By Jim Low
The results of this year’s North American Duck Breeding Population Survey are in, and the news is excellent. Total duck numbers are estimated at 48.6 million continent-wide. That is a 7-percent increase from last year and up 43 percent from the long-term average. The North American population of mallards, the mainstay species for Missouri waterfowl hunters, is estimated at 10.6 million this year. That is up 15 percent from 2011 and 40 percent above the long-term average. Mallard numbers have exceeded this year’s figure only twice in the past 56 years—1958 and 1999.
Blue-winged teal numbers were estimated at 9.2 million. That is similar to last year’s population. It also is 94 percent above the long-term average and nearly twice the 4.7 million needed for the maximum early-season length of 16 days under federal guidelines. This year’s early teal season will open Sept. 8 and run through Sept. 23. The Conservation Commission will set opening and closing dates, bag limits and other details of the regular waterfowl season at its meeting Aug. 24.
Other duck species breeding populations recorded in the 2012 survey include:
The Missouri Conservation Commission would like to recognize citizens who make outstanding contributions to conservation. Nominations are being sought for the Master Conservationist Award and the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. The Master Conservationist Award honors living or deceased citizens while the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes deceased individuals. Those who can be considered for either honor are:
Anyone can submit a nomination, which should include a statement describing the nominee’s accomplishments and a brief biography. Criteria and nomination forms for each award are available on the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/ node/7763 and mdc.mo.gov/node/7759. Please submit nominations by Oct. 1 to Denise Bateman, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180 or email to Denise.Bateman@mdc.mo.gov.
A screening committee appointed by the Department’s director meets annually to consider nominees, with the Conservation Commission conveying final approval.
MDC intensively manages 31,988 acres of wetland on 15 conservation areas to provide critical resources for waterfowl and other wetlanddependent species. This intensive management also produces exceptional waterfowl hunting.
To improve hunting and prevent overcrowding, MDC limits hunters on these 15 areas each day. Hunters can participate in a pre-season reservation system, apply for a Quick Draw position or attend an on-site drawing the morning of the hunt.
The pre-season reservation system accommodates hunters who need to make plans in advance. Reservation holders are guaranteed a hunting spot but vie for line position with walk-in morning draw participants. Applications for reservations are accepted from Sept. 1 through 18 at mdc.mo.gov/node/3806. Reservation drawing results will be available Oct. 1. On areas offering reservations, 50 percent of the hunting positions are set aside for pre-season reservations.
Quick Draw, an online draw system, was designed to enhance convenience, reduce travel time and expense, and offer hunters more flexibility at select areas. Hunters may apply twice a week, once for hunts occurring Friday through Monday and once for hunts occurring Tuesday through Thursday. Applications are accepted a week before the opening of waterfowl season. Quick Draw is offered at Grand Pass, Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough conservation areas. MDC will continue to solicit public feedback on Quick Draw throughout the upcoming waterfowl season.
On-site, morning drawings accommodate hunters who wish to show-up and vie for a hunting position. Twenty percent of the positions at Quick Draw areas and 50 percent of the positions at the other managed wetland areas are set aside for morning drawings. The positions of reservation holders and Quick Draw hunters who do not show up are also included in the drawing.
Waterfowl numbers are promising; however, staff are closely monitoring the effects of the ongoing drought. Conditions may influence the availability of hunting spots.—by Shawn Gruber.
Deer season gets underway Sept. 15 with the opening of archery hunting, and hunters need to be aware of some changes in this year’s regulations.
To provide more opportunities, the Muzzleloader portion of the Firearms Deer Season has been changed to the Alternative Methods portion. Under the new regulations, hunters may use archery gear, crossbows, atlatls, handguns and air guns in addition to muzzle-loading firearms. Atlatls also are allowed during the Archery Deer and Turkey Season this year.
The discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in north-central Missouri prompted restrictions on wildlife feeding, which can hasten the spread of the disease. Salt products, minerals and other consumable natural or manufactured products used to attract deer are prohibited in the CWD Containment Zone comprising Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties. Hunters and landowners also are urged to follow voluntary guidelines on Page 2 of the 2012 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet. The booklet is available from permit vendors or online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3656.
In a further effort to slow the spread of CWD, the Conservation Commission rescinded the fourpoint rule in the CWD Containment Zone. Mature bucks are more likely to have CWD, and they travel more widely than other deer, increasing their chance of spreading the disease. Allowing the harvest of bucks with fewer than four points on one side will reduce this risk.
Hunters with developmental disabilities who have taken a hunter-education course but failed the certification tests may now purchase firearms permits after obtaining an eligibility statement from MDC. They must carry this certification while hunting and hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed hunter age 18 or older who is hunter-education certified or exempt by age.
Any member of the United States military currently assigned as a patient to a Warrior Transition Brigade, Warrior Transition Unit or a military medical center now may purchase Missouri resident permits regardless of residency.
New managed hunts have been added this year, and others have been modified. See Pages 20 through 25 of the 2012 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet for details.
Deer or turkey regulations have changed for some conservation areas. These changes are listed on Pages 38 through 46 of the 2012 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet.
The infectious agents that cause chronic wasting disease (CWD) are abnormal proteins known as prions. They remain in the soil for years after being deposited through the bodily fluids or decomposing carcasses of infected deer. The majority of hunters process their own deer, so they will play a key role in preventing the spread of CWD. You can help by taking common-sense precautions when processing deer.
The first thing to remember is that CWD prions are concentrated in the spine, brain, spleen, eyes, tonsils and lymph nodes. When processing deer, avoid cutting through bones, the spine or brain. If you hunt somewhere other than home, you need to bring knives and containers so you can bone out meat and leave behind potentially infectious material. Send the carcass, organs and other parts to a state-approved landfill so it will be safely buried. If the landfill option isn’t practical, bury the carcass deep enough that scavengers can’t dig it up.
Trophies require some precautions, too. Taxidermists use artificial forms to create mounts, so there is no reason to keep the skull, which could carry prions. When removing the cape from the carcass, also skin the head. Use a power saw to remove the antlers along with a small portion of the skull that joins them. Clean the inside of the skull plate with chlorine bleach before leaving the area where the deer was taken.
The primary way that CWD spreads is by nose-to-nose contact between deer. Anything that artificially concentrates deer populations increases the likelihood of CWD transmission. For this reason, MDC has banned artificial feeding of deer in the six north-central Missouri counties designated as the CWD Containment Zone. Because CWD could spread to other areas without warning, regulations prohibit hunters and landowners not to feed deer and turkeys.
More detailed information about CWD prevention is found on Pages 2 through 5 of the 2012 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet. The booklet is available from permit vendors or online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3656.
All of Peck Ranch Conservation Area is open to visitors, and the self-guided tour route is a great way to access some of the best elk-viewing spots. Peck Ranch is open from sunrise to sunset daily.
Driving loops are marked with signs. However, keep in mind that parts of the driving tour require high-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicles, and others may be impassible after rain.
To get directions and an area map, visit mdc. mo.gov/node/8911, the area headquarters or call 855-263-2355. Photographers are welcome as long as they don’t disturb elk or other wildlife.
Elk seek the shade and food of forested areas during hot weather. They tend to graze in open fields in the fall, winter and spring. Their movements are somewhat predictable, but with 23,000 acres on Peck Ranch and more than 220,000 acres in the designated elk-restoration zone, there is no guarantee of seeing elk at any given time and place.
If you are curious about trapping or are a trapper and want to visit with other trappers and learn the latest news about your craft, the Missouri Trappers Association has some events that might interest you. They will sponsor beginner trapping clinics:
The 2012 Missouri Trappers Association’s fall rendezvous Sept. 21 through 23 at Sand Spring Resort near Bennett Spring State Park will feature informational seminars, vendor displays and networking opportunities with other trappers. For more information, call John Daniel, 417-818- 7308 or Robbie Page, 660-888-2369, or email email@example.com. For more information about the Missouri Trappers Association, visit missouritrappersassociation.org.
A new MDC video explains blue catfish regulation changes being considered for Truman Reservoir, Lake of the Ozarks and their tributaries, including the no-boating zone below Truman Dam.
Anglers and fisheries biologists have expressed concerns about the declining number of larger blue catfish being caught from Truman Reservoir. A survey showed that more than a third of anglers think the quality of catfishing has declined. A study at Truman Reservoir showed that blue catfish 24 inches and larger are harvested at an extremely high rate.
In response to these facts, MDC developed possible regulation changes to address the problem. After presenting those ideas at stakeholder meetings, MDC modified the regulation changes and came up with new proposals designed to reverse the decline and increase the number of larger blue catfish while still permitting substantial catfish harvest.
To view the video, click on the link at mdc.mo.gov/node/8390. The page also has a link for comments on the possible regulation changes.
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