News and Almanac

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From Missouri Conservationist: Apr 2003

Booklet offers turkey hunting tips

Novice turkey hunters will find a wealth of how-to information in the Conservation Department's new booklet, "Missouri Wild Turkey Hunting." Old hands will discover useful tips about mounting turkeys and how to manage land for better turkey hunting.

The 16-page booklet includes chapters on the history and life history of the wild turkey in Missouri, turkey habitat and management, hunting locations and equipment and the differences in spring and fall turkey hunting. It even includes a target for patterning your shotgun and recipes for when your careful preparation pays off.

Single copies are free on request from the Conservation Department Distribution Center, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, phone (573) 751-4115, ext. 3630, or

Take-a-kid fishing charity tournament is May 12

The Make-A-Wish Foundation will get proceeds from the 11th Annual Take A Kid Fishing Tournament at Table Rock Lake's Port of Kimberling Marina May 10.

The winning adult/youth team will receive $1,000. Lost Creek Bass Club, which sponsors the tournament, will award one additional cash prize for every 20 boats in the tournament, based on total entries. A drawing for an Arctic Cat all-terrain vehicle will follow the weigh-in.

The entry fee is $50 per boat, including the big-bass entry fee. The first flight will leave at 8 a.m.

Tournament headquarters is the Kimberling Inn in Kimberling City. For special tournament rates on lodging, call (800) 883-5551. For entry forms or other tournament information, call (417) 887-1640.

Morel hunter's timetable

Early morels begin sprouting when the average daily temperature (high plus low, divided by two) creeps above about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When the average daily temperature climbs above 50 degrees, you can reasonably begin looking for black and half-free morels. False morels appear about the same time. Average daily temperatures reaching the mid-50s bring on common and late morels. These are the most sought-after species.

Often, morels can be found about the same time that big crappie begin to bite. This may not always be true, but the lure of a meal consisting of fresh morels and fresh crappie is hard to resist.

One simple yet pleasingly scientific-sounding way to calculate the probable peak of morel season is to add about two weeks to the average date of last frost for your area. This method is said to work in average years, but in Missouri, who would recognize an "average" spring, even if we had one?

Differences in the micro-climates of different terrain may extend your morel-hunting fun for several weeks at both ends of the season. Mushrooms often emerge earlier on south-facing slopes, due to the extra sunlight these areas receive. Likewise, the soil warms up sooner in areas where fire has burned away leaf litter and brush.

When you find the morel crop fading in your traditional hotspots, look for places where spring comes late. North-facing slopes, the sides of steep valleys or areas insulated from the sun by undergrowth or a thick carpet of leaves stay cool later in the year. In such areas, morels mature later in the season.

Lost Valley Hatchery wins national honor

Lost Valley Hatchery near Warsaw won a 2002 American Fisheries Society (AFS) Award for Outstanding Sportfish Restoration Projects.

The hatchery is a state-of-the-art facility that produces millions of warm-water fish annually for ponds, lakes and streams statewide. But what clinched the award was the visitor center and kids fishing pond at Lost Valley. The award targets projects that make particularly good use of money from the Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Program. Money for the program comes from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. Dollars are distributed back to states on a cost-share basis for projects and management to improve fishing and boating opportunities. These funds represent a significant portion of the budget for most state fisheries programs.

Lower Ozarks map covers six prime conservation areas

Six remote conservation areas in the Ozarks are the focus of a new publication from the Conservation Department.

"Conservation Lands of the Lower Ozarks" measures 27 3/4 by 39 1/2 inches--the size of a state highway map. This ample space encompasses Angeline, Current River, Logan Creek, Peck Ranch, Rocky Fork and Sunklands conservation areas, most of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and lots of Mark Twain National Forest land. Most of the map's coverage lies in Shannon, Reynolds and Carter counties.

River accesses, camp and picnic areas, trailheads and natural areas appear on the four-color map, along with roads, towns, streams and topographic features. The reverse side has a description of each conservation area, plus tips for enjoying conservation areas safely.

Single copies of "Conservation Lands of the Lower Ozarks" are available free on request from the Conservation Department Distribution Center, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, phone (573) 751-4115, ext. 3630, or

Bass Pro Shops supports fisheries management

Dump trucks on pontoons are helping improve fishing on Missouri lakes, thanks to Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Marine.

The Conservation Department has long used fish-attracting structures to enhance fish habitat and make finding fish easier for anglers. Fish attractors consist of brushy material, such as cedar and Christmas trees, weighted to keep them underwater.

In the past, fisheries workers used large johnboats to haul trees for new fish attractors. The process was slow, and boat size limited the size of trees that could be used. Hauling and dumping bulky, weighted trees was dangerous, too.

To make the process safer and easier, boat builders at the Tracker boat factory in Lebanon worked with personnel from the Conservation Department and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to design pontoon boats specifically to load, transport and place fish-attracting structures. Tracker built one for each agency and donated them for the states to use, free of charge.

Each boat has a spacious cargo area and a winch to drag large trees on board. A tilting bed enables operators to slide the cargo off into the water safely and easily.

"This is a fantastic tool for creating habitat on large reservoirs," said Fisheries Regional Supervisor Chris Vitello. "We have been using them on the White River lakes along the Missouri-Arkansas border, but we plan to take them to other lakes in the region for similar projects. A lot of anglers are going to benefit from Bass Pro Shops' and Tracker Marine's generosity in donating this boat for the Conservation Department's use."

Patience is the best call

Many a turkey hunter has puzzled over the best strategy when gobblers won't gobble. Turkeys are creatures of habit, so chances are good the birds are where they have been all along. You just can't hear them.

Hunt where you found birds during pre-season scouting trips. Don't call too much. Once every 30 minutes is enough. If you are patient, chances are good that you'll eventually catch the ear of a lone gobbler. Such birds are likely to be wary and may sneak within a few yards of you without gobbling. This makes staying motionless particularly important.

West Nile precautions

With the return of warm weather, mosquitoes are active again, bringing worries about West Nile virus. While it's wise to be knowledgeable about this relatively new disease, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says the risk from West Nile virus is minimal.

In areas where the disease is most common, only about 2.5 percent of people are infected. Furthermore, most infected people have mild symptoms or none at all. There is no evidence that a pregnancy is at risk due to a mother's infection with West Nile virus.

DHSS officials recommend the following precautions for Missourians who spend time outdoors.

  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with insect repellents according to manufacturers' instructions.
  • For children, use repellents containing no more than 10 percent DEET on children age 2 to 12. For people over age 12, use repellents containing no more than 50 percent DEET
  • When practical, wear long-sleeve shirts and long trousers.
  • Limit outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Eliminate standing water from flower pots, barrels, used tires, clogged roof gutters and any other places around your home where water may stand for more than a day or two.
  • Install or repair window and door screens.
  • Keep grass cut short to eliminate mosquito-hiding places.

Citizens raise their voices for conservation

A new survey of Missourians in our rural areas and seven larger cities is under way. It's one of several surveys conducted over the past two decades to learn what citizens think about Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources--and about what the Conservation Department should be doing to support them.

Fortunately, Missourians have some clear ideas and interests that help guide conservation programs. Nearly all enjoy some form of outdoor recreation, whether it's fishing, hunting, watching wildlife, canoeing, hiking, photography or visiting a nature center. Through their love of the outdoors, Missourians have created a unique conservation agency that is among the best in the nation. How did they do it?

  • They created the Conservation Commission through a 1936 Constitutional Amendment;
  • They approved the "Design for Conservation," a 1/8 of 1 percent

This unique commitment by Missourians has made all the difference. Indeed, citizens have created a strong program that actually pays its own way. At a time of economic challenge for everyone in the state, it helps to hear some good news.

Each year, expenditures on Missouri's fish, forests and wildlife resources resulted in:

  • $4 billion of economic activity from hunting fishing and wildlife recreation. These generated $189 million in sales tax for the State of Missouri's general revenue fund;
  • $3 billion in forestry and forest products.

The Conservation Department receives about $90 million a year from the 1/8 of 1 percent sales tax. When you compare that with the benefits of healthy fish, forest and wildlife resources, it's pretty clear that good conservation not only builds a better quality of life, but also creates more value than it costs. The Conservation Department operates on less than 1 percent of the state's budget. It continues to--and must--live within its financial means. That's why it streamlined staff last year to save $2 million.

The vision, passion and commitment of Missourians have shaped the programs and experiences enjoyed today. As it has in the past, what Missouri citizens say in the new survey will help shape the success of conservation for years to come.

Turkey hunting information available online

If you forgot to pick up a "2003 Spring Turkey Hunting Information" booklet, or if you lose yours, you can get the information on line.

Habitat Hints

Native trees make great landscapes

With Arbor Day comes inspiration and encouragement to plant a tree. This year, why not consider a native Missouri tree? Trees are divided into tall trees, also called canopy trees, and short trees, which often are referred to as ornamentals. Missouri has many great native candidates of both types from which to choose.

If you're looking for a large tree for summer shade, think about an oak, such as northern red, bur or swamp white. Oaks also produce food for deer, turkeys and small mammals. If fall color is also important to you, a native red maple, green ash or sweet gum provide beautiful autumn foliage.Native ornamental trees, usually 10-50 feet high, can add seasonal interest with flowers. Good examples of showy, native ornamental trees include witch hazel, fringe tree, red buckeye, serviceberry or Virginia sweetspire. Other ornamentals, such as Indian cherry, pawpaw and green hawthorn, offer wildlife abundant and tasty fruits. Some ornamentals prefer shady locations similar to their natural homes beneath other trees in a forest. Native ornamentals that would normally be found on a savanna or at the edge of a prairie or glade flourish in sunny spots.

Visit for general information about many of these trees, and consult a Grow Native! member nursery for specific recommendations on picking suitable Missouri native trees for your landscaping projects.

Mobile aquarium schedule

The Conservation Department's Mobile Fish Aquarium is on the road, bringing entertainment and education to communities statewide. Whether you are interested in learning what makes largemouth bass bite or what color of jigs crappie prefer, you'll love this touring educational facility. Upcoming appearances include:

Date Event/location
April 10-13 Powder Valley Nature Center, Kirkwood;
April 21-25 Earth Science Week, CMSU, Warrensburg;
May 5-9 Community and Public School Curriculum Tie-in, St. Robert;
May 16-18 Roaring River State Park Kids Fishing Day, Cassville;
June 5-8 Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, Branson;
June 12-14 Bushwhacker Days, Nevada;
June19-22 Summer Fun Days, Brookfield;
July 2-5 Tom Sawyer Days, Hannibal;
July 16-19 Sweet Springs Festival, Sweet Springs;
July 21-26 Northeast Missouri District Fair, Kirksville;
Aug. 7-17 Missouri State Fair, Sedalia;
Aug. 29-Sept. 1 St. Louis County Fair and Air Show, Chesterfield;
Sept. 6-13 Southeast Missouri District Fair, Cape Girardeau;
Sept. 18-20 Hootin' and Hollerin' Folk Festival, Gainesville;
Oct. 3-5 Gladfest Fall Family Festival, Gladstone;
Oct. 12-18 Maple Leaf Festival, Carthage;

For more information about these events or to schedule an aquarium appearance in your area, contact Jeff Finley, 1907 Hillcrest Drive, Columbia, MO 65201, (573) 884-6861, ext. 221, fax: (573) 882-9807.

Volunteer group helps St. Louis area residents live with geese

Missourians with problem geese can learn how to avoid and reduce conflicts with giant Canada geese from GeesePeace St. Louis, a nonprofit volunteer group. GeesePeace promotes nonlethal solutions to nuisance-goose problems. The group, which is funded entirely through donations, helps individuals and businesses use landscaping, trained dogs, chemical repellents and no-feeding policies to curb goose problems. For more information, contact GeesePeace, P.O. Box 38846, St. Louis, MO 63138, phone (314) 567-2081.

Sen. Bond brings home conservation funding

Soil conservation, endangered species, national wildlife refuges and wildlife research are among the Missouri programs that will benefit from federal funds secured by U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond in the fiscal year 2003 omnibus appropriations bill.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Bond has some leverage concerning spending priorities. Missouri projects included in the omnibus spending package that he helped pass are:

  • $3.5 million for watershed conservation projects in Boone, Carroll, Chariton, Davies, Harrison, Howard, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Marion, Newton, Putnam, Randolph, Sullivan, Wayne and Worth counties
  • $2 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to buy and preserve sensitive wetlands in Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge and other projects
  • $1.75 million for the USDA Forest Service to buy and preserve land in the Mark Twain National Forest
  • $750,000 to study the environmental impact of lead mining in the Mark Twain National Forest
  • $500,000 to the Columbia Environmental Research Center to study the life cycle and environmental needs of the endangered pallid sturgeon
  • $305,000 to reforest lower Ozark land with indigenous shortleaf pine

"It is my hope that these federal funds will help Missouri during a difficult financial time," said Bond, who also served two terms as Missouri's governor.

Hot line seeks reports of poor forest management

If a tree is improperly harvested in the woods and someone is around to see it, should they make a noise? The Missouri Forest Products Association (MFPA) thinks so. It has set up a hot line for complaints about loggers who don't follow MFPA best management practices.

Callers to (573) 681-9358 will receive information about best management practices and a form asking them to describe the violation. After reviewing the report, a forester will contact the landowner or harvester in person. When appropriate, violators could lose their MFPA membership, Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification or logger's certification. Details of best management practices can be found online.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Circulation - Laura Scheuler