Outdoor Recreation

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Scout it Out

Turkey Hunting

  • Area name: Whetstone Creek Conservation Area
  • Directions: Whetstone Creek CA is located in Callaway County. From the I-70 Williamsburg exit, take Route D north to the stop sign. Turn west and continue on D to County Road 1003. Go north 2 miles on 1003 to the Whetstone Creek CA entrance.
  • Spring Turkey Season: April 16–May 6, 2007
  • Area Manager phone number: 573-884-6861
  • For more information: consult our online atlas and search “Whetstone”

Folks still hunting for a place to hunt turkeys should check out Whetstone Creek Conservation Area (CA). The 5,147-acre area is located in northeast Callaway County. One-third of the CA is forest land that includes lots of oaks, and as any good turkey hunter knows, where there are acorns you’ll find turkeys. Traditionally, hunting pressure on the area has been low.

When scouting Whetstone Creek CA take advantage of the on-site shooting range to pattern your shotgun. The range, parking lots and privies at the CA are disabled-accessible. Other features of the area include 14 fishable lakes and ponds and primitive camping.

Before hunting at Whetstone Creek or any CA, review the area’s regulations. They’re available from the area manager (information listed above) or you can also find area brochures through our online atlas. Search the atlas by a specific CA name or by county. Once you’ve located the area you want, click on “area brochure” for a copy of area regulations. You can also use the atlas to research other potential hunting locations in Missouri.

Spring Turkey

Less-vocal birds may require more time scouting.

Patience and preseason scouting will be the key to turkey hunting success this spring. Missouri’s turkey flock experienced poor production in 2005, so we will have fewer 2-year-old birds this spring. Gobbling may be less intense in some areas because 2-year-old birds tend to be vocal while older gobblers often spend more time strutting and courting hens. This may require hunters to work harder to call in a bird. Jeff Beringer, Department turkey biologist, expects the turkey harvest to be about the same as last year’s total of 54,712, if we have fair weather. To find more information about the spring turkey season see below.

Crappie Fishing

Celebrate spring by taking a child crappie fishing.

There’s no better time to fish for crappie than mid-April to early May, when the fish are spawning and eager to bite. Fishing trips that provide good chances to reel in fish are more exciting for children and may encourage them to make fishing a hobby.

Spawning crappies can be caught with jigs, minnows, small crankbaits or spinners. Fish brushpiles and standing timber, where crappies concentrate.

To get the most from your outing, remember to pack snacks, drinks, sunscreen, bug spray and personal flotation devices. Bring a camera to record the youngster’s first catch. See below for a link to the First Fish Awards.

Feathered Fascination

The Function of Feathers

From enabling flight to aiding survival, feathers affect virtually every aspect of a bird’s life. No bird could fly without feathers. Wing feathers are arranged so that the wings are more curved on top and flat underneath in flight. This forms an “airfoil,” which enables birds to rise off the ground and stay in the air.

Feathers are essential for regulating body temperature. Birds fluff their feathers in cold weather to trap an insulating layer of air between their feathers and skin. The air slows heat loss, helping birds stay warm. Feathers also help birds stay dry. Most birds coat their feathers with oil from a preening gland to create a waterproofing barrier. A few species have special feathers called “powder down,” which partially disintegrates into a fine powder that is spread over the rest of the feathers to repel water. Feather color helps birds identify members of their species, which is important for mating and establishing flocks. It also helps birds blend into their surroundings to evade predators.

To learn more about birds in Missouri see the list of links below or purchase the Birds in Missouri book for $30 plus shipping and handling, and sales tax (where applicable). To order, call toll free 877-521-8632 or visit  the MDC Nature Shop Information from The Birder’s Handbook by Paul Ehrlich, et al., was also used in this segment.

Spring Flowers

Usher in spring with a walk among wildflowers.

Throughout the state you can enjoy the rich purple blooms of Virginia bluebells and wild sweet william. If you enjoy the subtle beauty of pink and red flowers, look for wild geranium and columbine.

Two types of poppies will be popping up this month. The vivid yellow, rounded petals of celandine poppies can brighten any spring outing. Look for them in wooded slopes and moist wooded valleys of the state’s central and southeastern counties. Bloodroot is a pretty white poppy with eight to 16 petals of uneven size and length. Travel to the woods often for a glimpse of bloodroots. Their blooms last only one day.

In the southeastern Ozarks look for dwarf crested iris. The showy flower features striking sepals that are bluish to lavender with a conspicuous splotch of orange and white at the base. The smaller petals are uniformly bluish to lavender.

Conservation areas are great places to view wildflowers. To find conservation areas near your home, consult our online atlas.

Counting is for the Birds

Participate in the May Bird Count on May 12.

If you could take a snapshot to capture the migration activities of birds for just one day, what would you see? Answering that question is the goal of the North American Migration Count (NAMC). NAMC is an annual census of migrating birds. The count is conducted on the second Saturday in May, which has been dubbed International Migratory Bird Day. The count gathers information on the abundance and distribution of birds in North America and increases public awareness of migrant songbirds and threats to their habitats. Data from the count is used to further bird conservation. For more information about NAMC, see the links listed below.

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