Thursday, April 27, 2023

Grabbing Buffalos

This fisherman intends to have buffalo ribs for supper.  

         I love the outdoor life I live because all day long when I am on the river or exploring the woods, I see spectacular things that remind me that God is still in charge somewhere, though those places grow fewer nowadays.  

         All day long I see no one, and there is no television or smart phones or news.  It could be 1840 if you can forget that there is a California or Chicago or New York, and about the only place you can forget those conflagrations of men and women at their worst is off in the wild someplace.

         Floating the river a day or so back, I saw some huge black buffalo getting ready to spawn below shoals where they will mass in great swarms in three feet of flowing water. They are unlike other suckers in that they are very dark, when you see them beneath your boat. They are not related to the carp, which is an introduced, not-native fish.  


         As a kid on the Piney River I grabbed a lot of suckers; yeller suckers and some redhorse suckers too, none ever much bigger than three pounds.  But this week or next I will go down to one of those shoals and grab some black buffalo fish that, if I am lucky, will weigh ten pounds or better.  I never caught one that big, but you see lots of ‘em there.  There will be bigger ones on that shoal.  Few will weigh less than 5 pounds and a few will go up to 15 pounds.


         Some specimens of the black buffalo have been known to weigh 50 pounds but I have never seen one above 15.  Last year I snagged one that was about 7 pounds and I thought he was bigger because it like to wore me out. I use 18-pound line and casting gear, with a great big treble hook and a piece of white rag tied about two feet in front of that hook.  When a fish swims over the white rag you jerk like the dickens and hope your hook hits home. The fish will give you a fight like you haven’t often had, using that swift current. You won’t land all you hook, but if you can net a couple or three you can have some good eating; just look for the recipe for Buffalo Ribs in some old fashioned cook book.  Folks in Arkansas and Louisiana say there isn’t a catfish filet anywhere that will equal fried buffalo ribs.  I have never tried them, but they are bragged on too often not to be great eating. 

           Anyway if I succeed, as I expect to do, I will send a picture next week of me holding up a black buffalo, grinning and happy, as I usually am when off somewhere far from concrete, pavement, and those poor folks who have to go to work each day. I’m happy even if I don’t have a big fish to hold up and grin about, if I am where there isn’t another soul but me. 

         Right now there are big gar on a shallow shoal so thick their backs stick up out of water.  They are not native to small Ozark streams. They are native to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and somehow, about 100 years ago began moving up into flooded small Ozark streams, and reproducing there. Some more diversity, which is always disastrous in nature too! I have been told that gar are relatively good to eat but I have never tried one. “Ain’t gunna neither” as the old fisherman in the pool hall would say. I’d druther eat a mud puppy!  I hate gars! Never ate one because I never did fancy using a chain saw to skin a fish! Gar too can get up to about 50 pounds in the big rivers and lakes, and are said to be remnants of the prehistoric age. They are the ugliest of fish, and a detriment to any Ozark stream where they are found.


         You can find out more about both species on the computer, but the black buffalo are not nearly as dark in the photos I have seen as they are where I will be snagging them.  Check out my blogspot , (www.larrydablemontoutdoors) to see some great photos of migrating teal I shot this past week.  And if you want to get a copy of my new magazine, just contact me.  The spring issue is available now, 112 color pages on the outdoors and the Ozarks.

Photos of Spring-plumage blue wing teal resting in the Ozarks on their migration north.


Monday, April 17, 2023



There comes a time when they get fewer and fewer that you have to stop killing them.  That time is now.

        I have decided that turkey hunting and life in general have a great number of similarities.  For instance, sometimes in life, striving for the goal is more enjoyable than reaching it and accomplishing it.  When you have pulled the trigger and the great bird is down, flopping around in his death throes, don’t you feel a little bit of sadness down deep inside?  Don’t you wish he had been a little slower and gobbled a lot more and strutted longer in the direct beams of the early morning sun?

         See, it’s a lot the same way you feel when you’ve finally bought that new pickup you always wanted and you drive it home and you know it’s going to be a mess in a month with a dent in the bumper.  Driving it out of the driveway at home will never be as great as it was driving it off the dealer’s lot.  It’s much the same way you feel when you’ve been married a year and suddenly you see your wife in curlers and an old robe and you realize she looks a lot like her mother.  If she would have agreed to marry you on the first date, you’d have missed all the enjoyment of being told “no” so often.

         A dead gobbler isn’t the reward of the hunt.  He is the reason for it, but he isn’t the reward.  If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, you might be greenhorn.  But it’ll come to you someday.

         Life is a series of rare successes, great and small, occurring between numerous failures.  That’s what turkey hunting is.  If you hunt turkeys, you can deal with life’s failures, because you know there will be another gobbler, another day.  You know that the wind and the rain and the cold only goes on so long and eventually you are going to have that beautiful spring day when it is calm and sunny and warm, and some gobbler just can’t stop gobbling.  

         You know that one time or another each season, there’s going to be one that comes like he’s on a string, like he hasn’t seen a hen since the end of last summer.  And that’s when you forget that there have been a dozen or so that got spooked, went the wrong way, found a hen, or put food above romance.

Turkey hunting has taught me to be patient and persevere and be thankful for every minute whether the sun is warm or the rain is cold.  Turkey hunting has taught me that sooner or later, every hog finds an acorn, every novice learns the ropes, every hard-luck-Harry gets a break.  You just don’t quit.  But in time, the reward isn’t just a dead turkey, it’s the trying and the failing and trying again, knowing if you don’t quit, you’ll have your time.

         You can find treasure in the difficulties, and you can have a great life just finding occasional rewards here and there amongst the failure.  Just don’t ever forget, in your day-to-day life, that quite often, the turkeys win.  That’s the way it oughta be!

         But as difficult as times have been for the wild turkey, hunters like me should start thinking about no longer hunt gobblers with a gun.  Gobblers in most regions of the state are declining badly.  In some spots they are down only 40 or 50 percent, but in some areas they are down 60 or 70 percent.  It is time to stop hunting them, because if we do not, it will be worse next spring.  If you want to keep shooting them, use a camera, as I do now.  The ineptness and greed of our game departments will not bring them back, we hunters have to do it.  Join me and some other old-time hunters in saying… ‘not this spring!’

         Is it true that the Missouri Department of Conservation gives 100 thousand dollars each year to the National Wild Turkey Federation?  I understand that they have done that for many, many years, and the money is wasted.   The NWTF has done nothing for wild turkeys in  Missouri, nor anywhere else for that matter.  It is another one of those organizations where money pours into the pockets of a few and pays for vehicles and equipment used for private use. 

It was the NWTF that came up with the idea of “scoring” turkeys, where you could get so many points for the length of beard, length of spurs, number of beards, weight, number of teeth and that kind of thing. If your point total got high enough, you could get in their record book and get a patch and become famous.

Shortly after the scoring system was developed, several of the NWTF’s higher-up officers were arrested in western Missouri for baiting turkeys and taking more than the legal limit. They confessed that they had been feeding the gobblers corn because they were trying to kill a really big, long bearded gobbler and get in that NWTF record book.


I have been told it is a good thing that I never did drink or smoke because I have exhibited addictive behavior, concerning eating and hunting and fishing.  I notice that when I get to hunting mushrooms I forget where I am and where I am going.  I have scratches on my forehead from running into tree limbs, and I left a good turkey call somewhere out there in the woods where I came across a pretty good grove of mushrooms.  There was one tree that had about fifteen nice big morels around it just recently and if I knew where it was, I’d know where that turkey call was. Glad I didn’t leave my camera with it!


                             A new way to hunt wild turkeys

A good friend, Clyde Troutt, who taught me to hunt turkey with a gun and camera


Monday, April 10, 2023

I Seen A Few Turkeys…Once


         I hunted wild gobblers for 50 years… but no more. The first hunt I went on was in the Ouachita Mountains in 1970 at a place called Muddy Creek WMA with an Arkansas Fish and Game biologist by the name of Gene Rush. Heckuva turkey hunter and a great guy.   


        Hunting in four states since then I have killed a lot of turkeys, many times 6 or 7 per year, and guiding other hunters for many years, the 70’s 80’s and 90’s, I made a lot of money out of wild turkeys by doing that.  But brother, there were a lot of turkeys back then. 


        I quit guiding hunters about twenty years ago, and I quit hunting three years ago when I began to see the numbers of wild gobblers take a nosedive. I will hunt them “no more forever” as the old Indian Chief said.  But I have to admit I called up and shot two just a few days ago; shot them with my camera… which I enjoy just as much as I ever did, shooting at them with my old twelve-gauge.  You other hunters would too.  No lugging them back, no gutting and skinning, no giving money to a corrupt state agency in buying tags.  And turkeys from the grocery store are cheap if you  gotta eat one.  I like baloney about as well.
 You  can see several of my gobbler photos at


         I wrote one book about turkey hunting 20 years ago.  If you   haven’t read it, contact me and I will inscribe one to you. I am going to write another in a year or so; with some of the darndest photos you have ever seen. And experiences.  I have seen some of the most unbelievable things happen in the spring woods you can imagine.  

         I got one of them occurrences on a movie camera about 1993, I think.  I was on a hillside in southern Missouri listening to three or four gobblers on the roost across a small creek bottom.  They flew down, but while gobbling a lot, they didn’t come to my call.  But 20 minutes later a non-gobbling tom came strutting up to me.  He had a nice beard, but half of his tail was missing. He was a half-tailed gobbler. I was just calling with my mouth, imitating a hen without any call, something I learned to do many years before.  I began filming him when he was about 20 feet away, stomping and strutting and drumming, but never gobbling.   Calling softly and quietly I got him all shook up and he decided there was an invisible hen before him.  And then he began to mate with that hen he was sure was there!!  He really did, and completed the task. I have it all on film.

         I killed a monstrous 21-pound gobbler once with seven beards totaling 49 inches with one-inch spurs, and have photos to show it.  In fact there is a picture of him in that book of mine.  I was laid out in the leaves, calling in ticks, about noon, with the warm sun shining down, when he awakened me.  There were two of them.  I like to think his partner had eight beards!

         But here is something I have never written about. You might figure out why.  You ain’t gonna believe this! One morning about ten o’clock I heard a lot of gobbling about a mile away so I walked about halfway and called and the hillside rattled with their answering gobbles.  I moved closer and found the most accommodating brushpile there ever was, about 150 yards from them.  I got hid really well behind a clump of multiflora rose with some saplings in it.  Was I ever hid…though one foot stuck out in front a couple of feet.

         I called and 3 gobblers came easing up to see where the hen was, strutting and blowing and magnificent.  In no time they were before me, and, to use an expression my old mentor Clyde Trout often used, “I uncapped his head.”

         The other two just instantly jumped on that thrashing tom beside them and gave him what-for for a good 3 minutes.  When he lay still, they just stood there like they didn’t know what to do.  So I called and here they came, up to about 10 feet away, where they seemed to be seeing who could gobble the best.  Now I know that many times readers have thought I was a doggone liar, but this is the truth and I will swear to it in court!!  Those two gobblers walked up to me and gobbled right in my face, again and again and again.  I was frozen, looking right down their throats; and one actually stepped on my boot.  I can say this… gobblers have a rather unsmell-good  breath, and a gobble at that closeness is really different; a rattling, loud variant of what you hear that sounds entirely different when it is 100 yards away. 

         I guess while they were searching for that hen in the brushpile, they each gobbled 6 or 8 times. In about five minutes that morning they gave up and wandered away, wondering.  I was a little relieved.  Two twenty-pound tom turkeys appeared to be capable of flogging and spurring me good should revenge be on their mind.

           Well, come next Sunday at our fish fry at the Brown Hill Church out east of Houston, Mo. I will tell some more stories about turkey hunting, and give away some of my homemade turkey calls and show folks how to make and use them.  Church service is at 11:00 and the dinner starts at noon.  If it rains, then we will postpone it one week.

Just let me know if you are coming.  I need to know how many fish to bring, and how many turkey calls.

Office phone is 417-777-5227  and the email address is

Sunday, April 2, 2023

A Turkey-Call Makin’ Fish Fry! Free for all!



All dressed up for Easter services at Brown Hill Church, with my sisters Muriel (Wood) and Diana (Chadwick)

     Here is your chance to get a free turkey call and eat a free fish dinner.

     Last December I started trying to help an old country church to get going again. It is the Brown Hill country church a few miles east of Houston, Mo where I first went to church at the age of 5 or 6 years. For a couple of years due to the Covid mess, it was closed.  It now has an interim preacher and several people attending, and hopefully it will grow again to what it once was.

     On Sunday, April 16, I will be there for an 11:00 to noon service in which I will speak for about 15 or 20 minutes on an aspect of the Bible I think you may find inspiring, and then we will enjoy some old-time gospel music. The music will be great, with three ladies who have been singing together a long time, all expert piano players.


     When the service ends we will go out to the pavilion and have a free dinner and fish fry.  Everyone is welcome even if you do not make it to the church service. If there are ladies who want to bring a covered dish, I would surely welcome that.  I will catch the fish the week before the event, so they will be fresh. If you do not like fish, we will also have chicken for you and maybe some baked groundhog if I can get one that early in the groundhog season!!


     As an added attraction, I will be making turkey calls after the dinner and giving them away, teaching folks how to be an expert turkey caller like me.  But then, if you have one of those calls, you’ll become an expert too. They are the best turkey calls ever made; the ones I have used to call in hundreds of wild gobblers. And that is the truth, I am not joking about that.

      I need to know how much food to bring, so PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE COMING by calling my secretary at 417 777 5227 and telling her how many will be with you.



     And now for something more serious... When I put out the publication, “The Truth About the Missouri Department of Conservation” I knew I would face some intense criticism for doing it.  We published 5000 copies and we still have 1000 left.  They are free to anyone who will pay the postage.

     At a recent gun show where the publication was being handed out, a conservation agent told many that I was an enemy of the MDC because I had wanted to be a game warden and “couldn’t cut it”.


     You need to know that at no time ever did I apply to ANY Conservation Agency for ANY job.  I accepted the position of Chief Naturalist for the state of Arkansas right out of college, and immediately began writing weekly outdoor columns for the states largest newspaper, the ‘Arkansas Democrat’. That same year I began writing outdoor feature stories for Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazine.


     After a year I was offered a job for the Conservation Federation of Missouri by its Director, Ed Stegner.  I considered it but turned it down at the advice of James Keefe, who was the Missouri Conservation Commission’s magazine editor and director of Information and Education.


     If I had applied to the MCC back then, (the agency was a fore-runner to today’s MDC) I would have been accepted, and Mr. Keefe let me know that. In college I had written articles for his magazine, and had been writing weekly outdoor columns for the Columbia newspaper while attending M.U.  But I wanted to be a professional Naturalist.


     I have never ever applied anywhere for a job… not ever!! In Arkansas and Missouri, I was offered jobs without applying for them.  I did not go to two colleges for five years, getting a degree in wildlife management from the University of Missouri, to become a game warden!!  Today’s game wardens do not need a college education, and back then, some didn’t even have a high school education.  Among them were some great men with more knowledge of the outdoors than any of today’s agents have.  I know, because I accompanied many of them in their work as a teen-ager and learned from them, and looked up to them and their dedication.  Bland Wilson, Ron Roellig, Virgil Davis…  I just want folks to know that those insinuations about my background flow freely now, and are not true. I write the truth about what I see now, and what I write, I can back up.

     BUT… in the 70’s and 80’s I wrote hundreds of articles about MCC and MDC projects that were favorable.  Articles about wise conservation projects and practices that aren’t seen today. I have those newspaper clippings to show anyone who doubts that.  But those people, and that organization, are long past.


     I could have easily became a conservation agent, but they then and now make a fraction of what I make as a self employed outdoor writer and naturalist.  As a retiring agent a few years back told me…”Don’t let those stories bother you.  We are asked to lie in court… so when would we be expected to be truthful?”


     Finally we have our computer site straightened out so that readers can see weekly photos and additional columns.  I am told that the site, larrydablemontoutdoors carries some columns and photos from years ago.


     I want folks to know that because there are articles on that website that cannot be printed in newspapers, because of content or length or whatever.  Check it out each week.  Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at