JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Do you blanch at the thought of fighting crowds in search of holiday gifts? Consider visiting a conservation nature center shop or browsing through nature-themed gifts online at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Nature Shop.
The Conservation Department has shops at its nature centers in Kirkwood, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Kansas City, Blue Springs, and Jefferson City, as well as at several other offices statewide. They offer a surprising array of reasonably priced gifts, from butterfly pendants and bird calls to field guides and children’s binoculars.
One perennial favorite gift is the Natural Events Calendar, with 12 months of daily notes about everything from meteor showers to the hatching of bald eagle eggs. Foodies on your holiday shopping list will love the book Cooking Wild in Missouri, a collection of recipes that incorporate wild fish, game, nuts, berries, and mushrooms. It has everything from creamed morels and pawpaw gelato to blackberry cordial. More adventurous cooks might want to try catfish tacos or venison moussaka.
For the paddlers on your list, there is the newly updated Paddler’s Guide to Missouri ($8). This 94-page book lists access and and take-out points, landmarks, and other features of 58 streams in every corner of the state.
If you prefer to shop from home, you can browse through the online Nature Shop at mdcnatureshop.com. The site even has a gift registry where you can leave hints about what you would like to find under the tree on Dec. 25. If you prefer not to buy online, you can call 877-521-8632. Conservation Heritage Card holders get a 15-percent discount. Mail, phone, and online orders are subject to sales tax and shipping and handling fees.
Hunting, fishing, and trapping permits are additional gift possibilities. At $19, a Resident Small-Game Hunting and Fishing Permit provides a full year of outdoor fun. Giving a Nonresident Small-Game Hunting Permit ($80) or a Nonresident Fishing Permit ($42) encourages out-of-state family members to come home more often. Permits bought on Dec. 1 or later are good from the date of purchase through the following permit year, which ends on the last day of February. So recipients get 15 months of use out of them.
The Apprentice Hunter Authorization ($10) is an affordable gift that can last a lifetime. This item is not a permit, but rather an authorization to buy hunting permits without first completing hunter education. This is made to order if you have a friend or relative who is intrigued by the idea of hunting but doesn’t want to invest time in hunter education to satisfy his or her curiosity. Not only will they get to experience your favorite outdoor pastime, you will share the experience. Hunters using the authorization must hunt with you or another hunter education-certified mentor.
The ultimate hunting/fishing gift is a Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permit. This entitles the holder to the privileges associated with a Resident Hunting and Fishing Permit, Trout Permit, Migratory Bird Hunting Permit, and Conservation Order Permit for life. The price varies from $70 to $800, depending on the recipient’s age. Resident Lifetime Fishing Permits also are available.
Friends and family who work to improve their land for wildlife will appreciate tree and shrub seedlings from the George O. White State Forest Nursery. It has dozens of species, including decorative trees and shrubs such as flowering dogwood and white fringetree, as well as a wide variety of oaks, evergreens, and other forest mainstays. For prices and ordering information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3328, or call 573-674-3229. The nursery accepts orders through April. However, many tree and shrub species sell out before then. Orders are shipped starting in February.