Duck hunters who plan to hunt at Grand Pass, Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough conservation areas (CAs) should remember that reservations for these areas will be handled under the experimental Quick Draw system this year.
Quick Draw is an online-only reservation system. Grand Pass CA will be the first area to test the new system, because it is in the North Zone. Applications to hunt during the first three days of the 2010 duck season will open at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 22 and close at 3 p.m. Oct. 25. Results will be available after midnight that day. Successful applicants will be notified by e-mail or text message if they provide contact information. They also can check the results online.
Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough CAs are in the Middle Zone, so applications for reservations the first three days of the season at those areas will run from 12:01 a.m. Oct. 29 and close at 3 p.m. Nov. 1. Results will be available after 12:01 a.m. Nov. 2.
After the initial drawing in each zone, Monday drawings will award reservations for Friday through Monday. Applications will be open from Monday through Wednesday to assign reservations for Tuesday through Thursday.
Quick Draw will handle reservations for handicap-accessible blinds at the three Quick Draw pilot areas. The trial will not affect youth hunts, which will be handled as in the past.
This year’s limited trial of Quick Draw will enable the Conservation Department to evaluate whether the system achieves its goal of making hunting more convenient and accessible to more hunters. Depending on how well it works, the system could be modified and expanded to other state-managed wetland areas. More information about Quick Draw is available at MissouriConservation.org/node/8945.
Duck-hunting prospects are bright again this year, with a liberal season and strong duck and goose numbers. All that is needed for a great hunting season is the right weather.
This year’s hunting regulations include several changes.
The North and Middle Zone youth waterfowl seasons run concurrently to avoid conflict with youth deer and quail seasons.
The daily limit on pintails increased from one to two.
The daily limit on Canada geese has increased. Instead of being three during the early season and two for the rest of the season, the limit is now three for the entire hunting season statewide.
Season dates are:
This year’s season for Canada geese and brant is Oct. 2 through 10 and Nov. 25 through Jan. 31 statewide. The season for blue, snow and Ross’s geese is Oct. 30 through Jan. 31 statewide. Whitefronted goose season is Nov. 25 through Jan. 31 statewide. The Light Goose Conservation Order is Feb. 1 through April 30, 2011.
Full details of waterfowl hunting regulations are available in the 2010–2011 Waterfowl Hunting Digest, available wherever hunting permits are sold or online at MissouriConservation.org/node/5646.
The Conservation Department took quick, decisive action in August to nip a new zebra-mussel infestation in the bud. After discovering the invasive mollusks at Smithville Lake’s Camp Branch Marina, fisheries workers treated the water in the area with nearly 400 gallons of commercial algaecide. The active ingredient in the algaecide, copper sulfate, is toxic to mussels but is not expected to cause significant damage to fish or other aquatic species and did not pose a threat to boaters, skiers, swimmers or their equipment or adversely affect drinking water drawn from the lake. Department staff is monitoring the area around the marina and has found no young zebra mussels so far. Long-term monitoring of the entire lake continues. The Missouri Wildlife Code prohibits transporting zebra mussels and other prohibited species into, out of or within the state. Boaters can unwittingly transport the mollusks when trailering boats from one body of water to another. For more information on zebra mussels and other invasive species, visit MissouriConservation.org/node/4086.
Missouri will not have a ruffed grouse hunting season this year for the first time in more than 25 years. However, the Missouri Department of Conservation says that does not necessarily mean ruffed-grouse hunting is gone from the Show-Me State forever.
Acting on a recommendation from its staff, the Conservation Commission voted earlier this year for an emergency closure of the grouse season, which was to run from Oct. 15 through Jan. 15. Low grouse population numbers were cited as the reason for the emergency closure. The action supersedes information printed in the 2010 Summary of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which were printed before the decision to close grouse season.
Ruffed grouse are native to Missouri, although the Show-Me State is near the southwestern edge of the species’ historic range. Habitat destruction and unregulated market hunting largely eliminated them from Missouri forests by the 1930s.
The Conservation Department launched a successful ruffed-grouse restoration program in 1959, and Missouri had its first modern hunting season in 1983. Earlier this year, the agency’s Regulations Committee recommended closing the season. This was partly because grouse numbers remain low in spite of repeated attempts to reintroduce grouse in areas with suitable habitat as late as 1994. Closing the season also made sense because the Conservation Department and the Ruffed Grouse Society are seeking a source of grouse to resume reintroduction work.
“Our grouse numbers are so low right now that very few hunters pursue them, and very few are taken each year. This is probably a good time to pause and regroup,” said Wildlife Division Chief DeeCee Darrow.
Ruffed grouse are ground-nesting birds closely related to quail. They are much larger, however, with adults averaging more than a pound compared to 5 or 6 ounces for adult bobwhite quail. Bobwhites favor habitat with large amounts of pasture, row crops and other open land interspersed with shrubby cover. In contrast, ruffed grouse are adapted to a patchwork of forest and the dense vegetation that develops on land where timber harvests have occurred.
What costs $7, lasts 12 months and makes you smarter and happier every day? If you guessed the Natural Events Calendar, go to the head of the line to buy a copy of the 2011 edition. Next year’s calendar goes on sale this month at conservation nature centers and regional offices statewide. It includes photos of a bald eagle hunting, a perched snowy owl, white pelicans in a feeding frenzy, a red fox scanning the forest for prey, a stunning waterfall landscape bedecked with wild azaleas and the disk of the Milky Way Galaxy rising over Hughes Mountain Natural Area. Of course, daily notes about seasonal happenings outdoors remain among the calendar’s top attractions. Added features next year include a “Get Out and Explore” section with photos from spectacular places you might want to visit and a guide to introducing children to nature. The calendar sells for $7 per copy, plus shipping and handling and sales tax where applicable. You also can buy copies by calling toll-free 877-521-8632 or through The Nature Shop, www.mdcNatureShop.com.
The Conservation Commission is appealing a judgment by Ripley County Circuit Court that three state regulations prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles and dogs in deer hunting are constitutionally vague. The ruling followed a case involving two Ripley County hunters who sued over the regulations. At issue are Missouri Wildlife Code regulations that prohibit the use of “motor-driven air, land or water conveyances” while deer hunting and regulations stating that deer may not be “hunted, pursued, taken or killed with the aid of dogs, in use or possession.”
Join the staff of the Missouri Department of Conservation along with volunteers from the Missouri Trappers Association for this fun and exciting educational clinic. The clinic runs Oct. 23 and 24 on the Whetstone Conservation Area near Williamsburg in Callaway County. Participants will learn basic trapping techniques including water sets, dry land sets, trapping equipment care and maintenance, skinning, fleshing and proper fur handling.
While under the guidance of experienced trappers, participants will set their own traps. There is no fee for this training, but pre-registration is required. Participants should bring snacks and drinks. Dinner will be served on Saturday evening and breakfast on Sunday. This program is open to youth ages 11 to 17 and their parent or adult mentor. For more details or to register, call 573-884-6861. For more information about hunting and trapping in Missouri, visit MissouriConservation.org/node/88.
The only thing anglers like as much as fishing is telling fish stories. The Missouri Department of Conservation will pay up to $150 for your story if you catch the right catfish. In its continuing effort to put catfish management on a firm scientific footing, the Conservation Department has tagged thousands of catfish in lakes and streams throughout the state. Anglers who catch those fish can get cash rewards of up to $150 for reporting their catches, along with some basic information about the fish. This includes its length and when and where it was caught. The information provides valuable insights about catch rates, fish life expectancy, growth and movement.
Tagged catfish are swimming in parts of the Fabius, Gasconade, Grand, Lamine, Marmaton, Platte, South Grand rivers, the upper Mississippi River near Hannibal and the Missouri River around the mouths of the Platte, Grand, Lamine and Gasconade rivers.
Reporting is easy. Just clip off the plastic “dangler” tag where it’s attached near the fish’s dorsal fin, and call the phone number on the tag. You will be asked to mail in the tag, but it will be returned to you later.
To learn more about the Conservation Department’s catfish management work, visit MissouriConservation.org/node/5211.
Hunters donated more than a quarter of a million pounds of venison through the Share the Harvest program during the 2009–2010 hunting season, pushing the total for the program to more than 2 million pounds. Program officials say Share the Harvest has the potential to deliver that much meat to the needy annually. Share the Harvest works because people all over Missouri set up local programs to bring together hunters and sponsors who pay to have deer processed into lean, protein-rich ground venison. Missouri still has more than 30 counties without Share the Harvest programs. Most counties that do have programs could easily support more. This is an excellent service project for charities, churches, civic clubs or sporting groups to organize. Share the Harvest also is an opportunity for businesses or others to demonstrate their civicmindedness through financial support. For information about how to get started, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2544, call 573-634-2322, or e-mail email@example.com.
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