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… larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.  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 lightninridge47@gmail.com

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. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Making Scents of Things

Good Arkansas friend, Mike Widner, quite a few years ago bowhunting

       There is a special place I visit to bow-hunt and get away from people and this awful world.  It is on a lake and I get there by boat.  I know that bass fishing is often very good on the nearby lake while I sit in a tree-stand watching squirrels.  Or I might be reeling in crappie close by, if I got down out of the tree. 


    The thing that makes fishing so much easier than deer hunting is scent.  A bass doesn't care how a spinner-bait smells but if the wind is right, a deer can tell you what kind of cheese you have on your sandwich from a quarter mile away.

    And that is the problem for me.  I have mastered everything that has to do with the outdoors except the art of using scent. I know almost everything… but there's that one problem I have worked on for years and I still can't it figure it out.  I'm afraid everything in the woods can smell me and they act accordingly. I do my best to counteract the problem of smelling bad. I have put my hunting clothes in a bag of dirt and moss and leaves like some of my bow-hunting friends do and I soak a pair of rubber boots with deer scent before I go into the woods.

    This scent thing befuddles me, I think, because I can't smell a thing myself.  I've got eyes like a hawk, and I can hear great.  I can hear people talking about how bad I smell during the deer season from 15 or 20 feet away.  Years ago I had a friend who invented and marketed a scent which was carried by bubbles on air currents.  When I first heard of him sitting in a tree-stand blowing bubbles from a bottle and a bubble wand, I near about rolled on the floor I laughed so hard.  And then he killed a buck a week or so into the bow season that had antlers like the handlebars on a Harley-Davidson.

    I've got to do something, but I don't know what. I don't have any friends that will let me come to their house for the next two months because the scent of a 'doe-in-heat' stays with you even better than Dial soap.  I have one hunting shirt still buried out there in the leaves at the edge of woods because I was trying to give it an earthy smell and now I can't find it.


   One veteran old bow hunter says I should switch to a more natural scent, like corn.  He says that he puts several piles of corn around his tree stand and the scent of the corn draws deer like nothing else.  You have to keep replenishing it because the deer keep eating it, but it works better than anything else.  Of course the local game warden might consider that baiting but it wouldn't be if you were just depending on the ‘SCENT’ of the corn to draw the deer.  And besides that, if putting out something good to eat is taking an unfair advantage of a deer, what the heck do you call putting out the scent of a doe?  How many men do you know who would rather smell a steak dinner than "Evening in Paris".

    I'll let you know next week if I see any deer.  Actually I might rather get a picture of a big buck rather than killing one. I hate gutting a dead deer because of the smell, and the photos of big buck deer have made me some big bucks with outdoor magazines who buy them. Until Christmas, when I start smelling like a cedar tree or whatever new shaving lotion I get for Christmas, you might ought to avoid me if you see me in town. I often smell like a red fox scent post!

        If you smell someone in the sporting goods department and see  someone  who has leaves hanging from his faded old hunting shirt, that's probably me.  

Please read some material I put on my website this past week.  Just find it on the computer under larrydablemontoutdoors.  And there, you can read some things I can’t include in this column, that every hunter needs to know.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023


     Bill Zippro, a resident of Joplin, Mo will tell you that his brother died a young man with prions in his brain because he killed and ate a huge buck which was not acting right. His brother told him the buck didn’t make any attempt to escape and he told Bill he thought the deer had been turned loose from a nearby deer farm where they feed deer meat and bone by-products to make bigger antlers. 

      He said his brother was shown to have the prions in his brain and spinal fluid, and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia verified it. In humans it is called ‘Cruetzfeldt-Jacobs’ disease and in deer and elk it is called ‘chronic wasting’ disease.  They call it ‘mad–cow’ disease in cattle, ‘scrapies’ in sheep.  All these are transmissible spongiform disease… all of them should be called that and nothing else regardless of what strain they identify the prions as.  Prions are prions!  All those diseases involve prions which create holes in the brain. 

     When he died, Zippro’s brother’s family was refused a normal funeral, because his body had to be cremated quickly. Bill Zippro took the frozen deer head all the way to Atlanta to the Center for Disease Control and they would not test it, refusing to let him bring it in.  I met in person with Zippro, still emotionally torn up by watching the horror of his brother dying over several weeks with the horrible disease. He told me what he saw with tears in his eyes. I have talked to many family members of men who died of prions to the brain. I wish you could hear what he says but no news agency will talk to him.  WHY? 

     The only thing you will ever see on this subject will have to go through the Conservation Department which tells the state’s deer hunters that human’s cannot get the disease.  That has proven to be false; horrible misinformation used to keep deer hunter numbers high and revenue from deer tags growing.  The variety of names makes most Missourians believe it.   All the diseases are a result of something called prions and they are still a puzzlement to most medical people.  My daughter, who is a doctor, confirms that if she saw a patient with the early onset of the disease it would be very hard to diagnose. She tells me that in her early years as a doctor, she saw a case of it at the University of Missouri hospital in Columbia.  That was about 25 years ago. Other doctors say the same thing.  It can be confused with other diseases without a brain biopsy.  

     There was a test done years ago on about 300 people who died of what was presumed to be Alzheimers disease.  They created slides from brain tissue of those people and 34 of them had prions in the brain.  Those 34 had died of TSE.  Zippro thinks the huge deer his brother killed had been kept in captivity. Remember this… The disease is called TSE and if you kill a deer with what the MDC  wants to call something else… it is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy and there isn’t one person who swears a human cannot get the disease from a deer who will eat a loin steak from a deer that has TSE or CWD or whatever name they want to give it.  It is PRION-IN-BRAIN disease and it has killed hundreds and hundreds of people, including two scientists in Italy who were trying to study. Look it up on the internet… it describes transmissible spongiform encephalopathy as “a disease which affects both mammals and humans.   It is always fatal.” 



The Missouri Department of Conservation fears that if the truth is known about the ‘chronic wasting disease it will cost them a lot of money. 

They were geared up to start selling non-resident tags for hundreds of dollars to the wealthier out-of-state hunters looking for trophies.  That ‘seven-point or greater’ rule put into affect in two thirds of Missouri only a few years ago was to serve that purpose… create more “trophies”.  Biologically and enforcement wise it is a ridiculous concept.  Some of the older agents told me that confidentially they wouldn’t even attempt to enforce it because of the silliness of it.

     But hunters looking for trophies do not worry about chronic wasting disease, they don’t intend to eat the deer, they want a cape and a set of antlers, and that is it.  From that concept the Conservation Commission did well in setting up a ‘share the harvest’ program which turned over venison the trophy hunters didn’t want to poor families who could use the meat.  With mad-deer disease spreading, that program should someday be stopped.  No one should take a chance on eating the meat of a sick deer harvested perhaps in some other part of the state just for its antlers.

     My oldest daughter is a doctor and I question her about the chronic wasting disease and have a hard time getting her to give me hard medical answers.  She says it a disease spread by organisms called prions, and there isn’t she can say that the medical profession is absolutely sure of.  To a doctor, mad-deer disease or mad-cow disease is known as ‘Creutzfeldt-Jakob’ disease.  My daughter has told me that anyone eating venison from a diseased deer is at risk and should never do it.  Prions aren’t bacteria and they are not virus.  There really isn’t a good definition of exactly what they are!  Prions seem to exist in the brain and spinal fluid and possibly bone marrow, but not in blood.

      What they call Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, (nothing more than prion-in-the-brain disease or TSE) was created by feeding meat and bone meal to cattle in England in order to make them heavier and worth more money. The same thing created it in deer and elk in the United States years and years ago, feeding a commercial food with meat and bone meal to herbivores in order to create bigger antlers. 



Up Some River in October


     Fisheries biologists started creating hybrid fish years ago.  It hasn’t always worked out the way they thought it would.  The cross of walleyes and saugers, produce something they called a saugeye, which can reproduce naturally.  They are supposedly a fish that can thrive in southern lake water that is warmer and more colored, even muddier water, than walleye favor.  Oklahoma was the place where saugeye were first attempted, way back in the 1980’s.  Virginia stocked them ten years ago.  The fish is meant to be a southern version of the walleye.  But the saugeyes do reproduce.   Most hybrids do not.

     In more northern states there has been an attempt to hybridize red-ear sunfish with bluegill and green sunfish with bluegill.  In Oklahoma again they have tried a lot of those sunfish hybrids, punkinseeds (longear sunfish) have been crossed with bluegill and green sunfish.  Though I   have looked for years, I have never seen it occur naturally in the wild.   But I have seen versions of the hybridizations of sunfish biologists have tried.  I cannot see how any of them produce a better fish.  What happens is odd…bluegill males crossed with green sunfish females will produce 90 percent male offspring, whereas the reverse cross will yield only 70 percent males. There is the belief that this skewed sex ratio makes that hybrid a good management tool.  It is thought the resulting hybrid will not overpopulate and stunt as readily as bluegill, in ponds or small waters.

    This week and all through October, I am going after what I think is the best result from hybridization, a cross between female stripers and male white bass.  No common name really exists for the fish, they are just known as ‘hybrids’ and they seldom reach 20 pounds.  Small ones are thought to be white bass by most who catch them.  But they are very distinctive.  The ones I catch out of rivers I fish in the fall are usually between 5 and 10 pounds, and I have my line broken often, because in rivers, they fight like tigers, using the current and finding logs and stumps if there are any close at all. Hybrids are harder fighters and you DO NOT fish for them with light tackle.  Better have 14- to 20-pound line and a rod with some backbone.

     In the fall, as the water cools, white bass and hybrids move upstream a little bit like they do in the fall.  Both like that cool, well- oxygenated current.  Stripers do not seem so inclined.

     I seldom fish for hybrids in the fall with anything but topwater lures.  My favorite is a 9-inch Rapala-like floater that you can reel under and then stop and float.  Buzz-baits also work, if you use casting reels with a high retrieve ration. Last October I boated 4 nice hybrids from 5 to 7 pounds, and lost twice that many before I could get them to the boat.  I also lost two of my topwater lures.  

  You’ll note the broken lines on the belly of the hybrid (bottom), in contrast to straight, even lines on the white (top)


    It is the rivers flowing into lakes which have hybrids, that I like to fish, but as dry as it has been this year, a lake that has hybrids holds them into the winter as they school in certain places.  Norfork Lake and its tributaries have a lot of them, as does Truman Lake. Folks who float Bryant Creek and Norfork River see a lot of stripers and hybrids in those rivers, but my favorites are the Osage and Sac.  It has been awhile since I have been on Beaver Lake, which is full of hybrids.  Find a tributary there with plenty of water, and you will likely find whites and hybrids.


     I said in last weeks column I would tell the story of Bill Zippro, whose brother died from the deer disease that so many insist humans can’t get.  It got on my computer site late, but it is there now.  I urge you to read it.