Man out of Time
family would camp and fish. Sometimes the trip was to Lake Wappapello or Clearwater Lake - but it always was outdoors.
Robert Duren also traveled to Colorado each year to trap for coyotes, bobcats, kit fox and the occasional badger. Fur prices were good, so the income was important. Maybe it's coincidental, but the mountain men once gathered in Colorado to exchange stories and information. Some things don't change.
Each Duren kid had chores. Hard work was part of life - but not all. "I was playing drums in the band, too," Duren says. "There was marching band and concert band and the jazz band. I ran track in high school. Before that there was the Cub Scouts. There always was plenty to do around the farm, but since the third grade I had a job."
It's tough to see how there were enough hours in the day to take care of the diverse enthusiasms of the family. "We hunted everything. If we weren't hunting, we were fishing or trapping."
Duren knew anatomy long before he took biology. "When we started dissecting frogs it wasn't anything new to me - I'd been cleaning frogs we caught for years. The teacher'd tell us what needed to be done and in about 30 seconds, I had the parts whipped out. By that time I was skinning furbearers and making scent lures. We did that in the evening in the wintertime."
Another influence besides Dad and his interest in the outdoors was the Festus-Crystal City Conservation Club, Duren says.
The club has been a stalwart in the Conservation Federation of Missouri for years and had its own grounds, where Duren played as a kid. "It's half a mile from our house. My dad was a board member for 35 years and chairman of the turkey calling contest for 20 years. I called in that contest when I was nine years old. I never did win."
It probably was inevitable that Duren would join the Conservation Department. He earned a degree in animal husbandry at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1976 and was working for the university, taking care of 250 sheep. Graduation was an interruption in his hectic schedule: he fed and cleaned up after his sheep on graduation day, hurriedly scrubbed off the worst of it, attended the ceremonies, then hustled back for the afternoon sheep chores.
"I was looking for another