Thursday, September 20, 2018

Marauders With Fins








       If you know the lakes that harbor white bass and hybrids, I’ll share a secret with you.  But keep this under your hat.  In late September and most all of October, tributaries to those lakes, which are carrying some extra water from fall rains, are often carrying some extra fish… big hybrids.
  
       A hybrid is a fish which is created by hatchery manipulation, released into certain lakes as fingerlings or a little larger.  They are the result of a cross between female stripers and male white bass. They lack the ability to reproduce. In most waters where I fish for them, they average under ten pounds but not by much.  In most lower Midwestern waters where they are stocked they seem to get to twelve and fifteen pounds on occasion and though I never caught one larger, they can make it to 20 pounds.

       I think they are more aggressive and easier to catch than stripers are. Perhaps they get that from white bass genetics. Wherever it comes from, I like it. But last year up a river tributary I lost about forty dollars worth of lures because of it. As best as I can remember I motored up to a swiftly flowing shoal with a friend of mine and let my boat drift with it. I figured it was a good spot for a Kentucky bass or a white bass. I handed my partner one of my spinning outfits with a topwater lure on it and he hadn’t reeled it two feet before it was just sucked under, a broad white side flashing beneath it.

       It isn’t often that you hook a six- or seven-pound fish on your first cast. And it is hard to boat one that size when you have no dip-net, which is the only thing I had forgotten to put in the boat! But somehow my partner got him into the live-well, and about ten minutes later casting a buzz-bait with my casting reel, I hooked a similar hybrid.
  
       A fish that size in any kind of current is nothing but a rod-bending enjoyment that brings a tremendous amount of satisfaction, no matter what your troubles might be.  My troubles were just beginning.  The hefty hybrid got off right beside the boat.  But I caught another one right away and that one broke my line. I had lost the first lure. 

       My partner lost the next lure on a fish that was better than ten pounds or water ain’t wet, and he complained that the twelve-pound line I had was no match for what had engulfed that topwater redfin lure.

     It is usually the case that twelve-pound line will land about any hybrid, if you can just let him pull out line against the drag and pull your boat downstream, but where we were there were big rocks and a few logs in the current and you had to try to horse the fish out away from the obstacles.  It just doesn’t work with line that light in a current that strong.

       My fishing partner and I hooked better than twenty of those fish in a three-hour period.  I think we put only three more in the live-well.  Several just fought so hard we couldn’t keep hooks in ‘em, but I think five or six broke our line and took some good lures with them, red-fins, spooks and buzz-baits, maybe a total of 30 or 40 dollars worth of lures.  That was the first day of October as I recall, and those hybrids were up that river well into November. 

       But I fixed up a couple of reels with 20-pound line and never lost another lure.  But I guess I should confess that when I went after them again I fished three hours without getting a strike.  Water conditions weren’t right at that time, and though they were still there, they just weren’t hungry, or mad, or whatever it is that makes them attack like wolves. 

       But what you ought to hear about is that trip I will make in early October this year, when my stronger line and determination to get revenge is gonna be the demise of the ones who took my lures last fall!


       Outdoor note:  Anyone who hunts deer or elk or eats venison, needs to learn a great deal about the disease we call ‘chronic wasting disease’.  That term should be abandoned.   The disease is accurately called TSE, short for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy.
       Learn all you can about it. I suggest that you watch a film of an interview with one of a top biologist who has been studying the disease.  I watched it and what I learned really worries me.  It can be found on the computer at…https://youtu.be/E3s6p2UP57Q or  https://youtu.be/vHOUpczwcyA.  You need to see this folks!
       To contact me, write to Box 22 Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email… lightninridge47@gmail.com





The Birds of September







        Once years ago I was hunting with the publisher-owner of Gun Dog Magazine, who was from Iowa.  Back then there was no dove season in Iowa; we were  hunting a harvested grain field in Missouri and he had a friend along.  His friend sat at the edge of the field and killed five doves with his first five shots.  Then he commented, “I always heard doves were hard to hit, but heck, this is no challenge at all.”

         The fourth member of our group was a Corps of Engineer Ranger who had hunted doves since he was a boy. He could scarcely be heard from his hiding place a few yards away. But I smiled when I heard him mutter to himself… “He’ll regret saying that!”

         Sure enough, our newcomer from Iowa missed the next 7 shots. That’s a lot the way dove hunting is.  Sometimes they aren’t too hard to hit, and then you see a few winged acrobats and wish you’d have a bigger shot pattern.

         Many of the old timers I knew were river-men who hunted most everything… but not doves.  Some of that attitude came from believing that God had designated the dove as a bird of peace. When grizzled old veteran hunters and trappers felt that way it was usually because they had mothers and wives who recoiled against the idea of shooting a dove.  But usually they just didn’t have the guns to do it.
 
         In that time I remember many of them never bought a full box of shotgun shells. You might get 10 or 12 but never a full box.  It cost too much.  And there was common sense to it.  You didn’t go out there with a Winchester model-97 long-barreled pump shotgun with a full choke in it and shoot at doves.  There was no good reason to spend 2 or 3 shells on a bird that only provide one man about 1/5th of a meal, even if he had poke salad and beans and cornbread to go with it.  Dove hunters sort of sprang from quail hunting… men who used open-choked short-barreled shotguns and a little bit of money to buy shells with.  They could afford game vests and supporting a good setter or pointer, which required more food and upkeep than a beagle or a coonhound.

         But personally I am losing interest in dove hunting because on September 1 every year is hot and muggy and my hunting partner, Bolt the Labrador, don’t like getting out there in the weeds if there is no water close.  Now, hunting over water-holes in the evening is another story.  We don’t mind that so much, and we might do that a couple of weeks after everyone else has quit hunting them. 

         But I have seen a few dove fledglings in nests in early September.  If I were setting dove seasons in the southern reaches of the Midwest I would set the dove season’s opening date back to September 21.  It makes sense, fewer nestlings wasted, a cooler time when more doves are migrating down from the north.  If that makes sense to you, you might see when the season on doves ends and make a late season trip to a grain field or water hole.

         Before I go I just have to pass on a conversation I had with a lady who wasn’t all that fond of hunters.  She said that I ought to be ashamed of myself for hunting God’s bird of peace, the dove. I told her that I was indeed a little ashamed of that, but she had morning doves confused with the birds of peace discussed in the Bible.  They were different birds, I assured her, but not a lot different than the quail God provided for the Israeli’s in the desert. Those birds of peace were white and they didn’t get trichomoniasis.  She looked at me for a minute and then wanted to know what that big word meant. I told her about that, an awful mass which grows inside the throat of mourning doves and their fledglings, which cause them to die a slow death because they can’t swallow food.  She looked skeptical, so I told her about how some northern doves actually do not migrate and many freeze to death or have toes frozen off.
 
         I told her how our Great Creator allows doves to be caught and eaten by hawks and cats while they were still alive.   “You don’t have any cats do you?” I asked.  She didn’t answer.  Then I said, “You know ma’m, doves can’t feed on standing grain, they have to have grain on the ground to walk around and feed that way.  So I am going to buy a bunch of wheat and sunflower seed to feed them through the awful cold months of the winter, and if you would like to help them just give me a twenty dollar bill and I’ll use it for more seed.”  She looked at me and smiled a little and said, “You are a bit of a shyster aren’t you?”

         I told her that indeed I was, and she told me she was going to get on the computer and find out if all that stuff I said was the truth.  But when I asked if she’d like to try some baked doves with gravy, she kindly declined…. and frowned a bit at the thought of it.


OUTDOOR NOTES… Cool weather will send the blue-winged teal into the lower Midwest.  There is a special hunting season for them in September.  They are the earliest migrators of the waterfowl species, a harbinger of the true fall season.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

September 15 at the Melba




         I look forward to coming to Texas County in Mid-September to meet with folks from the surrounding area at the old Melba Theatre on Main Street in Houston. I am supposed to speak there at 6 p.m. to a group of people who wish to be published writers. I am not sure what they want to hear. Some of them might be much better writers than me.  But I will do my best to answer questions and act like I know what I am doing. 
 
         As most of you know, I grew up in Texas County and went to school in Houston, where I wrote my first newspaper columns at the age of eighteen for editor Lane Davis and the Houston Herald.  But I intend to get there early on that Saturday just to talk with folks about the outdoors and the conservation problems we face today in the Ozarks and find leaders who are fed up with what is happening and would like to see something done to change it.

         For that meeting, I will be there at 5 p.m. hoping that some folks from this Ozark region will show up to talk about making those changes.  The MDC has become, with the influx of so much money, an increasingly corrupt organization, and they do a heck of a job of keeping it hidden from the public.  We can change that, and start to protect many of the innocent Ozark hunters and fishermen who their target of some rogue agents.  But we have to get started, and I hope if you are concerned about what is happening you will show up on that Saturday afternoon to learn some things about the MDC, which will absolutely astound you. 

         Perhaps we can eventually change their mismanagement of our public lands, where making money from logging contracts seems to be the only goal, as wildlife becomes unimportant.  If you think you could be a leader in such a conservation movement, come and meet with me at 5 p.m. on September 15 at that old Melba Theatre.  I have a letter which everyone needs to see, sent to me by someone who has worked for many years in the MDC’s enforcement division. He outlines how the telecheck system helps the MDC to target those who use it to check deer and turkeys.  You need to see that letter if you intend to hunt this fall.  You will not believe what he reveals about how today’s agents are ignoring the laws which protect you and using that telecheck system to do it.


         Some readers have told me they have purchased books I wrote in past years and would like for me to sign and inscribe them, as my autograph makes them perhaps worth a nickel more.  But if you would like to show up early and aren’t interested in what little I know about writing, just come between 5 and 6 that evening and I will sign books for you.  I will also give you a free Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine and while you are there you can see the old photos and artifacts from the Texas County and Big Piney River past. One thing I think folks will find really fascinating is my collection of bluff-dweller artifacts from caves along the river, from the upper Big Piney to its mouth at the confluence of the Gasconade, and many of its tributaries.  When I was only 13 or 14, wandering the river in the footsteps of my grandfather, I found perhaps the only ivory artifact known to have been discovered in the Ozarks, and prehistoric axes, carved bones, bone tools, etc. Some of what I have is different than anything you’ve ever seen before.  And the old photos I am bringing taken a hundred years or more ago, with the antiques used by Ozarkians of that area in that time, might also interest you.

         Several years back I wrote a book of short stories called, ‘Dogs and Ducks and Hatrack Bucks’ which has 28 outdoor stories about boys, illustrated with great pen and pencil art.  The idea was to get boys whom teachers could not get interested in reading… to get interested in reading.  Anyone who has a youngster who likes the outdoors and hunting and fishing and nature and ghosts, can get one of those books for free if they want.  I have given away a bunch of them, dozens going to schools that have kids with reading difficulties.

         There is a certain amount of sadness in going back home to talk about the good old days. The Piney River is a poor example today of the wonderful free-flowing clean stream I remember.  Many of my classmates from the 50’s and 60’s have passed on and others have moved far away.  But I still have cousins around Houston, and a few people I remember with fondness from boyhood times. It will be quite a pleasure to meet with many of them and gather on a stage where I once saw Lash Larue and the Red Raider and Gene Autry in person, and longed to be like the cowboys in the old movies shown on that big silver screen behind it.

         I also hope that at 6:00 that evening I can be of some help to those of you who want to write and have your work published.
You can reach me by calling the Lightnin’ Ridge office, 417 777 5227
Or writing to me at Box22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.  The email address is lightninridge47@gmail.com


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Monday, August 13, 2018

Proposed Smallmouth Project



            I met with MDC director Sara Pauley for about 3 hours in the spring and I am afraid it was a waste of my time.  But some folks asked what we talked about.  I told her that I would publish a full page color story in my magazine, the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, which would describe something being done in the way of conservation which would create better hunting and fishing for common people. There has been no response.

           Then I asked her to join with me in tackling some conservation projects here in the Ozarks which would make a difference with much cost, since I know they have little money to spend on such projects.  (go ahead and laugh).  In this column I will discuss the ones she seemed very interested in at the time.

            One project is based on the idea that smallmouth bass are being overharvested in a five-mile stretch of river above Pomme De Terre Lake, in the Pomme de Terre River.  I know this section of river well, having first fished it back in 1990.  I found that sometime in February and early March, smallmouth populations swelled tremendously.  Where I might catch a half-dozen brownies in October, there were suddenly days in late February and early March when two of us would catch fifty or sixty in the same two or three miles of river.  These were BIG smallmouth.  At times we would hook and release perhaps 20 or 30 smallmouth between 2 and 3 pounds, and on the same day, 8 or 10 from 3 to 4 pounds.  I have seen such fishing in Canada often, but the best I ever experienced in the Ozarks was in that river section about 6 or 7 years ago when on the last   day of February, when spring seemed to come early, a friend and I caught more than 90 bass. Twelve were big largemouth but the rest were brownies.  As usual, I kept a couple of largemouth to eat, and released all smallmouth.

            About two years ago a group of Mennonite fishermen, a sect from another county, who owned boats and pick-ups, found out about the river fishing to be found there. They started coming there one or two days a week, and I never saw them ever release a bass.  They never fished past the sign telling where the lake water ends and the river begin, just on the section of flowing water below it, where 13 inch bass are legal year round. Two springs ago, there were 12 boats there one day and each boat had a wife and several small children.  The limit per boat therefore was anywhere from 18 to 30 bass--- and as I counted, there were twelve boats.  That day I am sure that somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 to 250 smallmouth were taken and kept, plus every white bass they could put in all those boats.
While I know they are good people and the fish mean a lot to them, they kept about everything whether it reached the length limit or not.  I have seen these same fishermen keep 10-inch smallmouth on the Niangua.

            I proposed to Mrs. Pauley that we work together and close the upper section of that lake where the water is flowing, to any smallmouth fishing at all, for two or maybe 3 years to see if it makes a difference.  I think it still may be possible to see smallmouth thrive there again.  The smallmouth in the flowing water below the lake boundary act differently than any brownies I have ever seen anywhere in the Ozarks, and if this project were undertaken I think it would give some of their young fish biologists a great deal of knowledge concerning this fish.

           I have a couple of friends who have floated Ozark rivers for more than 50 years, and one of them is a smallmouth float-fishing guide with more experience and knowledge about the fish and it’s habitat than anyone I know.  They both attended a meeting held by MDC biologists concerning rivers and smallmouth bass.  They both said the same thing… the biologists are too young, too much fixated on studies and books, not nearly enough experience on the river.  “If they are the future of the smallmouth in the Ozarks,” one said, “there ain’t no future!”

            I would give anything to see something sensible tried on that once-unbelievable smallmouth fishery which would be so simple, so easy and so productive.  What they could learn there might be invaluable. But I haven’t heard one single word from Director Pauley nor any MDC fisheries biologist yet.   

Please contact Mrs. Crystal Lyerle at 417-926-5148 and thank her for allowing this type of opinion to be heard. 

 You can read a whole lot more about this in future Lightnin’ Ridge Magazines.  Call or write me to get one.   Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email lightninridge47@gmail.com   You may call me at 417-777-5227.


Meeting with MDC Director in April





         I do not want to see the MDC abolished; I want the greed removed, and I want to see it become an agency of conservation and preservation which it started out to be, concerned about protecting our wild game and fish.  I also want innocent people who suffer from a few thugs in the ranks of conservation agents to have their stories told, and to find protection under the law they deserve. 

         I think that is a reasonable goal of anyone who loves the Ozarks outdoors.  To that end, in the middle of April I met with the director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, Mrs. Sara Pauley.  She came to my Panther Creek Retreat for Underprivileged Kids, for a much anticipated meeting where we would discuss some issues that involve the MDC and the people of the Ozarks. I got her there by promising that in my fall issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine, I would print any story she wished to have published there relating real conservation projects, which were to preserve or restore our public areas which her department manages, and directly benefit fish and wildlife, providing opportunities for common ordinary Ozark people.

         In turn I wanted her to meet with three Ozark citizens who witnessed and had first hand knowledge of MDC corruption in the areas where they live.  It is a meeting which filled me with hope.  Finally there was an opportunity perhaps to change some of what has been going on for years and years.  Finally, there was the hope that we might have a chance to shine a light of truth on all that has been going on in that powerful and wealthy state agency for years, which has been kept hidden.


         Here is a run-down on what happened that day…  First of all, I quickly found out that much of what I talked to her about, she had no knowledge of.  When I asked her why the Conservation Department is paying the property taxes, and has agreed to do so forever and ever, for some well-placed and wealthy individuals such as lawyers and judges, I am sure she has no idea that has been happening.  When I asked here what return we average citizens get from Johnny Morris and his Bass Pro Shops for the millions the MDC has given him, I could tell by the look on her face she knew nothing about any of that. 
 
         She also, I am sure, knew nothing about retiring Director John Hoskins giving a gift of 145,000 dollars of MDC money via check, to a friend of his a few years before as he left office.  Much of what I wanted to discuss was information Mrs. Pauley didn’t have.

         So we switched to the idea of some conservation projects which could be economical, and yet accomplish a great deal.  She asked if I would outline and give details on three just such conservation projects.  I worked for hours on those three proposals which Mrs. Pauley promised to attempt to have done. I printed all three in the summer issue of my magazine and a good number of readers wrote to say how much they supported them.  Mrs. Pauley never acknowledged them, never responded in any way.
         
  
         She was absolutely agreeable about setting up dates when I could bring three different people to her office to meet with her and tell her about illegal activity of agents or the witnessing of the destruction of areas given to them to protect.  She eagerly agreed.  One of those people wanted to tell her about an agent holding a gun on his wife and nine year old daughter while eight (yes eight) other agents went through her home looking for evidence to convict her husband on anything they could find.  At the end of the whole day, they found nothing, and no citations were issued.  But the trauma that little girl experienced will last forever… and all for nothing.

         None of the things we agreed to were acted upon.  Mrs. Pauley didn’t even extend the courtesy of telling me why she had decided to go back on her word.  But soon after that meeting, the MDC lawyer, Jennifer Frazier, sent an email saying that SHE would conduct her own investigation into my accusations, and wanted the names of the people I proposed to bring to Jefferson City.  Ms Frazier said they couldn’t come to see Mrs. Pauley and I had to stay out of her “investigation”.  Much more about her ‘investigation’ is yet to come, in my book, “The Secrets of the MDC” to be published within a year.

         If you have an experience with them which you want heard, perhaps used in that book, contact me by phone at 417-777-5227, or email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com. See the fall issue of Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal to read other articles which I often receive from sources inside the Missouri Department of Conservation.  A lot of good people inside that department are as concerned as anyone, and are begging me for help in making changes possible.
And please, please contact the publisher of this newspaper and thank her for letting the other side of the MDC be seen.   
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Conservation Column



         Every Ozarkian who enjoys the outdoors in the Ozarks needs to know some things about The Missouri Department of Conservation.  Much of what you should know has been kept from you, but let’s start with this…  All of us give that department tax money since we all voted in that 1/8-cent sales tax which was to be used as a way of improving and protecting public lands the MDC manages.  You should see much     of that land today! Most all of us felt that it would be a way of making hunting and fishing better and making our fish and wildlife more plentiful.

         Even if you do not ever buy a license of some sort, you give the Missouri Department of Conservation money through most of the things you purchase, food excluded.  If you buy a new car or pick-up for 30,000 dollars, then you give the MDC almost 40 dollars because of that tax.  When you realize the total purchases made by Missourians, you understand why that department operates; through funds we all give them, in amounts of more than 200 million a year.  As if that is not enough, they recently were given 1.8 million more dollars by the federal government for a hog-trapping project.

         Now let me make you aware that before that 1/8 sales tax passed, back in the 1950’’s and 60’s our conservation department was known as the “Missouri Conservation Commission”.  I knew many of their employees back then when I was just a boy, agents Bland Wilson, and Ron Roellig, educational specialists like A.R. Mottesheard, Jim Keefe, Mac Johnson, and Virgil Davis, a man who directed my life’s work when I was in high school.

         In a book to be published soon I will write about these men and others who were devoted to something called ‘conservation’, a word that means ‘wise use’ of natural resources. That old state agency, what they did on a very limited budget, and how they spent their money are worlds apart from the one we have today.

         The Missouri Department of Conservation DID NOT bring back the deer and the wild turkey.  The Missouri Conservation Commission DID.  The present day MDC brought back elk and river otters, and played a big part in the coming of CWD, and in future columns, I will delve into that.  When the deer and wild turkey were stocked and helped to gain a foothold…I WAS THERE.  I saw much of it happen in my youth.

         What I want to do with this column is make sure that at least some of the people in this state are not just fed what the MDC wants them to know.  The Missouri Department of Conservation is a cesspool of corruption right now and that is a statement I can back up easily. That is because I get much of my information from honest employees inside the department. Much of what I know about crooked agents in the department comes from information give to me by honest agents.  And there are many employees who feel just like I do about what is happening, but they can do nothing about it.

         I gain nothing by trying to expose what is going on, but I want simple common Missourians to know the truth… and I will make you a promise that nothing I write here is untrue.  I can back it all up with evidence, and the words of MDC employees and ex-employees who want their stories known.  So each week, right here, I will talk about that.  I am given that opportunity by the new publisher of this newspaper, who is a lady I respect for saying that two sides to this situation needs to be known.  And I want to hear from you whether you agree with what I write or not.  I publish an outdoor magazine where we try to get at the truth.  The MDC hates that and I offer constantly to print their disagreement with any thing in those pages.  But there is zero response.

          One of the other things I offer to do is meet any or many MDC agents, biologists, etc at any venue anywhere to debate what I have written about.  They won’t do it… won’t even discuss it.  In my meeting with Director Sara Pauley I brought this up, proposed to do it anytime.  She wouldn’t even answer that offer.  And so I make it here again.  If what I have written about CWD, about rogue agents, about the millions of our tax dollars they have given away to the wealthiest men in our state is all untrue, meet me some where and show the public those columns I write are all false.

         If you wish to call me, my office number is 417-777-5227.  Much of what I have uncovered concerning the MDC is in back issues of my magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Wild Hogs Are No Match for Helicopters




         I have heard a great deal from readers after the column last week concerning last week’s column about wild hogs.  There is a lot of outrage concerning the Conservation Department’s new regulations banning the hunting of feral hogs. As one reader told me, “I don’t want to hunt the things, I want to get rid of them. I will be darned if they are gonna tell me I have to let them be.”

         The idea that you shouldn’t be shooting feral hogs is silly, unless there is indeed a trapping program going on, and then it is best to let them be.  And if the Department had any common sense they would stop making stupid regulations like that, and send crews around to private landowners to teach them how to do their own trapping.  A friend of mine from Harrison Arkansas learned all that on his own and trapped hundreds of feral hogs in north Arkansas.  There is nothing complicated about it.

         I guess there is indeed a better way.  The MDC killed 43 wild hogs on Bass Pro Shop land  next to the Osage River, owned by Johnny Morris, from their helicopter over a couple of weeks not too far back. 

         MDC spokesman Rex Martensen told me over the phone that pilots would circle the land and MDC employees in the helicopter would shoot hogs they found from the helicopter.  He said Morris paid nothing, they just wanted to help him out!
 
         He wouldn’t give me an estimate as to the expense of the employee salaries over that time, nor how many hours it took, but local residents say they saw the helicopter for at least two weeks.  According to Martensen the cost of the helicopter use is about 200 dollars per hour!  Boy what an economical helicopter!  That means that if they spent ten days on the project for Bass Pro Shops, figure what that cost the taxpayers and license payers of Missouri.  It cost 400 per day just to fly it from Jefferson City to the Osage River and back each day… a cost of around 4,000 dollars.  Then if it was in the air just 6 more hours each day, the total cost goes to 160,000 dollars without even figuring the employee salaries (and all that rifle ammo)! Don’t expect to have that kind of free work done for just ordinary folks.  All that to eliminate 43 hogs on Mr. Morris’s private hunting area.

         If the MDC won’t do that for you and you want to get rid of hogs on your land, you won’t do it by hunting, no matter how good you are.
Even with dogs, you can’t get enough of them to eliminate a substantial population.  Now the MDC does not want you to put out corn for bait.  Without that you can’t trap enough of them to make a drop in the bucket.

         Hog trapping is simple but you have to ignore that new regulation about corn and use it as bait. Most landowners ignore it anyway. Learn how to do it yourself.  If you can build a pen, you can trap hogs.

         What makes it difficult is that tremendous reproductive potential of those hogs, and the fact that their sense of smell, and hearing is so great.  They have more intelligence than anything else in the woods, right up there with the smartest of dogs, and those people in the offices at Jefferson City.
  
      
         I have a stack of news releases from the Missouri Department of Conservation which gives among other things, the timber sales they are involved in on public land owned by you and I and the other citizens of the state.  If you think these areas are to be managed for the preservation of mature woodlands in a natural state for all of us to enjoy, for the propagation of wild game and wild birds, you might consider these timber sales figures that are taken from those releases that come from MDC Commission MONTHLY meetings…..  Multiply these figures by twelve!

      “ Recommendation to advertise and sell from state-owned wildlife management and conservation areas….1,147,379 board feet of lumber, 716,948 board feet of lumber, 3,312,753 board feet of lumber. 1,384,300 board feet of lumber,1,102,322 board feet of lumber, 1,453,200 board feet of lumber, 1,632,624 board feet of lumber….”.  Logging companies and the M.D.C. make lots of money from the trees all of us own.
         

         With these there are all sorts of land sales and purchases and trades too numerous to list in one column.  If you are thinking of someday protecting an acreage of beautiful natural Ozark land that means a lot to you, don’t think about donating it to the Department of Conservation.  The trees can be sold; your donated land can even be sold and traded to developers and individuals.
 
         If you have read this column in a newspaper, call them and thank them for not being afraid to print what is happening.  Of the fifty newspapers receiving this column, there are nearly 20 which will print nothing not approved by the MDC.  The above is all true, but it cannot be printed in any large newspaper and many smaller ones. You can read all about that in my fall issue of the Lightnin”Ridge Outdoor magazine. That is the power the MDC has.  And sadly, any work Johnny Morris wants done on his land will be taken care of by the MDC---at NO CHARGE. That has gone on for years… he has received MILLIONS from all of us over the years, via the MDC.

Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO. 65613 or email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com.  Past columns, and this one, can be read, unaltered at larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com  If you have stories about valid experiences with the Conservation Department, I will print them in my magazine and my upcoming book on what they are doing.  Just call me at 417 777 5227.
          


Thursday, July 19, 2018

What's happening to our turkey populations?

NOT LONG ago i wrote about a decline in wild turkey numbers that worries me and i said i think we need to reduce bag limits and seasons, and perhaps eliminate the special youth turkey season. If i were raising a son, or grandson, he wouldn't be going on MDC special youth hunts two weekends a year, he'd be huntng squirrels with me, setting trotlines, exploring caves, fishing in ponds and rivers, etc weekend after weekend. So don't tell me that ending the spring youth season would hurt father-son relations...

this photo sent to me by my old college roommate, Woody P. Snow shows why i think the turkey problem in continuing... two hens and four poults!!  there should be a dozen or more poults with the hens at this point in the summer. Worrisome--   if you actually know what is happening??         

thanks Jay, wonderful shot!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Those cuss-ed Hogs




         In the tape recording I did with my grandfather back in 1965 we talked a little about hogs in the woods before and after World War I.  But it wasn’t anything like what we have going on today with the feral pigs increasing in number throughout the Ozarks.  They were called free ranging pigs back then and were semi tame.  I think though that they played a big part in the near extinction of whitetail deer and wild turkey in the Ozarks, that and the depressed times when everyone was so hungry they killed every thing they could come across.

         In nature, diversity doesn’t work any better than it does among people. It is often disastrous.  Feral hogs are good examples.  Those hogs destroy a lot of turkey nests but the presence of the hogs is also disastrous in many other ways. They don’t follow the rules which nature imposes on native creatures.  Everything else is limited by one of the rules… biotic potential or reproductive  potential.  Rabbits and field mice are good examples of great reproductive potential.  Each species can put forth hundreds of young in a spring and summer season, but they are kept under control by so much predation and disease.  That’s what biotic potential is… the inclination of a species to survive well, to have a longer life with less worry about disease and predation.  Deer are good examples of high biotic potential and low reproductive potential.  So are bear and coyotes… fewer young, but a greater ability to survive.

         Feral hogs are a disaster because they have a tremendous reproductive potential, sometimes three litters born from one old sow in a year, up to a dozen or more choates at a time, and yet they survive so well, a tremendous biotic potential few mammals have.

        They have good hearing, good eyesight, and a tremendous sense of smell.  And an old sow is aggressive... she has the meanness in her to protect her young.  With young pigs she will tackle a couple of good-sized hounds, and a man if she feels he is a threat.  I know.  An old wild sow chased my Labrador and I back to my boat once in the fall, years ago.  When they are angry, they have a habit of snapping and chomping their jaws and teeth, like an old sow black bear does when her cubs are threatened.

         One of the stories my grandfather told was of the time in 1908 or 1909 when he was only 14 or 15 years old and had a great coonhound given to him at a younger age.  The dog and he spent a lot of nights hunting raccoons to eat and for the sale of the hides.  A landowner named Fen Marlowe killed his dog by giving him poisoned meat while he was out scattering it for coyotes.  Marlowe made the mistake of telling someone, and laughing about it, and the word got back to my grandfather, who owned one of those Stevens ‘Marksman’ .22 caliber rifles often ordered through the mail for about 2 dollars.  He learned what Marlowe’s ear-mark was for his free ranging hogs.  In that time, area settlers had their adult hogs marked in various ways with notches cut into the ears.  Grandpa told me that Marlowe was better off than most of the Big Piney farmers, and owned a lot of hogs with a very distinguishing ear- mark.  In the fall they would all get together and round up the free ranging hogs using hog-dogs, and mark the ears of young choates and kill the bigger marked hogs for butchering.  Those hams were smoked and cured and lasted families all winter.  But Marlowe had none that fall to butcher.  Grandpa had killed more than a dozen of them in the summer to revenge the death of his dog.  I remember him saying, as he sat in his hand-made rocking chair and ran his fingers through his thick white hair, “I lost my best dog ever through Fen Marlowe’s danged cuss-edness… but he paid a price.  He lost all his hogs because of my danged cuss-edness!”

         Sometime this year I am going to produce a CD with an hour or so of his stories for those who might want to hear them.  But I will have some more to say about the problem of feral hogs, which are more and more a plague upon the Ozarks, in next weeks column and an answer to reducing that plague if you have them on your land or land you hunt.

To speak to me, call my office at 417 777 5227 or email lightninridge47@gmail.com.  The post office address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.  To read past columns you may have missed, see my website, larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com

Monday, July 9, 2018

Promises Made



         When any state conservation agency anywhere starts setting up regulations that can’t be enforced and make no sense whatsoever, they begin to lose credibility with country people.  The rule the Missouri Department wants everyone to follow now is the elimination of feeders and mineral blocks, thinking they are doing something to keep the dreaded deer disease from spreading.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how they think they are going to make that work.  In the winter I will ignore that, as thousands of other landowners will, but if it actually made sense and would indeed change anything, I would be the first to advocate it.

         My Panther Creek Youth Retreat, with a total acreage which can be used numbering about 90 acres, has a number of natural salt licks and I have put in several small food plots, not so much for deer but for quail, rabbits, turkey and doves.  In the teeth of winter, I feed them all and will continue to do so. 

         I know that 90 acres very well and there isn’t anything close to an overpopulation of deer.  Still, the conservation department people tell everyone that deer in that county are heavily overpopulated.  I don’t have any neighbors that feel that way, but every suburban deer hunter from Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield will believe them.  And that is why the MDC gets away with so much corruption and mis-management, millions of people who know nothing about the outdoors believe anything that department tells them. And much of it comes from people who have no idea what they are talking about.  For example, a media specialist on television announcing that the spring turkey hatch was up one percent.  If that figure doesn’t bring a laugh or two, you are one of those millions.

         At the beginning of the year a young man called me who works for the MDC and asked me to kill a couple of deer off that land I own in St Clair County, though all the legal seasons were long past.  I could bait them, spotlight them… whatever.   I asked him why!

         He said they wanted to reduce overpopulation in that area, (which does not exist), and they also wanted to test more deer for CWD.  I started asking him questions.  First, he didn’t hunt deer, secondly he grew up in a St. Louis suburb and knew nothing about how you go about determining how many deer might exist in a 90 acre tract.  His biology degree came from a small college in Kansas City and his office was in Kansas City.  When I began to tell him about things you could look for to tell you how many deer you might have on a given farm or even a public area; which he was amazed to hear it.  He didn’t get out of the office much and was just doing what his superiors told him to do.
 
         One evening just before dark, I sat on my back porch at one of the cabins and watched a nice buck come to a feeder beside a natural mineral lick, and I looked at him through a camera lens. He was a beautiful creature, and he is still there. I was not about to cooperate with something so silly. 

         Not all that far away two agents went into a hunter’s home without a search warrant, pretending to be there on a friendly visit.  They then wrote him a citation and confiscated several deer mounts because they claimed the five acres he thought he owned was a fraction of an acre less… only 4.8 acres.  Since then, a number of people have come forward to tell me similar stories, and in the fall issue of my outdoor magazine I will print their stories, giving the MDC the opportunity to answer them.  They won’t.  I have given that opportunity to them before and they refuse.

         One story I will print concerns a conservation agent holding his pistol on a woman and nine year old girl, who was crying hysterically, to keep them from joining the husband as they investigated him.  You need to read that, and all the other stories about what is happening to innocent people who have something the agents wish to confiscate.


         My meeting with the director of the MDC, Mrs. Sara Pauley, in mid-April was a complete waste of my time.  It covered about three hours and everything Mrs. Pauley agreed to went out the window shortly afterward.  Since then I have heard nothing from her, and she may have gotten in trouble just for meeting with me. But as she sat there talking with me, I suddenly realized that most of what I was talking about went right over her head.  SHE HADN’T HEARD ABOUT ANY OF IT.  I don’t think she knew about the millions of dollars and free labor given to Bass Pro Shops, nor was she aware of the fact that a number of judges and lawyers were having their property taxes paid by the MDC.  She certainly had never heard about the quarter million dollar gift Judge Kelso had been given, to the agent who had the shed full of confiscated antlers he calls his ‘retirement fund’. 

         If Mrs. Pauley knew that the MDC had lost a million dollar lawsuit because several agents had broke into a home and barn without a search warrant, she didn’t act like it. She didn’t fully comprehend what was happening to thousands of acres of public land her agency ‘manages’ where wildlife habitat is being destroyed to make more acreage for tenant farmers, and contract logging is stripping the timber on dozens of areas we all own on a regular, rushed process to bring in large amounts of money which they waste. 

          I asked her to meet with only three innocent people who have been targeted by agents, and she agreed.  I was to bring them to her office.  She broke that agreement, as I was soon notified by the MDC lawyer that any such meeting would have to go through her.  Her name is Jennifer Frazier, and her job is to cover the MDC’s… uh…little mistakes!   What a joke that was.  

         At any rate, the three conservation project proposals I sent to Mrs. Pauley as to her request, have been ignored. They are solid proposals, easy to accomplish. On the other hand two biologists called to say that they wanted to show me what they experimenting with on some land near Truman Lake, because I had agreed to do a story about something positive the MDC is doing for wildlife.  I promised I would print a story on such a project when I talked with Mrs. Pauley.  And I will… I keep my word!  Mrs. Pauley ought to go by that old Ozark practice of doing what she says she will do.

         I figure she has some bosses who nixed all that.   I don’t know, and neither do you, who is actually pulling the strings at the MDC. But they are powerful because they completely control the news media in this state.  And this column cannot be printed in most newspapers! Only a few are left who will allow readers to see this.

         Keep up with what is going on in the outdoors by reading the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor magazine I publish, or seeing my website, larrydablemontoutdoors.  You may email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613. To talk with me in person, call my office phone… 417-777-5227.