Friday, March 20, 2020

Register My Land?












 A doe and her yearling fawn died several days after being entrapped in an unattended MDC feral-hog trap
 
         I have to begin this week’s column by saying that we have had to cancel the outdoorsman’s swap meet to be held in Bolivar this coming Saturday because of the coronavirus panicdemic.  But I do intend to have it sometime later in the year, maybe May or June.

         I send this column to lots of newspapers and therefore get quite a few letters from readers.  Most of them a few months ago were about the feral hog problem.  Now I am getting letters from landowners who are really upset about new requirements the Missouri Department of Conservation has instigated, making necessary to register your land with them before you can get free landowner tags to hunt deer and turkey on your own land.  The news media is really avoiding discussing this, and there is much I have learned about it that I cannot write about because most newspapers can’t print it.  But sources I have out of the Jefferson City MDC offices, people who provided that page on how the department was using the telecheck system in questionable enforcement packages a couple of years ago, have weighed in on this.

         Here is what I was told… first of all; making rural people upset is of little worry to the MDC because city supporters and suburbanites are the people they are most concerned about.  That’s where the votes are, in case the 1/8 percent sales tax is ever in question.

         Secondly, years ago the MDC wanted to eliminate free landowner permits to anyone owning less than 80 acres.  The outcry was tremendous.  I spoke at landowner meetings around the state that year helping to organize opposition to it.  In Cuba, Houston, Nevada, Bolivar, Buffalo, Salem, Gainesville and other small towns, I spoke to crowds of 60 to 200 people about forming a Common Sense Coalition to try to do something about the way the MDC was beginning to change all the rules to increase revenue.  More than 300 people packed an auditorium in Mt. Grove to angrily state they wouldn’t put up with it.  In the face of that, the MDC backed down.  But not for long.  Plans were just delayed.

         My source says this…. The powers that be feel they need more deer and turkey tag revenue, so they are going to get to that 80 acres mark they wanted by stages.  In a couple of years they will require that landowners own 40 acres or more to get the free tags, then in 2024 or 2025 they will step it up to the 80-acre limit they wanted years ago.  He said that there is nothing anyone can do to keep this from happening, and through something he calls ‘political autonomy’ provided to the MDC when the 1/8 cent tax was passed decades ago, the Missouri Legislature cannot change what the MDC is doing. 

         If I understood him correctly, registering your land with the MDC makes it easier for enforcement personnel to enter your land, and though they cannot come into your home, they can be there to casually look into barns and sheds if your land is registered with them.  There is much gray area with what the registration involves that no landowners understand.

         Several letters I have received from hunters say that if they cannot get the free landowners permits because they refused to register their land, they will hunt without it, and never buy another permit of any kind.  I myself have never willingly broke any law, but I am NOT registering my land, and I WILL hunt wild turkey this spring on my own place as I have always done.  I think this is a poorly-thought-out idea they have come up with and I think it will someday be repealed if it does not provide more revenue, and continues to turn landowners and country people against the MDC.  Their feral hog policies have already turned a log of rural people against them.  Their traps set for hogs kill deer and other wildlife, and photos circulating that show suffering injured deer in those traps do them no good whatsoever.  And truthfully, they cannot much change the feral hog problem with what they are doing. It will thin the numbers, but they will come back, and they will never keep landowners from shooting hogs on their land when they can.
         I have a new website now where I can talk more about what is going on in the Department of Conservation, and if you would like to see some of those dying deer in hog traps, go to that website, larrydablemont.com  I will also print there many of the letters outdoor and country people cannot get printed in state newspapers.  Contact me at lightninridge47@gmail.com or call me at 417 777 5227.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

“The Truth About the Missouri Department of Conservation”

                                 
  “The Truth About the Missouri Department of 
                        Conservation”


       I think it is time to do this, too many people are saying, how do we fight back against the corruption of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the bullying of innocent people by some agents who lie, steal and plant evidence that allows them to come into homes and violate the law. Sometime this year I will publish this book, which will name some names and tell the blind supporters of the MDC what they do not know, and how the MDC keeps it hidden by controlling the state's media. I will make it available free of charge. But I need help. It will cost a lot of money to print i, and get a copy to each state legislator. MDC will tell everyone I am doing it to make money....but this will cost me thousands, and I am glad to pay it.  If you would like to help pay some of the printing cost to Corning Printing out of AR, you can make a donation for this purpose to:  LROJ Books-Corning Printing Account, Box 22, Bolivar, MO  65613. We will place it in a special account which I cannot draw from and every two dollars we get will print a book. I'll get no money for this effort. Every donation will make it possible to get the book into the hands of people who think the MDC is a wonderful agency. My book will hopefully change their minds. After it is published, we will re-form an organization of people who are fed up and want to fight back. We need a thousand members to start making a difference. Contact me to help get the book finished and circulated, and please spread this to your friends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Lyin’est Fish in the River!



         I love to fish for white bass this time of year, mostly because sooner or later I can catch them on topwater lures with ultra-lite gear. Now that is fishing! There’s a million places to find them, and that’s what pleases me the most, is finding a passel of white bass where no one else knows they are, and fishing all alone with the ambience of spring all around, and female white bass on the prowl. I like being alone because I don’t want somebody telling his buddies, “I saw that outdoor writer guy fishing way up the river and he was talking to the fish he caught.”
 
         Something like that doesn’t mean a fisherman is loopy. I often congratulate a white bass for putting up such a great fight.  You don’t want to talk to fish when there are people around. When I release a big 3- or 4-pound female full of eggs, I might tell her, “I will turn you loose, but you got to promise you won’t go down there below the shoal and tell other fish I am up here!!”  It isn’t that I think the fish will comply with my request.  A female white bass is one of the lyingest fish there ever was!  You can’t explain to another fisherman that you aren’t really expecting her to not spill the beans on you.  They’ll think you are nuttier than a pecan pie.  But white bass are a lot like people… they love to eat during the spawning season and won’t listen to any warnings.  So even if you release a few, the fishing remains good.
         The best time to really fill up the boat with white bass is in the last hour or so before sunset, when tree frogs are singing and you can smell the river.  If you don’t know that smell and can’t hear those tree frogs right now you have not spent enough time outdoors in March and April.  Have you ever found that spot all by yourself where big fat female white bass with blue fins, just dripping eggs, are crowding a pool below a shoal and engulfing topwater lures.  At times like that 2 or 3 other whites may follow each one you catch all the way to your boat?  Have you ever hung two white bass on one lure?  Have you ever been convinced that a white bass in a current was a six-pound fish?  If so it is alright to brag.  That’s light tackle fishing at it’s best.  But it is even better if you go to hard-to-find places and find the whites where no one else knows where they are.
         The way water conditions change from spring to spring you don’t know if white bass fishing at its best will be found at the same time and the same places as you found it last year or the year before, but I have found that verse in the Bible can be applied to fishing… seek and you shall find!
On occasion I find hybrids in amongst the white bass.  Hybrids are made with the roe of a striped bass male and the eggs of a female white bass, put together in hatcheries and released by fisheries biologist.  When you aren’t suspecting to find them, that 6-pound fish you think you have tied into might actually be one.  When you start hooking hybrids, which may weigh up to 10 or 12 pounds, light tackle just isn’t enough.  Tie on a lure you don’t mind losing.
         When the suburban outdoor writers write about white bass, you get the stuff you can find on the internet… what you have read about them a thousand times.  And not many of them will tell you a white bass is great eating.  But they certainly are… if you filet them properly and remove all the red meat completely and totally.  I’ll guarantee you I can fry them so that that most people will think they are eating crappie fillets.  I now have a new website (larrydablemont.com) which I use to print columns newspapers are not willing to print.  And I will put step-by-step photos on it showing how to remove all the red meat.


Our Outdoorsman’s Swap Meet on March 21 in Bolivar, MO is going to be a big one… details of that is also on my new website.  If you want to sell a few items or a bunch of items, just bring a table and show up before 7 a.m. that Saturday morning.  It is all free to vendors, no admission charged.  I hope to meet lots of my readers there. Contact me via email… lightninridge47@gmail.com or call my office… 417 777 5227, if you need information.


Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Truth About the Missouri Department of Conservation


         I think it is time to do this. Too many people are saying, “How do we fight back against the corruption of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the bullying of innocent people by agents who lie, steal and plant evidence the allows them to come into homes and violate the law.” Sometime this year I will publish this book, which will name some names and tell the blind supporters of the MDC what they do not know, and how the MDC keeps it hidden by controlling the state’s media. I will make it available free of charge. But I need help.
         It will cost a lot of money to print and get a copy to each state legislator. MDC will tell everyone I am doing it to make money…but this will cost me thousands, and I am glad to pay it. If you want to help, you can mail a donation for this purpose to: LROJ
Corning Printing Acct., Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613. We will place all donations in a special account, which I cannot draw from. Every $2 we get will print a book.  I’ll get no money for this effort. Every donation will make it possible to get the book into the hands of people who think the MDC is a wonderful agency. My book will change their minds. After it is published, we will re-form an organization of people who are fed up and want to fight back. We need a thousand people in this organization to start making a difference.
         Contact me to help get the book finished and circulated, and please spread this to your friends.  Larry Dablemont

Monday, March 2, 2020

A Swap Meet Like No Other



       If you are reading this column, you may not know who I am but I have been an outdoor writer for a long, long time and there are many newspapers using this weekly column of mine, often as many as 40 or 50. I write outdoor books and I publish a magazine known as the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal. In early days I wrote hundreds of articles for outdoor magazines, including Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Sports Afield and many others.

       My first article for Outdoor Life, entitled “Old Paint… the Story of a Wooden Johnboat” was published in 1972… and I wrote it when I was 19. It won an award as the best national outdoor magazine article of that year, and was published in the book, “Best Sport Stories of 1972”! I have a B.S. degree from the University of Missouri in wildlife management and after college I was the outdoor editor for Arkansas’ largest newspaper for many years.  But I seldom met the people who read what I wrote.

        Years ago I wanted to do something which would especially allow me to meet with some of the people who read this column, so we started a once-a-year, free swap meet at a church gymnasium in Brighton, Mo.  It got bigger and bigger, to a point where we couldn’t hardly fit everyone in the gym, so this year we have doubled the size of the space available, and will have it at a place known as the Complex in Bolivar, Mo.  
       
       The Complex is big… two basketball courts placed end to end where I imagine we could accommodate 75 to 80 vendors and perhaps 2000 people.  So if you have outdoor gear of any kind or anything else to sell, you need to contact me so I can set up a place for you. If you don’t sell it at our swap meet, you may never sell it.

       It will be held on March 21, the third Saturday in March.  The Complex is on a road long known as Mt. Gilead road, the one that goes to the Golf Course. That road is also known as East 455 and it begins almost directly across from the local Wal-Mart store at the south end of Bolivar.  I want to have folks come from all over the Midwest to spend most of the day with us.  As I said, our swap meet is free… free to anyone who wants to come and find some great buys, and free to someone who wants to pick out a space to set up and sell about anything.  In this day and time, not many things are free.  Of course it would be impossible to list all the things you will find there for sale.  Antiques are always plentiful, I saw a 90-year old lure sell for 3 dollars once that was likely worth 20 times that much. There will also be lots of hunting guns, many of them antiques as well. The one thing we always have enormous numbers of is fishing lures, rods and reels, tackle boxes, etc. There will be several tables with items for ladies, like jewelry, glassware, etc. Even a 110-piece set of china will be on sale! 

       One booth will have wildlife art, another will have wooden gifts of all kinds, and taxidermists will have mounts for sale, big bass, deer heads, etc.  This year we will also have a 19-foot Grumman square stern canoe, which I will let go to the highest bidder.

       A friend of mine from Colorado will bring some deer antler and elk antler chandeliers that are beautiful.  You can also get one of my turkey calls made from western cedar that I make myself and at the last few swap meets I sold for ten dollars apiece. This year I will give those little calls away free, to whomever wants one, as long as they last. Several big, old gobblers have told me they are the best calls ever made. 

       I will also have all ten of my books there, including the new one, and will be giving away some back issues of my magazines that you might enjoy reading. 

       I have flyers printed up and would like to have help getting them spread around… need some volunteers who might help with that. I can send them to you in the mail. Our swap meet will start in the morning at eight and continue until one o’clock and there is a big separate concession area almost like a cafĂ© with tables for coffee and breakfast early and then dinner at noon---sandwiches and pizza by 11 a.m.     
   
       Remember this is an INDOOR swap meet and it is free for vendors and visitors alike. Bring some friends and join us.  And if you only have a few things to sell; bring them… perhaps an old shotgun that needs a stock repaired, or an old tackle box with lures that you’ll not use anymore, or an old tent or Coleman stove, or maybe a boat or canoe…. Whatever!  We will set it up for you next to my table and help you sell it.  Contact my office to get a map or reserve space, phone 417 777 5227, or email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com.  Sure hope I get to meet many of you then.

Emergence of the March 1 Species


 
Sam Yarnall
         I have written a lot about trout fishing over the years, some of it I have done on a limited basis in the west, lots of it I have enjoyed in the White River of Arkansas where you can catch big post-spawn brown trout now.   And I have written about trout fishing in Lake Taneycomo when I was just a kid going to School of the Ozarks College, which sits on a bluff above it.

         But the opening day of trout season over the years, when thousands mass together on March 1 to stand shoulder to shoulder with a fishing permit pinned to their hat, waiting for a whistle to tell them when to start fishing… that does not appeal to me in the least.  Not that I don’t approve, I do.  I am happy to see such a social event for that sub-species of fishermen.  But you couldn’t catch me doing that for anything in the world…

         I suppose I ought to give a reason.  Well, several years ago fishing all by myself up a tributary to Truman Lake, I caught a seven-pound walleye on March first and there wasn’t anything within ten miles but me and the river and its creatures.   Only a few years back, a friend and I fished a river on March 1 and caught and released 86 smallmouth bass, a third of which were between 2 and 3 pounds, and a couple of them almost 4 pounds.  There were 8 largemouth caught that same day, 2 walleye, and so many little 12-inch male white bass we began to make inflammatory aspersions against their species.  I have the photos to back that up, and my fishing partner that day, not being an outdoor writer himself, is honest, truthful, and a witness to the event.  Then there was that March trip when I was floating a river and got into some spring spawning run hybrids.  I hooked a dozen of those half white bass-half stripers that day that would have weighed between 5 and 10 pounds.  That day, I landed only three of them and four swam off with my lures and several feet of broken line.  A good species of hybrid angler uses better gear than I had that day.  So there are some good reasons.  I know where fishing is even better on March 1st.

         There are many species of fishermen, and trout park fishermen are one of those species.  Dyed in the wool paddlefish-grabbers are another, and I guess those who set trotlines for catfish are another. Tournament bass fishermen are a separate species, affected by genetic mutations, like those creating two- headed frogs.  But it does puzzle me why anyone would want to fish in a crowd for fish that, on the average, are about 12-or 13-inches in length.  I have met a lot of those fishermen and over the years, guided many of them on river fishing trips here and there at times, well after the opening of trout fishing parks.  They seem normal! 

         One old friend, Sam Yarnall, of Houston Mo, loves to fish at Montauk.  In all other ways he seems to be a regular river rat, having spent so many hours on the Big Piney River where I was raised, you would never suspect him of ever fishing with other fishermen at each elbow, strung so far each direction it looked like a line going to a Trump rally.  Sam has always been a great fisherman, and a fishing guide since he was a kid.  He could do any kind of fishing he wants to do and do it well.  Therefore he fits into a really rare and unusual species of angler himself.  But on March 1, you can bet you will find him at Montauk.  I don’t know how many big trout they will turn loose there on opening day, but I’ll bet he’ll get one of them.

         The reason I like the species of fishermen you find on March 1 at a trout park is because there won’t be any of them where I am going to be this week.  What they keep on opening day, as a rule is too small for me to eat.  And trout raised on that fish food they feed them in the concrete pens in the days before they are freed for a short life in a shallow creek makes them taste strange when you have eaten brook trout in the Rocky Mountains.  I’ll eat a walleye or two this week if I can catch one.


         I have received letters from angry landowners recently who have been able to hunt their land for deer and turkey on landowner tags for many years.  They are upset because the Missouri Department of Conservation wants all of us to register our land with them now before we can get those landowner tags.  The MDC has pulled some dumb stunt in recent years, but I think this move tops them all.  In next week’s column, I may use some of those letters, and tell you why my source inside the department of conservation believes this is being done, and why no landowner should do it.  You do not want to register your land with the MDC until you read what I have learned!


         I still have plenty of room for more tables at our big outdoorsman’s free swap meet on March 21, and I am publishing the spring issue of my magazine next week… The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal… a 96 page color outdoor magazine.  If you want a copy, it should be on the newsstands this spring distributed by a new company for us out of Atlanta Georgia. I hope it works. If you want to get an earlier copy in the mail, call our office, 417 777 5227.  Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, or email lightninridge47@gmail.com

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Secret Place in the Woods


       As much as I love to hunt and fish, I was born a naturalist first and foremost, and I have made much of my living actually working as a paid naturalist for two state park systems, for the National Park Service and for a natural heritage commission.  I continue that even now.

Several times a year I take groups of 10 to 15 people to that secret place that is quiet and serene, and wild and beautiful. There are no roads into it; I get there via boat. In fact I am going there this week. I will head up into familiar hills, which make up the watershed of Truman Lake, about 120 thousand acres of undeveloped public land.

       In the woodlands, where giant oaks and hickories are as big as any I have ever seen anywhere, there are still rubs made by buck deer not long ago. I found some big shed antlers there last year, a twelve-point headdress for a buck that survived the deer season. Not far away are the remains of a rock foundation only about 10 by 15 feet, where an old cabin once stood, built more than 120 years ago.  There is the remains of an iron bedstead there, nearly rusted away, and nothing more. Folks lived here for many years. I found a 1922 license plate there once.

       But a huge cedar growing out of the middle of it has to be 80 years old, so the cabin has been gone at least that long.  I wonder what the people were like who lived there a hundred years ago and much farther back. Wouldn’t it be something to go back in time and meet them? I imagine the six piles of rock on a small flat area above the creek are graves of some of them.

       Last year I sat down against a big chinquapin oak and marveled at the frenetic chatter of more than a thousand robins in an acre or so of woods along the creek. In sitting, I noticed that woodrats had an advanced nest around a nearby tree with a root system favoring a tunnel beneath it.  It is quite an arrangement of sticks.  These woods are filled with dens of one type or another, beneath rocks and crevices, under the roots of huge fallen giants, in the boles of standing, but rugged, den trees. There is such a variety of wild creatures here it is amazing.  The tracks along the creek tell me that.  A couple of years ago I photographed the tracks of a wandering mountain lion not far from the place where start.


This is my secret place, this large acreage of land set aside on Truman Lake.  For once they made a lake right, preserving so much.  Never ever, anywhere else have I seen individual species of white and chinquapin oak, cedar, Osage orange, hickory, black cherry and other species anywhere as large as I have found here.  It is typical of the northern Ozarks, with a winding small creek, stretches of cedar glade and open, mature forest. There, I can lose myself, and wonder if God isn’t behind me somewhere, smiling because I have returned to marvel in the greatness of His unspoiled creation. There is no greater place to talk to God.


      Last year in the early morning of a March, a group I had brought there got to see hundreds of frost flowers, growing from the base of stems of composite plants.  They are unique, white, fragile ice formations that form in the night as the dead plant somehow emits a water vapor, which freezes and creates hundreds of pieces of sculptured art.

       In the lateness of the day last year, as small flakes of snow began to fall and robins flew up in great flocks, I gained my feet and continued on, slowly, watching for whatever I may not have seen on other trips to this forest. I found a huge cedar with the hole beneath it, making it appear to be a miniature version of those California redwoods where roads pass through and beneath them.  Not much farther along the game trail I follow, there was an oak tree with a huge hardened mushroom growing up along its base nearly three feet off the ground.  It looked a great deal like some bird-bath which nature had fashioned. In all my life I have never seen any of those shelf-mushrooms that large. 

        My secret place will be blooming again soon with scattered wild plum and redbuds, and the skies will be bright blue.  New life is only a few weeks away.  Baby squirrels are being born right now in the many den trees. Red-tailed hawks and great horned owls are mating. It is the beginning of mating season for many furbearers too, and it is hard to realize that, in the bleakness of February.  But no matter when I come I have a feeling of peace I find nowhere else.  It is easy to forget that there is a conflict or problem of any kind anywhere on earth. 

       You can go with me sometime this if you would like.  In March, I will take ten to fifteen people at a time into this secret place of mine on a big pontoon boat, and we will make a day of it, hiking woodland which has no beaten path.  At noon we have a fish fry for lunch, fresh fish I have caught only days before with beans and potato salad, coffee and brownies. After dinner and a rest, we take another short hike along a creek then head in at sunset.  If you want to go along, contact me and I will send you the details.  Then in April, I will take another group to my secret places via boat and teach them to find mushrooms and shed deer antlers.  In October I will take groups to see a different world that fall colors create.