will be doing.
Once you do arrive at your chosen spot, try to turn off your cell phone or iPod and look and listen to your surroundings. Even if just for an hour or two, experience the peacefulness of what is around you. Take the time to really look at what you are passing. So many people miss out on the experience of seeing a deer fawn hidden in the leaves, or watching a tiger beetle larvae pull its next victim into its lair. Animal tracks, feathers, hair, nests, burrows and even scat (that’s a biologist’s word for droppings!) might lead you to see some very interesting creatures. Birds, flowers, rocks, fish, lizards, insects, spiders (and spider webs) are all part of the experience and easily missed if you aren’t focused on using all of your senses.
Learning to identify irritating or harmful animals and plants will also help you better enjoy your experience. Poison ivy and ticks are the most common irritants. Learn what they look like and how to avoid them, as well as what to do if you run in to either of them. Gain knowledge of the animals of the region you will visit. Most snakes, for example, are harmless. Out of 46 species of snakes, there are only five that are venomous and one of those is endangered—the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. Fortunately, each has its own distinguishable pattern and can easily be identified if you take a few minutes to learn what they look like and where they live. Did you know that most people bitten by snakes were either handling or trying to kill the snake? You can find more information on these and other species in our online field guide at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/73.
Take a journal or camera to record where you went, what you did and how well the area fit your needs. Use them to remember your trip, rather than taking natural objects as mementos. Encourage children to explore, touch, smell and listen to the world around them. If you show an interest, they will too.
Hunting and Angling for Good Times
If you are planning a hunting trip, become familiar with the laws associated with your hunt. Plan to scout the area ahead of time to learn not only the patterns of the game, but also to get an idea of how heavily others use the area. Knowing where you