Outdoor Recreation

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Scout it Out: Shooting Ranges

Area Name: Bois D’Arc Conservation Area

Location: In Greene County off Route UU, southwest of Willard. The area headquarters is at the junction of farm roads 59 and 94.

For more info: visit our online atlas, keyword "Bois".

Archers and bowhunters can hone their skills at two shooting ranges on the Bois D’Arc Conservation Area in Greene County. The more formal Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center has both a static-range, where archers stand and shoot at a line of targets, and a 3-D animal range with a system of trails that allows hunters to practice in simulated field conditions. The range even includes a platform for practice shooting from an elevated stand. Use of the range costs $3 per hour.

Bois D’Arc also offers a smaller, unsupervised archery range that doesn’t cost anything to use. This walk-through range, designed with bowhunters in mind, features animal targets painted on backstops.

Bois D’Arc Conservation Area even offers great bowhunting. Only archery methods are allowed for deer hunting on the area, and hunting pressure is moderate, despite a relatively high (22 per square mile) deer population.

For information about Bois D’Arc Conservation Area, call (417) 895-6880. To find a Conservation Department archery range in your area, call a nearby Conservation Department office.

Bowhunting

Looking for a good excuse to spend time in the woods?

Bowhunting began when people figured out how the rebounding energy of a bent stick could propel another, smaller stick. Judging by the huge number of arrowheads unearthed in Missouri, a long era of presettlement bowhunting followed. In 1946, regulated bowhunting for deer in Missouri began. In 1952, we recorded the first deer taken by archery methods during the modern bowhunting era.

Although bowhunting has become gadgety for some, many like it because it remains an elemental challenge. A successful bowhunter has to gain proficiency in shooting, learn enough woodscraft to predict the movements of his quarry and remain motionless and quiet for hours at a time. Most deer are shot within 20 yards of where archers wait. Getting a naturally skittish animal with superior senses to approach that close is an achievement.

The chart below shows how sales of resident and nonresident regular archery permits have skyrocketed. Permit privileges and season length have also increased through the years. The dates for the upcoming Archery Deer & Turkey season are Sept. 15–Nov. 14 and Nov. 26–Jan. 15.

Birds of a Feather: American Goldfinch

American Gold finches are birds of many names. They’re often called wild canaries, probably because they are colorful and noisy. Others call them lettuce birds, recognizing that goldfinches like the seeds of lettuce plants that have been allowed to mature. The name yellowbird has also stuck, no doubt because there is no yellower bird than the male American goldfinch in summer. Both males and females, however, wear drab coats over winter.

Science refers to the American goldfinch as Carduelis tristis. You might roughly translate that Latin genus and species name to “sad thistle.” Why should American goldfinches be considered sad? They flit around happily, are highly gregarious, and have a pleasing undulating flight pattern. What’s more, they usually sing as they fly. Perhaps the idea of melancholy can be traced to one of the bird’s calls, which is often translated as, “Dear me! Dear me!”

Another common name, thistle bird, is extremely apt for American goldfinches. That’s because the species’ unusual late summer breeding likely evolved to coincide with when thistles go to seed. Thistle seeds are so important to the feeding of young goldfinches that researchers report nearly every nest they find is near a thistle seed source.

Goldfinches build nests of tightly woven vegetation in shrubs or small trees and line the nests with plant down.

“Be” the Target

Students can’t miss with this archery program.

Focus is the key to hitting the target in archery. Many believe it’s the secret to success, too. That’s why archery programs are becoming popular in Missouri schools. Anyone who can pull a bow can find satisfaction in target archery. The Zen-like focus and discipline students develop as they improve their shooting carries over into their studies and personal lives. Target archery is like exercise for the mind. It teaches kids to concentrate.

The Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program supports Olympic-style target archery in fourth- through 12th-grade physical education classes. Teachers report that school attendance, behavior and grades improve on days when archery target shooting is scheduled. In more than a third of the schools participating, students have started after-school archery clubs, and more than a quarter of participating students buy their own archery equipment.

The Conservation Department and the Conservation Federation of Missouri together provide $500 to help schools obtain equipment for the MoNASP. For grant details, contact your local Outdoor Skills Specialist.

Home on the Range

Build a home archery range for inexpensive family fun.

Archery is an ancient art, but it’s also an ancient entertainment. If it’s legal where you live, and you can make it absolutely safe, a target-archery range on your property will provide endless enjoyment.

Buy a National Archery in the Schools Program compliant target or just pile up three straw bales and attach paper target faces to them. Spend evenings improving your skills with a longbow, recurve bow or compound bow. Make your own special target faces, such as tick-tack-toe or darts, for games, or put balloons on the target that will pop with a good shot. Handicap events by having better shooters stand farther away.

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