Monday, April 30, 2018

Was that Really April? plus MDC update about Jeremy Henshaw

         Quite a few readers have commented on this ‘spring that isn’t spring’.  I can’t come up with answers as to why the mushrooms have been so scarce but I can’t say that it is over yet.  After the storms to come this week, there may be a few to be found in May.  In north Missouri and southern Iowa, morels are usually found in May, and in Northwest Ontario, I have found them in June.  There are factors that make morels come out, and all those things have to come together when the soil temperature is perfect, and this year, soil temperature hasn’t ever been quite right when other things were.
         The biggest disappointment has been the wild gobblers.  Even now, as May comes on, they are gobbling on the roost and doing very little when they hit the ground.  For a fact, there are fewer 2 and 3 year-old gobblers than I have seen in a good while… a product of some really wet springs which kill off large numbers of poults. Even an expert caller like me, who once called a gobbler through a forest fire a half mile away, can’t enjoy turkey hunting much when a tom doesn’t want to gobble.  I am not going to become one of those field edge hunters who put out decoys and hunt out of store-bought blind.   I want to hunt gobblers the old-fashioned way, hiding behind a brushpile in the deep woods calling in a lovesick tom that gobbles 25 times and comes in slow as cold molasses.  And this year, they seem to be hesitant to answer the most perfect calls I can muster.  It might be a good time to sit out in a field disguised as a steer!

         If you got to see the column I wrote about Jeremy Hanshaw, which many newspapers would not print, I have much more to reveal about all this that the MDC does not want you to know.  Jeremy was the victim of Conservation Department agents who wanted, and took, without a search warrant, eight of his and his wife’s deer heads because they said the land they own and hunted on with landowner tags is two-tenths of an acre less than the five acres they thought they had, I have been assured by the enforcement chief and the director of the MDC they would talk with Jeremy in person.
         His story will be in our summer issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge magazine in detail, and you will not believe what has happened.  Apparently the judge was about to be lenient with the young man, so somehow a new judge was called in by the agents and prosecutor to tell the court that allowing Jeremy and his wife to keep the deer heads would be ‘like allowing someone to keep an illegal sawed-off shotgun’.  Apparently the two agents were even at odds over whether all the heads should be taken. It may take awhile to get to the bottom of this, but I am going to show, before it is all over, that these confiscations of legally taken deer heads have been done all over the state, and they are then sold or given away. I have the proof of that.

         Director Sara Pauley has met with me and promised to work with me on some conservation projects.  But it will take awhile, I suppose, as this week she emailed me to say she is hunting turkeys.  Please read on my website… much more about Jeremy Hanshaw and what is happening to him.  It can happen to you, as it has happened to many, many others.

I am hoping that many of the hunter’s and fishermen out there will contact me about the things agents and biologists, and the forestry division of the MDC has done which can be proven.  The book I hope to publish this year about them, will use many reader letters which the news media of the state will never allow to be known. Meanwhile here is a letter I received from a young college student this week... one of more than 200 received recently.  I hope in time to publish them all.

Dear Mr. Dablemont
     I am a student at ____________where I am majoring in wildlife management. My home is in Reynolds County, south of Ellington, Missouri. I have enjoyed your articles in the newspaper since early in high school. My dad, grandmother and I look forward to what you have to say every week. My friend and relative,______ knows you well and he tells stories about you occasionally when I see him. Those stories, and others I have been told from my dad, grandpa, and local old-timers, have always made me curious about natural history in the Ozarks and elsewhere. They also make me regret that I will probably never enjoy the same opportunities all of you had back then. I regret that the disdain for the environment has degraded our resources from an already fragile state to the point of complete loss of some species, and near loss of many others. It worries me that, as you mentioned in your last article, the rivers and creeks are filling in with gravel and sediment because of careless forestry practice. It bothers me when I see a stream bank eroding away because the trees have been cut or have fallen without being replaced, and cattle wading in the stream contaminating every water source downstream in the watershed.
     Concerning the Conservation Department, I am as disappointed as you in their priorities. I question many of their methods, specifically regarding their treatment of timber. I have witnessed the destruction of vast open timber. The woods I grew up in that border my family's property have been reduced to a wasteland. This is public land the MDC owns and manages. As one of our neighbors described it, "they went in and cut everything but ridin' switches". In the place of timber now resides a dense thicket of briers and brush that is nearly inaccessible. I watched from the front porch of my grandma's house as the log trucks left with all the logs they could carry, and returned for more until there was nothing remaining. In a span of a few years I went from wanting to work for MDC to despising the thought of it. The policy of the department toward forests seems to have been to exploit rather than to preserve. They claim to want rid of feral hogs in Missouri, yet create a safe haven for them with every clear cut they make. I hope to see the day where forests on public lands are preserved and maintained, rather than razed until valuable and then harvested with no concern for the many parts of the ecosystem that depend on them-- both living and nonliving. 
     As for your writing, if you can be persuaded to continue I would appreciate it very much. And I wouldn't hope for your subject to change to appease anyone who cannot relate to it. Instead, it should inform everyone of what once was, what caused its demise, and what can be done to restore it. Thank you for your years of concern and dedication to informing the public.  You may use this letter but please do not use my name as I hope to work someday in the field of conservation and wildlife, and I am afraid they would see to it I have difficulty getting a job in this state if the MDC finds out my name.

Ask yourself why this young man’s letter cannot be published in a large percentage of this state’s newspapers.

         To write to me or call our publishing office…. 417 777 5227, Box 22 Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email

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