Man out of Time
job," he says dryly. Finally, there was an opening with the Conservation Department for a wildlife damage control agent. Duren spent seven years, beginning in 1979, in that position, traveling at least 30,000 miles a year.
Along with his skills as a trapper, he honed his people skills. Most who complain about wildlife damages are angry and it takes a diplomat to cool them off, as well as to solve the problem.
The outdoor skills job was right down Duren's gravel road. No one has more outdoor skills. That tour lasted nine years until his present job as a public relations specialist, which evolved from many seminars on outdoor skills. More and more he spent time turning people on to the joy of the outdoors, rather than its mechanics.
And now the mountain man's son shares his lore with those who see the outdoors ... but don't really see it.
"We have so much in Missouri," Duren says. "I do calls that people recognize. Then I do calls that they've heard, but can't identify. And then I do things that they probably won't ever hear in Missouri, but may somewhere else, like elk."
Duren challenges his audiences: "How many heard some kind of wildlife on your way in to the auditorium?" Most haven't heard anything. Duren then tells them what they should have heard.
He did a program in St. Louis, at a church. "We were standing around outside beforehand," he says. "There were some geese and ducks, there were a half-dozen songbirds, a flock of crows. In the hour before I spoke, I could identify maybe a dozen different critters."
No one in the audience had heard anything. But all left with ears tuned to a different frequency. They would pay more attention to wildlife calls in the future.
Duren can imitate a moose, and Missouri has had several young bulls that have migrated south from Minnesota over the past 30 years. Perhaps some farmer who has attended a Duren show-and-tell will step out his farmhouse door some frosty night and hear an unfamiliar sound and exclaim, "By golly, that sounds like a bull moose grunting!"
Or maybe not. But the show does accomplish what it is supposed to: it tickles the fancy of people who are not attuned to the outdoors. "I try to show them what's out there and that there is nothing to be afraid of. The outdoors is there for people to enjoy. I encourage them to sit and listen, at different times of the day and the year in different habitats."
Teaching turkey calling is fun, talking about trapping is instructive, outdoor lore is informative, but the lesson of personal example may be the best lesson of all.