By Heather Feeler
Be part of this first-ever Discover Nature – Families weekend event on March 13–15 at the Windermere Conference Center on Lake of the Ozarks. Families (age 6 and older) interested in learning how to hunt, in finding new ways to spend time outdoors together, and in securing high-protein, low-fat meat for their dinner table will have fun learning the skills they need to accomplish all this.
The workshop will be conducted in a beautiful lakeside setting, and sessions are taught by professional instructors skilled in providing a safe and family-friendly environment. Saturday and Sunday, families will rotate through three hands-on skills sessions: Introduction to Firearms; Beginning Archery; and Basic Hunting.
To qualify for the workshop, family members who are age 11 and older must complete the Knowledge part of hunter education certification. This first part of hunter education certification may be completed online, through self-study with the student book, or by registering for and attending a four-hour Knowledge Session. For details on how to complete the Knowledge part, go to mdc.mo.gov/node/3722. Friday afternoon, family members will have an opportunity to take the four-hour Skills Session to complete their Missouri hunter education certification course.
The workshop is free to all registered participants, but families are responsible for making arrangements for their own lodging and meals through Windermere Conference Center. There are several options for lodging, including Lakeview Lodge, motel, family cabins, and camping. Contact Windermere at 573-346-5200 or 1-800-346-2215 for details. Visit their website at windermereusa.org.
For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/29866.
The Conservation Department’s August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in St. Charles closed its doors at the end of 2014 to make way for construction of an expanded, state-of-the-art shooting range on the current property.
The new range will incorporate the most current national shooting range design standards, including an increased number of shooting stations, new classroom facilities, and improvements for user convenience and to reduce waiting times. The entire project is expected to take 24–30 months, depending on construction and weather. It is part of the Department’s ongoing commitment to help Missourians improve their outdoor skills and discover nature.
Phase I of construction began in January and included demolition of the current facility, as well as site preparation and grading for the new one. There will also be an extensive lead reclamation effort during this phase. Phase II, which should commence in 2016, will be the construction of the new range. To view an animated fly-through video of the new Busch range, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/29039.
Built in 1975, the shooting range sees more than 40,000 visitors annually, which is the highest number of shooters for all Department ranges in the state. The current facility also offers more than 120 outdoor education programs each year to educate citizens about safely enjoying the outdoors, but it currently has no classroom facilities onsite.
To help citizens stay informed and engaged during the Busch shooting range renovation project, the Department has an online renovation update blog at mdc.mo.gov/node/29307.
The blog will include periodic postings and photos documenting all stages of the renovation project, including initial demolition of the old range through final construction and opening of the new facility. It will also offer information on shooting safety, hunter education, events, and other shooting-related opportunities. Citizens can learn about alternative Department shooting ranges to visit during the Busch Range closure at mdc.mo.gov/node/6209.
One challenge for busy landowners who want to increase quail and other grassland wildlife is keeping track of seasonal management needs. When should you delay haying because chicks are hatching? When do you burn, plant, spray, and disk? The answers to those and many other questions about grassland wildlife management are found in the Quail and Habitat Management 2015 Calendar from the Conservation Department.
The wall calendar has daily notes to help landowners meet their wildlife management goals. It lists key events, such as the start of quail nesting season, average dates of first and second brood hatches, and other important milestones in the bobwhite quail’s year. There are also reminders about the best times for management activities, such as planting food plots and the last day for managing fields enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
The calendar has tips for easy habitat creation, ranging from placing old Christmas trees near existing brush piles in January to sowing wildflower seeds atop newly fallen snow in December. Added features for this year include notes about forming a quail management cooperative, quality deer management, prescribed burning, and additional sources of habitat management information. Wildlife illustrations by Conservation Department artists accompany each monthly page.
To receive a free copy of the calendar, call the nearest Conservation Department office and ask to speak to a private land conservationist.
If your aquarium has become a burden or your fish have grown too large, do not dump the contents in the wild or dispose of them by flushing down a toilet. These methods can encourage the spread of invasive species, which can hurt native fish.
When aquarium contents are dumped into lakes, rivers, or streams, a new species may be introduced into the ecosystem. Aquarium fish are bred to be hardy survivors, and this trait makes it easier for your onetime pet to thrive in an unfamiliar place. Once established, invasive fish are difficult, if not impossible, to control or eradicate. They compete for food and habitat, and they can severely impact native fish.
If you find yourself with an aquarium full of unwanted fish and plants, consider one of the following:
Scott “Greg” Stark of Birch Tree, Missouri, is Missouri’s 2014 Logger of the Year. Resource Forester Gary Gognat nominated Stark based on the quality of his timber harvest operations and best business practices. Stark began his relationship with the Conservation Department performing timber stand improvement (TSI) projects.
“His special work ethic was apparent in his desire to do the best job he was capable of,” said Gognat. “He was also interested in the harvest aspect and wanted to attend Professional Timber Harvester training. He started out small and upgraded his equipment as he went along. Not having to focus on production as much allowed Greg to concentrate on the quality side of doing
Stark took time to train his workers to do top quality logging. Gognat says Stark’s work sites look like little food plots when he is done.
The logger of the year is chosen by a panel of forestry professionals. Criteria for selecting a winner includes good working relationships with landowners and foresters, minimal damage to remaining trees and resources, prevention of soil erosion, aesthetics of the site after harvesting was complete, safe work performance and use of equipment, use of harvested trees, desire to address wildlife management concerns, and use of proper forest management techniques. Candidates must have completed the Professional Timber Harvester’s Training Program.
Award recipients receive a framed certificate and a STIHL chainsaw donated by Crader Distributing in Marble Hill. For more information on forests
in Missouri and forestry Best Management Practices, visit mdc.mo.gov.
The Department is conducting a communications audit to determine the best way to share with Missourians about Conservation priorities and activities happening around the state. Getting feedback and opinions from Missouri conservation enthusiasts is one of the most important things we do, and we hope you will participate in this audit. Your comments will help determine the best ways for the Missouri Department of Conservation to communicate with Missouri residents. Go to talktoMDC.com to give us your feedback. This link will only be active for a limited time, so please get your responses in early.
The December Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding wild turkey season recommendations, white-tailed deer management, and the 2013 Conservation
Opinion Survey. A summary of actions taken during the Dec. 11–12 meeting for the benefit and protection of forest, fish, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:
Great horned owls are common statewide and found in many habitats, from deep forests to urban areas. These owls are nocturnal, with sharp eyes and keen hearing. They observe quietly from a high perch and swoop down to catch prey. Breeding occurs in late January or early February, following a few months of hooting. They often appropriate old nests of other large birds or squirrels but can also nest in cavities or other places. Clutches average two eggs, incubation lasts about a month, and young tend to stay near their parents until the next breeding season. Usual prey includes mice, insects, crows, snakes, and rabbits, but great horned owls have been known to take barred owls, wild turkeys, and other larger animals, including skunks.
—photograph by Noppadol Paothong
Missourians care about conserving forests, fish, and wildlife.
In 2013, the University of Missouri conducted a statistically designed Conservation Opinion Survey of a random sample of households from across the state. Results show that most citizens value natural Missouri, trust the Department’s efforts, and wish they had more time to enjoy the outdoors.
Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler