Hunters will find this year’s fall deer and turkey hunting regulations much the same as last year. Exceptions include the timing of the Early Youth Portion of Firearms Deer Season and new counties where unlimited antlerless permits are available.
In the past, the early youth hunt has coincided with Halloween. This year, the Conservation Commission moved the early youth hunt to Nov. 5 and 6, avoiding this conflict. Public comments played a direct role in this adjustment.
Changes to this year’s deer regulations include:
Harvest data, hunter surveys and other citizen input show that deer numbers in parts of central, northern and western Missouri have stabilized or declined in recent years. Hunters and landowners determine deer harvest in areas where unlimited antlerless permits are available. The availability of unlimited antlerless permits in a particular county does not mean that hunters need to harvest more does there. It simply allows hunters and landowners—who know their local situations best—to adjust deer harvest to achieve their goals.
New regulations are in effect on some MDC areas. These and other changes are explained in the 2011 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available from permit vendors or as a PDF to download at mdc.mo.gov/node/3656.
Looking for a place to hunt during Missouri’s 70-day dove season? Visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3607, and take your pick of 150 specially managed dove fields on approximately 90 conservation areas statewide. Maps also are available from Conservation Department regional offices. Most conservation areas have sunflower or other agricultural crop fields that provide excellent forage for doves and other upland birds. These dove magnets also draw lots of hunters, so mind your manners, and keep safety foremost in mind. Stand at least 50 yards from other hunters, and pass up shots that are not at least 45 degrees above the horizon. Before leaving, hunt up all your empty hulls and take them with you. Littering is a crime.
Storm-ravaged Joplin was the beneficiary of a benefit fundraiser put on by MDC’s Jay Henges Shooting Range in St. Louis County. Team Henges, a 22-member competitive trapshooting team led by coaches Jan Morris and Pat McCart, conducted the fundraiser June 4. Team members, who are age 11 through 18, solicited donations of up to $1 for every clay target broken during the event. When the smoke cleared, they had raised $1,107 for the American Red Cross Joplin relief effort. Team members also gathered donations of supplies, including flashlights, batteries, hammers and chainsaw bar oil, to help tornado victims. Team Henges has earned national honors in shooting competitions sponsored by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation.
Retired Wildlife Research Chief Bill Crawford joined the ranks of Missouri’s Master Conservationists at a ceremony held at Runge Conservation Nature Center July 15.
The Moberly native’s involvement in conservation began in 1935, when he and his father joined other citizens at a meeting to set up Missouri’s nonpolitical conservation program. His professional career began in 1941, when he signed on as an aquatic biologist for the Conservation Department. In 1949 he became the first chief of wildlife research, a position where he continued to provide leadership for 34 years. Crawford also cofounded the Missouri Prairie Foundation (feature article on the foundation starting on Page 8) with longtime friend Don Christisen in 1966 to help protect Missouri’s native grassland habitat and wildlife.
“Every part of Missouri conservation has been touched by Bill Crawford,” said MDC Director Robert Ziehmer. “Mr. Crawford wisely, strategically and productively invested an entire lifetime creating, building and guiding Missouri’s Conservation agency.”
The Master Conservationist award is the highest honor given by the Conservation Commission. The Commission established the award in 1941 to honor individuals who have made substantial and lasting contributions to Missouri’s fisheries, forestry or wildlife conservation.
Follow-up testing at Pomme de Terre Lake has given the southwest Missouri lake a clean bill of health regarding zebra mussels. Recent tests showed that earlier positive readings from the 7,820-acre lake were false. The news emphasizes the important role boaters and anglers play in preventing the spread of invasive species. To keep Pomme de Terre and other uninfested Missouri waters free of zebra mussels and other exotics, the Conservation Department urges anglers and boaters to take the following precautions.
Anglers can also avoid spreading zebra mussels and other invasive pests by obtaining live bait locally and disposing of leftover bait properly. Even things as seemingly harmless as earthworms and crayfish can be trouble. Some commercial bait comes from as far away as Canada. If you catch minnows in one place and take them somewhere else to fish, you could be transporting invasive Asian carp species without knowing it.
When you are done fishing, put leftover bait in a trash container headed for the nearest landfill before leaving your fishing area. Never toss live bait into a lake or stream to feed the fish.
For more information on zebra mussels and other invasive species, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4088.
A series of nine clinics throughout the state in September and October will give Missourians a chance to learn about the historic and practical sides of Missouri’s first industry, fur trapping. The Missouri Trappers Association (MTA) is offering one-to three-day workshops in each of its nine regions. Participants will learn about equipment, setting traps, dispatching animals humanely, caring for fur after harvest and much more. Besides classroom instruction, participants will get to help run a live, working trap line. For details, visit http://missouritrappersassociation.org.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) says North America’s breeding duck population topped 45.6 million this year. That is an 11 percent increase from last year and 35 percent above the average since 1955. This was only the fifth time in the survey’s history that the total duck population exceeded 40 million. Population estimates for individual species include:
Only three species—scaup, northern pintail and American wigeon—remain below North American Waterfowl Management Plan population goals.
This year’s good news is a reflection of good weather. Snow and rainfall in Canada and the northern United States filled ponds and kept grasslands in good condition for nesting ducks. However, the good weather masks some bad news. Nesting cover across the Prairie Pothole Region continues to decline, particularly on the U.S. side of the border. Large tracts of former Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands have been converted to cropland since last year. Expiring CRP contracts and high commodity prices driven by other economic factors are pushing these conversions.
Missouri hunters’ success will depend, as it always does, on favorable weather during the hunting season. Wetland conditions on the states’ managed wetland areas were highly variable due to flooding in some locations and drought in other regions as this issue of the Conservationist went to press. Up-to-date information about hunting conditions is available at mdc.mo.gov/node/9619.
A Warsaw man faces a felony charge for allegedly trying to weigh-in fish that he caught before a fishing tournament began.
David R. Gann, 72, entered a family-style bass tournament on Truman Lake June 4. A few days earlier, anglers setting trot lines at Truman Lake found a wire box containing three largemouth bass. They notified conservation agents, who located the fish box and marked the fish for later identification.
On the day of the tournament, the agents said, they watched Gann remove fish from the box and put them in his boat’s live well. After Gann weighed in his fish, conservation agents and officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol—Water Patrol Division took possession of the fish, which included ones they had marked. Conservation agents issued misdemeanor citations to Gann, one for wanton waste of a fish that died in the box and another for having an unlabeled live box in the water. Prosecutor Karen Woodley filed an attempt to steal by deceit charge against Gann in Benton County Circuit Court. Gann was arraigned on June 28 and entered a not-guilty plea.
The misdemeanor charges are punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. The Class D felony charge is punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Anyone spotting a possible fish and wildlife code violation can make an anonymous report by calling the Operation Game Thief hotline, 1-800-392-1111.
—by Bill Graham
A long-time waterfowl hunter and fisherman, Eugene J. (Gene) Tichacek has a lot of stories to tell. A resident of St. Louis, Gene fondly remembers going on hunts with his father as a boy with BB gun in tow. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1957 and enrolling at Saint Louis University, Gene’s hunting adventures included not only his father but also college buddies.
Their destinations included such locations as Duck Creek Conservation Area (CA) in southeast Missouri and Fountain Grove CA in north-central Missouri. He fondly remembers the camaraderie among fellow hunters during the blind draws in the wee early morning hours of a chilly fall day. “I remember many a time we’d sleep in sleeping bags in my father’s station wagon and catch a few winks before the blind draw,” Gene said. “And sometimes it wasn’t easy finding your blind in the dark. I remember George Brakhage, who managed Duck Creek CA at the time. He did an outstanding job and was a credit to the department. Those were just great times that I’ll never forget.”
During the more than 50 years since, Gene has taken great satisfaction in passing on a love of and appreciation for wildlife and the outdoors to his sons and grandsons. With a desire to give back for, in Gene’s words, “the many wonderful days of fishing and hunting enjoyment for four generations of Tichaceks,” Gene’s family trust made a gift to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation that funded the Department of Conservation’s construction of two disabled accessible blinds (one a wildlife viewing blind, the other a hunting blind) at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Louis County.
Gene is delighted that this donation has made possible the viewing of wildlife, outdoor photography and hunting accessible to disabled persons—adults and children alike. “The blinds turned out fantastically,” Gene said. “This gives everyone a chance to enjoy nature and create lifelong outdoor memories.”
—by David McAllister
Missouri duck hunters will have the opportunity to plan their fall duck hunting further in advance due to a recent Conservation Commission decision to use formulas to set duck season dates. Previously, Missouri duck hunters had to wait until late August to find out the timing of duck season. Now, hunters will know duck season dates in late July, just as soon as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announces if the upcoming season will be Liberal (60 days), Moderate (45 days) or Restrictive (30 days). Once hunters know what option the USFWS offers, they will be able to apply the appropriate formula to determine season dates. The formulas established by the Commission are as follows:
North Zone: Last Saturday in Oct.
Middle Zone: 1st Saturday in Nov.
South Zone: Thanksgiving
North Zone: 1st Saturday in Nov.
Middle Zone: 2nd Saturday in Nov.
South Zone: 1st Saturday in Dec.
North Zone: 2nd Saturday in Nov.
Middle Zone: 3rd Saturday in Nov.
South Zone: 2nd Saturday in Dec.
For the 15th consecutive year, the The USFWS is offering a 60-day season in 2011–12. Based on the formulas approved by the Commission, the 2011–12 duck season dates will be: North Zone: 29 October–27 December
Middle Zone: 5 November–3 January
South Zone: 24 November–22 January
Conservation pays by enriching our economy and quality of life.
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