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!!!”