By Jim Low
If you haven’t checked the sights on your deer rifle, now is the time, and MDC shooting ranges are the places. Target shooting on conservation areas is permitted only on approved shooting ranges. To provide citizens with safe and convenient places to shoot, MDC offers more than 70 unstaffed shooting ranges throughout the state. MDC also manages five staffed shooting ranges with a variety of shooting opportunities and outdoor programs. Some MDC shooting ranges are accessible to hunters with mobility impairments. Many have multiple shooting stations with covered shooting benches, target holders and pit privies. To find one near you, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6209.
When planning for fall hunting, trapping and fishing, remember that you have your choice of buying permits through vendors, as in the past, or buying online or by phone from the comfort of home.
The e-Permits System allows you to purchase, print and immediately use permits from any computer with Internet access. All Missouri sport-hunting and sport-fishing permits, along with trapping permits and the Apprentice Hunter Authorization are available online. You can get the same permits by calling toll free 800-392-4115. Phone purchases are subject to a $2 processing fee and require up to a two-week wait time to receive the permits through U.S. mail. The fee for e-Permits is $1. Keep in mind that the service fee is a per-transaction charge, so if you buy all your permits at once, you only pay $1. There is no processing fee for permits purchased from vendors.
Commercial permits and lifetime permits continue to be sold through MDC’s Central Office by calling 573-751-4115.
Deer and turkey tagging procedures have changed with e-Permits. The key information to remember is, “Bag it. Notch it. Tag it. Check it.” Hunters, anglers and trappers are encouraged to put paper e-Permits inside zipper-type plastic bags to protect them from moisture and other damage.
Deer and turkey e-Permits do not include a removable transportation tag. Instead, the permit itself is the transportation tag. Deer and turkey permits have months printed along one edge and dates on another edge. Hunters must notch the month and day as part of recording their harvested game. A sharp knife works well to notch permits.
Hunters then must tag their game by attaching the protected permit to their harvested deer or turkey. String, twist-ties, wire, plastic cable ties or tape work well for this step.
As in years past, deer and turkey hunters must check harvested animals by phone or online through MDC’s Telecheck system.
For more information or to buy e-Permits, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/10900. Transportation bags for permits are available on a limited basis from regional offices and conservation agents.
MDC biologists are winding up the second year of a blue catfish study at Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. The goal of the three-year study is to gather data on blue catfish populations, fish size and growth rates. Anglers, fisheries biologists and conservation agents have expressed concern since the 1980s about declining numbers of large blue catfish in Truman Lake. The same concerns have arisen in recent years at Lake of the Ozarks.
Blue catfish populations remain abundant, but the number of fish in the 20- to 80-pound range has declined as fishing pressure has increased. MDC crews will run jug lines through late autumn. The catfish caught are weighed, measured and released. Biologists also remove spines from some fish to gather age and growth data. Fisheries biologists will use information from the study, along with comments and survey responses from anglers, to determine if regulation changes are needed at the two lakes to produce more large catfish. —Bill Graham
George K. Brakhage and Donald M. Christisen are the two most recent inductees into Missouri’s Conservation Hall of Fame.
Brakhage’s 40-year career included jobs in state and federal government and the private sector. He helped establish Duck Creek Conservation Area, documented the nesting ecology of resident giant Canada geese, developed waterfowl habitat management techniques, and played a key role in establishing nontoxic shot requirements for waterfowl hunting. He also authored a National Waterfowl Management Plan. In the final phase of his career, Mr. Brakhage returned to Missouri to assist with fundraising efforts for waterfowl habitat conservation by working for Ducks Unlimited. He retired in 1992, but continued to serve conservation through numerous volunteer efforts until shortly before his death in 2009.
During his 42-year career with MDC, Christisen identified an ominous decline in Missouri’s prairie- chicken population. He worked to preserve remnant prairies and native prairie-chicken stock and helped form the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Christisen continued to play a key role in prairieland acquisitions and prairie-chicken restoration. His research is a key reference for prairie-chicken managers today. Christisen served twice as chairman of the Prairie G rouse Technical Council, which honored him with the Hamerstrom Award. His other honors included the Wildlife Conservationist of the Year Award and the Gulf Oil Conservation Award for Professionals.
The Conservation Commission also recently presented the Master Conservationist Award to retired Senior Wildlife Research Biologist Leroy Korschgen. Korschgen spent 37 years studying the diets of wildlife from bullfrogs to mountain lions. While studying the food habits of the cottontail rabbit, he discovered that no published reference was available to help identify finely masticated plant fragments in the rabbit stomachs. To fill this information vacuum, he “fingerprinted” more than 2,500 species of plants.
After 6 years of difficult and tedious work, he published 10 illustrated volumes documenting the microscopic characteristics of Missouri plants. Korschgen also was instrumental in developing a laboratory test to identify venison, giving conservation agents a valuable tool against poachers. He made significant contributions in identifying the negative impacts of dieldrin and other pesticides on wildlife.
If you want a copy of the 2012 Natural Events Calendar, buy it now. Supplies are limited and may not last until the end of the year. As always, this year’s calendar has dozens of jaw-dropping nature photographs. The cover image, by frequent photo contributor Danny Brown, shows eight trumpeter swans bathed in the orange light of a midwinter sunrise. Eagles, elk, turkeys, wood ducks, a hummingbird and a short-eared owl are among other wildlife depicted in the 2012 calendar. Land and waterscapes from across the Show-Me State also grace the calendar’s pages. Besides daily notes about natural events from great horned owl nesting (Feb. 5) to meteor showers (Nov. 17), this year’s Natural Events Calendar takes a look back at 75 years of conservation under the famed “Missouri Plan.”
You can have all this for a mere $7 through MDC’s online Nature Shop, mdcnatureshop.com, or by calling 877-521-8632. Or, save shipping and handling charges by buying your copy at a conservation nature center or one of the regional offices listed on Page 3. Conservation Heritage Card holders get a 15-percent discount.
Positive hunting experiences are key to getting youngsters interested in hunting. Keeping them warm and dry is a good first step. To make this possible, the Missouri Waterfowl Association (MWA) and Bass Pro Shops (BPS) provide insulated neoprene waders at three of MDC’s managed wetland areas.
Nodaway Valley, Eagle Bluffs and Four Rivers conservation areas (CAs) each have high-quality waders in a variety of youth sizes thanks to the MWA-BPS partnership. If you plan to hunt one of these areas with a youngster who is without waders, simply check in with the area staff when you arrive for your hunt. The Missouri Waterfowl Association is dedicated to the advancement of waterfowl hunting and the preservation of Missouri’s waterfowling heritage. To achieve these goals, MWA hosts youth hunts and provides funding and assistance for youth hunting clinics. MWA has built and installed hundreds of wood duck houses statewide and works with partners to maintain them. It was instrumental in making ADA-compliant blinds available at G rand Pass and Eagle Bluffs CAs. MWA has also been an important financial partner in the habitat restoration at Montrose CA as part of the G olden Anniversary Wetland Initiative. To learn more about MWA, visit www.mowaterfowl.org.
In September, MDC dedicated the McGee Family Conservation Area (CA), a gift from Kansas City businessman Thomas F. McGee Jr., who died in January 2010. The CA covers nearly 1,000 acres near Plattsburg. McGee loved nature and enjoyed sharing the outdoors at the farm with others, said his cousin, Thomas R. McGee of Kansas City. “Tom loved bringing people up here,” McGee said. “Hunting quail was a passion of his and he’d come up here and hunt morel mushrooms in the spring.”
Former Conservation Commissioner Anita G orman, of Kansas City, said McGee wanted to be sure his beloved land remained in its natural condition. McGee Family CA is not open for public use yet, but someday the area will offer hunting, hiking and other outdoor pursuits. The area currently is primarily pastureland on rolling terrain, with two ponds and frontage on the Little Platte River. “Tom McGee understood conservation,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “He understood pleasure and harmony on this land. What Tom did with this donation is share that with future generations.”
To learn how you can share your love of nature with future generations, call Aaron Jeffries, assistant to director-governmental relations, at 573-751-4115.—Bill Graham
Caring for your woodland is a long-term proposition where one decision can have impacts for decades. A new outreach effort, Call Before You Cut, provides information to help Missouri woodland owners conduct tree harvests wisely.
“Although woodland owners know a lot about their woods, they often don’t have the critical information they need before selecting someone to harvest their trees,” said Brian Schweiss, forestry field program supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Call Before You Cut campaign encourages landowners to call 877-564-7483 toll-free for free information. A live operator is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. Callers receive information packets to help them set up timber sales and other management information for their woodlands.
The program puts landowners in touch with professional foresters who can tell them how much their trees are worth, which trees should be harvested soon and which ones can grow for greater profits later. Call Before You Cut gives landowners options they might not have considered.
“Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to keep my woods healthy and beautiful,” said Dave Murphy, a landowner from Clark County, “but I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know everything. I didn’t want to make any mistakes with my own land. By working with a professional forester, I was able to make money, maintain healthy woods, and improve food and cover for turkeys, one of my favorite wildlife species to view and hunt.”
Call Before You Cut can help ensure healthy, productive woodlands for landowners and a healthy forest industry for years to come. More information is available at callb4ucut.com.
Given one nesting season free of late freezes or frog-strangling rains, Missouri’s wild turkey flock has pulled off one of the best hatches in several years. Results of the annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey revealed a state-wide ratio of 1.7 poults per hen. That is a dramatic increase from the past four years, when the ratio has varied from 1.0 to 1.2 poults per hen. Missouri’s wild-turkey flock has not had nest success and poult survival this good since 2002.
”This year’s poult-to-hen ratio is certainly a step in the right direction after the poor hatches we’ve had the past several years,” said MDC turkey biologist Jason Isabelle. ”A statewide ratio of 1.7 for a few years in a row would have a fairly dramatic impact on turkey numbers.”
Wild turkeys and other ground-nesting wildlife have suffered through a series of cold springs and unprecedented summer rainfall. This year is the first in five with near-average spring temperatures and without repeated, heavy summer rains.
For more information on regional poult-to hen ratios, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/16163
Hunters and anglers care about protecting fish and wildlife.
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler