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Spring turkey harvest tops 54,000

Three years of below-average turkey reproduction and some of the worst hunting conditions possible conspired against Missouri turkey hunters this year. Yet they managed to bag an amazing 54,712 birds, proving that a bad year for turkey hunting in Missouri is better than the best year in most states.

Youth hunters kicked off the season by killing 3,694 birds April 8 and 9. The regular season April 24 through May 14 saw a harvest of 51,018. Each of the figures represents a 5 percent decrease from last year.

How can Missouri hunters continue to kill so many turkeys when reproduction is down, and rain, wind and cold hamper their efforts?

“What you have to remember is that Missouri starts every year with a very large flock,” says resource scientist Jeff Beringer. “We estimate a total statewide turkey population of 600,000 birds. About 60 percent are hens, and if each of those hens produces 1.2 poults (young turkeys). We can have a poor hatch and still make a lot of birds.”

Although short of the 60,000-bird record set in 2004, this year’s harvest still is the seventh-largest in the 47-year history of Missouri’s modern turkey season and the eighth in a row over 50,000.

Top 2006 harvest counties were Texas, where hunters bagged 946 turkeys, Franklin with 902 and Macon with 873. Regional totals were: Northeast, 8,436; Central, 7,577; Northwest, 7,308; Southwest, 6,504; Kansas City, 6,336; Ozark, 6,120; Southeast, 4,771; and St. Louis, 3,966 (see page 1 for region boundaries).

Permits issued for the 2006 spring turkey season included 91,090 resident permits, 44,511 resident landowner permits, 13,236 youth permits, 9,661 nonresident permits and 463 nonresident landowner permits.

Blending agriculture and quail management

Landowners who want quail but need to make a living at farming will want to attend Integrating Bobwhite Quail Management with Agriculture, a half-day field day sponsored by the Missouri Soybean Association, the Conservation Department and the University of Missouri Extension.

The event will run from 8 a.m. until noon Aug. 26 at the University of Missouri Bradford Research and Extension Center, off Highway 63, 11 miles south of Columbia. It will consist of three one-hour tours. One will cover management techniques for native grasses and forbs, establishing covey headquarters, and food plots and early successional plant management. Another will cover edge feathering, field border management, CP33 practices, crop yield differences and diversion channel management. The remaining tour will feature invasive plant management, grassland bird habitats on farms and management practices conducted by neighboring landowners.

The field day is free and open to the public without reservations. For more information, contact Tim Reinbott, ReinbottT@missouri.edu, (573) 884-7945, or Bob Pierce, PierceR@missouri.edu, (573) 882-4337.

Fish may be shorter than they appear

If you have a Conservation Department fish ruler stuck to your boat, check its color before measuring another fish. The ruler itself might not measure up. White, 18-inch plastic rulers distributed as many as 10 years ago have not stood the test of time. Heat and sunlight have caused them to shrink. Anglers who use the old rulers to measure fish could be fooled into thinking their fish meet length limits when they really are too short. Newer, yellow rulers from the Department are made of shrink-proof material and have proven more reliable. To be safe, check the accuracy of any stick-on ruler you use while fishing. If you need a new one, stop by a Department office for a replacement or contact the fisheries information specialist at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3593.

Burning for bobwhites: Summer fire helps control woody invasion

Nature is not static, and neither is quail habitat. Left unchecked, woody sprouts quickly engulf field edges where trees have been cut to benefit bobwhites. One way to slow this process is with prescribed burns in July and August.

The intensity of summer burns often kills woody plants outright. On the downside, summer burning also is hard on native warm-season grasses that may be present, and it stimulates exotic cool-season grasses. However, in areas where open habitat is desired and trees and shrubs are taking over, there is little to lose. Once woody plants are gone, you can focus on shifting grass composition to favor quail and other ground-nesting wildlife.

For guidance about summer burns, consult the Forest Land Management Guide: Use of Prescribed Fire.

QU to fund quail coordinator’s job

Quail Unlimited (QU) announced in May that it will fund the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) coordinator’s job through 2009, enabling the program’s work to continue uninterrupted. NBCI is a habitat-based national bobwhite quail recovery effort with the goal of restoring bobwhite numbers to 1980 levels throughout their range. Partners in the effort include QU, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Conservation Department and other states’ conservation agencies. In the past two years alone, NBCI Coordinator Don McKenzie has helped channel more than $2 million into habitat work on more than 185,000 acres. “Quail Unlimited is proud to be a partner in meeting the financial demands necessary to help ensure the long-term success and viability of the NBCI,” said QU President Rocky Evans. “Our whole organization, including our staff, chapters and members, strongly endorse and support the NBCI goals.” QU’s web site has more information about NBCI.

Bobwhite bullets

  • Quail Unlimited will hold its national conference in Kansas City July 26-30. For more information, visit online or call (803) 637-5731.
  • The newly formed KC Covey Chapter of Quail Forever plans habitat work on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas line. More information is available from Jason Rasmussen, (816) 304-8982, jrasmussen16@comcast.net, or online.
  • Quail Unlimited recently honored its West-Central Missouri Chapter for outstanding action under the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. Also recognized were Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) biologist Pat Graham and NRCS District Conservationist Mike Andrews.
  • Quail hunters and conservationists in Knox County have formed the Whistling Bobs Quail Unlimited Chapter. For more information, contact Bill Wiseman (660) 733-5530, bwiseman@marktwain.net.
  • The Grand River Quail Unlimited recently became the first chapter in the nation to form an officially recognized Burn Team to conduct contracted prescribed burns. For more information, call (660) 745-3140.
  • Lake of the Ozarks area residents have formed the Camden, Miller and Morgan County Quail Forever Chapter, the sixth in Missouri since Quail Forever came into existence in August 2005. For more information, contact Donnie Cauthron, (417) 722-4722, lordmaul002002@yahoo.com.

Link

Quail Unlimited - http://www.qu.org

Invite Hummers with Hot-Red Blossoms

If you’re looking for a plant with a red blossom hot enough to match July temperatures, take a look at royal catchfly (Silene regia). It has strike-up-the-band red flowers that bloom atop stiff stems up to 4 feet tall.

Royal catchfly’s blossoms attract hummingbirds from June to August. As an added bonus, it thrives in dry spots.

While considered rare in some areas, it flourishes in home gardens. Keep in mind, however, that it has a taproot that rots if soil has too much moisture, so be stingy with water.

A red-hot native plant that likes moist areas is cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Found in nature along stream banks and gravel bars, it’s a great choice to add spice to a rain garden and should be watered if weather turns dry.

Cardinal flower’s showy blossoms come into full glory in August. Hummingbirds seek out its brilliant red blossoms, as does the cloudless sulphur butterfly.

For more information about using these and other native plants to attract wildlife, write to Grow Native!, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or e-mail grownative@mda.mo.gov and ask for Natives for Your Home Landscape.—Barbara Fairchild

Governor proclaims bird conservation day

Gov. Matt Blunt celebrated bird conservation in Missouri at a proclamation signing ceremony May 10 at the State Capitol. Present were leaders of the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI), including representatives from the Audubon Society of Missouri, Conservation Federation of Missouri, Missouri Departments of Conservation, Natural Resources and Transportation, Ducks Unlimited, Missouri Falconers Association, Missouri Prairie Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, St. Louis Audubon Society and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proclamation noted that MoBCI is an organization of hunters, bird watchers, conservation professionals and others engaged in bird conservation through partnership action. It further noted that bird watchers, bird hunters, and other bird enthusiasts in Missouri together annually spend $621.4 million. This generates $1.2 billion in total business activity, supports 11,080 jobs, creates $29.3 million in sales tax revenue, and generates $10.9 million in state income tax.

MU offers woodland workshops

Many Missourians own land for recreation as much as for income, but it is not necessary to choose one or the other. A new short course offered by the University of Missouri Extension, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation, is designed to help landowners maximize wildlife values while enhancing the health and economic value of their forests.

The Missouri Woodland Steward course consists of five workshops led by resource professionals. Four are indoor sessions. The fifth is a field trip. Participants get an introduction to the basic principles and practices of forest and wildlife management. The object is not to turn forest owners into foresters, but to give them the knowledge they need to assess their options and the vocabulary necessary to work confidently with forestry professionals to achieve their goals.

The ideal is for everyone who completes the course to develop a management plan for their land. Fewer than one in 10 Missouri forest owners has such a plan. That is not good for the future of private forests, which make up 83 percent of the state’s total forest acreage.

The University is helping local teams organize Woodland Steward courses in all regions of the state. For more information, contact your county MU Extension office or Hank Stelzer at StelzerH@missouri.edu or (573) 882-4444.

Missouri youth wins national Junior Duck Stamp art contest

Rebekah Nastav of Amoret, Mo., is the winner of the 2006-2007 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nastav, 15, won the contest with an acrylic painting of a redhead duck. Her artwork, titled “Morning Swim,” appears on the federal stamp, which went on sale June 1. She received a $5,000 prize and an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she participated in the first-day-of-sale ceremony.

Highway wildflower conversions

If Missouri highways seem to be getting prettier, it might not be your imagination. Cooperation between the Conservation and Transportation departments is turning monotonous, high-maintenance highway rights-of-way into colorful landscapes.

The agencies kicked off the Roadside Conversion Project in 2003, preparing seedbeds on nine stretches of highway. Planting began the next year, using a mixture of seeds from more than 50 native wildflowers and grasses. The earliest roadside conversion projects now are well-established and producing wildflower displays that change with the seasons. Bright-yellow coreopsis and black-eyed Susan come on in May and June, followed by gray-headed coneflower, purple coneflower, wild bergamot, partridge pea and pitcher sage in the summer and New England aster in September.

Wildflowers now festoon 500 acres along 80 miles of highway. Areas where conversion projects already are in place are I-35 from Bethany to the Iowa State Line, U.S. Highway 71 from the Vernon County line to Lamar, U.S. Highway 54 from the Highway H exit south of Fulton to the Auxvasse exit north of Kingdom City, I-55 from the Benton exit to the Marston exit north and south of Sikeston, I-270 between routes 30 and 21, The Junction of I-70 and I-370 in St. Charles County and the I-255/I-55 interchange in St. Louis County.

The wildflower plantings save money on mowing and other maintenance and keep down the growth of tall weeds that can create safety problems. For more information about the Roadside Conversion Program and how your community can get involved, contact Steve Clubine at Steve.Clubine@mdc.mo.gov or (660) 885-8179, ext. 241, or Stacy Armstrong at Stacy.Armstrong@modot.mo.gov, (573) 751-8647.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman events

YMCA of the Ozarks Trout Lodge and Camp Lakewood in Potosi will hold a “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” (BOW) program Aug. 25 through 27 and a Beyond BOW Harvest Moon Backpacking Trip Oct. 6 through 8.

BOW is a popular international program for women 18 and older who are interested in learning outdoor skills. Courses offered at the August event include fishing, canoeing, rifle and shotgun shooting, deer and turkey hunting, kayaking, Dutch-oven cooking, wilderness survival, wildflower identification, orienteering, climbing and horsemanship. Completion of a BOW event is not required for participation in the backpacking trip.

To receive registration forms for either event, contact Mariah Hughes, (573) 438-2154, ext. 238, mhughes@ymcastlouis.org, or Ro Bonny, (573) 438-2154, ext. 114, rbonney@ymcastlouis.org, or visit online to download a registration form.

Arbor Excellence Awards

The Conservation Department and the Missouri Community Forestry Council have recognized five communities, organizations and individuals for substantially improving their communities’ trees. Arbor Awards of Excellence went to the City of Gladstone, the City of St. Peters, TreeLiberty of Liberty, and Polly Jaben of Plattsburg. The City of Hannibal received a Citation of Merit. The awards recognize groups and individuals whose care of trees contributed significantly to their towns or areas and was part of a sustainable long-term effort. Nomination applications are accepted from October through November. For more information about the Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence or to download a nomination form, go online or contact Justine Gartner, (573) 522-4115, ext. 3116, or by e-mail at Justine.Gartner@mdc.mo.gov.

Agent Notebook

Etiquette is defined in the dictionary as “correct behavior.” Need to know how to act at a dinner party? There’s a book on that. How do you greet royalty? There is a book on that, too. How should you behave while floating one of Missouri’s many pristine Ozark streams? I think it is about time someone writes a book on that subject.

Missouri’s conservation agents work our float streams through the summer, enforcing fishing regulations, littering laws and other Missouri statutes. Over the last few years, agents have noticed a significant increase in problems that don’t fall into any legal category but are violations of “etiquette.” Many of Missouri’s regular floaters and canoe rental operators have noticed and complained about these same problems. Complaints include loud music, cursing, drunken floaters, ATVs on gravel bars, and water cannons spraying everyone nearby, to name a few. Unfortunately, these are everyday events on some of Missouri’s float streams.

Studies are underway to try to control what some call “obnoxious floaters.” I don’t think we need any more laws or regulations. I think the best solution is for all floaters to be considerate of other people. Obnoxious behavior is out of place, whether it occurs on a public street, at a dinner party or on a beautiful Missouri stream.

Our float streams draw a large and varied crowd each summer. Those floaters planning for a weekend of partying and revelry should realize there are families with children on the river, as well as people hoping for a little peace and solitude in one of Missouri’s most beautiful natural settings. You can have fun floating, but don’t spoil the fun of others.—Michael Lancaster, Protection District Supervisor, Wayne County

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