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


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   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 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.   

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.