremella fuciformis












  The Golden Ear - Tremella aurantia is an orange parasitic fungus of the shelf fungus Stereum hirsutism or False Turkey Tail.
                                                                         

Friday, September 1, 2017

Floods and Famine


      
       The floods are awful, but I can see the first settlers of Texas long, long ago, saying… “this will be a good place to build a town, and we’ll name it after ol’ Sam Houston hisself.  We’ll have a good view of the river from here and it’ll never get this high.”

       My late Uncle Norten once told me about an Ozarks deluge in 1933 when it rained so hard and the wind was so strong at times that it washed away the clay mud chinking on the west side of the cabin and started blowing rain in through the cracks.  He was only ten but he remembered that for awhile the sawdust that they used to cover the dirt floor was floating in water.  Fortunately, the oak shingles didn’t leak, and so their beds in the attic stayed dry.  Those beds consisted of makeshift mattresses filled with duck feathers mostly. He said it was a lot better life than the first Ozark settlers had enjoyed, when they had to live primitively.

       Eventually the rain ended, the sun reappeared, the flood ended and life returned to normal.  Then they just had the heat of summer to contend with… and the depression.  For a ten-year-old the depression was no problem. There in the hills, times didn’t get much worse than they had been, just because the stock market crashed.
 
       My heart goes out for those in the path of the storms, those who have lost so much because it seems that nature has become an enemy.  It will get worse as each decade passes.  Many of us have felt it was coming … those of us who feel we live a little closer to nature than the masses who crowd together in a world of concrete and pavement and glass and computers.
 
       No, I am not one of those global warming nuts…I have no scientific evidence to call upon to help me predict the future course nature might take, and I don’t know for sure what is happening or what is coming.  But  something is happening, and I am fairly sure it is going to get worse.  It is the consequence of huge, ever-increasing numbers of people, and the idea that whatever we do to the earth will have no lasting effect.  It is the problem of man not realizing that the earth is, after all, the boss…and man is not.

       What we are doing isn’t any great secret.  We are destroying the earth’s ability to protect us. But what is coming as a result of that, I can’t predict. I guess there will be more old timers sitting around and saying, “I ain’t never seen nothin’ like this.”

There is no turning around; there is no changing the course.  We are going wherever we are going, and good or bad, global warming, global cooling, or global chaos, ….it is coming eventually.  I would hate to be living in a huge city, where all of a sudden, there might be no course to take but trying to get out of it, to someplace where there aren’t so many millions of people to compete with and run from.  Some things a man can’t do a thing about.  When a massive black cloud forms on the horizon, you just can’t change its course or take away the power of the impending storm.  Not even with a computer.

       There is one thing that gives me a good feeling.  I know a place or two where the woods are deep and the trees are big, and the spring water is still clean and when I am there, there’s no one else to ruin it. There’s a cave there to protect me from wind and rain and ice alike.  If times get too hard, I intend to take my computer and television and a good sleeping bag and some matches, and move there.


       I have a few of the fall issue of my outdoor magazine left and will be glad to give them to those who have never seen it to those who will pay the postage.  Be one of the first callers and I will throw in the envelope free!  Just call me at 417 777 5227.  You can also email me at lightninridge@windstream.net or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The First Days of the Hunting Season



Dove hunter in a sunflower field

       I don't know if the opening weekend of dove season really is the best time to hunt doves.  Migrating doves often come later, but hunters in the Ozarks are at least getting first shots at doves hatched locally before many of them move out.  The warm weather we usually have the first week of September means most of the doves north of us are still there, and most of ours are still here.

       If you could you'd like to hunt doves when there's a nip in the air and that can happen later this month, or early next month.  But probably 80 or 90 percent of the dove hunting in our area is done and over with after the first week of the season.  Usually, the doves leave the heavily hunted areas for awhile, but in time, a new group will migrate in, and the harvested grain fields will provide more hunting.

       Successful hunters are those who find the feeding areas days before the season opens...and because doves do not perch on grain heads as other birds do, you have to find grain fields like wheat or sunflower seeds which are on the ground.  They come to any kind of grain or weed seed found on fairly open ground.  And they fly very erratically, so they are a challenge for a shotgunner, though probably not as much of a challenge as the heat.

       To hunt doves on opening day you have to get out early, wear good camouflage, and have a couple of boxes of field loads.  I advise hunters to use 7 and 1/2 shot, and shoot modified-bore shotguns.   Doves were made for modified-bored barrels, an open choke gun is O.K. on opening day if all your shooting is at 25 yards or so.  But usually, dove shooting is a 35 to 40 yard challenge.   Full chokes restrict the small shot pattern too much.

       Bring along a stool or bucket to sit on...on opening day you don't have to hide as well as you will on day two or three. The temperature at sunrise should be 20 degrees lower than it will be at 11:00 a.m.  The birds will feed early and late in the day, but if it is a good field, some will be flying in and out most all morning and all afternoon.
 
       Sometimes we get really lucky here in the Ozarks on opening weekend and don't have the  hot weather during the late morning and afternoon.  But when the humidity is high and it gets up in the mid 80’s, I’d druther be fishing.

       Inexperienced hunters sometimes lose a lot of crippled or downed doves because the weeds are high around grain
fields and there's lots of green undergrowth to contend with.  Mark birds down well and make a special effort to find them.  Dove numbers have been dwindling over the years, and no hunter should wink at the bag limit, nor give downed birds a half-hearted search.  If you are going to call yourself a hunter, act like one, and don't waste game nor exceed the limit.


       A dog helps reduce crippled bird losses and a panting, young retriever might gain some experience from dove hunting, if he doesn't have a heat stroke.  Be sure so you to take some water along for him if there isn't a good pond or creek nearby.  And you'll have to help him get the dove feathers out of his mouth, which may make him decide the last thing he wants to do is go retrieve another bird.

          A dog helps reduce crippled bird losses... and a panting, young retriever might gain some experience from dove hunting if it's not extremely hot. Be sure you take some water along for him if there isn't a good pond or creek nearby. And you'll have to help him get the dove feathers out of his mouth, which may make him decide the last thing he wants to do is go retrieve another. 

        That's why I like hunting small ponds in the evenings, ponds which doves use for water holes before they go to roost.  Such a pond is used as a watering hole only when there is a flat, barren, gravelly bank without weeds, where they may land and walk to the water's edge. And your dog can stay right there beside you and retrieve your birds in the kind of environment retrievers are made to hunt in.  Remember, for those who want to wait, there are plenty of new doves later in September, and cooler weather sure to come. 
 
       It isn’t a good idea to break a young dog in on a dove hunting trip.  Old Bolt will retrieve them but he doesn’t like to because those dove feathers get stuck in his mouth.  Right now I have a pair of ten week chocolate Labrador puppies much like the ones I have raised for 50 years.  In fact they descend from my first great Labrador, old Rambunctious.  These two are beauties, and I want to keep one.  But  it is tough to play-train them when they are together because they begin to bond to one another and it is hard to keep one chasing a dummy when it wants to go back to the kennel where it’s sibling waits.  I use to raise a lot of hunting Labradors and even today I get lots of calls from hunters wondering if I have one from that old-style heavy, hunting stock. 

  
        Most old time duck hunters aren’t enthusiastic dove hunters because they want to spare their dogs from hot weather and those feathers.  And us old timers wouldn’t eat doves if they had squirrels to eat.  Of course I have to admit, back in the good old days no one would eat squirrels if they had chicken.   But squirrels were easier to get than chickens, and cheaper, and squirrel hunting was a great deal more enjoyable than chasing a chicken around the barn-lot, half scared to death that the farmer would come home and catch you!

     If you would like to get our upcoming fall magazine… the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, or if you’d like to get information on any of my books, just call my office—417 777 5227.  Or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at lightninridge@windstream.net

Friday, August 25, 2017

Old Time Things

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Wooden johnboats from another era
 
       A few years ago I was in West Plains Missouri at some local community event when I met some fellows who called themselves ‘flintnappers’. They were making arrowheads and spear points and they were really good at it. Each had wooden bows and arrows they had made themselves. They also had ‘throwing sticks’ also known as atlatls which you can use to hurl a spear as the early bluff dwellers of the Ozarks most likely did before the bow came along. If you know how to use one, you can use an atlatl to throw a spear, or something like a long arrow, completely through a deer if you can get close enough. One of those men had actually killed a couple of deer with his homemade bow and flint tipped arrows, and one was planning to hunt deer that winter with an atlatl.
 
       These guys were old-timers who amazed me at what they could do, and I always wanted to see them again. I found out that they are going to have another get-together on the weekend of October 7th and 8th at a little place called Chapel Grove 15 miles east of Ava Missouri. It will be billed as “The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks”. The whole thing is free, for visitors or vendors. If you make or use things from that era like tools, knives or rifles, baskets, buckskin clothes, or blankets, etc. that were used in the settling of the Ozarks from 1800 to 1900, they’d like to have you join them. 
 
Building a johnboat in 1975 for the National Park Service at Buffalo River.
       They will welcome you and allow you to sell your goods or just put on a demonstration. I am thinking of attending and building one of the old time Ozark river johnboats out of white pine. I have a friend who still makes sassafras boat paddles and I hope he will join me. If you have an interest in this weekend event, call Donna Eslinger at:
417-496-2711, or Nina Carter at: 417-543-3401. Or you can email heritage417@gmail.com for more information.

       I think it was 2001 or 2002 when my Dad, my Uncle Norten and I spent the whole of October at the annual Fall Festival at Silver Dollar City building a wooden johnboat and making boat paddles… talking to visitors about another day and time decades ago. Norten made the sassafras paddles, and Dad built the johnboat, with my help.

       People flocked around us to watch and ask questions. At the time, I had published only 3 or 4 books and we were set up in front of the bookstore. Folks would buy my books in the bookstore and they would bring them out to me to sign. If back then I had all ten of my books available there, they would have sold well more than a thousand. On some days they would actually sell more of my books than all the others they had combined.

       As it was, they sold more than 200 of my books and paid me a little more than half of what the bookstore collected. For some reason, that didn’t set well at all with the two old ladies who were in charge of the October event. Another thing they didn’t like was the fact that uncle Norten sold a bunch of paddles to people. He had to make about 25 or 30 that winter, and only got 30 or 40 dollars for each. But those ladies did not like that at all. They wanted him to set there and attract a crowd and make paddles for nothing. Seems like Silver Dollar City bought Dad’s johnboat and when it was over, the three of us had made way too much money for the satisfaction of those two old ladies.

       Besides that, the whole operation attracted crowds that sometimes jammed up that narrow walkway and it detracted from the candle-makers and butter churners and other craft people. At any rate, the two women told us they didn’t want us back the next year. Dad was the last of the serious johnboat makers. I still make a few, but my dad and grandfather likely made several hundred over a period of 60 or 70 years. Dad made one at a time but Grandpa sometimes was working on 3 or 4 at a time, at different stages, sitting on saw horses outside his cabin.

       You know why I intend to have another wooden johnboat built somewhere, before November?  Because this winter I want to use it… when no one else is on the river, to fish or hunt ducks or deer or trap an otter or two.

       I’m not the only one who likes to paddle them. Last spring I stopped at a truck stop and there were three johnboats on trailers just like the ones we made for years on the Big Piney. They were owned by some young men who were master craftsmen, apparent by the way those boats were trimmed and finished. I found out they had built them after they bought my book, Rivers to Run, and used the johnboat building plan I had added toward the back of my book, in one entire chapter, with all measurements, blueprints and photos of Dad building one that he used for years.

       My Dad and Uncle are gone now, as are most men and women who lived in the early decades of our last century, the days before technology put aside that way of life, and those kinds of people forever. Today, as young generations curiously like to learn about their roots and a slower, more peaceful time, you will see demonstrations on all old-time ways, crafts and works at festivals and events around the Ozarks each fall, but there is no one ever building johnboats. But it was on display once about 15 years ago at Silver Dollar City. There may be a few of you who remember.

To contact me, email lightninridge@windstream.net or write to box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613  our office number is 417-777-5227.