Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Road-Runners, BBC, and the Buffalo River


       I keep track of all the birds I have seen on this wilderness ridge where I live and there is a huge list after living here more than 30 years. Several are very rare.  The  rarest of all showed up about 15 years ago this month… a bird never known to the Ozarks a hundred years ago.  It was a female roadrunner, crossing my garden and then the gravel driveway, moving along to never be seen again.  

       Every time I get a call from someone insisting he saw a hen pheasant in the Ozarks, I know what they actually witnessed... Wiley coyote’s nemesis! I thought for a while that the one on my place, 40 miles north of Springfield was the northernmost range of these desert immigrants, but I have learned that there  have been a couple sighted 20 miles north of here.  On the north side of upper Bull Shoals, along a gravel road leading to the Big Creek Resort, I have seen an abundance of road-runners in the summer and fall.  What in the heck do they find to eat in the winter?  Look up those birds on the Internet or in books.  Unbelievable creatures.


I hate television… but I watch old westerns by taping them so I can run through the commercials without seeing or hearing them.  What I like to watch at night more than the old westerns is the British Broadcasting Corporation’s films of nature all over the world.  It is spectacular filming of life everywhere and people aren’t... the oceans, deserts, high mountains, jungles, etc.  It gives me hope, and shows me forms of life I never dreamed of.  It gives me knowledge of the greatness of God’s creation where it still is not damaged or destroyed.

       On those BBC programs I have seen hundreds of fish, and beautiful birds that I never would have dreamed existed.  Last night I saw something I would have laughed at, had someone told me about it; a camouflaged horned viper in the a desert of India that had a  duplicate of a pink spider on the end of its tail to attract birds or mice or whatever.  That was one of the most evil looking creatures I have ever seen.  

      Then there were big blue-faced, snub-nosed monkeys in the Himalayan Mountains that lived in the snow. They were as big as most humans. And I have seen birds on that regular program that are so beautiful and strange it amazes me.  I can’t believe the millions of creatures that exist on this earth that are spectacular examples of a Creator none of us can understand.  Without BBC we would never know of them.

                               *.     *.     *.     *.     *.

Well...There is a big mess going on the upper Buffalo National River where a month ago 1500 very mad Arkansawyers gathered in Jasper to protest a big idea being floated by the Walton brothers who now control Walmart, and Johnny Morris who owns Bass Pro Shops, and  are in cooperation of course, with the National Park Service.  The Waltons and Morris want to create what they are calling a “Park Preserve” on the Buffalo, attempting to add land to National Park Service boundaries along the river.  Morris has never acquired any land that I know of which benefits the public more than it benefits him. I sent him a letter asking him to tell me where he has done that for free public access and it is as yet unanswered. 

       He has bought up land adjacent  to the MDC-owned Peck Ranch, and state employees worked on that land, paid by our tax dollars to make it desirable for the elk that the Conservation Department brought in.  Each fall the MDC makes nearly one hundred thousand dollars out of selling five elk tags.  One of those five tags has gone to Morris in the past, to sell or give to friends.  Now he wants to add land on the upper Buffalo, which is home to a good-sized herd of transplanted elk.  Folks down there are seeing eminent domain being used by the National Park Service to take their private land.  But if I were Morris and the Waltons I would back off their big idea on the Buffalo River.  I have talked to some of those folks and they are MAD, MAD, MAD.  Those backers of the plan didn’t show up at the meeting, and that was a wise move.  I will write more about this when I can get more info.

Please read other columns of mine on my blogspot, larrydablemontoutdoors.  You can write me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at

Friday, November 24, 2023

1966 Newspaper Column I wrote about the Conservation Commission for The Houston Herald

     Winter on the Piney by Larry Dablemont

     taken from the 1966 Houston Herald

        An editorial in the State Conservation magazine this month reflects the biggest problem we have in the management of wildlife in this state. It seems that everyone feels the best way to have plentiful game is to stop the hunting and hire more agents to enforce stricter laws.

    Jim Keefe, the editor of the "Conservationist," seems a little disgusted with this attitude. For years the commission has been trying to get across to landowners and sportsmen the idea of habitat improvement as a means of increasing wildlife populations. In short, hunting con trolls population but lack of habitat limits it.

    I recall conversations with various landowners who blame hunters for the lack of game. But as you talk, you gaze across acres of farmed land, closely grazed pasture and fence rows that wouldn't herbivore a field mouse.

    No one expects a farmer to sacrifice a living to support wildlife, but there is always some ground available, which can be managed for all species of game.

                        *.    *.    *.    *.    *

    In a national outdoor magazine last month I noticed a small piece that might interest Texas County nature lovers. It concerned the fifth extremity of wildlife--the tail.

    The 'possum uses hot as an extra hand, to carry nest material and cling to branches. The beaver uses his tail as a trowel and as a warning device.  Fish use their tail for locomotion and alligators use theirs for defense.

    The squirrel depends on his tail for balance and waterfowl use their tail-feathers as a rudder. A tail serves as a fly swatter for some animals, and others just display a tail for looks, such as a pheasant and peacock. The tail of the bird dog indicates game to the hunter.

    And, what good would a coonskin cap be without a coon tail?

    Kind of makes you feel shortchanged doesn't it?

                         *.    *.    *.    *.    *

    Mothers across the Ozarks should be pleased to hear that a Columbia pet shop as just the thing to keep the kids busy--a pet mouse!  No, not a white mouse, not a hamster, just a plain old house mouse. The symbol fo filth, carrier of disease and the scourge of every dwelling and storage building in the. country is now "selling like wild-fire," according to the clerk, at 90 cents apiece.

    Figuring mice at 90 cents each, the value of Texas County has just doubled!! 

Organizing Memories


Me fishing the Roubidoux in an old wooden johnboat in the 1970's



       The other day I crossed the Roubidoux River and thought about Lane Davis.  Lane was the longtime owner and editor of the Houston  Herald newspaper and he hired me to paddle him down the Roubidoux, where he loved to fish. When I was about fourteen years old,  I was a 50-cent-an-hour guide, and for local folks, one of my Dad’s wooden johnboats was included free.  The Roubidoux River had about twice as much water in the ‘60’s and had lots of bass and goggle-eye. 


       I loved to read the outdoor magazines back then and write outdoor stories myself, for the guys in the pool hall to read.  Lane got a kick out of that and he told me that he would use some of  my stories in his newspaper.  You cannot imagine how excited that made me.  He printed the first newspaper column I ever wrote when I was about 17 years old, and made it a regular weekly column, “Summer on the Piney” and  then “Fall on the Piney” and so forth as the seasons change.


       I saved most everything I ever had published back then and I read one of those early columns the other day. It embarrassed me. I made some glaring mistakes, like the time I wrote that I had seen a golden eagle on the Piney.  It had to be, I figured, since it was so big and dark, with no white head.  Back then, bald eagles were seldom seen in the Ozarks, and I thought they all had white heads.  I didn’t realize that an eagle larger than it’s parents, with dark plumage was just an immature bald eagle. 

       That help from Lane Davis got me started on a life as an outdoor writer. At Missouri University I got a job as a weekly columnist for the Columbia Missourian newspaper,  and saved many of those columns as well. Then upon graduation in 1970 I went to work as the Outdoor Editor for the state's largest daily newspaper in Little Rock, Arkansas. Five years after my first column in Houston, I began to write regularly for Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines.


       Last week I began to try to organize the newspaper columns I saved from the past, more than 6000 of them, published over the years in 200-plus newspapers in five states.  With those, are more than 700 magazine articles published in about two-dozen magazines.  What I have is a gigantic mess when it comes to organizing, and it is beyond my ability.  There are many articles and features and columns I don’t even remember writing.


       I put many of those magazine articles, mostly the ones that won awards, into two different books I published nearly 20 years ago.  I am going to do more such books in the future.   If you want to read about that first book I did in the 1970’s and what it is now worth on the internet, go to my website, larrydablemontoutdoors.  This week I will put one of those columns I did for Lane Davis on that website.  It comes from sixty years ago in my hometown paper, the Houston Herald.  Thanks Mr. Davis, I will never forget you.


       In December we will  publish the last of my Lightnin’ Ridge magazines for subscribers.  It will be a Christmas issue and if you contact my office before December 1, you can get one mailed to you for $8.  I published the first of my magazines in 2003 and there have been more than 100 published since then.  But it isn’t the last one I figure on doing, and many  people have misunderstood that.  It is the last I will publish on a regular seasonal basis for SUBSCRIBERS.  I will publish a couple more in 2024 but those will be different in that we will no longer have a subscriber list.  I have notified readers, in my fall magazine we put out in October, that if they get on a list of folks interested in reading the magazines of the future, that we will contact them when a new one is ready, or when I have a new book out. Anyone can get on that list just contact our office at 417-777-5227.


       I will do some new books next year.  One is a sort of biography of a writer-naturalist, entitled “The Life and Times of the Pool Hall Kid”. Another is entitled “The Justice of St. Clair County” which will cause your jaw to drop open if you read it…  it is about corruption that was in the county's legal system about a sheriff who was keeping stolen merchandise in his barn, and that a judge there tried to arrange my murder.  It will be the first I have written about it. Hard to believe, but true.  Another book next year will be a collection of what readers have chosen as the best hundred of those 6000 newspaper columns.  If you want to be notified when new magazines or books come out, contact me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613 or  You can also call my office, 417-777-5227

Friday, November 17, 2023



My dad and his Winchester

       There's an old model '97 Winchester pump shotgun hanging on my office wall.  It is old and scarred, a long-barreled relic from the good old days of my boyhood.  In the fall, when the Ozarks was bathed in beautiful colors and there was a frost at dawn and a nip in the air, they'd hold turkey shoots in Big Piney River country. They usually took place on the Sunday afternoons before thanksgiving.  I was just a little guy too young to shoot, but I'd tag along and watch Dad pack that old shotgun up to the line behind stacked bales of hay and holler, "Pull"!   From the other side of the bales, there'd come a thump, a clay pigeon would sail off across the broam sedge field and that old '97 would roar.  Another clay pigeon turned to black dust!

       Dad was awfully good with that shotgun. There was never a turkey shoot I remember when dad  didn’t come away with a turkey and a ham. He'd lose on occasion, because there'd be 8 or 10 very good shotgunners there, each paying a dollar to shoot and back up a few yards and shoot again until only one was left.  The last shooter to break a clay pigeon won either a turkey or a ham.  

    Dad and I hunted ducks on the Piney in the fall, and he knew the range of that old long-barrel.  He could break clay pigeons 50 yards away and we'd wind up with a couple of hams and turkeys for only three or four dollars spent. After any shooter won twice he was no longer allowed to compete.  Heck, for years it was that old ’97 Winchester that made Thanksgiving possible for a whole family at Grandma and Grandpa McNew’s old farm house.  I was too young to be thankful for that gathering of eight Aunts and Uncles and 22 cousins.  But there are few of them left and now I am thanking God often for that boyhood of mine, and the old shotgun on my office wall.


This year we can be thankful that it has been such a mild fall, except for that one three-day arctic stretch when it was  colder than an ice-fisherman’s bobber. 

On Thanksgiving Day we all gather to give thanks for our health and happiness, and there is an awful lot to be thankful about.  If we just had more water in the Ozarks right now, and there were a good number of ducks arriving, I could just get swamped with thankfulness.

       But I don’t want anyone thinking I am ungrateful. I have been thanking God for the more important things, like my health… and a reasonably good family and acquaintances that keep giving me all this advice about what I ought to do different. Well there  was that Canada fishing trip where I got a freezer full of fish, even though I ain’t much on eating fish anymore. 


       Like you, I am thankful for good neighbors although I don’t know any of them because I live quite aways from them, thank goodness!  And I am thankful for all those friends I use to have.  

       As you grow older, you get like this, kind of cynical and contrary and less thankful than you was when you was younger and your knee didn’t hurt.  But oh do I get thankfuller when I get off by myself on a flowing stream or in the deep woods, and realize that there is a good chance that heaven will be a lot like where I am then.  I am thinking that my chances of going to heaven has to be better than 50 percent and I am thankful for that.

       What makes any man’s life happier and better is the help and friendship he gives to others whether it is returned or not.  That’s what the first Thanksgiving dinners were about, celebrating the abundance of the harvest, and sharing it with the Indians.



Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Know Your Rights as a Hunter



Larry Dablemont   Outdoor Column… 11-6-23         


Know Your Rights as a Hunter


         As I talk to outdoorsmen around the Ozarks it  is amazing how ignorant they are about their rights as hunters and fishermen.  The greater percentage of those I talk to wrongly believe that agents can come into their homes or buildings whenever they want to. 

         Randy Doman, the enforcement chief of the Missouri Department of Conservation has sent me a letter, which clears all of that up and every person needs to read and understand it.  You can do that by going to my website, to read his letter, and read what another MDC employee has sent me describing how agents today use the Teletech system to find deer hunters they can charge.  

         I have sent these letters to the newspapers who use my column, but they cannot be printed in most due to space problems.  Before you go outdoors with a gun, read  Doman’s letter and be surprised to learn the truth.  In one violation of a deer hunter’s rights, the MDC was taken to court and had to pay out a million dollar settlement, which they never even appealed.  Until now, this has been hidden, never mentioned in the news media. If you are harassed or innocently charged, you have grounds for a lawsuit.

         I asked a high-ranking official of the MDC if  landowners who register their land with his agency are of higher risk because of it.  He laughed at that idea, saying that registering your land will mean nothing when it comes to your rights as a landowner-hunter.  “Can’t you see the obvious reason for that requirement?”  he asked me.  “Remember 20 years ago when we tried to get rules that made small landowners have to buy permits by making the land size requirement 80 acres?  It was a boondoggle that made small landowners madder than hell and they dropped the idea.” 

         He went on to say the registering of land was a stroke of genius by the MDC bureaucracy because thousands of landowners, skeptical of any government interference would not do it.  Therefore those thousands of landowners who won’t register their land now have to buy a deer  tag to hunt their land, and the increase in revenue is immense. You can’t get landowner permits if your land isn’t registered with the MDC.  That, along with the elk and  bear tag sales situation adds well over a half million dollar  increase to the MDC coffers each fall!

          In some ways, the move is backfiring. I talked to one landowner in the northern part of the state who owns 240 acres. He is indeed ‘madder than heck’ about the whole fiasco.  “I won’t register my land with any agency just to get a 20-dollar deer tag free,” he told me.  “But I will kill any deer I want now without a tag, and one of my sons will do  the same.  The MCD  will never know a thing about it.”

         Many landowners are doing the same thing. It is really easy to conceal a deer kill, and it is now going to make violators out of people who once did things according to the law.  And landowners who once supported the MDC are unhappy with the land registration requirement.

         But this advice comes it from an ex-conservation agent…“If you kill a big  antlered buck, and you call in and tell about it, you are apt to have an agent at your door. When you call in, don’t you realize that the reason you are asked about the circumference of the beam and the number of points? That tells agents how valuable that  rack might be?  Don’t give that info, just say you killed a little eight pointer.  You cannot be charged for giving whatever information you choose.”  

         “And remember that if an agent shows up during the deer season wanting to see your deer and look in your freezer, he has to have a search warrant!” He said emphatically. “No agent has any rights to demand a thing of you without that search warrant.  If he asks you to let him come in, or look in your barn or your shed and you agree to it, you are asking for a fine. Close the door and ignore them. If you get one wanting to see where you killed your deer, just answer that you are too busy. You do not ever have to show and agent where you killed a deer or a turkey or even a coyote.  Even a search warrant doesn’t require you to do  that, and if you do, you are for certain going to receive a citation.  Don’t be stupid!”


Call me at 417 777 5227 or  email   Letters can be sent to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613




Letter From Randy Doman, Chief of Enforcement, Missouri Department of Conservation…


Letter From Randy Doman, Chief of Enforcement, Missouri Department of Conservation… 


“Mr. Dablemont, 


         In a previous correspondence, you mentioned a desire to provide information that sportsmen should know to avoid problems with MDC enforcement.  I appreciate your efforts to educate sportsmen and women on hunting and fishing regulations, even those rules you may not agree with.  Avoiding problems with MDC enforcement is not difficult.”

1.   Obtain the proper permit prior to your hunt and have it with you while hunting.  Acquiring a deer permit after the harvest and then checking your animal on that permit is illegal.

2.   Immediately after harvesting a deer, hunters must notch their permit. (Select date taken on permit).

3.   Hunters must Telecheck their deer by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest, before processing the game, or before leaving the state whichever comes first.

4.   As long as a hunter stays with their harvested game, they do not need to attach the tag to it.  But if they leave their deer or turkey, they must attach a tag.


         The 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure apply to conservation agents just the same as they do for state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, city police, etc.  The Open Fields Doctrine provides that open fields do not carry the same expectation of privacy as an occupied dwelling or curtilage.  Pending exigent circumstances, conservation agents may not search a closed barn or shed without consent or a warrant.  Conservation agents MAY NOT force their way into a home without a search warrant or consent based on seeing a mounted deer head on the wall.”  


         Regarding the enforcement of baiting laws, citations are warranted when hunters are found physically within or immediately adjacent to baited areas. When hunters are found outside of sight of the baited area or out of range for killing an animal standing in the baited area, no ticket should be issued unless other evidence is present to indicate the hunter knew or reasonably should have known the area was baited and is hunting there because of the bait; Conservation agents may instruct hunters in the immediate surrounding area of the bait that further hunting in that area is prohibited until ten (10) days following complete removal of the bait. Agents are instructed not close entire farms or large areas of land simply because bait was found at a particular location. Likewise, adjoining property owners should not be considered in violation unless they were aware of the bait and were using it as an attraction to deer or turkeys for hunting.”


 Regarding your concerns about conservation agents conducting Telecheck investigations, Conservation agents must abide by the same 4th Amendment protections as any other law enforcement officer.  Conservation agents often follow up on deer Telechecks as their schedules allow.  With the discontinuation of wildlife check-in stations in 2005, these Telecheck investigations have become an expectation and a valuable tool for conservation agents; not only to increase compliance with the Wildlife Code, but to ensure the integrity of the self-reported harvest data.  



MDC Agents use the Teletech system to charge hunters - Letter from a concerned agent

         “Dear Mr. Dablemont.---


         We began a new phase of law enforcement when the MDC adopted the telecheck system.  It provides much information about the individual who uses it, capturing the hunter’s name address and permit number.   It provides the date and time of permit purchase, the date and time of the animal being checked, the telephone number or computer address used to check it. It also provides the history of the permits purchased and all animals checked.  

         Soon the telecheck system was being used as a major component of law enforcement by agents.  The telecheck system was soon being used to instigate investigations.   It started with “quick check” investigations, where there was only a short time  between permit purchase and the checking of the animal.   This was very successful and lead to a broadening use of the system. So it began to be modified to get more information for enforcement agents. 

         Filters and alerts were place on the system. It began to be used to provide information on such things as; multiple animal checks, after hours checks and first-time checkers.  Filters provided real-time alerts for short interval checks and checks on landowners with small acreage. The system has also been used to check on hunter education certification.  While it sounds like a good tool for legitimate law enforcement, resulting investigations began to come dangerously close to violating civil trights.  

         The system allows for PROFILING FEMALE HUNTERS, and others who are first time users of the system. Agents began to use any information they deem suspicious to find and confront hunters who have legally checked a deer or turkey.  Many times these confrontations occur on a hunter’s private property with no probable cause. Typical of this would be singling out a woman with a first time archery kill.  (making her produce and shoot her bow) Probably none of these hunters are given their Miranda Rights before they are questioned.  They are routinely commanded to provide proof they killed the animal legally!!!

         Some hunters are told to prove their proficiency with a gun or archery equipment.  Agents often want to be taken to the site of the kill. The requests are more like demands, with hunters feeling they have no rights nor options other than to comply. Telecheck is the basis for what we call ‘audits’  These audits are encouraged by the supervisors, and amount to telecheck enforcement saturations.  

         Agents saturate a county or region and spread out over that area, with one individual monitoring a laptop computer, directing other agents to individuals who have recently checked animals.  The agents then confront that individual and try to find a violation.  Most audits occur on private property with Miranda Rights optional.  They intimidate people into compliance with what they want.  

         The state statute that allows for agents to enter private property to check for some kind of violation is probably stretched.  It is unclear whether a telecheck suspicion investigation is legal.

Our agents have no special search and seizure powers.  They must adhere to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S.Constitution.  They must have a search warrant or consent to search and they are required to give Miranda Rights before questioning.  Agents must have probable cause before making an arrest. 

         Finally if you use the Mo Hunt App on your I-phone to buy permits there is something you need to do… You need to look in settings for the MO Hunt App and disable the “Use Specific Location”.  Otherwise MDC agents can track your location!!!” 

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

‘Hunt No Ducks Over Water’!


Black bear I have photographed in Canada without the garbage dump


    A couple of weeks ago I was talking with guide in Ontario who got a good laugh out of the bear hunting which forbids using bait.  He said that without bait, few bears  would ever be killed anywhere.  In Canada, if you go through an outfitter you are guaranteed to get a shot or several shots, at a bear the first day. But they are always killed over bait.


     Lee Arch,  a full-blooded Ojibway guide, says no one kills one to eat, as bear that are eating garbage or  fish entrails from bait sites are not fit to eat.  They are killed only for their pelt, and the making of bear rugs.  Bush Pilot and guide Tinker Helseth said that his dad told him when he was a boy, “eat deer, grouse, moose, ducks and geese and fish, then you won’t have to eat bear unless you are starving.”

     Twelve-year old Wiley Williams got himself a bear last year, sitting high in a deer stand at the edge of the National Forestland in Christian County.  He said his family had land there and had found a ‘marker tree’ which are used by bears which claw the tree as high as they can and use it as a scent post as well.  Wiley watched the tree all day and his bear came to it at 3 o’clock.  He said he had to shoot it 3 times to kill it.  His mother says they kept the hide and want to have it mounted but that expense is great.  Wiley said they didn’t eat any of it. He told me it smelled really bad.

    Old-time bear hunter, Mike Dodson, from Valley  Springs, Arkansas has killed seven bears, all of them over bait in September in Arkansas' National Forest; and all of them with a bow. He says if there are bears killed Missouri, they are killed over bait, whether the hunter wants to admit it or not. "Without bait, there is no chance of killing one," he told me, "I found that piles of popcorn beats out any other kind of bait. They seem to love it."  


     Mike said he wouldn’t waste a dollar on a bear tag if dogs and baiting were prohibited.  He said it was like passing a law prohibiting duck hunting over water.

     I have done some bear hunting in Canada with my camera but there is always a community dump in the background or fish entrail buckets close by.  One night I arrived at  Tinker Helseth’s lodge in Nestor Falls Canada after midnight, so to keep from waking anyone I just slept behind the front seat of my crew-cab pickup, in a very comfortable bed I keep there when I travel.  My Labrador was sleeping in  the front seat, and his growls awakened me.  I felt the pick-up lurch, sat up and opened the frost-covered  back window.  A black bear was looking back at me, only inches from my face.  He stood up tall, clutching a 10-pound bag of dog food in his arms, then jumped over the tailgate and disappeared.

     There isn’t room here to tell about the bear attack that occurred in North Arkansas a few years back.  You can read about that on my website. I often write 2 or 3 columns per week, not just this one, and you can read all of them on your computer at…  I urge readers to find it on the Internet and read it each week.  On that site you can find out how the Missouri Department of Conservation used the idea of a bear season and the elk season to garner nearly 200 thousand dollars in funds from Missouri hunters who never got to hunt either.


     Only five elk and eight bears were killed to gain that money. It was paid by about 20,000 Missourians.  Of those who pay that in the future, 98 percent of them will never get to hunt either. That fact has not, and can not, be printed in any Missouri newspaper, so find the details on that Internet site.


     This year, almost 9 thousand applicants have sent in 10 dollars each to have a chance at 4 elk tags.  A fifth elk tag is given to a ‘local landowner’ who is not named.  Guess who that unnamed landowner is!! Read the website.






Thursday, October 26, 2023



Game camera photos of Ozark black bear at bait sites, and Arkansas bear hunter with a  big boar… killed over bait site.


      The migration of black bears from Arkansas means big money for the Missouri Department of Conservation money-grubbers.  They put their heads together and decided that since no one really knows how many bears there are in the state, they can say the number is way up there and a hunting season is justified. 



    So here is the thing that made them almost a hundred grand, with only 8 bears killed... First you pout out the word that hunters can get in the drawing for a bear tag b y sending their information and a NON-REFUNDABLE 10 DOLLARS. And so 7,300 would-be bear hunters did. MDC made 73 grand just like that!    

      Then they chose 400 of those applicants to sell 25 dollar bear tags;  another 10 thousand!   Now before any rules are set they have made 83 thousand dollars.  So the rules are, no dogs and no bait.  And old-time bear hunters would have a big laugh out of that.  Without bait, you just don’t kill bears.  Not one bear is killed in Canada by U.S. hunters without a bait site, usually a private garbage dump or fish entrails dumpsite.

    Out of the 400 who buy a 25-dollar bear tag, a few know that if they use bait...who will know? So seven out of the eight that are killed are shot over hidden baited spots where no game warden will ever go.         


      The same idea has been used with that elk herd in the eastern Ozarks, where they were stocked.  About nine thousand applicants at 10 dollars each...  A pot full of money… ninety thousand bucks, and you might get drawn for one of four hunters who get to go out and shoot a semi-tame elk.  A fifth tag is given, and this is how it worded, “to an adjacent land owner”. That adjacent landowner is Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner who has always been in on the elk restoration program, because he buys land adjacent to Peck Ranch , where the elk are, and MDC personnel work on his place for a couple of years, clearing brush and planting elk food, so Morris can give his tag to a friend of his and they will ‘for-sure’ kill an elk.  All of that is hushed up until MDC employees start calling this writer and telling what is going on.

    You can buy replacement pen raised elk for about 500 dollars each, so go buy 5 more to be replacements.  What a money-maker!


      So--- out of eight or ten bears and five elk each year, the Missouri Department of Conservation made 170 thousand dollars easy money.  In the next five years, that combination of taking advantage of the ignorant will pocket them almost a million dollars.  Without any baiting, the bears won’t be hurt at all population-wise.   Bear biologist for Missouri says there are 11 to 12 hundred bears in Mo.  Printed MDC material says there are about 500.   What difference does it make that no one knows for sure… eight or ten killed each October can’t hurt a thing.  And we all know how badly the MDC, one of the top three game and fish agencies in the nation in funds available, making about 200 million per  year, needs the money!

Observations from a Granite Boulder

      In mid October, Lake of the Woods Ontario looked like it was mid-September; no red and  yellow foliage to amount to much, just green hillsides and water warmer than I had ever seen it.  The temperature through seven days never got below 40 and never got above 50.  The north wind was cold, but it wasn’t like it normally is.  So strange to see that, almost no migrating waterfowl and not a small fringe of ice anywhere.

      I spent much of the time searching out sand banks, looking for wolf tracks and lost fishing lures.  I found a dozen huge Muskie lures, lost and washed up along the high water line, lures that sell in Canada  for about 30 dollars each.  From tracks I found, wolves are plentiful  in that area, and so are deer.

      I walked up to a high point looking out across the lake, then hiked farther into the woodland where giant pine trees stood.  Where  logging trucks can go, you will seldom see pines that you cannot reach around, as you  do there.   Over most of Ontario, they are cutting even small pines in great swaths, for the paper mills that give off a terrible smell where you find them, near the border.  But where I go, where logging trucks can’t get to yet, there is still a taste of what Canada was when my great  grandfather and his Cree Indian wife were living there as young people.  

      In those woods are ruffed grouse and martens and fishers and deer.  It is a different world. The whitetail bucks found there are huge, the antlers of amazing size.  Those in the Ozarks, which the trophy hunters long for, will not compare to what you see around Lake of the Woods. A hundred years ago there were no whitetail deer there.  The Lake of the Woods country was moose country.  Now, moose are in trouble, declining.  As whitetail deer moved into the region from the south in increasing numbers they spread a parasite known as ‘brain worms’.  Those worms in deer do not kill them, but in moose they are a death sentence and some locals say there are a fraction of the moose now that were found fifty years ago.  The wolves are found in good numbers because of the deer and black bear are all over the place.  But moose are declining.

      That’s what diversity does in nature. Diversity means death, discord, destruction! Where a centuries-old ecosystem is invaded by newcomer species, like carp, armadillos, black vultures, to name only a few cases, nature suffers and the life structure the Creator made work is damaged or destroyed. A hundred years ago, the big smallmouth I caught a few days before would have not been there.  Largemouth bass were native to central-southern Canada; smallmouth were not.  They were brought in from the eastern provinces in water-filled boxcars on trans-Canada trains and as they crossed the rivers and lakes of Northwest Ontario they released them.  In time the smallmouth crowded out largemouth completely. Largemouth still thrive in isolated lakes and waters but let smallmouth into those places and in ten years the largemouth are gone. 

      In that beautiful natural setting where I sat for a long time on a granite bluff amongst what this wilderness must have been like a thousand years ago, a cell phone nor a smart-box you operate with your thumbs, is of no use. Thumbs are still best used for cocking a rifle hammer! Whatever awful things are happening in the world far from me are of no consequence where I sit.  If it were not for my family, I would stay there in the land of my ancestors, and never see another television.  Heck, there ain’t nothin’ to watch on one up there anyway but hockey games! 



    Last week, after days of catching fish and taking pictures and eating fish and beans, I loaded up the pickup and headed back to the Ozarks.  Time to set trotlines and hunt squirrels and say good-bye to Canada.  A man cannot live by happiness alone!

      You might get a laugh out of my black bear article on my website, larrydablemontoutdoors.  In Canada once I had a black bear in my pickup bed and we faced each other nose-to-nose, only inches apart. If you   want to see photos from the Canadian wilderness, I will put about 20 on that website that I have taken of the wildlife of the Lake of the Woods country. Write to me at Box  22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A Once-In-A Lifetime Fish

My first attempt at a selfie. Twenty inch, six pound smallmouth

A mixed stringer, 20-inch walleye & yellow perch 

       Rotten luck, that’s all you can call it!  The day before my birthday, in mid- October, I was fishing in Canada, way out in the Lake of the Woods, and found a great spot for walleye in a remote wilderness spot.  I was catching a lot of them, many between 18 and 20 inches long; hard-fighting glassy-eyed rascals, with some 12-inch yellow perch mixed in.   Who could ask for a better day?  There I was in a peaceful and beautiful setting, out of the wind without another boat or human within miles. 

      At the edge of darkness I started my motor and headed for my cabin, six miles away, with a cold wind in my face and strong waves buffeting my boat.  I was there 5 or 6 days and the temperature stayed above 40 degrees the whole time, never more than a 15 mph wind.  Canada at its best!  Most years in mid October I am there, elated with fishing and grouse hunting and getting some writing done. At the dawn of my birthday, October 11, I walked down to my boat and found that the starter on my motor was done for. Fried… done for.  Rotten luck!  But… if it had happened the night before I would have been sleeping on a nearby sand beach, trying to keep a fire going, listening to the howl of timber wolves on Wolf Island.  An adventure to write about, perhaps fending off a pack of timber wolves.   But no!  Darn rotten luck!

      There I was, below my cabin at the dawn of my birthday, with no outboard motor. I headed for Tinker Helseth’s nearby lodge to tell him I was on my way back to Missouri.  Tinker’s son-in-law recommended that I just go fish for smallmouth bass on a nearby small lake, where I could get around with only my trolling motor. I have fished that lake before, putting in with my War-Eagle boat down a little lane that few know about. When I did, I caught dozens of big smallmouth, one after another, just drifting across a windy rocky point.  Few lakes in Canada have shown me such smallmouth fishing.  I have never seen another boat on it.  Amazing!  

      In October last year I caught lots of smallmouth there above four pounds and two or three at five pounds or close.  In Canada, an eighteen-inch smallmouth will outweigh the same length bass from the Ozarks streams by nearly a pound.  I remember a spot off the point

point where I have found many big bass
where I hooked and lost a giant brownie that I thought might be the biggest I had ever hooked.  Was he still there?  He was…  In almost the same spot, I hooked him again, or one like him.  He nearly took my light-action spinning outfit with him when he hit.  But I had the single-hook jig set well, and I loosened my drag, hoping the six-pound line would hold.  

      He made hard and powerful dives and runs that took him 20 feet away from the boat, and that rod arced like I had never seen it bow.  Just a few minutes before I had hooked a 6- or 7-pound northern, and landed it.  When you have fished Canadian waters for forty years as I have, you learn to tell the difference in the struggle of a northern pike and a smallmouth.  I had no doubt the fish struggling below me, making my drag whine, was a brownie.  

      Your impulse is to horse them a bit, but this once I used my head.  I knew I would never see him if I didn’t let him wear himself out.  It took about ten minutes, but he did wear down, and finally I saw him about three feet beneath me in that clear water, broadside.  I nearly lost my composure…almost jumped in after him!  Thank goodness that starter had went out.  Because of that I was about to land the largest smallmouth of my life.  I made a swipe at the monster with my net, and missed him. I figured that miss would reinvigorate the bass, maybe let him escape. That’s what usually happens when you miss. But swipe number two brought him into the boat, and I sat there looking at the first six-pound smallmouth I have ever landed. He was flopping on the floor of my boat on my birthday.  I don’t keep smallmouth now, as I did when I was young and my family about lived on fish and ducks and rabbits and squirrel. But I would keep this one.  I drove to a small grocery store in Nestor Falls Ontario to have it weighed.  Six pounds, four ounces the lady said.  

       That night Tinker's family had a birthday dinner for me. It was a great meal with birthday cake and ice cream, and a half-dozen folks embarrassed me but singing that happy birthday song. I think it was the first time I have ever had anyone sing 'happy birthday' to me since my girls were little. And it was the first time, after more than sixty-five years of trying, that have caught a six-pound smallmouth. All that is left to do is try for a seven-pounder over the next twenty years or so.