The harvest from this year’s early youth portion of firearms deer season makes clear just how well MDC’s hunter-recruitment efforts are working. Hunters age 15 and younger checked 19,277 deer during the early youth hunt Nov. 3 and 4. That is a 17.3-percent increase from the previous high set last year. Not only has the number of deer harvested during youth seasons increased since the season was created in 2001, during the same period the number of hunters 15 and under has swelled from approximately 40,000 to 70,000. Youth seasons for deer, turkey, waterfowl, quail, and pheasants are just one part of Missouri’s multifaceted approach to hunter recruitment. MDC also uses outdoorskills workshops, low-cost permits, partnerships with private mentoring programs and the Apprentice-Hunter Authorization to encourage Missourians to take up hunting. Missouri’s hunting tradition is essential to managing deer and other wildlife populations. It also contributes substantially to the state’s economy. Deer hunters alone spend approximately $700 million on their sport annually in Missouri, generating $1.1 billion in business activity and supporting 11,000 jobs.
The Conservation Department’s new Wildlife Division chief says she can’t remember ever not wanting to be outdoors.
Jennifer Battson succeeded DeeCee Darrow, who retired in August. She traces her interest in nature to Osage County, where she spent lots of time helping her parents and grandparents with farm work.
“We spent so much time outdoors working that it seemed only natural to be outdoors playing,” says Battson. “Our free time was spent exploring the woods and fishing on each of my grandparents’ farms. My love and curiosity for the outdoors sprang from winter firewood cutting and summer fishing trips.”
Her fascination with nature led Battson to earn a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her career included stints with the USDA Forest Service and the Missouri Department of Transportation. Since joining MDC in 1996, she has worked as an assistant resource forester, a management forester, a GIS specialist, an information technology trainee, a private land conservationist, a forestry programs specialist, a wildlife regional supervisor, and a wildlife management chief.
Battson’s immediate goals include devising strategies for improving the Wildlife Division’s ability to conserve and restore habitat. She hopes to inspire a closer connection between Missourians and the natural world through recreational opportunities on conservation areas.
Battson is a Fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute and a Conservation Federation of Missouri Professional Conservationist of the Year. Her favorite outdoor activities include frogging with her kids and exploring new areas on farms or conservation areas. She doesn’t get to turkey hunt as much as she would like, but what turkey hunter does?
Are you or a student you know planning a great science-fair project related to nature? If so, we would like to know about it.
Recognition for outstanding science-fair projects now is available through the Discover Nature Schools (DNS) program. No extra work or travel is involved. Teachers simply email photos and descriptions of projects for judging. Winners will receive ribbons, medals, or wooden plaques for their achievements.
Teachers, not students, must submit entries for the DNS Science Fair competition. To qualify, students must be enrolled in a class teaching a DNS unit. Entries must show a connection to at least one DNS activity. DNS does not have to be mentioned in the project. Entries must meet all criteria for display rules listed on the Academy of Science- St. Louis Science Fair website, sciencefairstl.org.
The competition will take place in three rounds. Round one will be judged by teachers at participating schools. Teachers will submit winning entries for round two by March 15. MDC education consultants will judge round two and send winners on to round three, which will be judged at MDC’s Central Office in Jefferson City. Winners will be notified by May 1. Statewide winners and their schools will receive plaques and equipment for classroom use in teaching science.
Started in 2006, the Department’s Discover Nature Schools Program is being taught in 51 percent of Missouri school districts. The program continues to grow every year. To learn more, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/19569.
The 2012 fall firearms turkey season provided more good news for turkey hunters. This year’s harvest was 8,498, up 20 percent from 2011. Meanwhile, sales of fall firearms turkey hunting permits were up 9.3 percent. Both increases indicate an increase in turkey numbers.
“With fall turkey hunting, permit sales tend to increase when folks see more turkeys,” says Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle. “The increases in permit sales and the number of turkeys harvested mirror the results of this year’s brood survey, which showed production up for the second year in a row.”
Isabelle says the improved production in 2011 means hunters next spring are likely to find the largest group of 2-year-old gobblers in quite a few years. Two-year-old gobblers are the most vocal, and hearing turkeys gobble is a significant factor in hunter satisfaction.
According to Isabelle, it is unlikely Missouri will ever again see the numbers of turkeys it had immediately following restoration. That high water mark was the culmination of a restoration program in which turkeys were reintroduced into areas where they had been absent for decades. Turkey populations expanded rapidly until they encountered “biological resistance” from factors that limit their numbers. From that peak, turkey numbers decreased to levels that are likely more sustainable in the long-run.
“In the coming years, fluctuations in our turkey population can be expected,” says Isabelle. “We will have our higher years and we’ll have our lower years. That’s just the nature of a species like the wild turkey. As long as we have enough habitat, though, Missouri will have a great turkey resource.”
Top fall firearms harvest counties were Webster with 225 turkeys checked, Laclede with 223, and Greene with 216.
At its meeting in Springfield Oct. 18 and 19, the Conservation Commission accepted accolades from Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon and State Rep. Sue Entlicher, Bolivar. Nixon and Entlicher each presented a framed proclamation congratulating the Conservation Department for 75 years of conservation leadership. Accepting the honors were Conservation Commissioners Don Bedell of Sikeston, James T. Blair, IV, of St. Louis, Don Johnson of Festus, and Becky Plattner of Grand Pass, and MDC Director Robert Ziehmer.
“Missouri is a national leader in conservation because of the work of the Department and the support and dedication of citizens,” Nixon said. “Conservation efforts over the past 75 years have created healthy forests, abundant fish and wildlife, and productive waters. Conservation also benefits Missourians’ quality of life. Millions of people in Missouri enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife watching, and other outdoor activities. These activities, along with forest industries, support about 95,000 Missouri jobs and generate more than $11.4 billion annually to state and local economies.”
“On behalf of the Commission and Department of Conservation, we are deeply honored by this recognition,” said Commission Chairman Bedell. “Over the past 75 years, Department of Conservation staff have worked with countless other Missourians to make the Show-Me State a great place to hunt and fish, to transform our once-decimated forests into a sustainable industry, to help private landowners create and sustain wildlife habitat, to bring conservation to major urban areas, to develop public lands and facilities around the state, to encourage participation in the outdoors by all Missourians, and to partner the entire way with citizens, conservation related organizations and communities.”
A limited number of bronze renderings of Missouri’s world-record, nontypical whitetail are available for purchase, thanks to a collaboration between renowned wildlife artist Glenn Chambers and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). Chambers, who is a retired MDC biologist and award-winning filmmaker and artist, created the sculptures to celebrate 75 years of the Conservation Department and science-based deer management in Missouri. The 10-inch castings capture the deer’s massive, 333 7/8-inch antlers in minute detail, based on thousands of painstaking measurements. A maximum of 75 will be produced and sold for $1,500 each. Proceeds from the sale will benefit CFM programs, such as Share the Harvest, Operation Game Thief, and the Conservation Leadership Corps. For details, call 573-634-2322 or visit confedmo.org.
Looking for an affordable item to fill the gaps in your holiday gift shopping list? Check out the 2013 Natural Events Calendar. With eyepopping nature photos and daily nature notes, it provides a year’s worth of enjoyment for a mere $7. You can order copies through MDC’s online Nature Shop, mdcnatureshop.com, or by calling 877-521-8632. Or save shipping and handling charges by buying at a conservation nature center or one of the regional offices listed on page 3. Conservation Heritage Card holders get a 15-percent discount.
With winter setting in, there’s plenty of time to curl up on the couch and strategize about what trees and shrubs to plant from George O. White State Forest Nursery. The catalog and order form are easy to find at mdc.mo.gov/node/4011. This year’s selections include 14 oak species, seven evergreens, black walnut, pecan, tulip poplar, bald cypress, black cherry, persimmon, pawpaw, dogwoods, holly, hazelnut, plum, ninebark, witch hazel, mulberry, elderberry, and much more. Several are offered in regular or extra-large sizes. Prices range from 16 cents to $1.60 each, depending on species, size, and quantity. In the past, the nursery has offered special bundles with assortments of different species. This year, buyers will be encouraged to create their own bundles by combining seedlings that fit their needs. To make this easier, the nursery has reduced the minimum order from 25 seedlings per species to 10.
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