Thursday, April 19, 2018

Response to A Newspaper Editor Concerning My Criticism of MDC

         For the fourth year now, our Panther Creek Youth Ranch is ready to provide a free outdoor environment for underprivileged kids. This is a fifty-acre retreat on a beautiful little creek with a lodge and two cabins, kayaks, canoes, a sports field, a trap range, trails and a rec room.  Smaller churches that do not have the money to take kids to expensive summer camps may use ours for no charge, for a weekend or a week.  I write about it because the only publicity it has ever had has been through this column. I need readers to help spread the word. No television or large newspaper in the Ozarks has ever mentioned it, and I don’t understand why.  Lots of kids have come there, but it needs to be used much more.  We have accommodated 30 kids before, who swam and hiked and fished and enjoyed an abundance of wildlife.  Help me spread the word to churches or organizations that work with kids who seldom see the greatest of God’s creation in the outdoors. And while we have accomplished a great deal there, our old tractor has gone under, and we need to buy a small, older model tractor to pull a disc and a mower.  It has to fit into our budget, so we need one that is economical.  It doesn’t have to be very big.  If you have one for sale, the phone number is at the end of this column.

         Recently the editor of one of the newspapers using this outdoor column said that several of his readers have said they do not like this column because I criticize the Missouri Department of Conservation too much.  So I asked readers to let me know if it offends them when I truthfully state what is going on inside that agency, and with agents abusing their power.  I now have more than 100 letters and emails from readers of about 40 of those newspapers, and more keep coming in.  Only one of those dozens of letters is critical of the columns I write about the MDC.
         He says….”one thing that bothers me about your blog and articles is the constant criticism of the department.  I have been a volunteer and the Springfield Nature Center for over 26 years and now volunteer at the WOW museum also.  During this time I have gotten to know many, many Conservation Department people and have found them to be nothing but concerned and professional.  On various hunting and fishing trips I have had contact with enforcement people and never found them to be anything but friendly and helpful.  I feel like your constant harping on the Department has really diminished the conservation message of your writings.  Luther Smith.

I only wish I could show Mr. Smith what is being done on wildlife management areas, I wish I could take him to talk with hundreds of innocent people targeted by agents, and I wish he could see the corruption I have documented with hours of investigation and interviews with biologists and employees of the MDC, one of whom told me…”If things continue like this, you might as well rename this agency and take the word ‘conservation’ out of it.”

I have never lied about anything concerning the MDC… not ever, not once.  I have told them many times that I would meet with them in a public debate, allow them to print their objections in my magazines, or interview any agent who felt I had described his actions.  There has never been even one response to those offers.

When I spend the day Friday with the Director of the MDC, Sara Pauley we aren’t going to just talk, I am going to take her to see the destruction of what they call ‘wildlife management areas’, through tenant farming and logging.   I am going to repeat those offers to her.   Let me meet with MDC people in public debates, answer the charges I and others have made against them in my magazine, and investigate the worst of them. And I will print her response in this column.

         Mr. Smith is a partner with the MDC and his eyes are open to any good thing he sees and closed to what is happening that isn’t so good.  He will never ever see or accept what I am writing about.

And I wish he could know the truth.   The book I hope to finish soon will document much that he couldn’t possibly accept, and he and those like him will never read it.  The large-scale news media in our state will never let the truth be told through them.

While some editors do not want these columns to appear in their newspapers, the majority of them do want them and they have let me know. As a result of my columns, over several years, the department has reversed charges against folks who were falsely accused.  And  more than two hundred acres of big beautiful timber near Lake of the Ozarks, given to the MDC by an old man who was dying, was to be secretly sold to a real estate company after his death.  I wrote about it, and due to the uproar it created, and resulting threats of lawsuits, they canceled the sale.

         An article I wrote about a lady who had an eight-year-old pet raccoon in southern Missouri was carried all over the world after I wrote about how two agents forced their way into her home by threatening to arrest her, and took her pet raccoon out and shot it.
         I wrote about the MDC giving 235,000 dollars to a judge who let department officials hunt on his private waterfowl marsh.  Today his family also has their property taxes paid by the MDC.   The words ‘in perpituity’ is in that agreement.  That means taxpayers in Missouri will pay that family’s taxes forever. Should I have kept quiet about that?  Maybe I should never have written about finding out, through MDC employees who ask that I do not use their name, that deer heads confiscated by agents are not destroyed, as they want you to believe.  My book will detail how many have been sold by MDC employees for large amounts of money, and how many of those heads confiscated now adorn the walls of MDC agents themselves, and their friends.  I could go on and on.  I haven’t written about much of the worst of it. Maybe that should be kept under wraps too.

         One of those Springfield area enforcement people that Mr. Smith thinks is concerned and professional was reported by other agents as having spent many of his work hours at the home of the wife of one of his best friends, with his state vehicle hidden behind her bar. She decided to divorce her husband to marry that MDC agent.  He declined because he too was married and had children.  If that affair was on his own time it would have been his business, and no one elses On paid MDC time it was the business of all Missourians who pay his salary.

          Although the MDC officials in Jefferson city was told about all this by the woman’s husband, they kept quiet and that agent was promoted, still working today, perhaps visiting more women on state time in his state vehicle
         Oh, I know… some readers stick their head in the sand and will believe none of it.  Many of them think the MDC is still stocking deer and turkeys, a great project that ended decades ago. Most of those biologists who did that work are dead now.  When someone starts citing those decades-old accomplishments and attributing that to today’s MDC employees, I wonder how anyone could be that stupid.

         I will say again, I have a biology degree and when I was young I wrote dozens of columns about the great things being done by an MDC of another age.  Back then they gave me conservation awards for what I wrote.  I want to see the truth come out, because the media is not going to let it happen.

         I will see to it many, maybe all, of those reader letters are read too.  We will set up a website soon where they will all be printed, from all sides.  And many will be used in the Lightnin’ Ridge magazine’s summer issue.

         To let your feelings be heard, pro or con, write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at  My office phone is 417 777 5227.

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