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Missouri Tree Farmers Confer

The Missouri State Tree Farm Committee invites all woodland owners to attend the conference’s silver anniversary Feb. 25-26 at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia.

The conference will start Friday afternoon with a Woodland Estate Planning Workshop by Dr. Bill Hoover of Purdue University. That evening, landowners will share woodland management experiences.

Saturday presentations will focus on selecting the right tree for your property, exotic plant threats in Missouri, pruning high-value forest trees and the health of Missouri forests. The conference will conclude with a forum on quail management.

Early registration fee is $45 for Tree Farm members, $50 for non-members. For more information, contact Glenda Fry, the Missouri Forest Products Association Education Coordinator, at (573) 634-3252, or e-mail Glenda@moforest.org.

VOLUNTEERS REACH NEW HEIGHTS

Nadine Marshall, middle, and Carolyn Brunner have done what no other volunteers at Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City have done before. Each of the devoted conservationists has donated 5,000 hours of their time to share nature with others.

Marshall has been volunteering since 1995. Brunner began her career as a volunteer naturalist in 1992. The pair, with the help of fellow volunteer Golda Trower, developed one of the state’s most popular nature center programs, called “The Wildlifers.” It blends nature learning with quilt making.

Think “location” in quail estate, too

Every homeowner knows the three most important factors in determining the value of a house are location, location and location. The same is true for quail real estate. Keep this in mind when creating “covey headquarters.”

Covey headquarters are brushy areas where bobwhites can escape from predators. The ideal area is about 1,500 square feet. It should be at least 20 feet wide, with a combination of brushpiles and upright shrubby growth, such as American plum, shrub dogwood, blackberry or indigo bush. These plants allow quail to move around without fear of hawks, but also allow them to fly away from foxes and other land-based predators.

The value of covey headquarters is diminished if it is not near other suitable bobwhite habitat. The best site is near the corner of a field with row crops, food plots or lightly disked grassland on one side, and well-managed, wildlife-friendly grassland nearby.

For more information about managing land for quail and other wildlife that thrives in open land, subscribe to the Conservation Department’s “Covey Headquarters.” The quarterly newsletter is available online. To receive the newsletter by mail, write to Covey Headquarters, Missouri Department of Conservation, 3915 Oakland Ave., St. Joseph, MO 64506.

NWTF honors Chillicothe man

Max Hamilton of Chillicothe, a citizen conservationist and outdoor communicator, has been honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

The NWTF named a room at its new headquarters in Edgefield, S.C., in honor of Hamilton, whose conservation career included service as NWTF’s chairman of the board and president.

Hamilton served as outdoor editor for the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune for more than 50 years before retiring in 1994. He helped found the NWTF’s Chillicothe chapter and has worked for more than 60 years to make his farm northwest of Chillicothe a model for wildlife management.

VULTURE VENTURE RETURNS

Missouri’s most unusual wildlife viewing opportunity will take place Feb. 26 at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson. This year’s “Vulture Venture” will run from noon to 6 p.m.

Indoor attractions include a live vulture from the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, a video about vultures, vulture games, stickers and crafts. Outside, visitors will meet naturalists with spotting scopes and view one of Missouri’s largest vulture wintering roosts. This is a rare opportunity to see both black and turkey vultures in the same location.

Visitors who stay until late in the afternoon are treated to vulture “kettling” as large numbers of the big birds swoop in to roost for the night. This is a free program and requires no reservations. For more information or for directions, call (417) 334-4865, ext 0.

Last year’s event received the National Association of Interpretation’s Best Interpretive Program award.

Teacher workshops branch out

If you are pursuing an education degree, have a strong professional interest in conservation or want to enrich your teaching, consider signing up for one of the Conservation Department’s educator workshops. Many workshops offer college credit. Non-credit workshops are free, or require only a small registration fee. New this year is a workshop titled, “Comparative Ecology: Invaders vs. Natives.” Participants will use hands-on strategies to explore the effects of invasive exotic species on native plants and animals, such as warm-season grasses and quail.

Other new workshops include “Endangered Species and You: The Biodiversity Connection,” and “Life Sports for Educators.”

Perennial favorites include workshops on insects, mammals, outdoor classrooms, Lewis and Clark and Project WILD. For a complete list, visit us online or write to Publications Staff, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Calling all boaters

The St. Louis America’s Center will host the 51st annual St. Louis Boat and Sport Show Feb. 22-27.

The show will feature boats, motors, marine accessories, hunting and fishing gear and vacation destinations. Seminars and guest speakers will appeal to every age and interest. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Tuesday; 2-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 11 am. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $8 for adults, $2 for children under 12. Children 5 and under get in free Friday if accompanied by adults. Further information is available online.

Deer Classic events scheduled

The Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club has expanded its annual Deer Classic and Wildlife Extravaganza to five events around the state this year.

Each event will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature informative seminars and displays by equipment makers, taxidermists and related businesses. Hunters can bring their trophies to be scored by qualified experts, and a trophy display board will be available for hunters to show off their deer mounts.

Admission is $5. Children 12 and younger get in free. Proceeds from the events will be divided between the Big Bucks Club and local sponsors. Dates, sponsors and exhibitor contact information are:

  • Feb. 12 at the East Carter County School, Ellsinore, (573) 322-5653.
  • Feb. 19 at Trinity Lutheran School, Jefferson City, (573) 751-9000.
  • Feb. 26 at the Clark County Care Building, Kahoka, (660) 945-3715, ext. 254.
  • March 5 at Chillicothe High School, (660) 646-8488.
  • March 12 at Lakeland School, Deepwater (417) 644-2223.

Goose control workshops offered in St. Louis area

In February, Missourians with problem geese can learn how to avoid and reduce conflicts with giant Canada geese at workshops in the St. Louis area.

GeesePeace St. Louis, a non-profit group that promotes non-lethal solutions to nuisance goose problems, is offering the workshops in cooperation with the Conservation Department. Participants learn population stabilization techniques, like egg addling and oiling. The workshops also cover the use of landscaping, trained dogs, chemical repellents and no-feeding policies in an integrated goose management plan. Attendance costs $8. Workshops will be offered:

  • Feb. 9 and 19 at the Wildlife Rescue Center, Ballwin.
  • Feb. 26 at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, Kirkwood.
  • March 3 at August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area, St. Charles.

For more information, call (314) 567-2081, or visit the GeesePeace Web site.

Be part of the bobwhite recovery

Each of the Conservation Department’s eight regions is developing a Regional Quail Recovery Plan. To learn how you can get involved, contact the regional office in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, Kirksville, St. Joseph, Cape Girardeau or West Plains.

BIG, BIG FISH!

A new state-record trout has been registered. In August 2004, Jason Harper of Neosho landed an 18-pound, 1-ounce rainbow trout at Roaring River State Park. His fish demolished the previous record of 16 pounds, 13 ounces, set in 1987, also at Roaring River. The 30 1/8-inch lunker fell for a silver spoon. The 22-year-old angler had his hands full landing the fish on 4-pound-test line. The fish had a girth of 22 5/8 inches.

Anglers who dream of landing a huge catfish should note the case of James Edmiston, of Shawnee, Kan. In August, he caught an 82-pound blue cat on the Missouri River along Missouri’s western border. Although he surely must have been pleased, it wasn’t the once-in-a-lifetime fish it would have been for most anglers. He caught a 92-pounder--the Kansas state record--in 2000.

Urban deer harvest skyrockets in second year

A record number of Missouri hunters took advantage of the state’s second urban portion of firearms deer season Oct. 8-11, taking 1,955 deer and donating tons of venison to needy families.

The hunt took place in 11 counties around St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and the Columbia/Jefferson City area. One-hundred fifty successful participants donated their deer to the Share the Harvest program, which channels venison to food banks and other charitable organizations.

Last year’s urban portion of firearms deer season lasted only two days and was limited to the areas around St. Louis and Kansas City. Initial harvest figures last year showed 91 deer brought to check stations in the hunt areas. However, this number did not include 43 deer brought to check stations outside the area. These boosted the final tally to 134. This year’s urban segment total also will increase when deer checked outside the hunt area are taken into account, possibly topping 2,800.

This record harvest is good news for communities that want to reduce deer numbers.

Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest deadline is March 15

Entries for the 2005 Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest are due March 15. Students in grades K-12 are eligible to create art of Missouri waterfowl for the contest, which is sponsored by Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, visit online, or contact Tim Haller, Big Muddy NWR, 4200 New Haven Drive, Columbia, MO 65201, (573) 441-2799.

Fishing legend Virgil Ward dies

Fishing legend Virgil Ward, who put fishing lore in television viewers minds and fishing lures in their hands, died in September at age 93. He hosted the nationally syndicated “Championship Fishing” from 1964 to1990, reaching anglers on 300 stations. The soft-spoken angling celebrity also invented fishing lures, including the Beetle Spin, which are used by millions of anglers. Ward lived near Amsterdam, Mo.

Forsyth team wins forestry event

The Forsyth High School Forestry Team earned top honors in October at the National FFA Forestry Career Development Event.

All four members of the team placed in the top 10 in the competition. Juniors Cole Wyatt and Nathan Storts placed first and third, respectively. Senior Casey Williams placed fourth, and Junior Adam Johnson came in ninth.

They became only the second team in Missouri history to win the title. The event tests contestants’ knowledge of forest management tools, principles and techniques, tree identification, forest inventorying, tree disorders and safety.

John Wyatt, Cole’s father and the team’s sponsor, said the four budding foresters spent hours before and after school studying and training for the competition at the national FFA convention in Louisville, Ky.

Eric Ray McKenzie, Keytesville, and Benjamin Thomas French, Fulton, also distinguished themselves at the event by winning Wildlife Production Proficiency Awards.

Huge deer could be state record

Next time you hear someone say big bucks only live on private land, show them this photo of Scott Fowler. He killed this deer with bow and arrow Sept. 18 at Poosey Conservation Area (CA) in Livingston County.

Fowler, a Florida resident, travels to Missouri each year to scout and hunt. He pursued this deer for five years after finding one of its shed antlers in 1999. He saw it several times thereafter, and he even filmed it on video.

When it fell, the deer weighed an estimated 230 pounds, field-dressed. Fowler chose not to have the antlers “green scored.” Instead, he decided to wait until the end of the 60-day drying period prescribed by the Pope and Young Club to have it measured. It could challenge Missouri’s all-time archery hunting record of 191 inches.

Bill Wehrle, who interviewed Fowler for an article that appeared in the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, said that Fowler hunts only public land, and he hunts only with a bow. He doesn’t use tree stands. Fowler also said that the Sept. 15 opener for archery deer season helps archers because bucks’ activity still revolves around food then, making them easier to pattern.

Fowler’s deer was feeding in a soybean field when it fell.

Wehrle also said this is the fifth deer Fowler has taken at Poosey CA that qualified for Pope and Young certification.

Federal funds aid bird conservation

State Wildlife Grants are a new source of federal funding for state wildlife programs. The focus is on helping species with urgent needs before they become endangered.

Local partners are an important part of this effort. Last year, the Conservation Department channeled $210,000 of these federal funds into local efforts through the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative. Matching grants of up to $20,000 went to:

  • The Burroughs Audubon Society and Audubon Missouri for Missouri River corridor marsh and forest restoration in central Missouri.
  • The Otahki Girl Scout Council for Otahki Woodland restoration.
  • The Ruffed Grouse Society, Quail Unlimited (QU), Enterprise Leasing and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for the River Hills Forest Project.
  • The Missouri Waterfowl Association, Audubon Missouri, Ducks Unlimited and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) for Truman Lake wetland restoration.
  • The Missouri Prairie Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for Grassland Coalition work in southwestern Missouri.
  • The Missouri Prairie Foundation for tallgrass prairie acquisition in northern Missouri.
  • A private landowner and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for savanna and glade restoration on private land.
  • The Missouri Native Plant Society, Columbia Audubon, the University of Missouri and a private landowner for prairie restoration near Columbia.
  • Springfield Audubon and TNC for prairie restoration at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie.
  • Intercounty Electric Cooperative, a private landowner and the NWTF for habitat improvements along power line rights-of-way in the Ozarks.
  • The Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District and the MCHF for equipment for warm-season grass restoration.
  • The City of Rolla, Ozark Rivers Audubon and QU for grassland and savanna restoration.
  • Kansas City WildLands and Jackson County Parks and Recreation for removing honeysuckle and planting trees.
  • The National Waterfowl Association for levee construction and shorebird and waterfowl marsh restoration at B.K. Leach Conservation Area.
  • St. Louis Audubon, St. Louis County Parks and the FWS for marsh habitat restoration in Creve Coeur.
  • QU for habitat management equipment.

 AGENT NOTEBOOK

Part of my job through the years has been to investigate spring turkey accidents. I interview the shooter and victim (hopefully) and reconstruct the scene. This helps me get a sense of the series of events that led to the accident.

At the end of each year, the Conservation Department compiles a list of all reported hunting accidents and their causes. This data helps us in teaching hunter education and in learning how accidents can be prevented.

A few years ago, I compiled the statewide statistics for spring turkey hunting accidents over the past 5 years. They really surprised me. I had always assumed that most hunting accidents involved inexperienced hunters. However, most of the “mistaken for game” spring turkey hunting incidents involved shooters and victims in their late 30s. On average, the people involved have about 10 years of turkey hunting experience and 25 years of overall hunting experience.

Many hunters fall into this general category, but I wondered why a few of them have accidents. Somehow, they assumed that a color or movement they spotted in the woods was a turkey instead of another hunter. They then committed the unforgivable error of shooting without positively identifying their target.

When I hear about an accident, I always ask myself, “How could this have happened?” If all hunters asked themselves the same question, we could eliminate hunting accidents. --Chuck Griffin

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