by Jim Low
Missouri schools will have the opportunity this spring to decide whether bass fishing should become a school activity sanctioned by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA).
MSHSAA has announced bass fishing will be included on MSHSAA ’s annual ballot to start as an emerging activity. The ballot will be posted on the association’s website on April 1 and will be available for principals or superintendents to vote on until May 1.
“If 50 percent plus one school of the schools voting on the ballot vote yes to approve bass fishing as an emerging activity, then it will be recognized by MSHSAA ,” says MSHSAA Executive Director Kerwin Urhahn. “If it passes then the schools will be able to sign up for bass fishing for the 2013–14 school year. If we have two years of 50 or more schools signed up to participate, then we will have a state series for bass fishing beginning during the 2015–16 school year.”
Urhahn says MSHSAA would then begin working with participating schools and fishing experts to formulate the rules and guidelines for the series.
Illinois completed its fourth year of sanctioned bass fishing this year and Kentucky has sanctioned bass fishing as an activity for 2013.
For more information about the proposed high school fishing program in Missouri, visit missourihighschoolanglers.org.
Firearms deer hunters checked 257,307 deer last year. That is up 8 percent from 2011 and 13 percent more than the average of the 10 previous years. Harvest totals from the various segments of firearms deer season were:
Missouri has more than 511,000 deer hunters, who spend about $690 million in the state each year on related activities. This has an overall economic impact of $1.1 billion in Missouri each year and supports almost 12,000 jobs.
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, deciduous 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. At least 10 seedlings of each species must be ordered.
At its December meeting, the Conservation Commission set the following dates for 2013 turkeyand deer-hunting seasons.
Turkey bag limits and shooting hours remain the same as last year. Additional details, including spring managed turkey hunts and regulations for spring turkey hunting on conservation areas, will be published in the spring turkey hunting regulation guide in March.
Other deer-hunting regulations will be set this spring. Details will be published online and in the fall deer hunting regulation guide.
Hunters have until Feb. 28 to apply for managed spring turkey hunts. This year’s offerings include managed hunts for archers, youths, and people with disabilities. Managed turkey hunts are listed in the 2013 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available at mdc.mo.gov/7498. A print version will be available from hunting permit vendors statewide later this month.
Winter, when leaves are on the ground, is the best time to see Missouri’s champion trees and look for new ones. You might find one near home.
Missouri has more than 100 champion trees scattered across every region of the state. The St. Louis area is the champion-tree champion, with 14 records on the list in either St. Louis city or county.
Six Missouri champion trees are national champions: a burr oak in Boone County with a score of 410 points, a pumpkin ash in Mississippi County with 357, a basswood in St. Louis with 272, an eastern wahoo in St. Louis County with 156, an Ozark chinkapin in Barry County with 107, and a prairie crabapple in Callaway County with 70.
A tree’s score is the sum of its height in feet, its trunk circumference in inches, and one quarter of its average spread in feet. Since precise measurements of height and spread are difficult to obtain, trees that score within a few points of one another are counted as co-champions. An example is the hop hornbeam, for which Missouri has three champions, all within two points of each other.
Missouri’s biggest champion tree is an American sycamore in Polk County that stands 94 feet tall, has a circumference of 333 inches, and an average spread of 120 feet for a total score of 457. That tree also holds Missouri’s record for trunk circumference. The tree with the widest average spread is Boone County’s burr oak at 130 feet. Two trees — a pumpkin ash in Mississippi County and a shumard oak in Cape Girardeau County, are tied for tallest at 150 feet.
Many state-champion trees are on private property, but dozens more are on conservation areas, state parks, and other land open to the public. For a list of champion trees, visit mdc.mo.gov/294. For more about the program, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6583.
Spring might seem a long way off, but black bears start getting more active at this time of year, and their empty stomachs put them at risk. You can help keep bears safe by not encouraging them to form dangerous food habits.
Natural foods are scarce right now, so bears are more prone to ignore their natural fear of humans and seek nourishment in trash cans, livestock feed bins, or even bird feeders. Bears that get used to mooching from humans often get in trouble. Some have to be destroyed.
Bears can turn up almost anywhere in Missouri, but they are most common south of I-44. If you live in southern Missouri, take the following precautions to avoid tempting bears.
If you see a bear, please report it to the nearest Conservation Department office or call 573-751-4115.
The Missouri Community Forestry Council’s annual conference is set for March 5 through 7 in Joplin, and will revolve around the theme of reparing urban forests for storms and other natural disasters.
In addition to the usual selection of speakers, discussions, and networking opportunities, the 2013 conference also will feature Ed Gilman, PhD, of the University of Florida. Gillman is a respected expert on urban trees and landscaping. He will lead a pre-conference workshop, speak at two sessions during the conference, and contribute his expertise on storm damage in urban forests.
This conference brings together tree experts working in urban areas around the state to make community forests safe, healthy, and resilient. To register, visit mocommunitytrees.com/mcfc conference2013.html.
Missouri’s elk-restoration program entered its third year in December when Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff began baiting corral-type traps in the
Bluegrass State. Kentucky and MDC staff began active trapping in January, after free-roaming elk had grown accustomed to entering the enclosures. With favorable weather, MDC hopes to trap 50 elk this year. Fifteen of these are to go to Virginia, which has partnered with Missouri and Kentucky in the trapping effort.
The other 35 are earmarked for transportation to Missouri in May. To date, MDC has brought 69 elk from the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky to Missouri. MDC continues to work with public and private partners to create and enhance habitat within the 221,440-acre elk restoration zone and is monitoring the health
and reproduction of the Show-Me State’s growing elk herd.
We work with you and for you to sustain healthy forests. Missouri Forests and Forests Products Industry
March 1, opening day for catch-and-keep season at Missouri’s four trout parks, falls on Friday this year, which means the parks will be extra busy. Attendance always is greater when the opener falls on a weekend, but throngs of cheerful, excited anglers and spectators are part of the event’s charm. It also doesn’t hurt that MDC stocks tens of thousands of 12-inch rainbow trout in four trout streams to ensure good fishing. Opening morning finds anglers lining the banks of Bennett Spring State Park (SP) near Lebanon, Roaring River SP near Cassville, Montauk SP near Salem, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. They also line up at park stores to buy fishing permits, trout tags, bait, and other fishing essentials. Daily trout tags are sold only at the parks, but you can shorten time standing in line by purchasing your fishing permit ahead of time from any permit vendor statewide or online at mdc.mo.gov/node/9258. For trout park information, visit mdc.mo.gov/2852.
These medium-sized geese are common in marshes, rivers, lakes, and crop fields during early spring as they migrate north. Their large, calling chevrons flying overhead during migration are a timeless symbol of the changing seasons. Snow geese overwinter in the southern part of their range, including Missouri, and return north to the arctic tundra to nest. Pairs form during each bird’s second spring migration and the couples stay together for life. To read more about snow geese, listen to audio of their calls, or to watch a video of snow geese, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2908. —Photo by David Stonner
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