By Jim Low
With duck numbers at historic levels for the third year in a row, the 2014–15 waterfowl hunting outlook is excellent. The wild card, as always, is weather.
Most of the Conservation Department’s managed wetland areas are in good condition. All that is needed now for an excellent hunting season is timely cold fronts to push migrating birds into Missouri but not cold enough to freeze wetland areas, sending ducks farther south. Like farmers, waterfowl hunters are at the mercy of the weather. Only optimists plant corn or hunt ducks.
Federal Duck stamps will be widely available this year. Both Federal Duck Stamp availability and convenience to hunters were enhanced this year with the addition of an electronic Duck Stamp purchase option. All Missouri permit vendors will offer electronic Duck Stamps, and the traditional purchase venues of the post offices, Department of Conservation offices, and Nature Centers will continue to carry the paper duck stamp.
Permits and duck stamps will no longer be sold at waterfowl conservation areas, except for Columbia Bottom Conservation Area. Since not all post offices or Conservation Department offices have the stamps, it’s a good idea to buy well in advance of hunting or call ahead about availability.
Duck stamps will be sold online for the first time this year, giving hunters and retail vendors an alternative to buying/selling paper duck stamps. Hunters can buy the stamps at mo.wildlifelicense.com. Retail vendors will be able to process the transaction for hunters using the same website. An electronic stamp, or e-Stamp, will be issued at the time of purchase, and a paper duck stamp will be sent through the mail.
Hunters can use their e-Stamps immediately and for 45 days following purchase. After 45 days, they must carry the paper duck stamp.
E-Stamps may be purchased from permit vendors for $17.50, which includes a $2.50 handling fee (part of the federal vendor process). E-Stamps can also be purchased from the convenience of your home computer or mobile device for an additional $1 Internet service fee on your total online order.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service selected Missouri, along with Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia, to provide duck stamps through its new federal e-Stamp option.
Hunters and waterfowl enthusiasts can now buy Federal Duck Stamps from all Missouri permit vendors electronically or continue to purchase the paper duck stamp at post offices or Department of Conservation offices, making them widely available and more convenient for all wetland enthusiasts.
The Conservation Commission approved the following 2014–15 waterfowl hunting regulations at its August meeting.
One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Six ducks daily with species restrictions of:
Three times the daily bag (in total 18; varies by species).
Further details of waterfowl hunting regulations are available in the 2014–2015 Waterfowl Hunting Digest, which will be available from hunting permit vendors and at mdc.mo.gov/node/303.
Thanks to a unique partnership, Missourians can own a piece of duck hunting and wetland conservation history while playing an important part. Bass Pro Shops, Ducks Unlimited, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, and private citizens have joined the Conservation Department in producing Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri — A Model of Collaboration.
The authors, many of them former waterfowl biologists and wetland managers, donated their services to produce this new book. Besides contributing material for the book, the partners paid the production costs. The book traces Missouri’s trend-setting work conserving and restoring wetland habitat. It also takes an intimate look at the Show-Me State’s waterfowl-hunting culture, which continues to thrive thanks to wetland conservation.
Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri is richly illustrated with art and photographs, some never published before. It is a must-have book for serious migratory bird hunters, capturing the romance and thrill of duck hunting and the 80-year struggle to preserve this vibrant part of Missouri’s natural heritage. All net proceeds from sales of this collectable, large-format book will go to wetland conservation work. For more information, visit mochf.org/2014/04/book-waterfowl-hunting-and-wetlands-conservation-in-missouri. You can order copies at mdcnatureshop.com.
Missouri’s 1.1 million anglers and more than 500,000 hunters now can use mobile applications to buy hunting and fishing permits and find fishing spots with Android and Apple mobile devices.
“MO Hunting” and “Find MO Fish” are available through Google Play and iTunes stores. MO Hunting lets hunters and anglers purchase and view permits directly from a mobile device and view previously purchased permits. The app lets deer and turkey hunters telecheck their harvests and receive a confirmation number back to the device. They can also view their previous telecheck harvest information. Learn more and download MO Hunting at mdc.mo.gov/node/28397.
The Find MO Fish app includes map locations of public boat ramps and underwater fish-attractor structures to help anglers guide their boats right to fishing hotspots. Users also can view regulations for particular species and specific areas. The app provides a handy Fish ID Guide along with annual fishing prospects and weekly fishing reports for many Missouri lakes, rivers, and streams popular for fishing. Learn more and download Find MO Fish at mdc.mo.gov/node/15421.
If you haven’t checked the sights on your deer rifle, now is the time, and a Conservation Department shooting range is the place. To provide citizens with safe and convenient places to shoot, the Department offers more than 70 unstaffed shooting ranges throughout the state. For safety reasons, these designated ranges are the only places on conservation areas where target shooting is allowed. The Conservation Department also manages five staffed shooting ranges. Some are accessible to shooters with mobility impairments.
Many have multiple shooting stations with covered shooting benches, target holders, and other amenities. To find one near you, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6209.
If you think Table Rock Lake is one of the best places in the world to camp and fish, you aren’t alone. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently rated Table Rock State Park No. 9 on its list of the top 100 fishing and boating spots in the United States.
Frank Peterson, president of the Virginia-based RBFF, says criteria for selecting Table Rock included being within an hour’s drive of an urban area, having marinas, boat ramps, restrooms and other facilities, and “stellar fishing opportunities.”
The combination of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ top-notch park, proximity to Springfield, and thriving bass, crappie, and bluegill populations managed by the Conservation Department put Table Rock in the top 10. If you haven’t been fishing, camping, or boating at Table Rock, you are missing a national treasure.
Table Rock wasn’t the only destination included in RBFF’s America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots. August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County was No. 36 on the list. For more information, visit bit.ly/YIB6so.
Novice hunters can learn how to turn harvested game into neat packages of lean, healthful meat at Discover Nature — Field to Freezer workshops sponsored by the Conservation Department.
These events cover regulations, field dressing, supplies, transporting, and techniques for processing deer and other game. Events are scheduled for:
After the excitement of hunting your quarry, make the most of cooking and eating it. Start with this classic recipe, or discover other tantalizing options for Missouri’s wild game and edibles on our Cooking page at mdc.mo.gov/node/3500.
Remove all fat from roast. In a 4- to 6-quart pot, brown meat in oil. Blot any remaining oil or fat. Add onion, garlic, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Pour in 1 to 2 cups water and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until meat is tender. Add vegetables cut into chunks for quicker cooking. Make sure vegetables are covered with broth or add enough water to cover. Allow vegetables to simmer in broth for 30 minutes. This recipe can also be found online at mdc.mo.gov/node/11046.
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.
The August Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding the 2014–2015 waterfowl season overview, hunter and angler recruitment and retention, and the wetland management plan. A summary of actions taken during the Aug. 21–22 meeting for the benefit and protection of forest, fish, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:
Called “woolly bears” or “woolly worms,” these caterpillars are the larvae of Isabella tiger moths. They are usually black on the ends of the body and rusty red or brownish in the middle. Woolly bears graze on a wide variety of vegetation, including maple and elm trees, grasses, sunflowers, clovers, and more. In autumn, they are commonly seen crossing roads as they search for sheltered places to overwinter. Isabella tiger moth caterpillars have a remarkable capability to withstand freezing temperatures. They pupate within cocoons made from their hairs and emerge as adults in the spring. Folklore has long maintained that the varying widths of the caterpillar’s bands are useful for predicting the harshness of the next winter, adding to this animal’s mystique. —photograph by Noppadol Paothong
Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Managing Editor - vacant
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Brett Dufur
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler