Outdoor Recreation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2007

Scout it Out

Waterfowl Hunting

  • Name: Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area
  • Location: Mississippi County, east of East Prairie on Highway 80, then five miles south on Highway 102.
  • For more information: visit our online atlas, keyword "Ten Mile".

Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area is a premier duck hunting spot in the Department of Conservation’s South Waterfowl Zone. Its 1,200 acres of wetland habitat serve as the winter home to a variety of waterfowl species, the most popular of which are mallards and black ducks. Competition is very stiff for the limited number of hunting units available. Hunting units are allocated through a daily drawing.

Hunters should brush up on area regulations well in advance of a trip to Ten Mile Pond. A valid daily tag, issued at area headquarters, is needed to hunt waterfowl on the CA. Decoys and portable blinds are permitted but must be removed from the area daily. Waterfowl may be taken only from an assigned hunting unit. Hunters must check out from the area immediately after their hunting trip. Contact the area headquarters at (573) 290-5730 for other special regulations.

Ten Mile Pond also is a good place to enjoy a day of birdwatching. The CA is major stop for migrating shore birds, and bald eagles are common on the area throughout the winter.

Rabbit Hunting

Fast-moving small game makes for exciting hunts.

Hardy outdoors persons looking to shake the winter blues can enjoy hunting for cottontail and swamp rabbits through Feb. 15. The daily limit of six rabbits may include only two swamp rabbits. The possession limit of 12 may include only four swamp rabbits. Jackrabbits are protected and may not be hunted or trapped.

A fairly stable population and the challenge of pursuing fast-moving targets in winter conditions keeps rabbits among Missouri’s most popular game animals. During the 2006–2007 season, approximately 62,000 hunters participated in the sport, harvesting 432,109 rabbits.

Winter can be the best time to test rabbit-hunting skills. The immature rabbits likely have been taken by hunters or predators, leaving behind rabbits that have experience evading capture. Late-winter rabbits prefer to stay in the safety and warmth of thick cover, so it takes a lot of work to draw them out into the open.

Always keep safety in mind during and after your rabbit hunt. While afield, wear a fluorescent orange vest and cap so you are visible to other hunters. When preparing your quarry for the table, make sure the rabbits are thoroughly cooked.

Feathered Fascination

Bird Brains

The next time someone calls you a bird brain, take it as a compliment. Research into bird intelligence has found that it is a misconception that birds are incapable of learning and reasoning.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Handbook of Bird Biology cites several examples of birds learning through habituation and trial and error. Birds feeding along roadsides that stop reacting to passing vehicles display learning through habituation. The animals discovered that the passing cars pose no threat and provide no rewards, so they ignore the vehicles. Trial and error learning, or adopting actions based on whether an experience yields a reward or punishment, can be observed in fledging birds. In a search for food, a fledgling moves about pecking at objects. In the beginning it pecks virtually everything it encounters, eventually it finds an insect and eats it. The bird then pecks more selectively, associating a food reward with a certain class of objects.

Research has found birds learn in many other ways. Newly hatched birds learn by imprinting or following the actions of the first moving object they encounter. Some studies indicate that some birds might be capable of insight learning, or the ability to modify behavior without previous experience with a particular problem.

Decorating With Plants

Creative ways to bring nature inside your home

Pruning shears, a glue gun, a trip outside to gather plants and your imagination are all you need to give your holiday decorations a natural flair.

The wide variety of plants found outside can be used to make beautiful and unique wreaths. Scour woodlots for grapevines hanging from trees. Be careful to avoid the vines that cling close to the tree trunks, as those might be poison ivy. Look for vines that hang free of tree trunks. After you gather the vines, soak them in water to make them more flexible. When they are ready, roll the vines up in a circle. To hold the vines together, make a few spiral wraps around the outside of the circle and tuck the ends inside. Let the wreath dry overnight before adding decorations.

Dressing up the wreath is the most creative part of decorating naturally. Add vivid color to your wreath with holly berries, bittersweet and wild wahoo. Dried seed pods and winter weeds can be used naturally or spray painted to make festive decorations.

Christmas Bird Count

A great way to get involved with conservation

Add a little birdsong to your holiday celebrations by participating in the Christmas Bird Count. The census of bird populations is the largest and oldest citizen science event in the world. It began in 1900 to get people to participate in bird conservation. Counters in communities across the nation select one day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 to document all the birds they see in their 5-mile radius counting circles. The CBC helps monitor the status and distribution of bird populations throughout the western hemisphere. Visit  their website to sign up for the CBC in your area.

This Issue's Staff

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Arleasha Mays
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler