Thursday, August 31, 2023

A Plea for Help


this doe was caught in a trap mdc personnel set for hogs. then they forgot it. the doe suffered terribly for days before dying from thirst. this is today's mdc. take a good look at this deer! THIS CAN BE PREVENTED THROUGH A CSC GROUP.

      I want to alert everyone that we intend to have our first ‘Common Sense Conservationists’ meeting of the Fall in Houston, Mo. on Thursday, September 14, beginning at 7:pm.  We will meet in the rural firehouse building, situated just next of the Texas County Library.  

      I hope to have another meeting two weeks later in Owensville and one every two weeks in another town.  If these meetings do not create interest among the people of the state in becoming a force to change the Missouri Department of Conservation’s focus, then I will give up the idea.  But I dream of creating a couple of thousand members wanting to achieve positive results on our rivers, increasing populations of wild turkeys, protecting innocent people now charged with ridiculous citations and the downright corruption which is so evident, thru the waste of money we all give them. 


       Almost no one knows that the Soil Conservation Service will pay landowners along the river to adopt conservation measures.  WE can help those landowners receive that financial help. The MDC could, but will not.

      We cannot inform people about what is going on thru the news media because the MDC controls the media in our state. They use their millions to silence so many. I got a call from the Auditor’s office asking me to investigate and report on something that is being done there in Jefferson City because the state auditor’s office cannot reveal it. I will tell you what she said during that call.

      In a meeting I had earlier this year, speaking to a civic group in Joplin, I ask how many people there were who give no money to the MDC.  Half the group responded that they did not.  None of them knew about the 1/8 cent sales tax that makes everyone in the state pay a tax going to the MDC on most anything they purchase. 


      I’m asking folks who can get there on the 14th to come to that meeting to become informed about what that conservation department is becoming, and the downright criminality taking over what was a great department fifty years ago and before, when it was known as the Missouri Conservation Commission.  Conservation Agents of today routinely break the law and if you doubt that, come to the meeting, and I will give you instances and the names of the agents who did it.

      If we can sign up 2,000 members we can make the problems which no news media can report on, common knowledge across the state.  If you can make it to the meeting that night, you can be in on the groundwork to slow the corruption and the abuse that the MDC now stands for.


      If I can reach 50 concerned citizens in 20 communities with these meetings between now and spring, we will have a good start toward creating an organization that can make a change, and we can raise money to help innocent people go to court when they are targeted by MDC agents.  Not only that, we can put out occasional publications to go to citizens everywhere telling what the MDC is doing.

      Local chapters can grow membership with activities such as fish fries and events with well-known speakers, some of them ex- employees of the MDC who are willing to let people know what they saw and experienced.

      There is so much we can do if we band together. I want to create good things in the state for those who love the outdoors we have left, and for landowners worried about their rights.   Just come to that meeting if you care about what is happening.  If you can’t get there at 7, come when you can.



      I need people to help post fliers around Houston and eventually across the Ozarks and help me set up meetings in all parts of the state.  Contact me by calling 417-777 5227 or email me at  there is no ‘g’ on the end of lightnin.  My mailing address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613.

    Our fall issue of my 120-page color magazines… the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal and the Lightnin’ Ridge Ozark Journal will be mailed out in about ten days.  If you wish to receive a copy, contact me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Fish… Don’t Hunt


     In a week the dove season will open and there are two or three reasons to avoid it as far as I am concerned.  For one thing, I don’t want to hunt in crowds, and I don’t like to get sweat on my shotgun, and I don’t care to get mosquito bit.  But the main reason is, fishing is great when September comes and I will be where I can get wet and catch fish both. 


     I will likely hunt doves with my Labrador in late October on a cloudy cool day, and then go fishing afterward.  When I go dove hunting, there won’t be another hunter anywhere close, and new doves will have moved in from northern states.  And though no one wants to admit it, in early September there are a few local doves which still have squabs (fledgling doves) in the nest.  When I hunt in October there won’t be any of that.  Right now up here on my wooded ridgetop, a bunch of doves feed beneath my bird feeders and nest around my home.  I think there are fewer this summer than past summers.

     There will also be some bowhunters out in mid-September, and I say more power to ‘em.  You can sit in a tree stand in a camo t-shirt now, and get a shot at some deer still that still have fading spots.  Those are the best eating, if they just would weigh a little more.  And you might shoot a turkey with your bow.  There are still a few around; about 60 percent fewer than there were 20 years ago.  Get one while you can, it is likely they will be even scarcer in years to come. 


     I like to sit in tree stands but I would be there with my camera, not my bow. Why anyone would want to kill a deer when they can  wear nothing but a t-shirt beats me. September temperatures often makes it necessary to get the meat in a freezer within an hour or so of the time it falls beats me. And on the way to the freezer, you have to keep the flies off of it.  Oh, there’s another reason I will delay my bowhunting for a month after season opens…that same old reason; fishing is great in mid-September, even better than it was two weeks earlier.  What I love about September fishing is, bass, white bass and hybrids are hitting topwater lures like a shark goes after tourist on an air mattress!  And it will last well into October. But I have to admit there is a September hunting season that has gotten into my blood.  More about that in a week or so.


     It is amazing what we allow to destroy our waters in the name of profit and greed.  At Pleasant Hope a meat-cutting and packing operation is now pouring contaminated, bacteria filled, polluted water into what had been a fairly clean, great fishing, small stream, the Pomme de Terre.  The e-coli content of the water in Pomme de Terre Lake has been a problem in the past, but hidden from the people allowing their kids to swim there, and a rising pollution problem now will also be hidden.  The polluted water will, in time, also affect Truman Lake, which the Pomme de Terre River feeds. 


     If the Department of Natural Resources says that meat plant can pour anything into the river that it wants to, no one can do a thing about it.  They can approve raw sewage and no one can do a thing about it.  The heads of that department should be forced to watch their own kids and grandkids swim in the river below the discharge.  But they won’t because the DNR people know what’s happening.  The folks from Kansas City who flock to the lake, and those who live downstream will let their kids swim in that water because THEY DON’T KNOW!  Watch the build up of scum and algae on that river now in future summers.  The water temperature will rise and desirable aquatic life will begin to die.   But boy will the meat-packing and butchering company make some money.  That is what it is all about now, all over the Ozarks.   DNR stands for Don’t Need Resources.  Show me any place in the Ozarks where they have improved water quality! But what they say is the last word.  An agency that protects no water in the Ozarks.  If the DNR wants to answer, I will print their side of the story in my column.


Sometimes I write two or three columns per week and most newspapers can only use one.  I put the others on the Internet under larrydablemontoutdoors.  See if you can find it.  There is a story you can read there about a lady I knew that will fascinate you.  Anything I write that cannot be used in most newspapers goes there.  If you cannot find it, let me know at

The Murder of Fiona Ward


Fiona and Barlow with doves

      I met Fiona Ward about 20 years ago when I was signing books on a Sunday afternoon at the Silver Dollar City bookshop.  She told me she had lost her old Chocolate Labrador and wanted to get a new pup.  Back then I raised old style hunting Labs, and had a litter of chocolate puppies. 

      Fiona was the wife of a Joplin Missouri lawyer.  My outdoor magazine was fairly new back then and I made a deal with her to give her a puppy for help finding advertisers and subscribers for my magazines.

      I wrote an outdoor column for several newspapers and the Joplin Globe, locally owned then, used my column as they had for probably 15 years.  Today, owned by an out of state newspaper company, it is a shell of what it once was, controlled by some incompetent editors for years now, as the owners looked to cut costs by hiring inept people who worked cheap.  

      But then,  that is not  really part of the story, except for the  fact that  the Globe does not necessarily print now what does not favor the owners financially and seldom does the truth do that.

      Fiona knew lots of people in Joplin, and sold many ads for me in a short time.  She also distributed lots of sample magazines.  Because of her we increased the number of readers in Southwest Missouri by a lot.  She loved to hunt and fish but had not done much of it.  


     Rather than pay her for what she had done over and above the cost of the Lab puppy I gave her, I took her on hunting and fishing trips on occasion.  I called up her first, second and third wild gobblers one spring and the next fall, and helped her train her Lab pup by taking her on a duck hunt or two.

      But all that is not a big part of this story either. I talked Fiona into taking her kids to a church on Sunday, and they were all baptized in an Oklahoma river soon after. Her son and daughter were great kids, and Fiona was a fine mother.  At times she would take her son with  us on one of the hunting or fishing trips I took her on. 

      My advice about going to church was something I regret. Fiona chose the wrong church!  There was a man there who told everyone he was a recovering drug addict, trying to turn his life around.  The man was a worthless parasite.  He had Fiona fooled, and soon had her smoking marijuana, and taking care of his young daughter and calling her his girlfriend. At the time, she was a widow, so that was her business and no one elses.  I felt awful guilty for telling her to go to church, but there was little I could do.

      Lets go back a ways…Her husband had been a very successful, well-to-do lawyer who passed away from lung cancer shortly before she started going to church.  She told me that he made a lot of money defending people who sold drugs.  She said those people he defended were not good or innocent people, but theyhad lots of money because of their drug dealing or other criminal enterprises.  She told me that her husband and the prosecutor and a judge there in Joplin would get together to find a way to really milk them.  All three shared in the profit, a lot of money under the table and charges always dismissed as a result. The drug sellers who had the money went free, and the ones who didn’t went to jail! As a result her husband, a judge and a prosecutor were doing well because of it. But they had another way of making money.

       Fiona had been her husband’s secretary and I went in his office only once.  He seemed like such an amiable nice fellow.  I liked him.  The office was plush and large and what Fiona began to tell me was unbelievable.  Her husband got throat and lung cancer, though he never used cigarettes. He smoked marijuana at night obsessively. Fiona and her kids had to stay out of his closed bedroom because of the smoke, where he watched television until the marijuana he took put him to sleep.  He was experiencing pain from the cancer, and it was making him abusive. 


      One day he grabbed his son by the throat and choked him and the next day at school, teachers saw the bruises.  He then was ordered out of the home, and Fiona filed for a divorce.  By the time her husband died he had ran up 80,000 dollars in credit card debt that Fiona could never pay.

      Before he died, she was on a float trip with me when she told me something that astounded me.  She said that for several years her husband had been sending her to Bentonville Arkansas with boxes in the trunk holding at least 20 thousand dollars in cash and sometimes more.  She would drive to a Wal-Mart property not far from their main offices, park the car and wait.  In minutes, two Hispanic brothers would show up with a key to the car trunk, open it, take the money and put drugs in its place.   Fiona said it was not marijuana, that her husband got that in Joplin.  It was likely meth or cocaine, but she never knew.  Her husband always sent her because he said if she was caught it would be easy to get her off any charges.  He said the two brothers brought the drugs from Mexico, and both worked for Walmart in Bentonville.

      When she would arrive home, one of her husbands associates would get the drugs and they would go to that prosecutor, the judge and some other lawyers, not to use, but to distribute.  That was the other  way they made money!  I begged her to give me the names, but she said I would write something about them and then it would get us killed.

      With the huge credit card debt, Fiona went to work for the city of Joplin and no longer worked for me.  I thought she was about to marry the dope-user from church, but a few months after I last talked to her one of her  friends called me to say she had been killed in an accident.  I was told that she had broke up with her boyfriend and had sworn off drugs that he was trying to get her to use.

The story was that he had called Fiona one Sunday afternoon to tell her he was going to kill himself.


      Let me say here that I rode all over with Fiona for two years and never once did she ever not fasten her seat belt, and never did she allow me to not fasten mine, even in my own vehicle!  That Sunday night they found her pickup at the base of a steep, rocky incline on just off a lonely stretch of highway.  Fiona had been thrown out, they said, from her rolling vehicle, found a distance from it with fatal head injuries.  I knew Fiona had been murdered when I was told she was not wearing a seat belt.  There isn’t much else to say.  But few worthless people on earth ever pay for what they are and what they do while living their short lives on earth.  I’ll bet Fiona never sees those kind of people in heaven. Long ago I promised her I wouldn’t ever tell this story. I keep my promises, except for this one time. I believe she will forgive me because I haven’t.

Monday, August 7, 2023

The Spider and the Mud Dauber


Large female garden spider


         I see lots of things outdoors that are hard to believe, but what I saw this past week is one of the weirdest things ever. It was outdoors just outside my workshop-fishing- hunting-book storage and pool table room up here in the wilderness where I live at.

         Out on the concrete pad, I was just sitting there beside my boat trying to figure out where I had left my tackle box, when off to the far end I see a big garden spider running across the concrete as fast as I have ever seen a spider run. And I have seen some of them run awfully fast when I was trying to stomp them in my basement. They can be fast, but none as fast as that one.

         Almost as fast was a mud dauber, behind him about thirty   inches.  And it was running, not flying. Both were heading toward the inside of my basement. Now here is the question… Why is a spider the size of a quarter running full speed from a little runt mud dauber that carries no stinger to amount to nothing?

         Some might say the two have become acquainted and the spider was trying to lead the dirt dauber to my Labrador’s water bowl. It is a well-known fact that in order to build his mud nest, the dirt dauber needs water.  He also deposits eggs in those mud chambers, or rather his immediate female counterpart does, and the two will place small spiders in the hole chambers of that mud prison for the hatching larvae to eat as they mature. But that garden spider was much too large for the mud dauber to conquer and take home for his progenies first meal.

         I don’t know, it puzzles me!  But I managed to step on both of them, because I need no spiders and dirt daubers in my basement.  I don’t like to kill things I don’t want to eat, but spiders and dirt daubers are allowed to survive in my sheds to a great extent.  But still I can’t help but wonder why that mud-dauber was chasing the garden spider on foot?  Could it be the spider had come across him and bit off one wing?  If anyone out there knows the answer to this intriguing occurrence in nature, please let me know.  I have to point out here that I do not know the gender of either insect.  They could have both been females, or one a female and one a male, who could know that?  That’s something else that I wonder about, was the answer due to a gender problem?

         I saw a bass chase a frog out on a gravel bar once, and doe deer chasing a young coyote; and I heard tell of a wild gobbler chasing a house cat, but that spider and mud dauber really perplexes me.  I just like to know the why of things when I am out studying nature as I so often do.  And I have often wondered why a big old thick steak tastes better with some fat in it, while you have to boil the heck out of a possum to remove the fat before you can bake it!  A baked possum can be made to taste just like a baked muskrat if you boil it an hour or so.  And some old rivermen say they’d rather eat a young muskrat than a barbecued coon!


         On a serious matter, armadillos spread leprosy?  It has been denied quite often in the past but medical people in the southern states know it is a fact. Armadillos that they have created an outbreak of leprosy in Florida, almost 100 new cases.  I have told people often through my columns to kill every armadillo they see and though it is difficult for me to make myself do it, I run over all of them I see on the highway.  They are not native to the Ozarks coming up here from across the Lborder like so many problems do.  Truckers hauling metal culverts and pipes from Texas and Oklahoma say the worthless creatures came here in loads of any kind of long pipes, because they like living in those hollow tubes.  They are perhaps as deadly an egg eater in the wild as there is.  They are a big reason whippoorwills are declining so badly.


       I do urge you to run over every armadillos you see on the roads you travel.  I squash armadillos often beneath these nearly-worn-out Goodyear tires of mine, but I will nearly go into the ditch to avoid a terrapin.  And what I said about being willing to run over that sheet-spreader salesman that spends so much time irritating Americans on television; I wouldn’t run into the ditch to get him like I said I would. I was joking about that! But shucks I might not mind denting my bumper on that pillow-stuffin’, money grubber if’n he was in my lane and I was going slow.


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Float A River With Me

      I have been contacted by several readers about the Buffalo River float trip I am going to conduct on Saturday, October 28.  It is going to be an all day interpretive trip on the river celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the first such float trip I took there.

      Actually, I worked as a naturalist at the place known as Buffalo River State Park in 1971. That is when I was chief naturalist for the Arkansas State Park system. I was only 23 years old.  I hired some young men from and we chose a site for an amphitheatre and laid out miles of nature trails. 


      We built the amphitheatre benches out of split oak logs that were from trees downed at another state park by a windstorm. The National Park Service still uses that same amphitheatre but they replaced the benches. The trails we built back then are still used, but I doubt there are naturalists today who conduct daily hikes the way we did.


      The naturalists who I hired in 1971 were only 18 year-old college students majoring in natural history subjects. They were;  Michael Widner, John Michael Green, Randy Johnson and Dennis Whiteside, then, and later, Jim Killer and Carl Jones, two I did not hire.  All those men were Ozark country boys, and on the river or the trails, they had a real knowledge of the plants, birds, fish, etc. They had grown up around there, and also knew Ozark history and people. 

      The National Park Service does not hire naturalists as such today; they call them ‘interpretive specialists’ now.  In general those are full-time employees born and   raised who knows where… California, Chicago, a foreign country even. I have written about what I saw there when the National Park Service took over and the Buffalo and I began working for them.  They don’t like it, but it was all true. 


      You can read the whole story about my time there working for the NPS in the magazine I publish about the Ozarks and the outdoors.  It will be out in September and will hopefully include an interview with the overall Park Director today working out of Harrison Arkansas. The Buffalo today is a mess and they know it. I will tell about the good and bad things I saw back then, one of the best park rangers you could ever imagine, second in command at Buffalo Point by the name of Chuck Brooks and an old CCC worker who was still there.


      I will also tell about a Hispanic employee out of the front office who would likely have served many years in prison if the sheriff had ever broken in on one of his weekend drug and alcohol parties there in Buffalo Point cabins where Marion county minors often were found.

      But as for now, I’ll just count on making that October 28 float trip something special.  I will limit it to 24 people and there will be no charge.  I will even pay for the dinner, which will be a fish fry on a gravel bar.  If we have more than 24 people wanting to go, I will schedule another trip in November.

      I have already received a phone call from the Park Service. The NPS has made a rule that if you guide on the Buffalo you have to pay them money for a special guide’s permit. It is expensive. 

      In the’70’s, my Uncle Norten and I guided float fishermen on several Ozark streams, the Kings, War Eagle, Illinois, Crooked Creek and occasionally the Buffalo.  Back then it was legal to do that on the Buffalo.  The Park Service didn’t like that… I don’t know why. But they can’t stop us from organizing interpretive float trips on the river in this way as long as I am not making money from it.

      I have conducted interpretive float trips on other Ozark streams, most recently the Niangua.  We seine fish, show folks the variety of plants and trees, talk about the history and people of the river.  We also teach them how to fish a river, and urge them to release smallmouth and rock bass, stressing river conservation practices. Folks learn how to paddle a boat or canoe from one side.  The one o’clock fish fry is a big hit, of course; baked beans, potato salad and brownies for dessert.

      If you live too far from Arkansas to go on our Buffalo trip, I will do the same thing this fall on the Big Piney, where I grew up.

    I guided float fishermen in wooden johnboat on the Piney when I was only 11 or 12 years old, making 50 cents an hour.  If you go on that Big Piney trip with me this fall you can go free!  That’s what inflation has done!

      If you want to go down the Buffalo or Big Piney with me this fall, just let me know.  My office phone is 417-777-5227.  The email address is

    If you are old-fashioned like me, just use the post office. Send me a letter at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.  I don’t live there but once a week I go to the post office, ten miles away, providing I can get across the creek! See all my columns and photos on the internet at larrydablemontoutdoors, and see my books and magazines at